Qualcomm developing Switch-like Android gaming console: report

The console reportedly supports Google Play apps and games, may also include the Epic Games Store

Qualcomm is reportedly developing a Nintendo Switch-like portable gaming console powered by Android.

As reported by Android Police, Qualcomm’s portable console features detachable controllers similar to Nintendo’s ‘Joy-Cons‘ and it resembles a thick smartphone. The added thickness should help with thermals, allowing the included Snapdragon system-on-a-chip (SoC) to hit higher performance levels compared to a similar solution in a typical smartphone design.

It’s worth noting that it isn’t clear what SoC Qualcomm plans to use. Android Police reports that Qualcomm intends to launch the device in Q1 of 2022, which means it could use next year’s flagship Snapdragon processor. Alternatively, Qualcomm may use a custom chip designed specifically for the console. Additionally, the console reportedly will include Bluetooth, GPS, accelerometers, haptics and 5G (albeit through Qualcomm’s older X55 modem). A 6,000mAh battery will power the device, and the console will support Qualcomm’s Quick Charge. The console would not have telephone features.

Like the Switch, Qualcomm’s console reportedly will support display-out to a monitor or TV. It’s not clear whether it’ll use USB-C for this, or include a dedicated port like mini-HDMI. On top of that, the console will have an SD card slot to expand the storage. Android Police’s source said that Qualcomm partnered with a premium supplier in the controller space to make the gamepads for the console. However, the publication didn’t learn the name of the company.

It could support Google Play apps, maybe even the Epic Games Store

Further, the Qualcomm console will run Android 12 with a custom launcher, including full support for Google’s Play apps and services. Interestingly, Android Police reports that the console could include the Epic Games Store app, as well as Qualcomm’s own content portal. However, it’s not clear if Qualcomm plans to work with game streaming providers, like Google Stadia or Microsoft xCloud (although presumably those Android apps would run on the device).

It’s also worth noting what Android Police doesn’t know about the device. The publication learned the details from a source familiar with Qualcomm’s strategy and was able to view (but not share) non-final images of the console. Android Police says the console’s dimensions weren’t shared with them, nor was the size of the display. It’s also unclear if Qualcomm plans to offer a Wi-Fi-only variant of the device.

Finally, Qualcomm reportedly plans to sell the console direct to customers, as well as work with carrier partners in the U.S. It’s not clear if Qualcomm would work with Canadian carriers too.

Qualcomm console might be a reference device instead

Interestingly, Android Police notes that Qualcomm wants to inspire partners to explore new form factors. XDA Developers’ Mishaal Rahman tweeted that his sources said Qualcomm was working on a Switch-like reference device. Third-party manufacturers could then use that reference design to build their own products. Rahman’s source didn’t indicate that the Qualcomm console would be made available for consumers.

Regardless, the console is a year away at least. A lot could happen in that time, and Qualcomm could ditch the project entirely. That said, a Switch-like gaming device powered by Android could be a great option for tinkerers, potentially offering a great base to build out emulators, leverage game streaming services and more.

Source: Android Police