Gaming Phones: Technology and Market Outlook
Author:Soomal
Source:eng.soomal.com

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PUBG's heat has enabled the majority of Internet cafes and computer game players in 2017 to completely update their hardware, making the China domestic PC market in full swing. In today's mobile phone market, gaming have also become an important branch of mobile applications. The total amount is also considerable. According to SuperData, East Asia's mobile gaming market in 2017 reached US$38.4 billion, of which China was approximately US$14.6 billion, far exceeding that of the US and Japan and becoming the world's largest mobile gaming market [while China's PC games The market size is $27.5 billion, and the game console market is about $620 million].

It can be seen that the game is far from a fancier field. Like the PC market, mobile game peripherals and hardware markets also have great opportunities. The Razer Phone last year, the Black Shark, Nubian Red Devils this year, also highlights the game application is indeed a selling point in the mobile phone market.

The History of Gaming Phones

The mobile phone market is not unfamiliar with the concept of ˇ°gaming phonesˇ± and even products, because every single year or two some mobile phones that are targeted for games will be bought out. In the era of feature phones, the most famous gaming mobile phone is by Nokia. It launched the N-Gage in 2003 and N-Gage QD in 2004. Nokia had introduced a handheld game console with a call function based on its own Symbian S60 system. This corresponds to the Nintendo GameBoy Advanced, which was used in the mobile game market at that time. The N-Gage uses MMC storage. At that time, this phone can play "civilization", "Call of Duty", "Tomb Raider" and other classic game transplant works! But N-Gage only sold about 300 million units, which is not a success to Nokia. It also proves that it is not feasible to locate game phones on dedicated hardware. Nokia has no intention of professional game phones since then.

In the era of Android smart phones, because of the sufficient performance, to run game console emulators such as PS and PSP, the number of mobile phone products for positioning games is even greater. Among them, the most famous is the Sony Xperia Play launched in 2011. In addition to slider handles, button design, this phone also officially supports the PlayStation Pocket [PSP] game. Before the popularity of smart phones and 3G, PSP was once a characteristic culture and sentiment on the subway. Because the Android system was not perfect at the time, the performance of the simulator was not good enough, so the market performance of this phone is also just general.

Of course, no matter which game mobile phone was at that time, its core selling point was to provide additional cross keys, buttons, etc., to make it close to the handheld gaming console operation experience, and more to bring the mobile phone gaming experience closer to the handheld game console. However, with the advancement of high-performance mobile processors and the popularity of plug-in USB and Bluetooth controllers, users who are truly pursuing a stand-alone gaming experience pay more attention to the overall performance of the mobile phone, instead of smashing the design of the mobile phone with the arrow keys on the body. To the appearance of the Razer Phone is a very ordinary and normal mobile phone, nothing more than a certain personality on the design.

Gaming Phones in New Era

However, with the development of smart phones to the 4G era, wireless users also have comparable network speeds to PCs. This not only brings innovations such as mobile social networking and mobile payment to consumers, but also brings two huge changes to the mobile game market. : 1. The mobile phone has become a mainstream game platform with a large number of users. It is no longer a niche area. 2. The networking and socialization of mobile games have become mainstream. Local games are no longer main revenue point of mobile games due to lack of continuity, while online games, competitive games [including ACT, racing, MOBA, or even real-time strategy and management] have become the main source of revenue for the mobile game market. Mobile games have even become an extensive social tool.

However, as the PC game market, there are different types of games and player classifications in a large user group in the mobile game market, such as stand-alone, online, 2D, and 3D. Therefore, players have different requirements for mobile phone hardware. Even in online games, card-picking classes are a large market, such as "FGO" and "Onmyoji". These types of games generally do not have high hardware performance requirements, and they only need a little better screen and storage I/O speed. The other is still insisting on playing local games or occasionally playing games for social purposes, and the desire for game experience and contention is not high. For both types of consumers, the flagship of a Samsung or Apple is sufficient.

The last category is like a professional e-sports platform where PCs have been around for a long time. For players with high display speeds and low input delays, the requirements of mobile phones are to keep up with user reactions and outbreaks. The victory of the game is the goal of life and entertainment and even the source of income. Although there are many so-called hardcore players who love to despise and oppose the game's networking, competition, and professionalism, but this is indeed a new trend in the mobile game market. If everyone knows that Tencent's Kings Glory Pro League and the prize pool for a single international event in 2018 will reach $100,000, then it will be understood that mobile gaming is not exactly a gimmick and a joke. JD.com deployed the Game+ game hardware system three years ago. It is also the main market promoter of two domestic game handsets, Black Shark and Nubia Red, and consumers who are ˇ°obsessedˇ± with mobile games are indeed younger and prefer to use it.

Requirements for Gaming Phones

Due to the differentiation of game players, the needs of different users for mobile phones are naturally quite different. But on the whole, all hope that the mobile phone can have better hardware performance and software optimization. After the appearance of several mobile phones that target games in China, it has also brought a lot of evaluations and opinions. So, what are the means to optimize the gaming experience on the mobile platform?

Hardware performance: For smoother gaming, hardware performance is often the first point of the game phone, Qualcomm's flagship mobile processor is currently the most secure choice, Samsung, NVidia's high-end mobile processor performance is also strong, while lacking mature and reliable development solutions such as QRD. Without strong design capabilities, the availability of products cannot be guaranteed. In addition, Qualcomm processors are the least troublesome in terms of market sales and patents.

In addition, the I/O speed of RAM and internal storage is also an important part that is easily overlooked by players. The eMMC storage of mainstream price phones lags far behind UFS in the speed of reading, writing and addressing files, which results in slow game loading and game scene switch lagging and other issues that have seriously affect the gaming experience. This problem cannot be resolved through the MicroSD extension. It is indeed one of the motivations for many young consumers to upgrade their mobile phones.

Display speed: in What is the screen refresh rate? we introduced the display refresh rate advantage on the mobile platform, for the competitive game players, lower input and display delay can bring greater game odds. There are two kinds of delays in the display screen. The first type is the delay between the frame and the frame caused by the screen refresh rate, and the other is the ˇ°smearˇ± delay caused by the insufficient response speed of the screen itself.

At present, mainstream mobile phones have TFT or OLED screen. In general, consumers feel that ˇ°smearˇ± often appears in the former. Even in 2017, Xiaomi, Huawei and other high-end mobile phones that use TFT panels have exceeded the response time of 40 ms or even longer than 50 ms, Samsung AMOLED screen response time is generally controlled within 5 ms, smear is relatively less obvious. In the display of various types of sports images and animation, even when playing a movie, AMOLED mobile phone animation is more fluent, so some consumers will prefer AMOLED phones after a practical comparison. However, AMOLED does not necessarily have a natural fit for the game screen. It also has some very significant drawbacks, such as low-brightness PWM blinking, easy burn-in, which will ˇ°renderˇ± the UI static interface that is fixedly displayed in the game for a long time. on. In addition, the visible disadvantage of AMOLED is its relatively higher power consumption and heat.

Input delay: PureMotion technology developed by Nokia, which is no longer keen on game phones, allows Lumia920, 1020 and other models to respond quickly within the TFT panel within 16ms. This also makes mobile phones such as Lumia1020 that have fallen completely behind in hardware still have very smooth animation looking and feeling. This technology also inspired later Apple's ProMotion on iPad Pro and ProMotion on Razer, except that Razer and Apple have made response times and delays even lower to achieve a display refresh rate of up to 120Hz.

Another big advantage of high refresh rate is that it brings lower input delay. After the screen refresh rate is increased to 120Hz, the input delay of the whole screen can be controlled within 10-50 ms. Relatively speaking, one can only run every time. The input delay of the cell phone in 30 FPS is as high as 50-100 ms, and this speed difference often determines the outcome. In addition, maintaining low-latency synchronization while maintaining picture and picture synchronization is also critical in some music-related games. On iOS, due to the low latency of the ASIO audio subsystem, it is generally preferable to Android device.

System optimization: System optimization of game devices is not a simple release of memory and disk space control. In order to maximize operating efficiency, it is also necessary to control direct video games such as peak running frequency, GPU frequencies, game running frames, and resolution. The option of running the frame number cannot be as complicated as the graphics driver control panel of the PC system. In this regard, the Razer Phone's built-in game accelerator balances ease of use and control.

Vendor cooperation: For specific game optimization, especially popular games, many mobile phone manufacturers choose to cooperate with game companies for providing special acceleration modes. For example, Tencent's ˇ°Glory to the Kingˇ± cooperates with manufacturers such as OPPO, vivo, and OnePlus. Get more system computing resources in a particular model, run it at a higher frame rate, and even launch a limited-edition model that can play a game experience even when performance is not leading. Close to or even better than high-end phones, it helps to seize the market for young gamers

Power Management: Battery life is an important factor that limits the mobile gaming experience. For a mobile phone to achieve balance between battery life and performance, it is necessary to work harder and harder on power management. It cannot be solved by relying only on a larger battery capacity. More advanced power management chips or solutions can maintain the stability of the game during fast charging, so that the machine will not overheat or even burn. From this point of view, the Razer Phone is also a good positive example. In addition to the above points, game phones need to do better cooling to avoid overheating due to overheating in long games and destroy the game experience. Many mobile phones that appear to be high-performance have poor heat control. Mandatory restrictions on the performance of the high-performance core cannot be played; network delays and other factors also need to be considered

Gaming Phones, Really Needed?

For a long time, there have been different voices on the game on the Internet and in the market. In addition to worrying about children's addiction to games, is the ˇ°game phoneˇ± such a product also superfluous? For example, Samsung and Huawei believe that gaming phones are not necessary. Huawei's consumer business director Yu Chengdong pointed out that mobile phones such as the Black Shark and the Red Devils are merely conceptual hype. Just like the three defenses and taking pictures, the future will surely be popularized with the improvement of hardware performance. Huawei's mobile phones will all be available in the future.

In addition, there are also opinions that mobile phones such as the Razer Phone are extremely extreme in pursuit of game performance. For example, a 120Hz screen refresh rate may be too power-consuming. However, in the Soomal experience, Razer mobile phone 120Hz screen is precisely an important guarantee for mobile phones low power and low heat. The two ˇ°gaming phonesˇ± launched in local market have intentionally evaded the advantages of Razer on the screen and input delay. They chose a more mainstream and cheaper 18:9 60Hz screen in the domestic mobile phone market. As a result, these gaming phones have It may not be as good as the Razer Phone's gaming component, but it is more like the positioning of one plus the main cost-effectiveness, with some personalized design elements of game phones (such as RGB lights, etc.). Of course, the game is divided into many types. Not all mobile games require high operation and delay. Maybe some players need to save money or move to somewhere out China mainland.

The game phone is not a new concept, it became very hot with the emergence of N-Gage very early. But to be positioned in professional gaming is very different, it is like vivo Xplay series or LG V30 and other HiFi phones need to customize the mobile DAC chip, professional game phones also need some special hardware and design, which requires the manufacturers to pay a lot of technology efforts and new markets to face the failure of courage, after all, there are some consumers are not willing to label the phone game. In the future, the gaming mobile phone market will become a new high-end market segment like the PC gaming market. It will create a new brand of mobile games or e-sports phones. Instead, it will be as much as Yu said, as long as the hardware is powerful enough for everyone, are all fever game phones.

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