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(Pocket-lint) - Qualcomm, the company that powers a huge number of the world's smartphones, is planning to launch an Android-based gaming device like the Nintendo Switch, it has been revealed.

Sources talking to Android Police, familiar with Qualcomm's plans, have provided plenty of information including imagery that can't be shared raising more questions that it does answers.

The device is said to have a 6.65-inch display and feature detachable controllers, very much like the Switch's Joy Cons. It's thought to be thicker than a typical smartphone, allowing space for a 6000mAh battery, as well as ventilation to get the most out of the Snapdragon hardware inside.

It's not known which Qualcomm platform this is going to sit on, or if it will be a custom chip, but with the rising number of Snapdragon-based Android gaming phones, we're not surprised that Qualcomm sees this as a potential growth area.

You can expect all the normal things that you'd get on a Qualcomm platform - Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and all the rest - while it's thought that 5G connectivity will likely be included to provide a constant connection.

That's going to allow gaming on the move on a dedicated device, but it's not expected that it will support calling, so it won't be a phone.

The 5G connection naturally plays to Qualcomm's strengths, but might also be to support functionality like game streaming services. This could be a platform for Google Stadia or other services, with that connection giving it reach beyond your home Wi-Fi.

There will be connectivity to external displays, but it's not known is this is using USB or HDMI, while an SD card slot will provide storage expansion - something that could be critical if this device is expected to last more than a year.

The device is expected to run Android 12 with a customised user interface. It's said that Qualcomm is hoping to include the Epic Games Launcher, hopefully providing an avenue to Epic titles such as Fortnite.

It's likely that any such gaming console would have to focus on promoting AAA gaming titles, including the likes of PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty Mobile. The challenge that Qualcomm would potentially face is being able to differentiate that experience from flagship smartphones.

Games like PUBG Mobile ban the use of controllers because or the unfair advantage it gives players, while Call of Duty Mobile supports external controllers, but sections those players off to face each other, rather than against the touch players.

What Qualcomm needs is a good reason to buy into any such device in the first place. There's no demand for a separate media device these days and if the game selection is based around Google Play's mobile games, then a larger device isn't necessarily an advantage if it's less convenient to hold, because that makes touch interaction more difficult.

That might push it towards the casual gamer - in which case would they pay the $300 asking price that's predicted for Qualcomm's gaming device?

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There needs to be some secret sauce to whet the appetite of potential customers and we feel it would have to lie in the streaming services like Stadia, GeForce Now or xCloud, giving that mobile experience, with a better controllers - and leaving your smartphone to be a phone.

The launch date for Qualcomm's gaming device is said to be Q1 2022, suggesting that we might see a mention of it at Snapdragon Summit 2021 (usually held in December), or a commercial launch at CES in January or MWC in February.

That's if it comes to market at all: Qualcomm always make reference devices for the areas it's working in - VR for example - and this could just end up being another reference project that never comes to market.

Writing by Chris Hall. Originally published on 24 March 2021.