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HAWAII, USA (Pocket-lint) - When you think of handheld consoles, Qualcomm probably isn't the first name that springs to mind. But that could be about to change: at the company's Tech Summit 2021 it showcased a handheld developer kit, made by Razer, of a portable Android console running on the Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 platform.

Which is to say: this 'Razer Snapdragon' handheld doesn't have an official name, we're just calling it that for short. Indeed, it's not even a real product that you will be able to go and buy. Rather it's a showcase of what's possible with this new platform.

And rather a lot is within its capacity. Despite running Android, this platform can run much more - including Xbox Game Pass and Steam games - so it's not just traditional mobile games that you have access to here. Does that make it an idea that could catch on?

Design

  • 6.65-inch OLED display, 120Hz refresh rate, FHD+ resolution, 10-bit HDR
  • Dual thumbsticks, d-pad, Y/B/X/A buttons, shoulder triggers
  • Integrated stereo speakers, volume controls
  • 1x 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 1080p webcam

There's something fairly familiar about Razer's console design: in some regards it looks like an Android gaming phone in a case with integrated controls. It's far bigger in scale than, say, a Nintendo Switch, which was a bit of a surprise when we first got hands on this kit.

Pocket-lintRazer Handheld Developer Kit Qualcomm G3x Gen 1 photo 12

Of course it is more than just a gaming phone in a case though. There are vents up top to both sides and a visible fan behind a mesh to the rear, to ensure that Qualcomm's all-new Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 can keep cool whatever it's running. The plastic frame of the console will also help in keeping internal components from overheating.

That it's such a big device may come as a surprise from reading the specification: the 6.65-inch screen here reads as smaller than the 7-inch OLED panel on the latest Nintendo Switch. But that's down to aspect ratio: Razer has adopted a 20:9 wide-angle screen, which is befitting for playing many mobile games, but maybe less in sync with some PC titles.

Pocket-lintRazer Handheld Developer Kit Qualcomm G3x Gen 1 photo 1

The screen is highly capable too. It's capable of 120Hz refresh rate, for optimum smoothness with frame-rates where available, as we witnessed in the AirDerby flight-shooter demo. A darkened room for play helped show-off the high brightness and colour palette of high dynamic range (HDR).

The Razer console's integrated buttons are very much Xbox controller-like, with chunky shoulder triggers and decent actuation across the board. That said, however, the touchscreen can cause confusion with this kit - you can use it sort-of like an Android phone if you want, with all the usual swipes, presses and so forth - and that, for us, saw the physical buttons cease operation for overly extended periods from time to time. But, hey, it's a developer kit, so that's hardly a surprise.

Pocket-lintRazer Handheld Developer Kit Qualcomm G3x Gen 1 photo 11

Two openings to the front near the controls are where the front-facing speakers are positioned, providing decent stereo sound, including volume up/down buttons to the bottom edge of the device for making adjustments. Or plug in headphones via the 3.5mm jack (there would no doubt be scope for Bluetooth wireless, too, given the Android platform).

Performance

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 Gaming Platform
  • 6000mAh battery capacity, USB-C charging
  • Android, Xbox Game Pass, Steam, more
  • 4K display output (at 60Hz)

Qualcomm's top-end platform is hosted inside this Razer console: the Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 is a step up beyond the top-tier Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 mobile platform, with an even more powerful Adreno GPU on board.  With that kind of power on hand the door opens for 120Hz playback, with 144Hz supported, and even 4K60p output to external displays or monitors if you want.

Pocket-lintRazer Handheld Developer Kit Qualcomm G3x Gen 1 photo 9

And not just for Android games. Which is the crucial part about this console: there's support for Xbox Game Pass, accessible from the home screen, meaning you can play a whole host of titles when on the go. We watched various Qualcomm Tech Summit 2021 attendees playing Forza Horizon 5 in this format and it runs really smoothly.

There's Wi-Fi 6E and best-in-class 5G connectivity from Qualcomm's X65 modem - making the on-the-go potential here for cloud play potentially unrivalled. Just make sure you've got a decent contract with your service provider.

Pocket-lintRazer Handheld Developer Kit Qualcomm G3x Gen 1 photo 14

There are various unknowns of course, such as how battery proficient this setup may be, and whether there's even really an appetite for a console such as this, should it or similar such devices make it to market.

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First Impressions

That's the lingering question on our lips really: does this Razer Snapdragon handheld console really explore beyond what's already available on the market amply enough to create a new market segment?

With the Nintendo Switch already hugely popular, Steam Deck already an incoming promise, and with many Android gaming phones and accessories already available, is Qualcomm's reach here little more than just an extension of the latter?

We can see where Razer is going with the idea, and it could certainly have wings for some gamers, although in a smaller and more delicate design format it might be yet more enticing. It shows that Steam Deck might not be the only contender for this crown after all!

Writing by Mike Lowe.