OPINION: I’m going to be honest with you, I’ve never been a fan of gaming phones.
Thanks to their garish designs, I have always found it embarrassing to pull a gaming phone out of my pocket in public, while the quslity of the camera is overlooked in favour of cranking up the performance power.
And did I mention that they’re ridiculously expensive? The new Asus ROG Phone 6 costs £899, while the ROG Phone 6 Pro is even more spenny at £1099 – you could buy two PS5 consoles with that much cash.
But despite my reservations about gaming phones, there’s no doubt that they serve a clear purpose. The ROG Phone 6 Pro delivers a speedy gaming performance, and features a high 165Hz refresh rate for smooth, responsive visuals which make it easier to shoot a target in a game.
Sure, the Nintendo Switch OLED and Steam Deck are fierce competitors as on-the-go gaming hardware, yet they’re both limited to a 60Hz panel. This means they’re not quite capable of rivalling gaming phones in the competitive multiplayer space.
This is highlighted by the huge eSports scene in mobile gaming, especially with the likes of PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty: Mobile. You certainly won’t see any serious competitors turning up with a Steam Deck instead of a smartphone.
But that one key advantage for gaming phones may soon disappear thanks to Nvidia’s GeForce Now platform. GeForce Now is a subscription service that lets you play a wide selection of PC games via the cloud – that means the power of your hardware is irrelevant, even if you want to play CyberPunk in 4K.
Of course, GeForce Now isn’t new, as it started rolling out on Android phones as far back as 2019. And since GeForce Now was initially locked to a 60Hz frame rate, the service still couldn’t compete with the experience that a gaming phone provides.
But that’s about to change as Nvidia confirmed (via The Verge) that it has started rolling out 120Hz support for Android smartphones. Provided you have a fast enough internet connection, this means you only need a smartphone with a 120Hz refresh rate (such as the Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus) to achieve a similar, if not better, performance than what a gaming phone is capable of.
You could make the argument that gaming phones allow you to play games while you’re out and about, while using GeForce Now makes you dependent on an internet connection. However, some of the most popular mobile games – such as Call of Duty Mobile and Genshin Impact – already require an internet connection in order to play.
There is one huge drawback though, as in order to play games at 120fps, you’ll have to subscribe to Nvidia’s most expensive plan which costs an astronomical £17.99 per month (or £89.99 per every six months).
That sounds incredibly expensive, but it would take over six years for that subscription fee to reach the cost of a high-end gaming phone such as the Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro. And yes, you would still need to buy another 120Hz phone, but you can purchase the likes of the Realme X50 5G for less than £150.
Subscribing to GeForce Now would also negate the need for a high-end gaming PC, allowing you to play games on multiple devices regardless of their specs. If you like to play games on both mobile and PC, you’re arguably getting decent value for money.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think GeForce Now is for everyone since it needs such a fast internet connection and only works with a select pool of games. But I do think it’s a better value option than purchasing a gaming phone.
Ctrl+Alt+Delete is our weekly computing-focussed opinion column where we delve deeper into the world of computers, laptops, components, peripherals and more. Find it on Trusted Reviews every Saturday afternoon.