Updated: December 29, 2019 4:21:12 pm
The year 2019 saw the appearance of more gaming-centric smartphones in India. The rise of PUBG Mobile in the market has meant that gaming is gaining in popularity, and manufacturers knew this was an untapped market. These so called gaming smartphones have displays with higher refresh rates, superior processors and designs that resonate with gamers, which puts them in a new league altogether.
Mobile games are one of the main contributors to the steep growth rate of smartphones globally. In terms of numbers, the mobile gaming industry is currently worth $68.5 billion, which is around 45 per cent of the whole gaming industry according to statistics by NewZoo. By 2022, the industry is estimated to generate the largest proportion of total gaming revenue globally outpacing PCs and consoles altogether.
What makes gaming smartphones different from normal smartphones are features like pressure-sensitive buttons, physical fans, cooling systems and more. The primary area of differentiation is their display, which typically sports a higher refresh rate, low latency and a higher touch response rate. All of this is geared to make playing games, such as first person shooter games (FPS), an overall smoother experience. Plus these hardware optimisations give serious gamers an upper hand over other players.
Another big difference is the inclusion of customisable pressure sensitive buttons, which allow gamers to have the feel of a gaming console controller. These phones also come with specific game modes, which divert all of the system resources to a game to improve performance and reduce latency. Gaming smartphones are also compatible with a host of accessories like additional displays, cooling fans, docks, and more. These help in improving the performance and takes the gaming experience to the next level. However, these also increase the cost of investment.
Still, gaming smartphones are a niche market in India. We take a look at the three gaming phones that were launched in India in 2019 and which was the best in our view.
Asus ROG Phone II: The best gaming phone in India
If there is one gaming smartphone that really stood out in our view, it would be the Asus ROG Phone II. No one expected this to cost anything under Rs 50,000, but at the launch, the company surprised all with a starting price of Rs 37,999. If one were to consider what the Asus ROG Phone II offered, the price made it an even sweeter deal.
It brought in a lot of innovations like a 120Hz display that provides a smoother gameplay, copper plating and a cooling system, which keeps the device temperature under control even during intense hours of gaming. Asus has also included “Air Triggers” which are capacitive shoulder buttons and can be customised by the gamer. These come extremely handy especially while playing FPS games, as one can customise the triggers to perform tasks like shooting or reloading. These buttons have been integrated so well that they do not get in the way while performing normal tasks and are a standout feature of the device.
The Asus phone also comes with side-mounted dual USB-C ports, which can be used to dock accessories or cast or charge while gaming in landscape mode. It also gave users an option to activate the X Mode to max out their CPU and GPU while playing games.
The ROG Phone II left no doubt in our minds that this was the ultimate ‘gaming phone’. The only problem though: Asus is still relying on a flash sale concept for this, and if you don’t get it quickly, the wait could be really long.
Read our review of the Asus ROG Phone II here.
Runner up: Nubia Red Magic 3S
Nubia has been a prominent brand when it comes to gaming smartphones. The Red Magic 3S is a gaming phone that actually comes with a physical fan, in addition to the 90Hz display and the latest Snapdragon 855+ processor. In fact, this is the only smartphone across the globe which offers users the ability to cool itself with a physical fan, just like a gaming PC.
The one thing that made the Nubia Red Magic 3s stand out in the gaming smartphone crowd was that the device maintained the price the original Red Magic 3, which was Rs 35,999. This also made it one of the most affordable gaming smartphones in the market.
Nubia was one of the first brands to add pressure-sensitive buttons to the side of the smartphone, to help gamers during gameplay. While Red Magic 3s’ triggers are not as blended into the design as ROG Phone II’s, they do not get in the way of day-to-day usage of the smartphone.
Just like all gaming smartphones currently present in the market, the Red Magic 3s also has a specific mode to enhance gaming performance by routing all of the device resources to the game that is running. To turn on the “Game Space” mode, users need to flip the physical switch located on the side of the device.
While in Game Space, the interface of the device completely changes and goes into a landscape side scroll mode displaying all of the games on the phone, along with quick toggles to handle all of the performance settings of the phone from CPU performance to the fan speed. Given everything that it offers and the price, the Red Magic 3S finds a mention in our list.
Read our review of the Nubia Red Magic 3S here.
Special mention: Black Shark 2
Black Shark 2 as a gaming phone provides one with the confidence that it is sturdy, thanks to the overall aluminium build. When launched it was one of the most well-built gaming smartphones available in the market. It was also an affordable gaming smartphone available starting at Rs 39,999.
Black Shark does not sport any sort of fancy pressure-sensitive buttons, which you can use in-game. However, the device does support the company’s own accessories like a gamepad, which can be connected to the device to take the experience to the next level.
One of the main selling factors of the Black Shark 2 would be its gaming mode, called Shark Space, which can be activated by flipping the physical switch located on the side. Shark Space is quite well organised and optimised. It provides gamers with quick access to all of their games along with quick toggle settings to handle the device resources. When you play games launched from Shark Space they perform smoother and are more responsive. There’s also Ludicrous Mode in which all the device’s resources are fully diverted to the game that a user is actively playing.
Overall, Black Shark 2 is a decent gaming smartphone, which impressed us when it launched in India. We will have to wait and see if the company brings the upgraded version for this to India anytime soon and what that will offer for gamers.
Read our review of the Black Shark 2 here.
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