A couple of weeks ago, it came time for me to upgrade to a new smartphone. And, as with any device I decide to upgrade, I took it upon myself to go out into the vast wastes of the Internet and do some research. Sure, I knew the big name phones that were out, but I wanted to know which one would suit my needs the best. I was upgrading from a Galaxy Note 2, so the Note 3 seemed like a reasonable option. But HTC had also just released its shiny new HTC One (M8), whose metallic shimmer hearkened to me like a siren across the waves. There was, of course, the option of dropping Android altogether, and switching over to an iPhone or Windows phone as well. So many choices, so many details to consider.
I pored over review after review, reading about benchmark scores, camera quality, new software features, call quality, the normal stuff. All of the reviews seemed to address mostly the same aspects of the phone's design. And while most of the reviews were very helpful, and each phone had its own cool and unique features, I felt like something was missing. And then it occurred to me, what about gaming?
Smartphones have reached a point now where they can, at least in terms of graphics, compete with any of the dedicated portable gaming devices, and even some home consoles. More and more people are opting to game on their phones if only for the sake of one less device to drag around. Of course, dedicated gaming handhelds certainly still offer advantages over pretty much any smartphone, but that doesn't mean smartphones should be ignored from a gaming perspective. They certainly offer their own unique advantages over traditional gaming.
With so many people now choosing to make their smartphone a major source of gaming, it seemed odd to me that practically nothing was said in any of these reviews about how these phones performed for gamers. Sure, most of them offered up a list of specifications and benchmarks, but there's only so much you can surmise about the phone by looking at such things. "Okay," I think, "the Note 3 got a score of 23,449 in Quadrant 2.0 and the Xperia Z Ultra only got 18,966." However, such numbers are so abstract and arbitrary that they don't really offer any practical knowledge other than that one phone got a higher score than another on this test, but a lower score on this one. At best one will occasionally find an fps comparison between phones for a specific game. There is more to take into consideration when considering a devices gaming capabilities than mere benchmark scores; things like ergonomics, display quality, the positioning of various buttons and other doodads, etc.. It would seem that gamers have simply been given a number to look at and are left to their own devices to guess from that how well the device will fit their gaming needs. Truly a travesty!
Benchmarks taken from Engadget's HTC One (M8) review.
So, this is my call to TAY, and any other reviewer/gamers out there: let's try to fix this problem! I think it's about time to start some smartphone reviews catered toward gamers. There are enough reviews to give information to the general crowd, but let's go one step further. Let's try to write some reviews that showcase what makes a phone good or bad for gaming on the go. What is it that you love or hate about gaming on your smartphone? Well, think about it, and then get out there are write a review for it! Let those who need guidance on their quest for a glorious game-centric cell phone partake in your firsthand experience!
The end of the story I started this article with is that I decided on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and I've already written a review for it. I'd encourage all of you to go and do the same.