A new arena of competition and innovation has opened over the past couple of years. Manufacturers more traditionally associated with Windows computer hardware and peripherals, among them Lenovo, Razer and Asus, have been quietly sowing the seeds of a revolution in cutting edge smartphone design. They have been presiding over the inception and development of a new type of gaming-focused smartphone.
These devices pack top level specifications into hardware built from the ground up to deliver the best gaming experience you can find on a mobile operating system. They have been optimised to provide an experience that brings out the best in any gaming session, from a round of roulette available online or Clash of Clans, to resource heavy titles like Genshin Impact. This is due to the fact they feature a range of specialisations not seen elsewhere in the smartphone market, such as high resolution screens, internal cooling fans and additional shoulder buttons.
Now, with speculation rife following the publication of several suggestive patents, analysts are suggesting it looks like Samsung is readying itself to wade in on the action.
Winds of Change
The two patent filings in question are trademarks for the slogans “Unleash Your Fan Power” and “Activate Fan Mode”. At first glance you may wonder what possible link may be inferred from these slogans, as to the nature of Samsung’s gaming hardware plans.
But a quick survey of the major devices in the sector, such as the Lenovo Legion Duel 2 and Nubia’s Redmagic 6 Pro, point to a crucial hardware commonality. They all feature internal cooling fans, something that is unprecedented elsewhere in the smartphone market. In fact, this is seen as such an integral part of gaming phone design that the Lenovo Duel 2 manages to cram two of them into its chassis. Those few major gaming phones that forgo internal fans, like Asus’ ROG Phone 5, still ship with an attachable external cooling fan.
The reason cooling is so essential for gaming phones is due to the limitations inherent in smartphone design. Unlike large computers, which are able to pass large amounts of air through their internals to facilitate heat dispersion, smartphones have been traditionally built to be as small and lightweight as possible. This comes with the trade-off of making them thermally inefficient, and as phones become more powerful this is only compounded.
When running the most demanding of modern smartphone games, these small devices are put under great risk of thermal throttling. To counteract this, internal fans, as well as special thermally efficient materials are used to mitigate against the issue. It is for this reason that people may reasonably conclude that promotional material referring to “fans” coming out of Samsung may point to prospective gaming phone development.
Jack of All Trades
The other strong indicator that Samsung may be preparing to enter this market is that they are conspicuous by their absence. Unlike more conservative companies like Apple, Samsung have always adopted a philosophy of experimentation with their product strategy. To this end, they offer smartphone models at virtually every price point, from the ultra budget ‘A’ Series phones that start at $30, right up to their $1000+ flagship ‘S’ series models. Samsung is also one of the very few manufacturers to have boldly moved into foldable phone development, with their Galaxy Fold and Z Flip phones entering their third generation already.
To date, none of the major ‘business’ smartphone manufacturers (save Xiaomi with their Blackshark phones) have shown any interest in building a gaming phone. But with Asus’ ROG Phone on its 5th generation, and the Nubia Redmagic on it’s 6th, it is becoming clear to the larger tech firms that, while these devices will only ever hold a niche appeal, they are more than a passing gimmick. Furthermore, they make headlines, with specifications that outmatch even the most powerful of Samsung’s line of phones.
Before their arrival on the scene, Samsung was the unrivaled “spec-king” of the Android space, and it is reasonable to assume that they may express some interest in reclaiming that crown before long.