Qualcomm May Release a Nintendo Switch Clone Running Android

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Qualcomm makes the chips that power some of the most popular mobile devices in the world, but it’s barely dipped its toe in direct-to-consumer products. That’s about the change, according to a new report from Android Police. It seems Qualcomm is branching out into gaming with a Nintendo Switch clone. The Android-powered device will have removable JoyCon-style controllers, 5G connectivity, and multiple app stores at launch, including one from Epic Games. Say hello to your new Fortnite machine… in about a year. 

The unnamed source tells AP that Qualcomm wants to use its gaming machine to demonstrate all the capabilities of the Snapdragon SoC. Sure, those chips are in millions of phones, but OEMs rarely take full advantage of what the hardware can do. The handheld will feature a slightly thicker form factor than your average phone, giving it more thermal headroom and a cooling fan. That should reduce slowdowns from throttling, even during intense gaming sessions. There will also be a 6,000 mAh battery and a 6.65-inch 1080p display. Qualcomm often makes demo hardware to show to OEMs, but the report claims this device is being designed for consumers and will be sold direct by Qualcomm. That’s not completely without precedent — the company sold its Toq smartwatch with Mirasol display technology back in 2013 and 2014.

Qualcomm is reportedly working with a “premium supplier” to design the controllers, but you won’t always use them attached to the console. Again, like the Switch, the Qualcomm handheld will support a video-out docked mode. However, it’s unclear if this will be via the USB-C port or a secondary HDMI port. Naturally, the console will also have a Qualcomm 5G modem, currently expected to be the aging X55. 

The console will run Android 12 at launch, which is currently on the docket for early 2022. It will have Google Play certification, giving you access to all the standard Android apps and games, but there will also be an Epic Game Store client. That means Fortnite is most certainly on the menu, as will many other titles. Epic has been trying to break into mobile game distribution, so it’s probably going to come out swinging with exclusive titles. 

We don’t know what ARM chip the device will use, but it’s probably going to be whatever Qualcomm’s latest and greatest is in early 2022 — the successor to the current Snapdragon 888. The company is targeting a $300 price tag, making it substantially cheaper than a modern smartphone. Naturally, Qualcomm has refused to comment.

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