You don’t need a big bulky computer or console to enjoy computer games. While they may not have the graphics power or immersive qualities of a PlayStation and a 60 inch TV, the humble smartphone can be a great gaming gadget. GWL takes a look at five of the best gaming phones out right now at the end of 2010.
People of all ages enjoy computer games, from pre-school children right through to retirees and other young-at-heart techno-elders. Smartphones are increasingly being used for gaming purposes as well as web access and communication, and many devices are being decked out with features especially made for gaming enjoyment.
A multitouch display, an accelorometer, and access to a variety of games are just some features to look out for if you want to enjoy gaming on your smartphone, as is the size of the processor, the GPU, the size of the screen, and the availability of interface options. Connectivity is also becoming increasingly important, and some smartphones now allow you to connect via HDMI for a full gaming experience.
However, perhaps the first choice to make is what operating system you want to use, as this will have the biggest impact on the games you can access and the technology you have to choose from. We take a look at five of the best gaming smartphones available right now at the turn into 2011.
Apple iPhone 4
No smartphone list can be complete without reference to the iPhone. Apple’s iPhone 4 is the latest incarnation of this iconic piece of mobile technology, and it is a great choice for anyone who wants to enjoy games while on the move. The iPhone 4 has a number of things going for it in terms of gaming, not the least of which is the huge size and variety of titles available from the App Store.
Along with all the other applications available at the store, there are around 70,000 games. While the number of quality games that you will actually want to play more than once will be much smaller, this is easily the highest number of games available for any phone on the market and is likely to remain this way for some time. The iPhone 4 also comes with a nice responsive touchscreen, a well designed accelerometer, great graphics, and a processor that is up to the task of running most games seamlessly.
One added extra with the iPhone 4 is the inclusion of the Game Centre, a social gaming platform that runs on iOS 4.1 and lets you easily play with friends and total strangers who are also logged on. While the Apple iPhone 4 may lack the high-tech sensors, dual-core processing, and easy HDMI connectivity of some other phones on this list, the size of the app store and the elegance of the interface make it a very fun smartphone gaming solution.
Samsung Google Nexus S
The Samsung Google Nexus S is one of the leading – and latest – Android smartphones on the market, and the first to run Android 2.3. It sports a powerful 1GHz processing unit, comes with a very cool three-axis gyroscope sensor for keeping orientation, and has a nice graphics processor that provides glitch free gaming fun.
In terms of game availability, Android is doing very well with a growing number of titles available from the Android App Market. However, there is no escaping the fact that there are not as many games available as there are for the iPhone 4, although most people will find more than enough for their needs.
The Google Nexus S features a 4 inch Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen with an Oleophobic surface, along with a curved glass screen to improve viewing angles.
However, while the Google Nexus S may have a lovely looking screen for gaming and a nifty sensor, the lack of SD card support and HDMI output are definite drawbacks. The battery life is also average at best, which will be an issue for some people.
LG Optimus 2X
The LG Optimus 2X makes the grade for many reasons, not the least of which is pure grunt. The Optimus 2X is the first dual-core smartphone ever made, so you can only imagine how this will affect the performance of your games. It comes with a TFT capacitive touchscreen that is 4 inches in size, and also features a gyro-sensor for smooth gaming fun.
One thing I may have forgotten to mention about the LG Optimus 2X is that it is not available just yet, although it will be in the shops in early 2011. Surprisingly then, it will initially ship with Android 2.2 and not the latest Gingerbread 2.3 version, although apparently it can be upgraded very soon after release.
One fantastic feature with the LG Optimus 2X is HDMI output, something that is sure to become more common on smartphones in 2011 – and a great feature for those times when you want to experience your favourite games on a large screen.
One great thing about all Android phones – well, fast Android phones like this one – is that there is now a PlayStation emulator called PSX4Droid so you can play all your favourite PS games on your phone – WOW! Other game emulators are also available as Android apps – intellectual property laws aside – although performance and compatibility is never guaranteed in the murky world of emulators.
Samsung Wave S8500
This phone is a little different, as it is not an Android device and instead runs its own Bada OS. While Bada maybe a fledgling OS, this smartphone has enough outstanding hardware features to make it onto this list. It too features a Super AMOLED touchscreen, which is powered by a 1GHz Hummingbird CPU and an inbuilt PowerVR SGX 3D graphics engine.
The inbuilt graphics on this phone make it an amazing gaming device, and the screen looks lovely whether playing virtual football or shooting alien bad guys.
The big question mark over the Samsung Wave S8500 is whether the Bada OS can maintain support in an increasingly Android focused world, although on hardware performance alone, this phone manages to compete with the best.
Samsung Galaxy S
The Samsung Galaxy S is a great game friendly smartphone, which also features a lovely looking 4 inch Super AMOLED screen and a powerful 1GHz Hummingbird processor. If you are looking for an Android smartphone and want something for gaming, this is one of the best choices available.
The Samsung Galaxy S features PowerVR SGX 540 graphics, which is notable for being the fastest GPU on any Android smartphone so far. This phone is one of only a few serious competitors to the Apple iPhone 4 when it comes to gaming power and fun, and is also a very capable phone in every other regard.