Gaming On Mobile: The Power Conundrum

Release: Release date – 12:15 AM, Mon – 17 Oct 22

Gaming on Mobile: The Power Conundrum

By Aditya Deshbandhu

Before I dive into this article, I would like to disclose that I received my Pixel 7 Pro early last week and have been extremely impressed with its performance so far.

The software, gesture-based interfaces, photography and battery life were top-notch, and while I’m getting used to a Google-intended phone again (my last one was a Nexus 5), I’m aware that “honeymoon with a new device” is often a fleeting experience. However, my time with the Pixel has made me wonder what performance and benchmarks mean for mobile and gaming.

Marques Brownlee (MKBHD) spoke on his YouTube channel last week about how careful he is about benchmarking mobile phones and how there is more to this experience than just pure performance. Armed with my new cell phone, I have a hard time disagreeing with his point of view. Which is ironic since I’m someone who’s always been looking for the latest and greatest in mobile hardware. This means that I’ve always looked for the latest Snapdragon 8 series chipset and accompanying GPU and the maximum amount of RAM.

With the Pixel 7, however, I hardly felt a tremor on a chipset that’s not as powerful as this generation’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Gaming has been a breeze so far and the transition to non-gaming activities has been super smooth.

However, mobile gaming has taken a very different path in 2022. Phone makers like Asus’ ROG line have not only packed their phones to the brim with performance this time, but have also created special companion devices like the “AeroActive Cooler 6”. and a screen with an exorbitant refresh rate.

The need for these developments seems logical considering that mobile is undergoing its “hardcore revolution” as a gaming platform. On the other hand, the existence of an experience like that offered by a Pixel is an indication that software optimization can help hardware catch up and sometimes surpass the latest and greatest.

The more I look at this difference, the more I want to see similarities between consoles and gaming PCs – it seems that the battle between optimization and intended experiences has made its way into mobile gaming as well.

As we look at the various ways this could play out for mobile gamers, it’s also important to keep in mind that phones designed for gaming sometimes fall short as everyday devices. A phone and software maker like Google and Apple (with integrated software and hardware manufacturing) will ensure the fastest updates and optimizations, which dedicated phone makers like Asus and Lenovo constantly struggle with.

When operating system updates and bug fixes are delayed, it often means the hardware can perform below its potential capabilities, and when you factor that in, the gap between optimized and intended experiences seems much narrower.

While trying to understand how a phone like the Pixel could be a better device to play with over time. I also think it’s important to realize that most new phones in existing product lines are iterative upgrades and you may be using your current phone for a while as prices are steadily increasing.

Should we then choose software simplicity over hardware complexity, I wonder?