Millions of us choose to play games on our smartphones today, but are these devices really up to the task? After all, can a pocket-sized device not much bigger than a bar of chocolate really offer a quality gaming experience or do you still need a console or computer to get the job done?
Putting Modern Smartphone Computing Power Into Context
Mobile technology today is completely unrecognisable compared to just a few decades ago. The legendary Nokia 3310 first went on sale in September 2000 boasting just 1 KB of internal memory and a feeble 16-bit single-core processor with a clock speed of 13 Mhz. In comparison to contemporary handsets, the trusty Snake-playing brick looks like a prehistoric cave tool.
It’s hard to truly compare the specification to a modern smartphone, but Samsung’s new Galaxy S23 device has 8.4 million times more RAM than the 3310 and eight 64-bit processing cores capable of speeds as high as 3.2 GHz. Although it’s a crude calculation, this means that the S23 can make almost 20,400 more calculations every second.
To underline this point even further, we can compare Samsung’s smartphone to the onboard guidance computer fitted to NASA’s Apollo rockets that landed humans on the Moon. These were equipped with 4 KB of memory, 2.1 million times less than the S23.
It is clear, therefore, that modern smartphones are packing some serious machinery under the hood but the most important comparison is one against other gaming devices.
For example, the Xbox 360 used a three-core 64-bit CPU with a clock speed of 3.2 GHz, though it was also capable of hyperthreading. Meanwhile, the current Xbox Series X has an eight-core 64-bit chipset clocked at 3.8 GHz and 16 GB of memory that’s capable of leaving the S32 in its dust, at least in terms of raw power.
When it comes to graphics processing, the Series X wins hands down thanks to the custom AMD Radeon RDNA 2 GPU capable of 12.16 TFLOPS. The GPU in Microsoft’s big black gaming box can also undertake ray-tracing which provides more realistic-looking lighting effects in computer-generated graphics.
So with that in mind, you might think that smartphones are inferior gaming machines. However, it isn’t that simple as there’s much more to a great gaming experience than simply better-looking visuals and raw power.
Smartphone users have much more choice when it comes to gaming than users of almost any other platform. Xbox Series X users have, as of February 2023, fewer than 400 titles created specifically for that console.
Online casinos, alone, offer significantly more choice to their players. Most leading brands have a catalogue that contains hundreds (or even thousands) of different slot games, covering every imaginable theme and more. This means mobile players are more likely to find something that interests them. For example, fans of Ancient Egypt can enjoy titles like Rich Wilde and the Book of Dead while those who enjoy space are more likely to find Stars Invaders more exciting.
On top of that, there are more than a million different games in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, again, covering just about every conceivable genre. This covers everything from simple puzzles like Words With Friends all the way to first-person shooters like Call of Duty.
Smartphones offer a lot of flexibility over other gaming devices. You can’t, after all, whip out your PlayStation 5 on the train and enjoy a few rounds of Fortnite, but you could do that with a smartphone.
Gaming laptops do offer a degree of portability, but the battery life of these computers is nothing compared to a smartphone.
Therefore, if you want the ability to play your games from almost anywhere, then you need a smartphone.
Chances are, you already have a smartphone that’s capable of playing almost every mobile game on the market. Therefore, the cost to get up and running is practically nothing.
Many mobile games are also free or cost considerably less than a console or PC title. Therefore, if you’re planning to play games on a budget, a smartphone is all you’ll need.
To put it into perspective, playing Fortnite on a smartphone you already own will cost you nothing but the small amount of electricity it takes to charge your device and to connect to the internet.
In comparison, to play the same free game on a gaming PC or console will require you to purchase capable hardware that will set you back somewhere between $500 and several thousand dollars.
In short, you can purchase a console or gaming PC to enjoy certain games and better graphics but if these aren’t that important to you or you’re on a budget, then a smartphone is going to be more than sufficient.