Gaming smartphones are literally where the real innovation is .

mashable.com

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Approximately three years ago, when Razer acquired NextBit, fans were left wondering what a gaming brand would do with a young smartphone company. But, we didn't have to wait long for the Razer Phone, a device meant especially for gaming that created noise in the industry.

This marked the birth of a new category of smartphones, made for gamers and their needs in mind. It wasn't long before everyone else hopped on the bandwagon for this new emerging breed of power users.

Over the next year, we saw many others follow suit viz. the ASUS ROG phone, Xiaomi BlackShark, ZTE Nubia Red Magic, and the Huawei Mate 20 X and while it was easy to dismiss them as a gimmick at first glance, trying them out changed my mind.

On paper, they offered the same high-end specs as other top flagships, but the way they tweaked their software and focused heavily on offering an improved hardware package made a difference in the actual user experience.

Having said that, slapping a ‘gamer's tag onto a smartphone might just be categorized as a classic trait to offer a higher price tag for practically, the same stuff, and that is true for some of these smartphones as well.

But let's talk about the devices that are actually changing the game:

The Razer Phone (the original and the second gen) was the first phone in the world to sport a 120Hz refresh rate. At that moment, most phones offered a 60Hz panel. The refresh rate is practically the maximum frame rate a display can output. The ROG phone was another device to cross the 60Hz threshold with a 90Hz screen, along with an OLED display, to bring in the extra saturation and contrast. Before these, one could say that display tech on smartphones had pretty much tanked as there was nothing new to upgrade to. (the resolution-race ended before it got hot).

One may argue (including me) that games will actually be able to cross 60Hz, which is true for the most part, but that’s not the point with these crazy smooth displays. The entire UI, your app animations, notifications, swipes, scrolling and basically everything that moves, gets rendered with that crazy smoothness which will make your phone feel a lot fast than it actually is. Not something you can see over pictures or video, but just imagine the difference between a 30fps video and a 60fps. Once you cross 60Hz you can never go back, and it will forever spoil you for any other display.

Asus ROG Phone to launch on Oct. 18 for $899

Secondly, even when these phones are powered with the same processors, these manufacturers go out of their way to try to improve the performance on these devices, by either overclocking the chipset, selecting the best bin or add extra air circulation or liquid cooling to sustain peak performance. The ASUS ROG phone provides an additional fan module that can be attached for better ventilation.

Lastly, and this is more of a personal preference, but the design on ALL of these gaming phones is out of this world! I find our rectangular glass sandwich phones to look too boring and conventional, and these a different look. Considering how expensive these gaming phones are, I would like my phone to not look like too basic.

These phones also become great multimedia devices with excellent displays, beefy batteries, great audio output and usually and a headphone jack. Where they suck, is as content creation devices. If only these brands could fix the cameras on these phones to be able to match other flagships, they would become better phones, overall.

I hope brands can try and focus on these features next and in turn, make gaming phones much bigger than just a niche.