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Report: Qualcomm to develop its own gaming phones with ASUS (Update)

Update: Qualcomm has issued a statement on the matter. Could these phones simply be reference designs?

Published onOctober 13, 2020

ASUS ROG Phone 3 back up on table
David Imel / Android Authority
  • ASUS and Qualcomm are purportedly teaming up to produce gaming phones.
  • At least one of the phones could be powered by the Snapdragon 875 processor.
  • Qualcomm has issued a statement suggesting that it’s a reference design.

Update: October 13, 2020 (1:30 AM ET): Qualcomm has now come back to us following a Digitimes report that it was teaming up with ASUS to develop and release Qualcomm-branded gaming phones (see the original article below). Check out the statement below:

Every year we develop reference design platforms to showcase the latest Snapdragon technology. You should expect us to continue to develop these showcase platforms with support from our ecosystem partners to demonstrate the latest technology and user experiences Snapdragon mobile platforms can deliver, in addition to our role in expanding 5G globally.

It’s a common practice for mobile chipmakers to develop reference designs that don’t actually go on sale. These designs are used to demonstrate chipset capabilities to partners, media, and others. The statement suggests that it’s a continuation of this arrangement rather than commercially available phones, but we’ll likely need to wait until Qualcomm’s December event to get a final answer.

Original article: October 7, 2020 (8:16 AM ET): The gaming phone segment has seen plenty of entries in the last couple of years, with ASUS, Black Shark, Iqoo, and nubia all launching phones in recent times. Now, it looks like silicon kingpin Qualcomm could be joining the party.

Taiwanese tech outlet Digitimes (subscription required) reports that Qualcomm will team up with ASUS to develop and launch Qualcomm-branded gaming phones, citing industry sources. The outlet adds that the phones could launch as soon as the end of the year.

It’s believed ASUS will be tasked with designing and developing the hardware while Qualcomm is said to be responsible for “industry design” and “software integration optimizing its Snapdragon 875 platform.”

Qualcomm traditionally launches its new flagship silicon in December, with widespread device availability from Q1 of the following year. So it stands to reason that a Snapdragon 875-powered smartphone made by the duo would only be available from early next year if a launch event takes place in 2020.

What would a joint effort look like?

Sources told Digitimes that the agreement also calls for the joint purchasing of components needed for both the ASUS ROG Phone gaming phones and Qualcomm’s gaming phones. Parts mentioned include screens, memory, camera modules, batteries, and cooling solutions.

This suggests a Qualcomm-branded gaming phone could share some hardware DNA with current or future ROG Phones. Joint purchasing would also result in ASUS being able to take advantage of economies of scale in order to reduce production costs and gain greater bargaining power for its own phone line, the outlet claimed.

Would you buy a Qualcomm-branded gaming phone?

886 votes

The website adds that Qualcomm and ASUS expect to produce roughly one million phones a year, with 500,000 units devoted to Qualcomm-branded gaming phones and the rest falling under the ROG Phone brand.

There’s no word on specs or other details regarding these phones just yet, but you only need to take a look at the firm’s ROG Phone lineup and other gaming phones for an idea of what to expect. Features found on today’s gaming phones include high refresh rate screens, shoulder triggers or other extra buttons, advanced cooling solutions, top-end silicon, and a big battery.

We’ve contacted Qualcomm for comment and will update the article if/when they respond to us. Would you buy a Qualcomm-branded gaming smartphone though? Take our poll further up the page!

Next: ASUS ROG Phone 3 review — A gaming powerhouse for everyone

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