MOBILE: The Foundation of a Good Mobile Gaming Experience

Features to Look For in Gaming Smartphones

Things have come a long way from PDAs, and pretty quickly too. While tablets are my mobile gaming device of choice now, smartphones may still be relevant in certain situations.  Today I am going to go over what I think are the most important considerations for mobile multiplayer gaming.

Android or iOS for Operating Systems

Either.  I strongly recommend you go with Apple or Android.  I have a Google Nexus 4 phone, an iPad 3rd Gen, and no preference at this point.  Developers are going cross-platform on more and more applications all the time.  Windows looks promising, but I wouldn’t commit to it just yet.  It’s a bit of a gamble until we know if developers are interested enough in working on this platform.

Something else to think about are operating system updates.  After a while, older devices aren’t supported in future OS upgrades.  For example, the original iPad is no longer a supported device, meaning it is not eligible for OS upgrades.  Developers don’t make new programs compatible with old OS versions.  For Apple, your phone should be one of the two most recent releases.  For Android, it’s a little harder.  If you buy a phone made within the past year, and it has the most current OS, you should be OK.  You may be able to go back one OS version, but you should do a little research to make sure you’re going to get an upgrade.  Any older risks the chance your phone will not receive any OS upgrades, ensuring it will be obsolete before the contract even runs out.

The latest release versions as of 01/ 14/2012 are:

  • iOS 6.0.1 for Apple
  • Jelly Bean for Android.

Screen Size

I’ve had an iPhone, an Android phone, and an iPad. Staring at the tiny iPhone screen was fine.  Until I used the larger 4 inch screen on my Android.  It was far and away better, but I still found myself wanting more.  I would recommend anything from 4.3 inch – 5 inch screen size. You want plenty of screen real estate for PvP gameplay, even on a mobile device.  Comfort is a big factor to consider as well.

Processor And Power

The biggest, and the baddest.  Right now the top phones are sitting on four cores.  For blazing graphics, you want the biggest CPU you can get.  Now is not the time to pick up a new dual-core mobile phone.  That doesn’t mean you should trade in your old dual-core mobile phone.  Newly released mobile multiplayer games will be designed to run on dual-core chips.  My recommendation is for people looking for a new phone.  Dual-core mobiles will likely be more than enough through the end of their lifespan, which should be at least a little longer than their contract.

RAM is another important component of a phone’s power.  1 GB minimum, 2 GB preferred.  A standalone graphics processor is a good sign, although any standalone processors will still take part of the load off the CPU.

Memory Storage

A removable SD card is key to how much memory you will need.  16 GB will do if you don’t put any music on your phone, or if you can swap out SD cards.  Otherwise, 32 GB is a bottom floor you won’t want to go below.  If you do a lot of app downloading as well, put that floor at 62 GB.  New multiplayer games for iPhone and Android are coming with larger and larger memory requirements.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

While I would also recommend you get good call volume, the rest of a phone’s features are not important for mobile multiplayer gaming.  You are likely going to pay $199.99 or more for a 2-year contract phone.  Buying an unlocked phone will easily double the cost or more.  None of this takes into account the advent of new devices like nVidia’s Project Shield.  What feature is most important to you for mobile multiplayer gaming?

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