Smart Phones Will Outperform Xbox One And PS4 In 2017, Report Says

Now before grabbing your pitchfork and heading to the comment section, keep in mind that by “outperform” they're not talking about sales, not by a long shot. By “outperform” the report is talking about actual hardware performance... that mobile devices will be able to match the Xbox One and PS4 in performance.

Venture Beat did a report on a Casual Connect conference in Amsterdam where chip maker ARM talked about their upcoming line of tech set to appear in mobile devices by the end of 2017 that could perform on par to what is in the Xbox One or PS4. According to ARM's ecosystem director Nizar Romdan...

Mobile hardware is already powerful, […] If you take today’s high-end smartphone or tablet, the performance is already better than Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It’s catching up quickly with Xbox One and PlayStation 4

They don't actually show 1:1 graphs of benchmarking between the chips set to arrive in devices in late 2017 and the current performance of the PS4 and Xbox One. Majority of the report is about the new ARM chips being designed to handle VR on mobile devices, which could free up the touchscreen to allow for better controls for mobile gaming.

The major problem here is that this is a huge leap in logic when it comes to performance because there are a couple of major factors that differentiate “quality” between mobile gaming and dedicated consoles. While some mobile games can look really good, they usually do so for the resolution of an iPhone or Galaxy S series and at the expense of fidelity. So while the latest iPhone may hit 1080p and the latest Galaxy may hit 1440p, they still do so at only a fraction of the pixels per square inch compared to home consoles and with a different internal resolution compared to how the same game would display on a larger screen.

Another big difference is that the integrated graphics processors are limited in how they utilize physics, liquid simulation, PBR, shadowing and light casting. It's a world apart from the kind of graphical effects present on the larger home consoles or dedicated PCs.

What ARM is discussing at their event sounds great on paper, but we've been having this kind of discussion about mobile devices out-powering consoles since around 2010 or so. Additionally, it's hard to use graphics power on a mobile device as a selling point when it's difficult to make out a lot of the details on such a small screen. Things like physically-based material that highlight fabrics, proper cloth stitching or reflective mirroring in metals are oftentimes lost on mobile games or hard to see properly.

While games like Need For Speed: No Limits looks nice on Androids and iPhones, it's no where near the Frostbite 3-powered Need For Speed on consoles and PC.

According to the Venture Beat article, the major aim from companies like ARM is to tap into a mobile device's capability for VR gaming on the go. They estimate that it may be worth $15 billion on mobile devices alone by 2020. This ties into estimates from Goldman Sachs who estimate that VR in general will be worth $80 billion in 2025, as reiterated recently by the GameStop CEO in an interview with Fox about the PlayStation VR. Companies are hoping that the bump up in specs on mobile devices will lure in hardcore gamers, but that hasn't really happened over the past half-decade since analysts have been saying that mobile gaming would kill consoles.

For now I wouldn't take the boastful claims of mobile surpassing home consoles to heart. Until they benchmark those processors and give us a good processes-per-second breakdown it's a little hard to take the claims of “outperform” too seriously.

Will Usher

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.