When Samsung recently announced its Galaxy S4 smartphone, eagle-eyed tech heads spotted an interesting looking accessory on the manufacturer’s website called the Game Pad. The listing has since been taken down, but not before technology blogs all over the world made a note of all the information and posted it on their websites.
This will no doubt have excited gamers looking to buy mobile phones, and maybe prompted them to consider a Samsung phone because of the upcoming Game Pad accessory. So, what is this mysterious bit of kit, and how is it going to affect the world of mobile gaming as we know it?
Game Pad stylings
The Samsung Game Pad is a device that can turn certain Samsung smartphones into a portable games console. It looks a bit like an Xbox controller with an adjustable cradle on top that is used to hold a smartphone. The Game Pad is then connected to a mobile via Bluetooth, et voila! You have your very own Android games console. Alternatively, you can hook a Samsung mobile and Game Pad up to a TV using a HDMI cable for a more traditional gaming experience.
The Game Pad looks pretty retro with its off-white plastic shell and has more than a whiff of the original Game Boy about it. It’s even powered by two AA batteries, something that no doubt adds to the nostalgia factor. The Game Pad will reportedly come with eight free bundled games, and Samsung has said there will be over 80 Android games available that are compatible with the device when it is released. Sounds interesting.
Compatibility & controls
This being a Samsung device, it can only be used with other Samsung smartphones. At present confirmed handsets include the Galaxy S4, Galaxy S III, Galaxy S III Mini, and Galaxy Note II. Devices need to run Android Jelly Bean 4.2 or above to be able to link up with the Game Pad, and they also need to have Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity.
The device was listed online as being compatible with smartphones with displays up to 6.3-inches, which raised a few eyebrows at the time as Samsung doesn’t offer such a handset…yet. This fuelled speculation that the upcoming Galaxy Note III will boast a 6.3-inch display, and these rumours are likely to be the reason the Game Pad listing was removed.
When it comes to design, the Game Pad features controls that most gamers will be familiar with, including dual analogue sticks, D-pad, four front buttons and two shoulder triggers. Having these physical controls could eliminate the annoying times when fingers obscure the gaming action whilst using on-screen controls. There’s also a certain pleasure and satisfaction that can be had from having a physical controller in the hand too.
There have been previous devices similar to the Game Pad, however, none of them have really took off in the mainstream market. The Monga Power is a gaming controller which hooks up to Android smartphones via Bluetooth in a similar fashion to Samsung’s offering, and there is also something called the Nyko PlayPad Pro which connects with Android tablets for mobile gaming.
Neither of these devices has proven to be overly popular, so what makes Samsung think it can conquer this niche? If the Game Pad is to become as successful as Samsung’s range of smartphones, the manufacturer will have to iron out a few issues. Firstly, it will have to make sure the Game Pad functions really well and improves the mobile gaming experience in contrast to using on-screen controls, otherwise the accessory is pointless.
Samsung will also have to ensure there is a wide variety of compatible games available. If Samsung can somehow crack this then it might be able to corner a potentially profitable market. With the massive marketing power of Samsung behind the Game Pad it has a much higher chance of being a hit than the aforementioned devices from lesser known manufacturers.
There has been no official word on when the Samsung Game Pad will be released, but there are whispers on the internet that it is due to land in May. We’ll have to wait until then to see if the Game Pad will revolutionise mobile gaming, but as Samsung has no real experience in the gaming arena, there are no guarantees it will be a success. But Samsung is not one to go down without a fight, and so it’s likely it’ll put out all the stops to ensure the Game Pad doesn’t fail.
This guest blog was written by Abbi Cox of Phones 4u, where you can choose from a selection of Samsung smartphones on a range of networks such as EE, O2, Vodafone and Three.