Mobile gaming is an institution in its own right. With gaming heavyweights like Nintendo having moved away from making home console exclusives to produce them and even shifting hardware to be more mobile, it’s clear that there are plenty of incentives.
Compare the over $1bn revenues Pocket Tactics suggest has now made by mobile game Fire Emblem Heroes to its console series counterparts, which utterly pale in comparison. The continued phenomenon is thanks in no small part to hardware and software advancements in the space, making possible everything from classic single-tap games like Flappy Bird all the way to complex console-like experiences. Genre-wise, some of the big hitters have been battle royale shooters like Fortnite, racing games like the Asphalt series, and games with gacha mechanics like Genshin Impact and the aforementioned Fire Emblem Heroes. Though no less significant, not often spoken of in the same breath are iGaming titles, which have also helped push things forward among different demographics, and as a segment could reach $8.5bn in the US alone by 2025.
On the hardware front, dedicated controllers like the Razer Kishi V2, available in Malaysia since June, have elevated those console-standard experiences. But more powerful tablets have also allowed providers to increase the depth of their games, in part thanks to the extra real-estate that the format allows. This could be HUDs in some games, as well as things like Live Dealers, typified in the range of games on Ladbrokes which feature them in titles such as Quantum Roulette Live and Live Blackjack Quick Seat. This shows how technology has advanced, but to enjoy these games and things like Call of Duty you need a good tablet, for live streaming, complex graphics and constant connectivity.
What are some baseline stats? For our money, one is a decent-sized screen — ideally 10 inches or more. Second is a modern enough system-on-chip to push those pixels and maintain a reliable 5G or Wifi 6 connection, which is important for most online games, whether staying in touch with a live dealer or avoiding headshot-costing lag. The tablet market is awash with options, and it can be tough to get the right product. Fear not: we’re here to help.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8
In the Android world, Samsung predictably still makes the best stuff. It only comes in an 11-inch variant, but the Super AMOLED quality on 1600 x 2560-pixel resolution means you’ll still be able to see the smile on the dealer’s face as you bust out on Quantum Roulette, and really shows off the reason Samsung is the king of the display manufacturers. Pushing that is the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, which is more than enough to get 120 frames per second on Call of Duty Mobile.
iPad Pro (2021)
Developers of popular games are usually going to create a version optimized for Apple devices, and the M1 chips running on these have more than enough grunts to run even the most demanding of games. The 11-inch version is going to be enough for a lot of people, and if you do want the 12.9-inch version just be aware that all that glass and metal makes it around 50% heavier. If you’re on a tighter budget, the iPad Air is no slouch either. Choosing one of those could save you some cash for a control pad or other peripheral to play games that work best with them like Streets of Rage 4, which is finally set to include multiplayer.
Asus ROG Flow Z13
This one is a real Swiss Army knife of computation, since it runs Windows on an Intel CPU (the max spec is an i912900H), with up to an Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti GPU and a 13.4-inch screen running at 4k/ 60Hz or 1080p/ 120Hz. Need more power? Plug in a beefier external graphics card. All this means you can run full-fat modern games, platforms like Steam or GOG, and even services like Twitch, before switching over to consuming media or doing work at any time.
While the above options are among the most expensive, for the no-compromise tablet gamer they are worth it, and the specs you get also help with future-proofing. On the budget end, Amazon and a few Chinese manufacturers make some quality devices, too, but naturally don’t expect to use them for the more competitive esports titles.