GPD, which is short for GamePad Digital, has been making gaming-oriented PC handhelds and mini laptops long before Valve announced the Steam Deck. The company, however, traces its origins to a long-forgotten time when some companies, including ARCHOS, Sony, and even NVIDIA, tried to popularize the idea of an Android gaming handheld device. Those may have been ahead of their time before mobile gaming finally became truly profitable. GPD might be going back to its roots, at least for a brief period, and its upcoming GPD-XP unsurprisingly takes inspiration from the Nintendo Switch.
Handheld gaming devices have been around for decades, but the Switch obviously struck a chord with gamers. The device’s removable Joy-con controllers and its multiple modes inspired not a few copycats and accessories to cash in on that idea. While there have been a few gaming smartphones that followed that path, GPD is seemingly taking a slightly different road towards that same end.
According to XDA, the GPD-XP shares many things similar to a smartphone, like a 6.81-inch screen with an obvious punch-hole cutout in the corner. The specs are, unfortunately, rather disappointing for a gaming handheld, with a MediaTek Helios G95 processor, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. The device does have a hefty 7,000 mAh battery and 4G for Internet connectivity, not for calls and SMS.
The GPD-XP’s unique feature is its controls. The left side is apparently fixed and contains an analog stick, a D-Pad, and three buttons for Android’s traditional navigation controls. The right side, however, is magnetically attached and can either be a more traditional gamepad or a custom one designed specifically for MOBA-type games. In both cases, physical controls can apparently be mapped to touch screen areas, which will be helpful for games that don’t have controller support.
There is no word yet on when GPD plans to launch the device, but it will most likely do so on Indiegogo again. It is admittedly an interesting take on the Android gaming handheld idea, but it remains to be seen whether it will have as much appeal. Aside from the modular controllers, there are plenty of smartphones out there that can do as much and can even make phone calls, too.