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If a somewhat sketchy rumour out of Korea is to be believed, Apple could be considering a new handheld gaming device that would be akin to Nintendo’s Switch, putting Apple’s hardware and software expertise into its first dedicated gaming console.
The news, which was shared by MacRumors, comes from a Korean forum post that was surfaced by Twitter user @FrontTron. While it doesn’t appear to come from any reliable sources, and should therefore be taken with a grain of salt, it’s still an interesting idea that could provide some insight into Apple’s overall plans in the gaming space.
According to the report, the device would feature an entirely new Apple-designed SoC that would be optimized specifically for gaming. Although such a chip would undoubtedly be based on Apple’s M1 and A14 designs, it would be expected to feature enhanced GPU performance and ray tracing support.
Perhaps more significantly, the post also claims that Apple is already in negotiations with several high-profile game studios, including Ubisoft — the French studio behind popular titles such as Assasin’s Creed as well as the producer of the hit Apple TV+ series Mythic Quest.
Ultimately, however, these seem to be the only points that are being made in support of this mysterious new device, and the lack of any sourcing means that it could just as easily be a complete fabrication.
What’s Going on Here?
We think it’s unlikely in the extreme that Apple is planning to go all-in on handheld gaming — after all, it already has over a billion iPhones in people’s hands, and it’s spent years promoting it as being a great gaming device — but that doesn’t mean that there might not be a germ of truth behind this rumour.
Apple has clearly been getting much more serious about gaming in recent years. The iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac all now support the same game controllers used by the PlayStation and Xbox consoles, and with the launch of Apple Arcade back in 2019, the company actually began spending over half a billion dollars to bankroll some significant video game titles.
In fact, we saw the fruits of this investment earlier this year when the long-awaited game by legendary Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi arrived in the form of Fantasian.
There have also been some pretty legitimate reports swirling over the past year about a new Apple TV that would pack in an A14X chip to become a gaming powerhouse, and even support the kind of high-refresh 120Hz displays needed for gaming.
Sadly, when Apple finally did debut a new Apple TV 4K — for the first time in almost four years — it wasn’t quite what we were hoping for in that area, packing in only the two-year-old A12 Bionic chip, and not even bumping up the storage capacity beyond the original 64GB limit. In fact, it even took a minor step back in some ways, with the new Siri Remote lacking the accelerometer and gyroscope that previously allowed it to be used as a game controller.
However, that doesn’t mean that Apple isn’t still working on a second, more powerful “Apple TV Pro.” Last fall’s rumours of an A14X-equipped Apple TV didn’t rule out the possibility that two models were already in the works, so in many ways the A12 version that we saw last month was precisely what we expected — and we’ve been hearing about that one for much longer, too.
Further, a rumour last year from the cryptic but oft-reliable @L0vetodream suggested that Apple has been working on creating its own game controller.
Considering that Apple has already baked in full support for Sony and Microsoft’s popular game controllers, it would make almost no sense at all for Apple to develop its own — unless of course it planned to release it with some kind of new game console.
So, while we wouldn’t put a lot of stake in rumours of a Switch-like game console — Apple already has the iPhone and iPod touch to fill that space — we suspect that if these latest rumours are based on any real information at all, they’re likely confusing Apple’s full game console plans with its mobile device lineup.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]