Razer, Asus, Nubia, and Xiaomi all launched smartphones aimed at gamers in 2018. For the most part that meant they had fast processors, big batteries, maybe a special display or cooling system, and maybe a funky looking back cover.

But the upcoming MOQI smartphone? It actually looks like a handheld game console: it has physical game control buttons surrounding a 6 inch touchscreen display.

The smartphone is up for pre-order for $399 and up through an Indiegogo campaign and it should ship in March.

If you’re worried about putting your money into a crowdfunding campaign, it’s worth noting that MOQI is a subsidiary of Snail Digital, which has been around for almost two decades, and which has some experience releasing gaming phones for the Chinese market.

The MOQI is one of the first aimed at global markets, although it does look an awful lot like a model the company was showing off a year and a half ago.

The smartphone features a 6 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel touchscreen display with Gorilla Glass 3, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor, 6GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, a 6,000 mAh battery  and a 16MP rear camera and 5MP front camera. It ships with Android 8.1.

Gaming features include a 9-axis gravity sensor, two analog sticks, a D-pad, X,Y,A, and B buttons, left and right shoulder buttons, and select and start buttons. There’s also a liquid cooling system to keep the phone from overheating during use.

It also has stereo speakers, a headphone jack, a microSD card reader and a USB Type-C port.

At a time when phone makers have been chasing slimmer and slimmer bezels in the quest for a truly all-screen experience, the MOQI goes the opposite direction. It’s a phone with a 6 inch display, but thanks to the built-in game controls, it’s a big phone that measures 8.1″ x 3.8″ x 0.6″ and weighs 11.6 ounces.

But it also bucks modern smartphone trends in another way: the MOQI phone has a replaceable battery.

Note that $399 is the “super early bird” price for the first 50 customers. If that reward level sells out, the price goes up to $449 and the full retail prices is listed as $699, although it’s likely that the MOQI will be cheaper than that if and when it hits stores.

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12 replies on “MOQI is a gaming smartphone that actually looks like a gaming device”

  1. This actually looks pretty cool for the money but the obvious three biggest concerns :
    1. Post sale support (including Android updates)
    2. 4G carrier compatibility
    3. Indiegogo

    I’m in the market for a new phone and want a gaming phone as my next device. May just have to just get a Galaxy and forget about dedicated gaming controls

  2. This just looks like Snail’s previous device, but with a new brand. Did they rebrand iReadyGo to MOQI?

  3. How is Android gaming nowadays? Outside the emulation space, are there a lot of popular games that would benefit from dedicated controls? Even if Android gaming is the mobile gaming platform, I’d rather have thicker slider type device like the old Sony Xperia Play.

  4. I see some problems with this.

    The offset-joysticks are a weird choice.
    However, looking at the renders the buttons remind me of dozens of similar Chinese products that were kinda bad input (travel, lag, deadzones, etc).
    And the omission of the L2/R2 shoulder pads is also stupid, even GPD solved this in the XD/Win handhelds.
    The placement of the USB-C and Headphone Jack on the bottom (aka Right-Side Portrait) is what should be done, but it’s better to put them in the centre. Internally they take space, and sitting in the middle can mean being below the SoC and Camera, which saves PCB space. And allows you to split the large battery into two smaller ones, and get Dual-FastCharging.
    In terms of earpiece, I guess the rear isn’t a bad spot. However the design looks symmetrical which is great, but the phone talking is not, which will cause people to listen to the mic and talk into the speaker…. then embarrassingly flip/adjust again. A proper symmetrical earpiece/mic would have been the smarter solution (and has been done before by the TCL Idol 3). Howeve, the speakers are in an area where a finger may lay and cause it to block and muffle during gaming. Even despite that, having it face the back means it’s quieter, lower quality, and less-stereo than if it were to be aimed directly at your ears (aka front firing).
    The mic position is also not the best.
    The dark glossy plastic (piano black) is also not ideal, it makes it a smudge-magent, slippery with oily fingers, scratch loving, and after a couple months/days it looks old and badly used. A middle-tone Matte plastic, particularly an (aerospace grade) Polycarbonate would be the better choice with a metal (Titanium Alloy) frame would be a better choice in terms of quality and durability.

    Other issues I see with this:
    Slow charging.
    Poor quality rear camera.
    Poor quality front camera.
    SoC is much faster than most 625-635 (low-end) phones, and it’s only modestly faster than the 636 also a low-end phone and practicality equal to the 2016 flagship 820/821 phones. So its no slouch, but it’s kinda slow for gaming. They should introduce this as a base/starter device, however, it makes no sense to also put a 8GB/QSD 855 choice available even if it’s to be delayed by 3months.

    My biggest gripe seems to be its size.
    Surely, it’s smaller than carrying a gaming solution like the Note9 and a controller (eg GameSir T1s). Or an iPhone 8 and Nintendo Switch. Or even smaller; an iPhone SE and PS Vita. However, what I don’t like is that it isn’t really POCKETABLE anymore. Sure it will fit into some, or many pockets, but it will stick out and be uncomfortable if it even makes it in there. And not to mention, those dual-joysticks are going to snap One Day when it gets pushed and caught inside your pocket. It’s not just the thickness. It’s not just the bezels. It’s not just the huge screen. All three factors make it UNPOCKETABLE. Surely women with handbags will do fine, and men with backpacks might get away, but for a majority of people it’s just not very portable.

    A better solution would be to have the phone pocketable. Then have the gamepad portions be removable, and when removed, they should be pocketable in the alternate pocket (right vs left side). I think Xiaomi is doing something with this concept with the new BlackShark Helio and gamepad. It makes sense to have each joycon connect via pins so they can send additional power to the unit, and have low-latency connection. Even better would be to solve the Bluetooth Problem in AndroidOS, and have controllers pass input with low-latency (eg Xbox). Sure, with this design, you miss out on a single HUGE battery capacity (6,000 – 9,000mAh)…. because the pocketable phone might only have 3,000-4,000mAh and each joycon unit might have 1,000-2,000mAh capacity. So overall you might ONLY have a total of 5,000 – 8,000mAh, which is still good. And for anyone needing extra, there are (fast charging) portable battery packs you can get upto 26,000mAh….which means topping up an extra 4-5 times over, great even for campers and road warriors (practicality a week’s worth).

    Anyways, that’s more along the lines of a No Compromise Gaming Handheld-Phone…. and I do not intend to see any selfish for-profit company make this into a reality. And enthusiast startups lack the initial funding (2 Million?) and expertise to do it.

    1. Honestly, the solution is to just bite the bullet and make the phone thicker, and then have the controls on a slider. The extra thickness wouldn’t reduce the pocketability, though it would bulge more in the pocket it would still fit in much more easily than the extra length. I used to put my N900 in my pocket and it was fine, I’m sure a 6″ device of a similar thickness with minimal bezels wouldn’t kill me.

      And yeah, that SOC wouldn’t be my first choice, especially not when Nubia has an 845-powered phone for the same price. I get that they’re not working on the same economies of scale, but still. The full retail price of this thing is almost double that, which is insane for what you’re getting compared to what’s out there.

      1. This thing is over 15mm’s thick!

        I agree, a thick phone is/can be a better phone (rigidity, battery, etc etc). However, my idea of “thick” is to have something around 9mm’s. And that’s not absurd in the least, since we now have many phones in the 5mm – 7mm range.

        I have an N900 as well, barely turns on, so I know what thickness is like. Also had a TyTNII, Desire Z, Samsung Epic, and Moto Milestone3. The latter was much more pocket-friendly than the former. As you make the screen larger, you need to make the profile thinner. And its much better to have thin phone with large display which is pocketable, as opposed to, another pocketable phone that is thick but has a small display.

        start rant:
        Imagine a phone with 16:9 display, front-firing stereo loudspeakers, and 85% screen to body ratio (slim bezels). Make it between 5.2in – 5.8in, and 9mm’s thick, and guess what its POCKETABLE and still can house an impressive 2x 2,500mAh batteries.

        The double-joycons will slide or snap off, and they can go into a SEPARATE pocket. That means the whole unit is still pocketable. Much more enticing than this or a PS Vita, or a separate controller.

        I even have an idea on how the joycons can be. Think of holding the phone in Landscape Mode, and sliding the controllers on the Left and Right sides. Each Joycon can be Same-Height as the phone in Landscape, but Not-Wide maybe only an additional 10mm’s extension on the Left and 10mm’s extension on the Right, meaning a hypothetical phone (150mm x 75mm x 9mm) in Landscape is now 170mm’s wide with both controllers attached.
        Now you must be thinking, how would that work?
        Well you see the joycons would not be the same “thickness” as the phone. Having them 9mm’s thin makes them unergonomic. Just think about your palm, and how your hand articulates in a rested position. You want to make the Z-axis (or thickness) of the joycons very large so your fingers grapple around it, like holding a rifle’s magazine. This means they’re now 4-7cm’s thick. And each finger resting on the underside of the joycon has a button. So yes, you have 4x Action Buttons on the rear, with a Joystick on the front. And with both joycons you get Double-Joysticks and 8x Action Buttons. Sure you miss out on a D-pad, but this is seldom used in most games, and is an after-thought most of the time when it is used. And you make the tradeoff between the traditional 4x Action Buttons + 4x Shoulder Pads…. for essentially 8x Action Buttons. And let me tell you its worth it. Because you can push any and all 8x Action Buttons WITHOUT removing your thumb from any joystick. In a traditional controller, you must remove one thumb to use one of the 4x Action Buttons, and is uncomfortable to try to hit multiple Action Buttons. So its about crafting the controller around nature: your hands. And making it a cohesive entertainment package which you can pocket. And remember, MOST mens pants have four pockets (Left/Right, Front/Back) and MOST women use small purses. This solution would be most ideal.

        Even better if it came to the iPhone ecosystem, because it has the better hardware and software, so a high quality experience is more likely to be achieved. Its better this way, so Android alternatives can compete to match and exceed the overall experience. Not that I endorse Apple, I’d just hate someone to take this concept, then half-bake it, so that other companies simply say “look its stupid, see that CheapContraption, I’m not going to do that”. Functionality is always better than Form, hence, my recent hatred for thin, slippery, expensive phones that are asymmetrical with worse quality and stupid aspect ratios and holes/notches. But having BOTH (functionality + form) is even better.

  5. Dunno… seems like a “worst of both worlds” kind of device. It’s too big for a phone, not powerful enough for a dedicated gaming device, not cheap enough to make me forgive this. This was also my gripe with the Smatc-Z even before the sh1tstorm hit the fan. I think just getting a used Nvidia Shield or even a PS Vita is better for emulation, or maybe a Switch for current gen games. Anyhow, it seems to be aimed at Chinese Mobile-MMO players, so if they can throw money at them, then why not?

    1. I imagine the pitch talk went like this:
      Annual meeting of evil geniuses. Guy walks out in a white lab coat. “So I _know_ that last time we agreed, that I would make a giant radioactive lizard-monster to attack Tokyo… but instead I crossbred my PS Vita with this Nokia 8.1 phone here. Okay, okay, hear me out! So. Here is this… thing, that _looks like_ a PS Vita fed on BigMacs and Diet Coke, but inside it’s actually a mid-range Android phone! And I thought, that, well, we could make people use this as a phone! A very uncomfortable one! We could tell them they can play games on it, but we wouldn’t tell them they can already do that on their current phones, only with less hassle setting up virtual controls so that the controller is detected as touchscreen inputs, because, you know most games on Android are kind of expecting touch inputs. I see it in your eyes that you like where this is going,but wait! There is more! We will ask between $399 to $699 for this! And the best part! We will launch this on Indiegogo! Not even Kickstarter, because they’ll want a working prototype, but on the other, shittier one, where you just upload some renders and a youtube video, and you’re set! A giant radioactive lizard-monster would maybe destroy half a city-block, and eat some people before it eventually gets shot to death and made into sushi, but this will stick around for years with delays and lackluster costumer support for faulty beta-devices that come without warranty, because it’s a crowdfunding! With all the buyers remorse this will ruin marriages and wreck people’s lives!”
      * applause grows into standing ovation in the room *

    2. Absolutely, worst of both worlds. Utterly impossible to use as a smartphone, and doesn’t even tick any boxes for my list of a portable gaming device.

  6. This looks exactly like my Much I5 that i had and loved. I may actually get one of these if it supports T-mobile 4g.

  7. It needs elephant ear/Sidetalk or it’s not a proper gaming smartphone!

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