The PlayStation Portal is a handheld gaming device with an 8 inch full HD display squeezed between two halves of a Sony DualSense controller with haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, and stereo speakers. Available now for $200, the PlayStation Portal is designed for one thing only: streaming games from a PlayStation 5 console.
You can’t officially use it for anything else, like streaming games from the internet, loading games onto the device for local playback, or emulation. And that may limit its appeal, which accounts for the mixed reviews the Portal has gotten since it hit the streets earlier this month. Wondering how feasible it would be to hack the system to do anything else? Nobody’s found a good way to do that yet, but we are getting a better sense of what makes the PlayStation Portal tick, which could be the first step.
YouTuber Jacob R has posted a 10-minute teardown video of the PlayStation Portal, which reveals a few key things about the handheld:
- It’s really not designed to be user repairable.
- The main processor is a Qualcomm SG4150P chip.
- It has Samsung LPDDR4x memory.
- The PlayStation Portal has a 16.6 Wh battery.
There’s not much information on the internet about the SG4150P processor, and while there’s been some speculation that it’s a Snapdragon 662 chip from 2019, the model number shows up in security bulletins starting in early 2023. I can’t find any mention of it before then, suggesting it’s a newer processor… possibly one of Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon G1 or G2 series processors designed for handheld gaming devices.
I’ve also seen some reports indicating that the Portal features Qualcomm Adreno 610 graphics.
All of which is to say, that this is most likely a budget chip that doesn’t pack a lot of horsepower, because it doesn’t really need much. Since the Portal is designed to stream games from a PlayStation 5 using Sony’s Remote Play service, it’s actually the PS5 that does all the heavy lifting. All the Portal needs are chips that are sufficient to handle the data connection, controller input, and audio and video output.
Early reports had indicated that the Portal’s operating system is Android-based, and now that it’s shipping, there seems to be some evidence that Android platform tools like fastboot work with the device. That could provide a pathway for hackers to find ways to load third-party apps or games, root the device, or even install custom ROMs. But it’s unclear how well the SG4150P processor will be able to handle anything other than the default Sony software.
That said, if you’re not looking to hack the device, it seems to work exactly as promised. Not only can you use it to stream games from your own PS5 over a local network connection, but users have found that you can stream games over the internet while traveling (or connecting to a friend’s PS5 all the way across the country).
And if you’re just curious to know how hard it would be to open up the case and replace or repair components, Jacob R’s video shows that the analog sticks should be fairly easy to replace. Everything else? Not so much.
In order to access the battery, mainboard, or just about anything else, he had to apply a heat gun to the display to melt the adhesive holding it in place. And since the battery is directly behind the display, this needs to be done gently so that you don’t damage the battery. Once that’s done, you’ll still need some fresh adhesive for the screen if you want to put everything back together again.