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Gaming phones have been a thing for a while — check out the ROG Phone 5 for the best example of what they can do — but Google hasn't really contributed in this area up to now. However, with Android 12, it's shipping a gaming mode that should improve the experience on non-gaming phones.
It's not functional yet, but it is user-accessible, and the elements all seem to be in place. If you want to check it out, head over to Settings > Notifications > Do Not Disturb > Schedules. You should see Game mode as the last entry, and tapping on the setting gear will launch it.
The feature set hasn't expanded since the last time we spotted it in Android Developer Preview 3. There's a row of toggles — screenshot, screen record, FPS counter, DND mode — at the top that can be summoned as floating buttons while in-game.
Sitting below that row are two prominent options, one of which will allow gamers to directly stream gameplay to YouTube. The other one, Game Optimization, will let users choose between Performace, Standard, and Battery Saver modes to tweak gaming performance. While the first one will maximize frame rate, the last one will eat up some frames to save battery.
This Game mode could very well be exclusive to Pixel phones when it launches with Android 12 in the fall, but that shouldn't matter too much since companies like Samsung, OnePlus, and Xiaomi already ship a gaming mode of their own.
- Nick Cipriani