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Meet the W3D, an Android gaming smartphone with physical controls and a 3D screen (hands-on)

This is what happens when you take the best features of a Playstation Vita, Nintendo 3DS and an Android smartphone and put them in one device.

Dan Graziano/CNET

LAS VEGAS -- Imagine if you took all of the best features of a PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS and an Android smartphone and combined them into one device. It sounds like a thing of fantasy, but at the International CES trade show the concept has become a reality. Snail Games is showcasing their upcoming W3D gaming smartphone, which includes physical gaming controls, such as those on the PlayStation Vita, and a 3D screen that is similar to the Nintendo 3DS.

The device is massive and dwarfed the iPhone 6 Plus I placed next to it. To the right of the device's 5.5-inch display are four pressure sensitive buttons and an analog joystick. On the left there is a directional pad and a second joystick. The layout is nearly identical to the Vita, although the left joystick and directional pad are swapped. There are four shoulder buttons (two on the top right and two on the top left), volume keys and a power button at the top of the device. At the bottom you will find a 3.5mm headphone jack and, for some odd reason which the company representative and myself couldn't understand, two MicroUSB ports. Maybe it's so you can charge the W3D while outputting it to a TV through MHL. That's my best guess.

w3d-top.jpg
Dan Graziano/CNET

The screen has a resolution of 1,920x1,080 and a pixel density of 400 pixels per inch. The glasses-free 3D uses eye-tracking synchronization, which helped keep the 3D enabled as I moved the device up and down. Inside there's a speedy 2.2GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6595 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a 13-megapixel camera and support for both 4G LTE and CDMA. Removing the back cover reveals the device's massive 4,000 mAh battery, which the company claims should last you the entire day, or around 6 hours of continuous gaming. There is also a MicroSD card slot and two SIM card slots.

The W3D I played around with was in a special preview mode, but I was able to dig in and see that it was running Android 4.4 KitKat. A company spokesperson explained that it will feature a special Snail launcher, although that can be replaced by the user. While I wasn't able to play any games on it, the W3D was comfortable to hold and felt good in my hand. The screen looked very nice, but there were some hiccups with the 3D. The model the company was showing off is still only a prototype, which could explain the problems that surfaced.

w3d-back.jpg
Dan Graziano/CNET

The W3D will be released in China within the next few months for an as-yet undetermined price. Snail said that it hopes to bring the gaming smartphone to the US sometime this year, however there was no release or pricing information available. I like the idea of the W3D, but I have a feeling we won't be seeing it in the US any time soon. If it does make its way to market, I'm curious how people will carry it around. It really is massive.


See all of CNET's complete CES 2015 coverage here.

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