The Nintendo Switch has shown that portable gaming is very much alive and kicking in 2021. Having retained the top spot in the US console sales chart for over 25 months, the Switch has fended off competition from the more-powerful PlayStation and Xbox consoles, albeit with some help from stock shortages.
While Microsoft is shifting into the portable gaming market with its xCloud streaming service for mobile devices, Sony has remained silent on portable gaming since the discontinuation of its PS Vita, which was discontinued in March 2019.
However, the latest rumours suggest that Sony could be set to re-enter the handheld gaming market with a new device- the PSP 5G.
PSP 5G rumours
As reported by T3, a recent patent filed by Sony Interactive Entertainment could hint that a handheld console is currently in production. The patent, which was first published in July, is for a "Scalable game console CPU/GPU design for home console and cloud gaming".
While this could also be a hint for the PS5 Pro, the cloud gaming aspect of this patent is most applicable to the PSP 5G. With Sony utilising 5G with its recent line of Xperia 1 II smartphones, the company certainly has the technology to support a handheld gaming system that can use 5G connections to stream games.
The final connector in this PSP 5G rumour comes from the PS Now service - Sony's answer to Xbox Game Pass. While currently only available on PlayStation consoles, PS Now does support cloud streaming over the internet, suggesting that with a stable internet connection (hopefully provided by 5G), a handheld PlayStation device could stream PS Now games.
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Will Sony release a PSP 5G?
As with all rumours, you need to take these with a pinch of salt until they are confirmed (or de-confirmed) by the actual company involved. Sony has yet to comment officially on or reveal a new PSP console, meaning that for now, the PSP 5G does not exist.
However, in an official Sony post from 2019 on 5G standardisation, the company did touch on plans for 5G and gaming. Speaking on 5G's future, Sony's Chen Sun said: "And one more thing I’d like to add is gaming. We can enjoy many advantages from 5G’s characteristic, ultra-reliable low latency."
This shows that there is a connection between Sony's gaming division and its 5G capacity, even in the most limited form, meaning it's not too far-fetched to suggest a new handheld device could be in the works...
If Sony does release a new handheld device, however, we would not expect it to launch for quite some time. With the PlayStation 5 having only just released, most of Sony Interactive Entertainment's focus will be on ensuring the stock level of its next-gen console returns to normal in the upcoming months, rather than on a new device.
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