Are smartphones today more powerful than a PlayStation?

A PS5 by PlayStation is displayed in a GameStop in Manhattan, New York, on December 7, 2021. Picture: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

A PS5 by PlayStation is displayed in a GameStop in Manhattan, New York, on December 7, 2021. Picture: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Published Oct 13, 2022


Smartphones today have, of course, become the most advanced they’ve ever been in their existence.

However, these devices far superseded the capabilities of even the most cutting-edge tech found in some of the most iconic pieces of hardware ever created.

After the immense success of the first PlayStation, the Sony PlayStation 2 or PS2 gaming console was launched in 2000, with over 155 million units sold worldwide by March 31, 2012 – making it one of the prominent pieces of hardware to come out of recent decades.

The PS2 made use of a CD and DVD drive for some of the most memorable video games like the early editions of the Grand Theft Auto series, Fifa’s annual video games, and classic fighting games like Tekken and Street Fighter.

Hours of entertainment and sleepless nights brought on by endless gaming were made possible by a unit standing 78.7mm high, 302.3mm long and 182.9mm wide, weighing 2.2kg.

However, today, the robust technology found in the hardware of this machine, coupled with a library of a good few PS2 titles – fits in the palm of your hand.

That’s right, turning the average smartphone into a PS2 that fits in your pocket isn’t as tedious a task, thanks to advanced mobile technology. What’s more, is that the experience can easily be enhanced by connecting a PS3 controller to your smartphone.

How is this done?

For many years, the emulation of gaming consoles has been a trick practised by many. Scores of emulators for the first PS, PS2, Gameboy, PSP and more have been developed since the launch of these consoles, which presented themselves as small applications that could run games for these consoles on PC, Mac and, more recently, mobile operating systems.

While emulators for sixth-generation consoles, including the PS2, Nintendo GameCube and Microsoft Xbox, face little difficulty operating on premium smartphones or desktops, emulation for current ninth-generation consoles, including the Xbox Series X/S and PS5, will have no chance of running on any other machine besides the consoles themselves.

Emulation for seventh-generation consoles, including the PS3, Nintendo Wii, and Switch, have very little chance of working successfully on smartphones or desktops.

The games for emulators, which can run on smartphones or PCs, are digitised versions of the PS2 game discs burnt into an image file emulators run as a virtual disc to activate gameplay.

Emulators for the PS2 are generally small files of between 10MB and 50MB. At the same time, games can range from a few hundred megabytes to gigabytes for those larger games like Grand Theft Auto.

Despite this, it is still impressive to be able to run one of the most powerful consoles of its time in the palm of your hand. Meanwhile, better specs will always mean better quality, as a decent mid-range smartphone could likely run a PS2 emulator hassle-free, without too much lag.

While console emulation is often only made possible through piracy, making it an illegal practice, even if you could burn copies of an original disc to a virtual drive, the nature of it makes for a good testimony to how far along smartphones have come.

Console emulation can easily showcase the progression of technology and how far it has come in two decades that one of the most sophisticated pieces of hardware at the time is far surpassed today by the device you only used to make phone calls.

* Disclaimer: IOL does not encourage or endorse gaming through emulation. Software of this nature could easily damage your smartphone or be infected with malware. The emulation of gaming consoles is mentioned to illustrate the capabilities of smartphones.

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