Decades ago watching movies and listening to music meant you were tied to using physical media, such as discs or tapes. These days, most people have gone completely digital, streaming movies and music on a daily basis. It’s not much of a leap to assume that in the near future the majority of gaming will also happen in the cloud.
While some services, such as Stadia, have already thrown in the towel. There are still several others out there offering game streaming services, like Xbox Game Pass, Amazon Luna, GeForce Now, and more. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of games to play between all of these services, including many AAA titles such as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Control, Halo, Forza, Persona 5, and many more.
While you can play on your computer, TV, or on your phone with many of these services, some companies are beginning to release dedicated hardware for cloud gaming. Logitech is one of those companies having recently released the G Cloud handheld. Fortunately, the company was nice enough to send one out for this review.
The Logitech G Cloud measures 10.11 x 4.61 x 1.30 inches and weighs in at 463g. That makes it slightly heavier than a Nintendo Switch, and quite a bit lighter than a Steam Deck. On the front, it features a 7-inch 16:9 IPS LCD display running at 1080p with a 60Hz refresh rate, capable of a peak brightness of 450 nits.
When it comes to audio outputs, the Logitech G Cloud has you covered with two bottom-firing stereo speakers, Bluetooth 5.1 with aptX Adaptive support, and even a 3.5mm headphone jack. As someone who still mourns the loss of the 3.5mm jack on smartphones, I’m happy that I can still use my wired gaming headset with the G Cloud. It certainly beats having no options except for Bluetooth headphones.
Under the hood, the G Cloud is running a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 720G CPU with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. This probably seems a little weak, but the G Cloud is a streaming device. That means it doesn’t require much horsepower, and the Snapdragon 720G’s battery efficiency is going to be a greater advantage here.
Additionally, the G Cloud also has another feature vanishing from Android devices, a microSD card slot. This should ensure that you can load it up with all kinds of media to enjoy on the go when you’re unable to stream.
Finally, the G Cloud is thin where it counts, and more importantly, thick where it counts, such as the controllers. One of my complaints about the Nintendo Switch is how tiny the Joy-Con controllers feel. That’s not the case on the G Cloud, Logitech has given the sides a nice bulbous grip with some texture ensuring it won’t feel slippery in your hands.
Speaking of the controllers, the G Cloud uses a layout similar to the Xbox with the analog sticks, D-pad, buttons, and triggers all in the same location. The buttons even have the same labels, outside of the shoulder buttons that is.
We can’t discuss usability without mentioning the software, and in the case of the Logitech G Cloud, that’s Android 11. Surprisingly, it’s not Android 12, or the most recently released Android 13, but since you’ll only be using it to stream games and videos that’s not a big deal. What is a big deal, is the software still feels a bit rough around the edges.
The G Cloud offers two different modes to work in. One is the traditional Android home screen in tablet mode where you can use the touchscreen or controller to use it like a typical tablet. Then, there’s also a handheld gaming mode which is where I think the G Cloud needs some help.
When in gaming mode, the home screen presents you with a row of your most recently used apps that expand when selected, along with a second row of customizable shortcuts. There’s also a system tray at the top left with access to your notifications and settings.
Personally, I could do without the extra animations and would be fine with a row of static squares to navigate. However, that’s not the most offensive part of the interface. That award goes to the prompt that pops up each and every time you try to switch apps and it warns you that you’ll be closing your current app. Perhaps, this is due to the underwhelming specs, but it doesn’t do this in tablet mode.
The G Cloud should be able to run more than one app at a time allowing you to make Discord calls, for example, while also gaming. It is first and foremost a cloud gaming handheld and should have enough horsepower to do that. If not, then at least give us a checkbox to disable this constant prompt after we’ve seen it half a dozen times.
It’d also be wonderful if the home screen had some more character, such as larger prettier icons or a background that changed when you selected a different app. Similar to how other game consoles UIs work, but, to be fair, Logitech is working within the constraints of Android and those options are probably outside the realm of possibilities.
One thing Logitech absolutely nailed is the design of the G Cloud. It is molded to fit just right in your hands with a great textured grip. While the G Cloud is slightly heavier than a Switch, it feels well-balanced and the ergonomics more than make up for the minor increase in weight. Furthermore, it feels rock solid in your hands. There is no flex and that gives it the feel of a premium product.
When it comes to playing games, the buttons and triggers all worked perfectly and felt comfortable to use, however, the analog stick did seem a little overly sensitive. It would register as an up movement at times when I was just trying to move it left. I’ve never had this issue with any other controller and it seems that it’s extremely sensitive to any deviation.
The biggest issue with the controller though, is support for games. I found it worked perfectly with Xbox Game Pass, but the PS Remote Play app wouldn’t recognize it. Also, any locally installed Android games will need to have controller support built into the app. That can be very hit or miss on Android, so it’s best to look up if a game supports controllers or not instead of assuming it will. Dead Cells is a fantastic example of a game with controller support on Android, while Genshin Impact lacks controller support, and trying to use the on-screen buttons is a non-starter given the design of the G Cloud.
It would have been nice to see Logitech choose an OLED display here similar to the latest Nintendo Switch, but the use of the IPS LCD makes for a nice screen that beats out both the Switch and Steam Deck in brightness. The 1080p resolution is also more than you’d get on either of those other two handhelds which results in a nice sharp gaming display.
Still, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t miss the picture quality of the OLED used on the 6.8-inch phone I typically use for cloud gaming. It has so much more contrast and the colors really pop. The saving grace of the G Cloud is its 16:9 aspect ratio though. Despite there only being 0.2-inches in difference between these two displays, the G Cloud’s picture looks massive in comparison thanks to the aspect ratio used. Pair that with the 1080p screen resolution and I was seeing a lot more details.
Besides the bright sharp display, the G Cloud also has some decent speakers. However, I would have loved to see Logitech include front-facing speakers. The G Cloud is essentially a media streaming machine capable of playing cloud games and streaming video from all of the most popular services. In the past, I’ve always found phones and tablets using front-facing speakers to have much more immersive sound, and it would have been fantastic if Logitech could have worked that into the design on the G Cloud.
Logitech rates the G Cloud for 12 hours of gameplay powered by its 6000mAh battery. In my experience, I was able to get somewhere around 8-10 hours of battery life while playing games with Xbox Game Pass, streaming videos, and playing a couple of native Android games.
That puts it right around Logitech’s estimates and it lasts you much longer than any other handheld and most phones would. Plus, when it’s time to charge up, the Logitech G Cloud supports Fast Charge 3.0 which will get you from 0 to 100% in only two and a half hours.
The Logitech G Cloud isn’t for everyone. There are many people who aren’t fully on board with streaming games for one reason or another. Additionally, those who dabble in cloud gaming may be perfectly satisfied with using their phone with a controller when they want to play handheld.
Still, I see a lot of promise in the G Cloud, even though I’d love to see some improvements. For example, a way to output the picture to your TV, the ability to make Discord calls while gaming, and a way to disable the annoying prompt to close the current app. It would also be fantastic to see the next version use an OLED display, front-facing speakers, and slimmer bezels around the screen.
However, the G Cloud is a decent product for those of you who are fans of cloud gaming and handheld consoles. The display is larger than most phones while also being the proper aspect ratio, and trust me, that makes a big difference.
It will also give you far more hours of gaming than your typical smartphone without tying up the device you rely on for communications. Even better, you can disable notifications on it to prevent them from popping up and interrupting your gaming while still having access to your phone to stay connected.
So, while there are plenty of reasons why you may want the G Cloud, there’s one big reason why you may not buy it. That’s the price. The Logitech G Cloud retails for $349, and that’s just $50 less than the base Steam Deck, a handheld that can play games offline or from the cloud.
I wouldn’t blame you if you had a large Steam library and that’s the route you wanted to go, but the G Cloud does have some redeeming qualities. It weighs much less, it feels great in your hands, the display has a higher resolution, and it has at least four times the battery life of the Steam Deck.