Google Stadia will come pre-installed in certain smartphones

The Asus ROG Phone 2
The Asus ROG Phone 2 (Image credit: TechRadar)

If you're an Android phone user you're used to a few Google apps coming pre-installed on the phones, like Gmail and Google Maps, and it looks like on certain handsets Google Stadia could join that list.

According to XDAdevelopers, gaming hardware company Asus has signed an agreement with Google that will see Stadia come pre-installed on the upcoming Asus ROG Phone 3 (as we're expecting it to be called). This agreement will last until 2021 (the phone is expected to launch in 2020) for devices sold in certain countries including the UK, US, Canada and many European countries.

Google Stadia only recently (February 20) became available to play on non-Pixel phones, with the Asus ROG Phone and ROG Phone 2 among the few non-Samsung devices on the list of supported handsets.

It seems logical that Google would look to get its gaming service onto dedicated gaming handsets, and the ROG Phones pack lots of features designed to improve your gaming experience, like 120Hz screen refresh rates and large batteries; the phones also have a snappy chipset optimized for gaming, although the fact that Stadia is cloud-based means that feature is less important.

What about future phones?

The more interesting news here isn't that one (relatively niche) smartphone will have Google Stadia installed, but that Google is interested in bundling its app with smartphones in the first place.

Perhaps Stadia's initial rocky reception means Google is looking to hook as many new customers as possible, and one way of doing that is by pre-loading its app on Android phones to encourage people to check it out.

This could be a one-off partnership between Asus and Google, but it's also possible that we could see Stadia preinstalled on all future Android phones, and certainly gaming-friendly handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra or Sony Xperia 1, which are among the best recent phones for gaming.

It looks like Google has a renewed interest in getting Stadia on smartphones, as at launch only Pixel devices were supported, so the mobile potential of the service was rather limited. With the recent wave of new supported smartphones, and now this Asus tie-up, it seems Google is ready to take on the mobile gaming world.

Only time will tell – time, or Google, who we've reached out to for comment – whether Stadia could become another app you see on your home screen every time you start up an Android smartphone. As there are plenty of massive games on Stadia that would otherwise never come to phones, we're excited to see where this could go.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.