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Fortnite on Android gets off to a bumpy, Samsung-only start, lags behind PUBG

Enlarge / The launch screen for Fortnite on Android, as rendered by a Samsung Galaxy S8+. (Account information has been scrubbed.)
Epic Games

Last week, Epic and Samsung took the wraps off a huge Fortnite promotion—albeit after the surprise had been ruined by leakers. Fortnite‘s mobile version was indeed launching on Android, as Epic had already promised, but only Samsung phone users (and only certain models) would get exclusive access, for a limited time.

Any Android handset and tablet owner can hunt for and install the game’s APK, but as of press time, Samsung’s exclusivity deal means the game won’t boot beyond a title screen on most devices. This is notable, in part, because of Epic’s choice to forgo the Google Play app store, which is likely driving users to download and install the APK without a clear answer about device compatibility. (Google has since chosen to address the game’s Play workaround.)

But testing the free-to-play shooter on my own Galaxy S8+, one of the Android version’s first compatible phones, has revealed another notable tidbit: that Epic’s self-imposed hardware limit hasn’t made the game run smoothly in the slightest.

The mobile-shooter warfield

Before getting into what the Samsung launch has gotten wrong, let’s review why we were previously optimistic about Epic’s game on Android.

Fortnite is currently playable on both Nintendo Switch and iOS—decidedly lower-power devices than PC and console—yet still achieves something close to stable 30fps performance, with settings dialed down to a reasonable extent. Should you play Fortnite on a newer iPhone, like the X, you can expect a slightly smeary resolution, though not as bad as the just-above-480p blur party of 2015’s iPhone 6S. Yet in either case, at least the game sticks somewhere near a 30fps refresh (with settings, expectedly, dialed down compared to its home-version peers).

There’s also the matter of PUBG Mobile‘s launch across the Android spectrum in March. I was limited to an “ancient” Nexus 6 from 2014 on that version’s launch day, and yet its visuals and performance proved pleasantly surprising, even at that admittedly early point. PUBG Mobile‘s Android performance has since improved, and as of press time, we have enjoyed near-30fps performance and clear (albeit less-than-native) resolution on a Galaxy S8+ with all settings cranked to the maximum of “high.”