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The best gaming smartphones for 2022

Asus ROG Phone 6 512GB
Asus ROG Phone 6
The best gaming phone
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Apple iPhone 13 Pro
iPhone 13 Pro
The best Apple mainstream gaming phone
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
The best mainstream Android gaming phone
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Nubia RedMagic 5G Gaming Phone
Nubia Red Magic 5G
The best budget gaming phone
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OnePlus 10 Pro
OnePlus 10 Pro
Best full-screen gaming phone
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Once mocked as the home of “filthy casuals,” mobile gaming has advanced over the last few years, with games like Genshin Impact, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds: Mobile, and Fortnite showing that the humble smartphone can provide just as much enjoyment as the console parked in front of the TV.

While almost all smartphones can play mobile games, some are better at it than others. If you’re really serious about games, perhaps even at a competitive level, there are phones built expressly for the purpose. Our top choice is the Asus ROG Phone 6 because it’s made specifically for gamers.

To experience the latest games at their full potential, you’ll need a suitable smartphone with an impressive screen and a powerful processor that can handle whatever you want to play. Once you’ve found the right phone, you’re ready to start playing some of the best Android games and best iPhone games out there.

Next, we'll detail why we picked these phones. After that, we'll offer some helpful guidance on app stores, plus what you need to know about Google Play Pass, Apple Arcade, and Google Stadia.

asus rog phone 6 pro review back hand buttons
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Asus ROG Phone 6

The best gaming phone

Pros
  • Immensely powerful
  • Versatile shoulder buttons
  • Clean, fast software
  • Vibrant and big screen
  • Great sounding audio
  • Kunai 3 gamepad accessory
Cons
  • Big and heavy
  • Lacks wide appeal
  • Average camera

Why you should buy this: It’s the best gaming smartphone you can buy right now.

Who it’s for: It’s made by gamers for gamers.

Why we picked the Asus ROG Phone 6:

This is, hands down, the best gaming smartphone you can buy right now. You can grab the ROG Phone 6 immediately, but the 6 Pro is coming at the end of September, so you might want to wait even though the main difference between the two phones is the design and rear screen.

Asus' Republic of Gamers (ROG) division really gets what gamers want and knows how to make a great gaming device. That means everything on the ROG Phone 6 is geared toward making your gaming sessions more enjoyable, from its cool design to its cooling system and superb audio.

Out of the box, you'll be floored by the phone's good looks. The ROG Phone 6 comes in black with the RGB Republic of Games logo that illuminates when the phone is in X Mode or when notifications arrive. You can also set it to cycle through colors, strobe, or flash whenever the screen is on. It's definitely an eye-catching device. The ROG Phone 6 Pro comes in a gorgeous pearl-effect Storm White, with a 2-inch OLED "ROG Vision" screen on the rear of the phone that's definitely gimmicky yet still fun. When X Mode is active, it can show different animations, as well as incoming calls and notifications. The Dare to Play logo above the screen is also illuminated when X Mode is active.

Both the ROG Phone 6 and ROG Phone 6 Pro share the same 6.78-inch AMOLED screen, with a dynamic 165Hz refresh rate (a boost from their predecessor's 144Hz refresh rate) and an impressive 720Hz touch sampling rate. The sound here is vibrant and lively and is — dare we say — probably the best audio you'll find on a smartphone, thanks to two 12mm-by-16mm drivers. You also get that coveted 3.5mm headphone jack, an EQ, Snapdragon Sound, AptX Adaptive, and AptX Lossless.

Don't underestimate the heft of the ROG Phone 6, though — it's a beast, weighing in at 239 grams and measuring 10.3mm thick. Under the hood, there's a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor with up to 16GB of RAM for the ROG Phone 6 and up to 18GB of RAM for the 6 Pro.

Battery life is excellent, too, with a 6,000mAh battery easily seeing you through a full day of gaming, and 65W HyperCharge for fast charging, which should take you from almost empty to full in around 45 minutes. Sadly, there's no wireless charging on offer here. There's also no expandable storage, though you do get up to 512GB of onboard storage. Then you’ve got X mode, which lets you control everything from macros for button combos to refresh rate and system preferences.

Although the ROG Phone 6 series is aimed at gamers, it holds its own as an everyday phone, too. You should easily get through a couple of days with regular use (not gaming), and there's a decent camera on board, too. This is hands down the best smartphone for gamers around right now — whether you go for the ROG Phone 6 or the 6 Pro. If you're serious about gaming, this is the phone to get.

Asus ROG Phone 6 512GB
Asus ROG Phone 6
The best gaming phone
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

iPhone 13 Pro

The best Apple mainstream gaming phone

Pros
  • Packs lots of power into its size
  • Incredible camera and video performance
  • Very long-lasting battery
  • Smooth and responsive 120Hz screen
  • Comes with 1TB storage option
Cons
  • No fast charging
  • No USB-C

Why you should buy this: This is one of the best smartphones you can buy, with access to as many excellent games as you want in the app store.

Who it’s for: Serious gamers who are also looking for the best smartphone for everyday use.

Why we picked the iPhone 13 Pro:

The iPhone 13 Pro boasts a stunning 6.1-inch OLED display, a brilliant camera, and Apple App Store access. Why is that important? You’ll find that the latest and most-anticipated games often land first on iOS, with graphical tweaks designed to leverage the iPhone’s features.

The iPhone 13 Pro isn’t specifically designed for gaming, which is why we’ve awarded it the best Apple mainstream gaming phone title. With this in mind, you won’t find the gaming-specific features that the Asus ROG Phone 5 packs in, like Air Triggers, the special gaming modes, or the cool RGB light-up logo. However, those deficiencies are more than overcome by the phone’s ProMotion technology, adaptive refresh rates up to 120Hz, the HDR display, and up to 1,200 nits of brightness. ProMotion allows for variable refresh rates from 60Hz to 120Hz, depending on the content. If you’re looking for a mainstream phone that’s also great for gaming, the iPhone 13 Pro excels.

It features the latest Apple A15 Bionic processor, enough to handle even the latest and most graphically demanding games. Everything looks great, too, thanks to the True Tone, Wide color (P3) display, plus there’s 5G connectivity for gaming on the go. Battery life is excellent, with a 3,095mAh battery and 6GB of RAM that should easily give you a full day of gaming — even with intensive games like Genshin Impact and Asphalt 9. If you’re using your phone for everyday to-dos, it’s also worth mentioning that the camera is excellent.

We recommend the iPhone 13 Pro for superlative gaming due to its immersive 6.1-inch, 2532 x 1170 pixel resolution at 460 pixels-per-inch screen, which provides a premium gaming experience. An even larger but comparable experience is available from the iPhone 13 Pro Max, a 6.7-inch version of the phone with 2778 x 1284 pixel resolution at 458 ppi. You may, however, want to wait for the iPhone 14 series, expected in September.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro
iPhone 13 Pro
The best Apple mainstream gaming phone
samsung galaxy s22 ultra note interview nick porter in white hand
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

The best mainstream Android gaming phone

Pros
  • S Pen is convenient and highly accurate
  • Versatile camera takes great photos
  • The latest processor for power
  • Long software support
  • Beautiful high refresh rate screen
Cons
  • Not very fast battery charging
  • Large and heavy

Why you should buy this: Not only is it excellent for gaming, it's great for the everyday, too, and it's the best S-series phone on the market.

Who it’s for: Avid mobile gamers who don't want a gaming-specific phone, just an excellent Android phone.

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra:

The S22 Ultra is the latest flagship from Samsung, and we love it. From its Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor (Exynos 2200 in the U.K. and Europe) to its 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED screen with adaptive 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+ support, and 1,750 nits of peak brightness, this is the best S Series phone you can get right now. You also get up to 12GB of RAM, up to 1TB of onboard storage (though there's no microSD card slot), 5G connectivity, and excellent battery life.

Samsung's Game Launcher can be used to turn on Priority mode, shutting down background activity to boost the phone's gaming performance. With the screen's 1440 x 3088 pixel resolution at 120Hz, every single game you play — including graphically demanding titles like Genshin Impact — looks great. The adaptive refresh rate switches automatically depending on what you're doing on your phone, using a lower refresh rate when you're browsing the web or Facebook and switching to a faster one while playing COD: Mobile, for buttery-smooth, flawless action. This also helps boost battery life.

Speaking of battery life, the S22 Ultra, like its predecessor, packs a beefy 5,000Mah cell which should easily see you through a full day of hardcore gaming or into a second day of more casual sessions. This time around there's 45W fast charging on board, so you'll be back gaming before you know it, with 15W wireless charging and reverse charging on offer too.

If we had to find fault, the lack of microSD card slot could put some gamers off, though you can pick up the S22 Ultra with 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or a whopping 1TB of storage — but bear in mind what you choose is all you'll ever have.

Though audio quality is excellent on the S22 Ultra, Samsung has removed the 3.5mm headphone jack. If you've already got a pair of USB-C headphones handy, great! If not, you'll find adapters available to pick up fairly cheaply.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
The best mainstream Android gaming phone
nubia red magic 5g review hand held
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Nubia Red Magic 5G

The best budget gaming phone

Pros
  • Good gaming-focused design
  • Excellent multimedia ability
  • Plenty of performance
  • Long battery life
Cons
  • Mediocre camera
  • Poor software experience
  • Fingerprint sensor does not work

Why you should buy this: It’s a capable, dedicated gaming smartphone at a good price.

Who it’s for: Someone who wants to game a lot on their phone, but doesn’t want to spend much money.

Why we picked the Nubia Red Magic 5G:

The Nubia Red Magic 5G is a laser-focused gaming smartphone, with the best of its abilities concentrated on gaming fun, rather than on the camera or software. It’s not the best everyday Android smartphone you can buy, but it is a good gaming phone if you don’t want to pay out for the Asus ROG Phone 5.

It has all the power and ability you want from a Snapdragon 865 processor and 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM, a 5G connection, plus a 6.65-inch AMOLED screen with a massive 144Hz refresh rate and 240Hz touch sampling. Like the ROG Phone 5, it’s flat to make holding the phone more comfortable, and it has two programmable shoulder trigger buttons. Oh, and the Red Magic logo on the back lights up, just as you’d hope.

Inside is a liquid cooling system with an actual fan to make sure the phone doesn’t overheat, the stereo speakers are loud and clear, plus there’s an excellent haptic feedback system. Red Magic’s Game Space adds performance enhancements, a screen recorder, fan controls, and other gaming-specific adjustments all in one place.

At $590, it’s considerably less than all the other phones on our list, yet still packs in many of the same features and technology. It doesn’t take the overall top spot due to the software not being as polished as we’d want, and it has a disappointing camera. But if all you want to do is game, then the Nubia Red Magic 5G is a good value.

Note that a new version — the Red Magic 6s Pro — is now available in a new transparent design, with updated specs. The screen is 6.8-inch AMOLED at 165Hz running a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888+ Flagship chip, and ICE 7.0 multi-dimensional cooling system. It costs $600. We have not tested this phone as yet though, so we’re not recommending it yet.

Nubia RedMagic 5G Gaming Phone
Nubia Red Magic 5G
The best budget gaming phone
oneplus 10 pro review  trashed back
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

OnePlus 10 Pro

Best full-screen gaming phone

Pros
  • Attractive and well made
  • Interesting camera features
  • Fast battery charging
  • Bright and colorful AMOLED screen
Cons
  • Unreliable software
  • No water resistance

Why you should buy this: This phone has a superlative display with plenty of space and raw power for gameplay.

Who it’s for: Those looking for a solid everyday phone with an impressive display, beefy battery, and cooling technology for hardcore gaming sessions.

Why we picked the OnePlus 10 Pro:

Gaming on your smartphone is all about the display, and OnePlus has got it spot on with the 10 Pro's 6.7-inch AMOLED screen with 3216 x 1440 pixel resolution (525 pixels per inch) and a variable 120Hz refresh rate. The LTPO 2.0 AMOLED panel enables faster refresh rate adjustment, and everything looks bright, colorful, and crisp.

There's plenty of power on offer here with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor — so you shouldn't notice any performance issues playing games like Asphalt 9: Legends or Genshin Impact — and there's 8GB or 12GB of RAM, with 128GB or 256GB of storage. The OnePlus 10 Pro is comfortable to hold in landscape mode and features advanced cooling technology that keeps the phone from overheating when gaming.

What else? The beefy 5,000mAh battery should easily last a full day, with 65W SuperVOOC charging in the U.S. (80W in the U.K.) charging the battery back to full in around 34 minutes. You get OxygenOS version 12.1 installed alongside Android 12, and the speakers provide impressive sound, though there's no 3.5mm audio jack here. There's also no microSD card slot or IP68 rating, but these won't be deal-breakers for most.

OnePlus 10 Pro
OnePlus 10 Pro
Best full-screen gaming phone

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need a gaming phone?

First thing’s first: You may not need a gaming phone, but you probably, most definitely want one. Normal phones are fine for gaming, particularly if your gaming habits extend to the odd go on Candy Crush or a couple of Among Us sessions with your friends on the weekends. For serious gamers, though, gaming phones are a great choice. They’re packed with additional features focused on gaming, like shoulder buttons, bigger fans for cooling, and customizable game modes to enhance your experience when playing the latest titles. Increasingly, normal phones are catching up with gaming-centric handsets, offering features like gaming modes, so if you’re looking for a phone capable of supporting your serious gaming habit, it’s well worth looking at which mainstream phones offer features aimed at gamers.

Where can I get games?

The hardware is only half of the mobile gaming puzzle. Once you have your phone, you need games, and to get them, you’ll have to dig deep into the requisite app store. On Android, you will use Google Play, and on the iPhone, Apple’s App Store. Despite both doing essentially the same thing, there are some differences to consider before jumping in.

Typically, the Apple App Store is a little more expensive for games, apps, and in-app purchases. Google Play often has more free apps, but this means you’ll probably see more ads. Apple often secures exclusive titles for the App Store, and due to the more tightly controlled store and strong developer support, many new features arrive on iOS before Android.

Both Apple and Google have subscription-based game streaming services, and both cost $5 per month. Apple Arcade has a catalog of more than 230 games you can play for free and offers a one-month free trial, while Google’s Play Pass gives access to over 900 games. Apple has snagged several exclusives for Arcade, though.

What about Google Stadia?

Google Stadia is Google’s cloud-based gaming service, enabling you to play games across different devices, from your computer and television to your phone and tablet. Stadia’s catalog of games includes The Elder Scrolls, Grid, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Red Dead Redemption 2, Borderlands 3, and many more.

While Google Stadia does have its own hardware, it’s also compatible with a range of smartphones should you wish to increase your device’s value by adding more games. These include all recent Google Pixel phones, including the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro; almost all recent Samsung phones up to the Galaxy S22 range; all Asus ROG Phones; and the Razer Phone and Razer Phone 2, as well as many others.

You’ll need a remote control to conduct Stadia, and to achieve Stadia’s greatest operating potential requires a controller with a specific connection to your phone. The service only officially supports a handful of controllers: The Stadia Controller, the Xbox One controller, and Sony’s DualShock 4.

Editors' Recommendations

Andy Boxall
Senior Mobile Writer

Andy is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends, where he concentrates on mobile technology, a subject he has written about for almost a decade. During that time he has seen the evolution from 2G to 5G, reviewed dozens of smartphones, worn dozens of smartwatches (not at the same time), and visited many manufacturers and events all over the world. A multi-year veteran of Mobile World Congress, CES, IFA, and Baselworld trade shows, Andy always has a strong opinion on the mobile industry, and is excited about its future.

Paula Beaton

Freelance tech and travel writer living in (somewhat) sunny Scotland. Gamer, tea addict, never without a good book.

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