Once mocked as the home of “filthy casuals,” the mobile gaming market has come on in leaps and bounds in the last few years. Games like Hearthstone, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds: Mobile, and Fortnite have shown that the humble smartphone is just as good a place for digital entertainment as the console parked in front of the TV. But if you’re looking for a phone that is great at handling games and delivering the sort of performance that allows you to keep pwning and winning, then you’re in the right place.
If you want a phone for gaming, then you’re after a particular set of specs. Gorgeous looks and cameras are good, but what about pure gaming performance and media presentation? Well, we’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to, and found the best gaming phones that you can buy, at any budget. While you’re at it, check out our best games for iPhone and Android so you’ve always got something to play.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro
Why wouldn’t we pick the iPhone 11 Pro? If you’re looking to game on an iPhone, Apple’s latest and greatest should always be your first port of call, and the iPhone 11 Pro is a triumph. It follows the same basic rules set down by last year’s iPhone XS, keeping the same jaw-dropping, bezel-less design, but upgrading the already powerful innards. Apple’s new A13 Bionic processor finds a home here, and simply put, it’s the most powerful mobile processor we’ve ever seen. Gaming performance is superb, and even the most demanding 3D games find themselves dominated by Apple’s hardware.
The “Super Retina” OLED technology means you get a beautiful, clear, and colorful picture in any app. Being the smallest of the iPhone 11 range, the 11 Pro is the perfect size to hold in your hand for long periods, and the 5.8-inch screen provides plenty of room for even the most crowded of game interfaces. For the moments when you’re not able to play any games (we know, it happens to us all), the iPhone 11 Pro also comes with an incredible triple-lens camera — so you can document your non-gaming exploits.
Though few and far between, the iPhone 11 Pro does have its downsides. The 3,046mAh battery easily lasts a day in normal usage, but extended gaming sessions will likely deplete it much faster than usual. It’s also extremely expensive, starting at $999. Still, for iOS gaming, you won’t find a better option.
The iPhone 11 Pro isn’t your only option from Apple, though. If you’re looking for a larger screen with the same hardware, then the iPhone 11 Pro Max boasts a 6.5-inch screen that’s sure to satisfy. Otherwise, the iPhone 11 offers a 6.1-inch display and the same powerful processor for $700 — though you’re downgraded to an LCD screen.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus
The Galaxy Note 10 Plus is the culmination of years of work for Samsung and it’s simply one of the best phones in the world right now. It packs a galaxy of wonderful features into its smooth and gorgeously designed body.
But what really matters for gamers is the power. The Galaxy Note 10 Plus comes with the staggeringly powerful Snapdragon 855, giving the phone oodles of processing power. It handled every game we threw at it with ease, tackling PUBG: Mobile and Alto’s Odyssey with no issues. We picked the Note 10 Plus over the standard Note 10 because the Plus version boasts a bigger screen, but since both come with the Snapdragon 855, either model will crush most modern games with no problems. The Note 10 Plus also boasts 12GB of RAM.
The AMOLED display is another gorgeous piece of work, with deep, vibrant colors and pitch-dark blacks. It’s super-sharp, too, at 3040 x 1440 pixels, and you should have no problems with clarity, even in direct sunlight. Storage is speedy UFS 3.0 and starts at 256GB, but there is the option to boost that with a MicroSD card. Sadly, Samsung ditched the headphone jack in the Note 10 Plus, so you’ll need a dongle for wired headphones. There’s also a big battery in this phone, though you can expect gaming to impact that heavily. There’s a desktop mode, and the S Pen stylus which can double as a remote for snapping photos. A versatile triple-lens main camera and a single-lens front-facing camera round out a fantastic phone.
It’s not perfect. Sound during games is good, thanks to the stereo speakers, though the placement and bass aren’t the best. It’s also a little too easy to accidentally touch the screen, and it’s expensive. But if you’re after one of the very best phones for gaming on Android, look no further.
Asus Zenfone 6
A Snapdragon 855 processor with 8GB of RAM ensures that the Zenfone 6 is fast and powerful enough to run any game you care to play. There’s an ample 256GB of storage inside and space for expansion with a MicroSD card. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone port, so you can listen and charge at the same time.
Asus has scaled back its ZenUI, which is closer to stock Android and all the smoother for it. The Zenfone 6 is a big phone, but that allows it to pack a whopping 5,000mAh battery, which is ideal for marathon gaming sessions.
By adopting an unusual flip-up camera, Asus managed to offer a 6.4-inch display with no notches or holes in it, but sadly it’s an LCD screen rather than OLED. It’s sharp enough, but it’s not the brightest. The camera is a good performer, though.
There are a few things missing, such as wireless charging and water resistance, and the design feels a little dated, apart from that motorized flip-up camera, but the big enticement with the Zenfone 6 is the low price.
Asus ROG Phone 2
Straight from the gaming arm of Asus, the Republic of Gamers (ROG), the Asus ROG Phone 2 doesn’t seek to hide its gaming influences. Take one look at the Asus ROG Phone 2 and it’s clear this is a device meant for gamers, with hard lines, slashed cuts, and a lit-up logo. It’s loud, it’s unapologetic, and we kinda love it for that. If you want subtlety, this isn’t the phone for you — but it will definitely tickle some fancies.
You’ll find the powerful Snapdragon 855 Plus here. Asus has tweaked it, to offer something called X Mode which gives you maximum processing power for whatever game you’re playing. It’s a lightning-fast and buttery smooth phone inside and outside of games. As expected, the ROG Phone 2 absolutely crushes gaming performance and comes with some cool special features, like configurable Air Triggers at the top left and right in landscape. There are more features then we can list here, and a huge array of accessories that transform the ROG Phone 2 into even more of a gaming device, but we go into them in detail in our Asus ROG 2 Phone review.
The 6.59-inch, 10-bit, HDR, AMOLED screen boasts a 120Hz refresh rate and it’s in a category of its own right now. The dual-lens camera is not going to beat the best camera phones of the day, but it should be good enough for most people. The generous 6,000mAh battery has the potential to last for a couple of days, depending on usage, but you’ll obviously see that drop with heavy gaming.
Unfortunately, it’ll cost you $900 to take the plunge, and that entry model comes with 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. There is also a version with 512GB of storage and 12GB of RAM. The Asus ROG Phone 2 improves on its predecessor in every way and is definitely one of the best dedicated gaming phones out there.
Razer Phone 2
The original Razer Phone kicked off the gaming phone revolution, so it makes sense its successor — the Razer Phone 2 — would appear on this list. Razer went back to the drawing board to tackle some of the bigger issues with the original phone — particularly the lackluster camera — and came back with the upgraded Razer Phone 2. Did Razer succeed? Not entirely — the camera is on the lower end for a flagship of this price. But the Razer Phone 2 is still a great choice for a gaming phone.
The main reason for this is the display tech. Like the first Razer Phone, the Razer Phone 2 comes with the Ultramotion 120Hz display. That means it refreshes faster than pretty much any other device on the market, giving a marked improvement in smoothness both in games and outside. This display tech is backed up by the Snapdragon 845 and 8GB of RAM — making the Razer Phone 2 an exceptional performer where games are concerned. The speakers are also some of the clearest and loudest we’ve ever tested.
The design has been updated, too, and the addition of a glass back means wireless charging is possible. The 4,000mAh battery should make it through the day pretty easily, even with moderate amounts of gaming. QuickCharge 4.0+ support also means it won’t be sat on the charger for long.
It’s not perfect and it lacks a camera that can compete with the flagship competition, but now that the price has dropped the Razer Phone 2 is worth a look.
OnePlus 7 Pro
The OnePlus 7 Pro has all the makings of an excellent gaming phone and still manages to come in cheaper than much of the competition. The first thing you’ll notice is the enormous 6.67-inch AMOLED screen, which is completely free of notches or holes. It combines a sharp 3,140 x 1,440-pixel resolution with HDR10+ support. It also boasts a 90Hz refresh rate for silky smooth gaming and Oxygen OS has been tweaked to take full advantage.
No corners have been cut inside where you’ll find the Snapdragon 855 processor and you can opt for 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, or 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Based on our benchmark testing the OnePlus 7 Pro is the fastest phone you can get right now and it feels like it.
The battery boasts a 4,000mAh capacity, which is enough to see you through plenty of gaming. It also supports Warp Charge, which can take the battery from zero to 50% in just 20 minutes. There’s also a triple-lens main camera and a pop-up 16-megapixel selfie camera, though they don’t quite hit the high notes of some competitors with some glitches in the camera app.
If you want a solid all-around phone that will play any game smoothly, then the OnePlus 7 Pro is a great choice.
Red Magic 3
This enormous, dedicated gaming phone has everything. Nubia’s angular, metal design includes an RGB lighting strip on the back, air vents for the fan, and a couple of programmable touch-sensitive shoulder buttons. There’s a gorgeous 6.65-inch AMOLED screen with a 90Hz refresh rate, and though the resolution is only 2340 x 1080 pixels, it looks great and gets plenty bright.
Performance is flawless, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor backed by 8GB of RAM. There’s also a dedicated gaming mode, activated by a physical switch on the side, that turns on the fan to prevent overheating and lets you boost the CPU, GPU, or both. A 4D Shock mode adds vibration feedback with certain supported games like PUBG Mobile. We also played hours of Shadowgun: Legends, Asphalt 8, Galaxy Reavers, Injustice 2, and more at top graphical quality without any issues.
There’s a 5,000mAh battery inside which provides plenty of stamina, though the huge screen and the fan, together with a demanding game, will drain it pretty quickly. The dual front-facing speakers are loud, adding to the immersion, and there’s a 3.5mm audio jack.
The Red Magic 3 also has a 48-megapixel main camera and a 16-megapixel front-facing camera. The basic version has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, but there’s also a special camo model with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The Red Magic 3 has a lot to offer at an unbeatable price.
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