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Phone gaming is a thing, especially when you are on the go. Such is the potential offered by modern phones that have nothing to envy from video game consoles when it comes to enjoying advanced titles such as Fortnite or PUBG Mobile, among many others.
Of course, not all models are made to support games with a high demand for performance. That is why many brands have chosen to launch mobile phones focused on gaming such as the Asus ROG, the Razer Phone or the Xiaomi Black Shark.
More often than not these gaming phones have dedicated hardware or support for accessories that help offer you better gaming experience. Internally, they come with a big chunk of RAM, and the most powerful CPU and GPU.
It is also interesting to see the implementation of liquid cooling systems in order to help combat thermal throttling and keep the device cool while you handle it.
Since there are still a few of these dedicated devices on the market, we have decided to also include standard phones that can still offer a solid gaming experience.
Specifications are very important if you want to play the latest and most demanding games out there, but If you prefer arcade or puzzle games, you may not need a high-end phone or spend a fortune.
Below, you will find our complete selection of the best gaming phones that you can buy this year.
Asus ROG Phone 2: the best gaming phone
The Asus ROG Phone 2 (Check on Amazon.com) reigns supreme in the world of gaming smartphones. This cell phone is the most powerful mobile device available at the moment.
It features a Snapdragon 855+ SoC with a boosted Adreno 640 chipset and 12GB of RAM.
Its 6.59 inches AMOLED display sports a refresh rate of 120Hz… the highest we have ever seen on a smartphone. The resolution is by design just Full HD+ and strikes the right balance between screen quality and autonomy.
Its 6,000mAh battery will last you for a day and a half even with intensive use and up to 2 days with a more moderate regime.
Asus also offers many gaming accessories such as an external clip-on fan (included in the box), a gamepad, a dock with an additional screen, and many others. With a careful selection, you will be able to adapt it to your particular needs.
Software optimization is also here. The X-mode, for example, will push your device to the maximum of its capabilities by devoting all possible resources to gaming.
This is a gaming smartphone that does not compromise and nor should you!
Asus ROG Phone: a valid alternative
Asus really seems to have achieved with the ROG Phone (Check on Amazon.com) what other brands have been pursuing for quite some time now. This is a device that by design and functions seems to give most gamers what they were asking for.
It doesn’t have a 120Hz screen, like the Razer Phone 2 (Check on Amazon), but a 6-inch AMOLED display, a 90Hz panel, and a response time of just 1 millisecond make it crystal clear that you will have smooth gaming experience.
You also get an overclocked Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor and many other extras focused on gaming, such as the AeroActive fan, the AirTriggers, and a solid 4,000mAh battery.
All the above, together with clever software customization grant it a clear advantage over its rivals even if you consider the high price that places it in the premium range of smartphones. If you can afford it, go for it.
Razer Phone 2: the best gaming phone for most people
The first Razer Phone (Check on Amazon.com) was a solid effort in introducing a gaming brand to the mobile world, but it had some problems and failed to make our list. The second version has resolved most of them and it is also a good all-round smartphone, although it is still aimed primarily at gamers.
Why is that? The camera and screen are not as impressive as those of other phones that cost the same, so casual gamers would want to consider other options. But if you take mobile games seriously and you can afford it, this is a very good option.
The Razer Phone 2 (Check on Amazon.com) hasn’t changed much compared to its predecessor, but this time around is equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor and is wrapped in glass in order to offer wireless Qi charging. Razer also gave it a great vapor chamber to cool the device down while playing.
The powerful SoC, 8GB of RAM, excellent speakers, a display with a refresh rate of 120Hz, and a 4,000mAh battery, as well as dedicated software capable of improving performance and autonomy make this an excellent choice for gamers.
OnePlus 7 Pro: the best performance/price ratio
If the “infinite screen” mobile game experience is what you are looking for, the OnePlus 7 Pro (Check on Amazon.com) is the best gaming phone for this purpose. It dispenses with the notch (classic or hole-punch) intended to house the selfie camera and uses a pop-up slider (retractable camera) to give you an all-screen display of 6.67’’ with a resolution of 3120×1440 pixels.
This new “flagship killer” also comes equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC, which can handle even the most demanding mobile games. In addition, you can also activate Fnatic mode to prioritize processing power and network speed while playing. There is also a Game mode that blocks notifications, improves haptic feedback and enables HDR screen mode that features brighter tones and darker blacks.
What more could you ask for?
OnePlus 7T: budget alternative
While the OnePlus 7T (Check on Amazon) is not marketed as a gaming smartphone, it has all the key features to be one.
This is a solid all-rounder, boasting a 6.55-inch AMOLED screen, with a 90Hz refresh rate that makes movements appear buttery smooth. Inside we find a Snapdragon 855+ processor and 8GB of RAM.
In addition the Fnatic mode gives priority to games, limiting network access to apps running in the background and blocking all incoming notifications so you can stay focused on the game.
All this and a lower price than other flagship devices make the OnePlus 7T an easy recommendation.
Samsung Galaxy S20+: the best smartphone
Samsung launched three Galaxy S20 in 2020. Of the three, the Galaxy S20+ (Check on Amazon) is the one that hits the spot when it comes to gaming. Don’t worry though, the other two are equally good.
The Galaxy S20+ features a Quad HD 6.67 inch display (3.200×1.440 pixels), while the small hole-punch notch shouldn’t be a distraction. It also sports a 120Hz refresh rate, which is a big bonus for gaming phones, plus a touch response rate of 240Hz. The screen is extremely sharp, with ink level blacks and bright colors, easy to look at for long periods of time. This is the best display ever, according to our modest opinion.
The stereo speakers offer decent sound, but there’s no 3.5mm audio jack, so you’ll need to use Bluetooth headphones or an adapter for the USB-C port.
Even more goodies lay hidden inside. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 is paired with at least 8GB of RAM and 128GB of expandable storage. You can also lock-up to five games into the RAM and pick up right where you left them.
The Galaxy S20+ comes equipped with a rather durable 4,500mAh battery. And if you are a heavy gamer, you can quickly recharge it via fast wired (25W) or wireless (15W) charging.
Samsung’s One UI user interface is one of the best we have ever tried and includes a special Game Booster mode that can be configured to filter distractions while playing. This smartphone also uses “machine learning” to optimize battery life, memory use, and temperature. Finally there is a feature that allows you to record your gameplay with your audio commentary on top.
If you want the best smartphone that can double as a great gaming device – and money is no problem – the Samsung Galaxy S20+ is your best choice.
Samsung Galaxy S10 & S10+: budget alternatives
Similar to the OnePlus 7 Pro, the Samsung Galaxy S10+ (Check on Amazon.com) is not marketed at gamers. It sports a streamlined design that is more business than play. However, it also offers one of the best performances in the market and better graphics than most.
In fact, the Galaxy S10+ has been customized for gaming since it is the first phone optimized for games running in Unity. In addition, its GPU has been optimized to offer a more fluid gameplay in all games, regardless of which engine they have been developed for.
Users can also activate the Enhanced game mode that offers better video and audio performance by taking advantage of the Infinity-O display and Dolby speakers.
It also features a vapor chamber cooling system for when things get really hot!
Last but not least it is equipped with a 4,100mAh battery able to withstand more than a couple of hours of gaming.
If you cannot afford it, the standard S10 (Check on Amazon.com) is a valid alternative but it doesn’t have the same autonomy so be careful of quickly running out of juice.
ZTE nubia Red Magic 5G: the perfect gaming phone
The Nubia Red Magic 5G is the first smartphone equipped with a display (6.65″ AMOLED) that features a 144Hz refresh rate (and supports a tactile response rate of 240Hz), which makes it ideal for games, as it provides a silky smooth experience.
This high refresh rate would be useless without a really fast processor, so it’s nice to find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 inside – the same chip we find in the Samsung Galaxy S20+ (Check on Amazon) – paired with 8, 12 or 16GB of RAM and 128 or 256GB of internal memory.
But the high refresh rate is not the only thing that makes this phone ideal for gaming. It is, in fact, designed specifically for gaming, sporting touch triggers on the shoulder (with a tactile response rate of 300Hz) for added control, a “4D Shock” function that adds vibration to games, as well as a built-in fan and a liquid cooling system that can keep the device cool even after hours and hours of play.
Speaking of autonomy, the Red Magic 5G is equipped with a large 4,500mAh battery, which supports 55W fast charging, capable of recharging the device from 0 to more than 50% in just 15 minutes.
Red Magic’s user interface, based on Android 10 includes, of course, a game mode, which can be activated via a physical switch on the side of the phone. When turned on, it immediately takes you to your game library, turns off notifications, and starts the internal fan. The rest of the software suffers from some bugs, errors in translation, and somewhat confusing settings but nothing overly dramatic.
Ultimately the Red Magic 5G is a big and heavy gaming phone, boasting an aggressive and angular design that will not appeal to everyone. However, you can find it for (Check on Amazon), which makes it a phenomenal deal.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro & 11 Pro Max: best gaming iPhones
This wouldn’t be a best gaming phone list without the inclusion of an iPhone. And how could we ever not include the latest Cupertino flagship? The iPhone 11 Pro (Check on Amazon.com) is equipped with the most powerful mobile processor in existence, the A13 Bionic, its graphics chip is perfectly optimized, the 5.8-inch OLED Super Retina XDR display is simply amazing and the cooling system works wonders. Not to mention that Apple’s App Store is richer in games even than Google’s Play Store.
Last but not least, this latest iteration has improved on a traditional weakness of previous iPhones, namely autonomy. The iPhone 11 Pro can last up to four hours longer when compared to the previous XS (Check on Amazon.com).
And if you need a bigger screen, there is also the iPhone 11 Pro Max (Check on Amazon.com), which boasts a huge 6.5-inch display. In addition the larger battery grants it even more autonomy than the iPhone 11 Pro.
The only drawback? It is still one of the most expensive smartphones on the market!
Read more: Apple iPhone 11 Pro review: worth the wait
Apple iPhone XR: a budget alternative
iOS is still a better gaming system, and this is clear if you consider titles, like Asphalt 8 and 9, that run at 60 fps on an iPhone XR (Check on Amazon.com) while all Android phones are limited to just 30 fps.
Considering all this, the iPhone XR ends up being the better choice if you want both an iPhone and a gaming phone, without spending a fortune.
OnePlus 8 Pro: best all-around gaming phone
The OnePlus 7 Pro (Check on Amazon) and 7T (Check on Amazon) are both higher on this list, but OnePlus’s latest device, the 8 Pro, is a smartphone that beats both. It is the Chinese company’s first true flagship, which has finally incorporated long-awaited features such as wireless charging and IP68 certification, while the display’s refresh rate went from 90 to 120Hz.
Understandably the price has also gone up accordingly – which is why we prefer the previous phones – but at (Check on Amazon) the OnePlus 8 Pro still costs less than Samsung’s and Apple’s flagship phones.
The spec sheet is top-notch: we find a Snapdragon 865, paired with 8 or 12GB of RAM and 128 or 256GB of internal storage. The device also boasts a large 4,510mAh battery, that features fast (30W) charging for both wired and wireless modes!
The OnePlus 8 Pro is easy to recommend to everyone who can afford it.
Xiaomi Black Shark 2: best budget gaming phone
The Xiaomi Black Shark 2 (Check on Amazon.com) has been built for gaming, and you can see it clearly in its design. In hand, it is clear that it was shaped intentionally to be held in horizontal mode. This smartphone also features a big and beautiful 6.39″ AMOLED display, with a Full HD+ resolution (2340×1080), although with a 60Hz refresh rate.
The Black Shark 2 also features dedicated gaming software, with a range of options that can adjust the performance, customize the screen, touch sensitivity, audio, and connectivity options. Like the Asus ROG Phone (Check on Amazon), Xiaomi also offers a multitude of gaming accessories designed specifically for the Black Shark 2, including a controller and a TV dock.
ZTE nubia Red Magic 3 & 3S: valid alternatives
This is one of the most recent devices on this list and heir to a lineup that already reached its third iteration. In its top version, the Red Magic 3 (Check on Amazon) features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 (855+ in the 3S), 12GB of RAM, and 256GB of internal memory. This would be enough to make it a great gaming device, but Nubia has also added a 6.65″ Full HD+ AMOLED display, with HDR support and a 90Hz refresh rate; two front-facing stereo speakers, two shoulder triggers on the sides and RGB LEDs throughout the body.
In addition, there is also a dual dissipation system, which combines active liquid-cooling with an internal turbofan. The huge battery measures 5,000mAh but also increases the weight considerably.
The price starts at (Check on Amazon.com) for the basic model.
Huawei P30 Pro: still great
The Huawei P30 Pro (Check on Amazon) doesn’t appear on the radar of many people, but it is an amazing Android phone and the latest Huawei phone that ships with Google Play Store (essential for a gaming phone), Google Play Protect, and Google’s core apps (Gmail, YouTube, Maps and others). It is better known for its impressive three rear camera module and amazing Night mode.
However it is also a true gaming phone. The Kirin 980 chipset, combined with 8GB of RAM, can run almost everything and its 4,200mAh battery can guarantee hours of play.
On its large 6.47-inch display (with a very discreet teardrop notch) the games look fantastic, while its vapor chamber helps it stay cool even after hours of playing Fortnite, Real Racing 3 and PUBG.
Also read: Cell Phones Buying Guide