Best phones for gaming
The best gaming phones. The best gaming phones in 2019 just keep getting better, as more powerful hardware can run games with ease. And dedicated gaming phones come with enhanced features designed specifically for gaming.
Some of the best gaming phones are just the best phones all around, since their balance of performance and features make them a winner for just about anything. And if you’re considering buying a gaming phone soon, you may want to hold on just a little longer. That’s because Amazon Prime Day 2019 is just around the corner (July 15-16) and we could see some big discounts on smartphones during the two day sales period.
Gaming phone must-haves
There are a few must-haves for any great gaming phone. A powerful chipset capable of running the best Android games or best iPhone games smoothly and launching them quickly. A great looking display with enough room to show the game with room for your fingers. Also enough battery to keep you gaming for as long a session as you can muster. When you’re playing demanding games like Fortnite and PUBG Mobile, you don’t want any of these aspects to be lacking.
We’ve taken all these aspects into account, as well as others like RAM size and storage space for games. The available app ecosystem also matters, which is one reason why Apple’s devices continue to have such a strong foothold here. We also take into account unique features that can have a special impact on gaming. So, whether you want high specs AND ‘gamer’-appealing perks like RGB lights or just a good phone that can double as a mobile gaming device, you no longer have to choose. We’ve examined all the options and chosen the best phones for gaming based on the factors above. Here’s our top ten list:
Best Gaming Phone: iPhone XS Max
The iPhone XS Max is the best gaming phone
1. iPhone XS Max / iPhone XS
The best gaming iPhones available right now
Release date: September 2018 | Weight: 208g | Dimensions: 157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7mm | OS: iOS 12 | Screen size: 6.5-inch | Resolution: 2960×1440 | CPU: A12 Bionic chip | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64/256/512GB | Battery: 3.179mAh | Rear camera: Dual 12MP | Front camera: 7MP
Access to the best games ecosystem
Fastest chipset for mobile gaming
The priciest on the market
The iPhone XS Max is the bigger, better brother of Apple’s new flagship smartphone in a few key ways. But if you’re picking either model for gaming, you might as well go with the best.
The 6.5-inch screen on the iPhone XS Max is bigger than the one on its 5.8-inch sibling and its larger battery manages to stay working nearly a full hour longer than the standard iPhone XS.
Those perks will give you more of an edge than with the iPhone XS. But both benefit from this Apple phone generation’s true advantage: the A12 Bionic processor.
In our tests, it loaded up Clash Royale and PUBG even faster (vs the iPhone X), and speed is crucial in online gaming. All this in a Apple’s sleek, modern look. Though it’s the most expensive mainstream phone on the market, even before including all the bells and whistles.
Best gaming phone: OnePlus 7 Pro
A more-affordable flagship gaming phone
2. OnePlus 7 Pro
A strong gaming phone at an affordable price
Release date: May 2019 | Weight: 206g | Dimensions: 162.6 x 75.9 x 8.8mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.67-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 3120 | CPU: Snapdragon 855 | RAM: 6/8/12GB | Storage: 128/256GB | Battery: 4,000mAh | Rear camera: 48MP + 16MP + 8MP | Front camera: 16MP
In-display fingerprint scanner
All-day battery life
No headphone jack
‘Only’ full HD display
The OnePlus 7 Pro is cheaper than the iPhones and Samsungs in this list, but still delivers the latest power under the hood with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 chipset and the choice of up to 12GB of RAM.
It means games load quickly and run smoothly. And the OnePlus 7 Pro is the firm’s first phone with a QHD display, giving you an excellent pixel density for crisp graphics. On top of that sharp resolution is the huge size of the display. This offers 6.67 inches without any cameras or notches taking up space. Further improving the gaming experience is the 90Hz refresh rate of the display, which makes gaming and everyday use that much smoother.
There’s a sizable 4,000mAh battery too, which should keep you going during lengthy play sessions, and it all makes for a top-notch gaming phone.
Best gaming phone: Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus
The Galaxy S10 Plus is an all-rounder, but is still a top gaming phone (Image Credit: TechRadar)
3. Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus/S10
The best gaming Android phones
Release date: February 2019 | Weight: 175g | Dimensions: 157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.4-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 3040 | CPU: Snapdragon 855 / Exynos 9820 | RAM: 8/12GB | Storage: 128GB/512GB/1TB (up to 1.5TB with card) | Battery: 4,100mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 16MP | Front camera: 10MP + 8MP
Excellent screen-to-body ratio
In-screen fingerprint sensor
Don’t be too surprised to see Samsung so high on the list. Its latest family of Galaxy S10 smartphones are the first to feature Qualcomm’s powerful new Snapdragon 855 chipset, which quickly boosted them to the top of the pack in terms of sheer performance.
But, it’s not just the chipset that makes these excellent gaming phones. They have sharp Super AMOLED displays with support for high dynamic range, so you’ll get excellent visuals in movies and games alike.
The screen real estate is also expanded, so you have that much more game to look at. With these phones, you’re getting both a killer phone and a powerful mobile gaming device in one.
Better still, VR fans can still make use of the new phones with existing Gear VR headsets, according to The Verge. Letting you enjoy the immersive game medium on the phones’ crisp displays.
Best gaming phone: Asus ROG Phone
The Asus ROG Phone gaming phone
4. Asus ROG Phone
Top specs and several wild mobile gaming accessories
Release date: October 2018 | Weight: 200g | Dimensions: 158.8 x 76.2 x 8.7mm | OS: Android 8.1 Oreo | Screen size: 6-inch | Resolution: 2160 x 1080 | CPU: Snapdragon 845 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB/512GB | Battery: 3,520mAh | Rear camera: 12MP f/1.8 | Front camera: 8MP f/2.0
Top specs and performance
Plethora of mods
Non-gaming phone parts might be lacking
The Asus ROG Phone may “look like an irate Decepticon” as our reviewer put it, but outside its appearance, the device is a powerful phone with plenty of extras to entice gamers. It’s also a decent phone in its own right, and it has notable advantages over the comparable Razer Phone 2.
Its specs are solidly advanced for phone released at the tail end of 2018: an ‘overclocked’ Snapdragon 845, 8GB of RAM and a 4,000mAh battery, as well as a 90hz refresh rate screen that pales only to the Razer Phone 2’s 120hz.
As for gaming, the phone’s “AirTrigger” touch-sensitive buttons on the top-right and top-left of the phone (when held in landscape) are cool, customizable ways to play that your typical smartphone just doesn’t have.
True to Asus’ Republic of Gamers brand, you can buy a selection of accessories to augment your mobile game experience. These include a clamshell case with a bonus screen, a pair of controller halves that clip to either side and a docking platform that extends your phone to a big display, Nintendo Switch-style. There’s even a simple clip-on fan to reduce device heat during games.
The ROG Phone’s appeal lives or dies on its external design, and we wouldn’t blame you for skipping it for something a bit more conservative. But its advances, especially the AirTriggers, shouldn’t be overlooked when considering phones for serious gaming.
Best Gaming Phone: Razer Phone 2
The Razer Phone 2 gaming phone
Gaming-specific features that outshine its everyday ones
Release date: October 2018 | Weight: 205g | Dimensions: 158.5 x 78.9 x 8.5mm | OS: Android 8.1 Oreo | Screen size: 5.72-inch | Resolution: 2560×1440 | CPU: Snapdragon 845 | RAM: 6/8GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB (up to 1TB with card) | Battery: 4,000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP f/1.75 wide angle / 12MP f/2.6 telephoto | Front camera: 8MP f/2.0
Top-line specs and 120hz refresh rate display
Backside logo glows in millions of RGB hues
Low minimum storage (64GB) for price
Smaller 5.72-inch screen
The first Razer Phone was a solid first effort to bring the gamer-specific brand to a mobile device. But it had a few shortcomings that dropped it further down our list. The second version has addressed some and come out with a stronger device for it, though it’s still aimed primarily at gamers.
What does that mean? The camera and display aren’t nearly as impressive as other phones that cost this much. So casual gamers might want to look elsewhere. But if you’re more serious about mobile gaming and can afford it, this is a solid choice.
Outwardly, the Razer Phone 2 hasn’t changed much from its predecessor, though it’s upgraded to the Snapdragon 845 chip and switched to a glass back for Qi wireless charging. It’s also added a slick vapor chamber to cool the device as you game.
At the end of the day, the phone’s beefy chipset, 8GB RAM, great speakers, 120hz refresh rate screen and 4,000mAh battery, as well as extensive settings to tweak battery life and performance, make this a great choice for gaming.
Best Gaming Phone: Huawei P30 Pro
6. Huawei P30 Pro
The best Huawei phone
Release date: March 2019 | Weight: 192g | Dimensions: 158 x 73.4 x 8.4mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.47-inch | CPU: Kirin 980 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128/256/512GB | Battery: 4,200mAh | Rear camera: 40MP + 20MP + 8MP + ToF | Front camera: 32MP
Display ‘only’ Full HD
EMUI lacks polish
Huawei’s P30 Pro may not be a phone on many people’s radars, but it’s an amazing Android phone from the Chinese manufacturers. Much of the attention the P30 Pro is getting comes from its impressive camera system. It has three rear cameras including one with a 5X zoom and a stunning dark mode.
But, the Huawei P30 Pro has plenty to offer gamers as well. The Kirin 980 chipset inside is plenty powerful for the latest Android games, and 8GB of RAM can keep everything running smooth even when you’re switching back and forth from gaming and other activities.
The hefty 4,200mAh battery can ensure your gaming sessions aren’t cut short. An improved heat pipe ad vapor cooling chamber inside the P30 Pro help it keep cool while gaming. So it can continue to play Fortnite, Real Racing 3, and PUBG without a hitch.
Best Gaming Phone: Black Shark 2
The best gaming phone for those on a budget
Release date: March 2019 | Weight: 205g | Dimensions: 163.6 x 75 x 8.8mm | OS: Android 9.0 Pie | Screen size: 6.39-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 | CPU: Snapdragon 855 | RAM: 6/8/12GB | Storage: 128/256GB | Battery: 4,000mAh | Rear camera: 48MP + 12MP | Front camera: 20MP
Lots of storage
Punchy AMOLED display
No NFC or IP rating
Some touch input issues
The Black Shark 2 is the second generation gaming phone from Chinese firm Xiaomi’s gaming arm, and it builds well on its predecessor adding more power and a better screen into the mix.
Combining a great camera, excellent internals and improved gaming credentials over the original, the Black Shark 2 is a triple threat that betters most of its gaming phone rivals.
It’s lumbered with a handful of instabilities and quirks, but even with those accounted for, the bang for buck it delivers is off the chart. The only thing to watch out for is its availability. It’s not easy to find in some countries, such as US.
Best Gaming Phone: iPhone XR
The most affordable of the new iPhones
Release date: October 2018 | Weight: 194g | Dimensions: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm | OS: iOS 12 | Screen size: 6.1-inch | Resolution: 1792×828 | CPU: A12 Bionic | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 64/128/256GB | Battery: 2,942mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 7MP
Great battery life for an iPhone
Lower resolution screen
Apple’s iPhone XR may lack some of the features from the iPhone XS and XS Max that make them true stunners, but it makes up for that with a lower price. And, while it may have a smaller screen, it’s still offering 6.1 inches.
Even though that lower price comes with caveats, like a simpler camera setup, the iPhone XR doesn’t skimp on internals. It packs the same A12 Bionic chipset that’s found in the more expensive models, and it will run iOS 12 and iOS 13 just the same as the other models. That means it can play all the same games, and it can run them just as smoothly (if not even smoother, since it has fewer pixels to push).
The iPhone XR also has one of the best batteries in an iPhone that we’ve seen in some time. So, if you want to do plenty of gaming on iOS, the iPhone XR is a strong option.
Best Gaming Phone: LG G8
LG’s latest flagship
Release date: April 2019 | Weight: 167g | Dimensions: 151.9 x 71.8 x 8.4mm | OS: Android Pie | Screen size: 6.1-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 3120 | CPU: Snapdragon 855 | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 3,500mAh | Rear camera: 16MP+12MP | Front camera: 8MP
Vibrant OLED display
Portrait mode for video
The LG G8 may be a little underwhelming in terms of design, and if you don’t find a deal, it can be too expensive to wisely choose over one of the other devices on this list. But, if you find a good price, it has enough to offer as a gaming phone.
Inside, it’s packing the latest Snapdragon 855 chipset, which can deliver plenty of gaming performance. And, with a high-resolution, bright OLED display, your games are sure to look great.
With a base storage of 128GB of RAM, you should have plenty of room on the LG G8 to store games alongside all your other apps and files.
Best gaming phone: iPhone 8 Plus
iPhone 8 Plus
10. iPhone 8 Plus
Lower price, modern OS
Weight: 202g | Dimensions: 158.4 x 78.1 x 7.5mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | CPU: A11 Bionic | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 64/256GB | Battery: 2,691mAh | Rear camera: 12MP+12MP | Front camera: 7MP
Longer battery life
Yes, we know the iPhone 8 Plus is verging on two years old right now. It doesn’t have the same elegant design found in the iPhone X, XS, or XR. But, if you look past the design and 5.5-inch display, you’re still getting some strong gaming credentials.
For one thing, the age of the iPhone 8 Plus helps bring the price down. And, though the screen is the smallest on this list, it’s still a 1080p resolution. Better still, the iPhone 8 Plus packs the A11 Bionic chipset that’s also found in the iPhone X, and it runs on the latest version of iOS. That gives it access to plenty of games and the power to play them.
The battery is also decent, and the 256GB storage option offers all the room you could need for a substantial mobile game collection.