Best Gaming phones: Device list and all you need to know

The Best Android Gaming Phones

Playing mobile games is very popular among smartphone users, however, most people are always stuck on titles such as Candy Crush, Temple Run and Angry Birds because their phones are unable to handle demanding titles such as PUBG Mobile, Fortnite for Android and other graphically intensive games.

To solve this problem, we see bigger RAM modules and more powerful processors crammed into smartphones every new year, making them more than capable of handling taxing games that are often viewed as graphically demanding and more advanced for a typical smartphone.

Even better is that a new crop of gaming-focused smartphones has emerged, targeting hardcore gamers who’d want to keep playing their best titles even when on the go and lose nothing about the experience they are used to as seasoned gamers. And we’ll be sharing the best of these gaming phones in this post, which will be updated from time to time to reflect the latest models available for purchase in various global markets.

This article has three sections:

  • The best gaming-focused Android phones
  • The best flagship Android phones for gaming
  • The best budget Android phones for gaming

The best gaming-focused Android phones

Device USA UK India
Razer Phone 2 $799.99 £780 NA
Razer Phone $500 £579 NA
Xiaomi Black Shark Helo NA NA NA
Asus ROG phone $899.99 NA NA
ZTE Nubia Red Magic $399 NA NA

As pointed out, there’s an emerging class of smartphones that are purely meant for gaming, but of course, they are still phones and so they’ll still offer the usual services of a phone. So, which one should you buy? Read on…

Related:

Razer Phone 2

Razer-Phone-2

The Razer Phone 2 is your ultimate driver to smoothly handle your work. The phone not only provides supreme gaming experience but also enables you to efficiently enjoy the unprecedented typical mobile experience. Razer Phone 2 has come up with some major upgrades on its predecessor, featuring vapor chamber cooling, upgraded processor, wireless charging, water resistance and the much awaited illuminated logo on the back.

When we talk about mobile gaming, the Razer Phone 2 is loaded with UltraMotion technology that reigns supreme. This is the only smartphone out in the market that features 120Hz screen display (best in class), which includes touch sampling and display refresh rate. The other gaming features include HDR content support, 50% more brightness, and advanced vapor chamber cooling feature, illuminated logo with Razer Chroma, superior sound, and weather resilience.

Specs

  • 5.7-inch QHD (2560×1440), 120Hz UltraMotion
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 with integrated custom vapor chamber cooling
  • 8GB RAM
  • 64GB or 128GB expandable storage, up to 1 TB
  • Dual 12MP + 12MP main camera with OIS
  • 8MP front camera
  • 4000mAh Li-ion battery
  • Android 8.1 Oreo
  • Extras: Wireless Charging, Dual Stereo Speakers with Dolby Atmos along with a 24-bit USB-C DAC, Razor Chroma Illuminated Logo, IP67 dust and water resistance, Quick Charge 4+, etc.

Razer is working on a matte finish as an alternative to the glass back model, which not everyone is a fan of. Also, the company has plans to throw in a variety of accessories that include a case, an attachable game controller, a screen protector, and a wireless charging dock.

Asus ROG phone

Asus-ROG-phone

Asus ROG phone is the first from the company to adopt the ROG branding and basically the answer to the Razer Phone that has been around for a while now. However, the ROG phone still fails to beat the record 120GHz display refresh rate set by the Razer Phone and instead goes for a 90GHz refresh rate, which is still cool BTW.

In addition to things like USB-C, Quick Charge 4+, rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, 3.5mm audio jack, stereo speakers, and water resistance, the ROG phone, being a gaming-focused smartphone, also packs other gaming-related tech such as ROG Gaming X mode UI, ROG Gaming UI, overclocked processor, vapor cooling, and a special attachable fan accessory for cooling the device during intensive gaming, among other great additions.

Specs

  • 6-inch 18:9 FHD+ AMOLED display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 128GB or 512GB storage
  • Dual 12MP + 8MP main camera
  • 8MP front camera
  • 4000mAh battery
  • Android 8.1 Oreo (Android 9 Pie eligible)
  • Extras: Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C, 3.5mm audio jack, Quick Charge 4+, NFC, 3 Ultrasonic pressure-sensitive zones, Water resistance, Rear-mounted FPS, etc.

Asus is a well-known company that sells its phones globally, meaning most major markets will likely get the ROG phone when it starts selling in Q4 2018, which is when price details will be revealed.

Related: Asus Android 9 Pie update news

Razer Phone

razer-phone-gallery-1500x1000-9

As we wait for the launch of the Razer Phone 2 and availability of Asus ROG phone, the first-gen Razer Phone tops our list of the best gaming-focused smartphones available today. Razer has a decent track record in gaming hardware and to ensure that even the most demanding of games play without any hiccups, the company crammed a massive 8GB RAM into the device, but that’s not the best feature of this gaming-focused smartphone.

The Razer Phone has a 5.7-inch display screen with a refresh rate of 120GHz and takes advantage of the Ultra Motion feature that syncs up its GPU with the display refresh rate in order to allow 120GHz-optimized games to enjoy smooth framerates without any noticeable lags.

In any gaming smartphone, audio and battery life are very important and the Razer Phone doesn’t disappoint with the dual front speakers that are backed by Dolby Atmos technology alongside an impressive 4000mAh battery unit that supports fast charging.

Despite being a gaming-focused smartphone, the Razer Phone is also a great phone in general. It packs a speedy, though old processor, a dual 12MP camera, supports NFC connectivity and runs an upgraded version of Android Oreo, but we don’t know the status with respect to Android Pie update.

In addition to the ease of getting hold of one of these in the U.S., the icing on the cake is the price, where the Razer Phone, now that its successor is looming, can be had for just $500.

Specs

  • 5.7-inch QHD IGZO LCD display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 64GB expandable storage
  • Dual 12MP + 12MP rear camera
  • 8MP front camera
  • 4000mAh battery
  • Android 7.1.1 Nougat, upgradable to Android 8.0 Oreo
  • Extras: Bluetooth 4.2, USB-C, NFC, Quick Charge 4+, Dual amplifiers, Side-mounted FPS, etc.

Related: These Android games are 120Hz-optimized specifically for the Razer Phone

Xiaomi Black Shark Helo

Black-Shark-Helo

Announced in October 2018 as an upgrade over the OG Black Shark announced in April 2018, Xiaomi Black Shark Helo has a dotted line of availability across the globe, which is why it didn’t make it to the top of this list despite rocking the latest hardware tech than the Razer Phone.

In addition to the big-screen, top-notch hardware specs, and a big battery, the Black Shark Helo makes its case by integrating things like dual pipe liquid cooling system to help cool down the phone during intensive gaming that can otherwise cause it to overheat; a special “Shark Key” that enables high-performance gaming mode; and ability to attach accessories like a gamepad, among other gaming-focused tweaks.

Specs
  • 6.01-inch 18:9 FHD+ AMOLED HDR display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor
  • 6GB, 8GB or 10GB RAM
  • 128GB or 256GB non-expandable storage
  • Dual 12MP + 20MP rear camera
  • 20 MP front camera
  • 4000mAh battery
  • Android 8.1 Oreo with JOY UI
  • Extras: Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C, Quick Charge 3.0, Rear-mounted FPS, Stereo speakers, etc.

As noted, the Xiaomi Black Shark Helo is easily accessible in China, but getting hold of one outside the Asian market can be a real hassle. For the price, it’s even cheaper than the aging Razer Phone, where the base model can be had for about $480 and the high-end variant at about $560.

Even better is that there’s a new Black Shark 2 in the pipes, whose details are fully captured in the link below.

Related: Xiaomi Black Shark 2: All you need to know

ZTE Nubia Red Magic

ZTE-Nubia-Red-Magic-1

Mobile gaming in China is big and it is no wonder more Chinese vendors are showing up on this list. Better known for its Axon smartphone lineup, ZTE also has a flurry of devices sold in Asia under the Nubia branding and it is through this sub-brand that the company has its first gaming-focused smartphone, the Nubia Red Magic.

While aesthetics should be less of a concern for those looking for the best gaming-focused smartphone, the design of the Nubia Redmi Magic will without a doubt catch your attention. The angled design of the rear panel coupled by the customizable RGB LED light make up for one of the most unique designs in this category and apparently, it’s not just for the looks, but ZTE says this angled design helps a lot when it comes to cooling the device.

Specs

  • 6-inch 18:9 FHD+ LCD display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 128GB of non-expandable storage
  • 24MP rear camera
  • 8MP front camera
  • 3800mAh battery
  • Android 8.1 Oreo
  • Extras: Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C, 3.5mm audio jack, DTS HD sound, Rear-mounted FPS, Fast battery charging, etc.

Unlike the Xiaomi Black Shark, the Nubia Red Magic has been talked up with respect to U.S. availability. In fact, if everything goes according to plan, this gaming-focused ZTE smartphone will arrive in the U.S. (and other markets across the globe) in Q4 2018. Whether the price will change from the early-bird valuation of $399 when the phone hits American shores is unknown, but if it doesn’t, it’ll make it one of the cheapest gaming-focused smartphones on the market.

The best flagship Android phones for gaming

Device USA UK India
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 $1000 £849 INR 67,900
Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+ $620/$740 £679/£929 INR 57,900/64,900
Motorola Moto Z3 $480 NA NA
Huawei Mate 20 Pro $750 £679 INR 64,999
LG G7 ThinQ $730 £560 (£459 on Carphone Warehouse) INR 40,000
LG V40 ThinQ $949 To be confirmed To be confirmed
OnePlus 6T $549 £499 INR 37,999
Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 (10GB) To be confirmed To be confirmed To be confirmed
Xiaomi Mi 8 $500 £450 NA

While it’s great to see vendors coming up with smartphones that are specifically meant for hardcore gamers, one thing that you can’t walk away from is that ordinary smartphones have also gotten better when it comes to mobile gaming and they keep getting better with each iteration.

GPU-Turbo

In fact, the growing love for mobile games has forced most companies into selling to the mainstream consumer smartphones that also include some subtle tweaks to cater to hardcore gamers who still care about aesthetics. Talk of software optimizations meant to improve your gaming experience, proprietary gaming-enhancing features such as the water-carbon cooling system in Samsung’s top flagship phone and GPU Turbo technology in Huawei phones or even simply cramming top-level processors, RAM, storage, battery capacity, and display screens that promise a superior gaming experience, and so on.

What makes these phones great propositions is that you don’t have to buy a separate phone specifically for gaming, instead, you can use this same phone for gaming as well as do with it the usual stuff like taking great photos, browsing the web, making calls, and best of all, carrying it around won’t be as hectic as most of the bulky, gaming-focused smartphones in the previous section.

The Galaxy Note 9 tops this list with its massive 6.4-inch QHD+ Super AMOLED display screen, 8GB RAM and 512GB, a huge 4000mAh battery and an S Pen that can also be used to play certain titles that are optimized to work with the stylus. The powerful Snapdragon 845/Exynos 9810 chipset inside the Note 9 is powerful enough to run any resource-intensive game and it’s no wonder Samsung didn’t have any problem bundling Fortnite for Android in the phone.

Galaxy-Note9-Midnight-Black1

Given that they share the same hardware specs as the Galaxy Note 9, extensive gaming on the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are also great alternatives. Besides their powerful-enough hardware specs, the S9 duo ships with big enough display screens that any gamer will enjoy not only because of their size but also their quality. You also get a bigger display and longer battery life, especially on the Plus variant that comes with a bigger 3500mAh battery unit and even better is that all of these phones, including the older, yet very capable Galaxy Note 8 with its 6.3-inch QHD+ Infinity Display screen, have what the company calls Game Tools that opens up a new world of gaming-focused tweaks aimed at enhancing your experience.

Unlike Samsung, Motorola has a slightly different approach that is helped by the Moto Mods. The latest Motorola Moto Z3 and even the Moto Z2 Force from 2017 are great options because either phone works perfectly with the gamepad Moto Mod that opens an array of gaming-focused features to enhance your experience.

Moto-Z3-gamepad-mod

Given that Huawei is making its GPU Turbo gaming tech available to just about every phone, it has to be the one with the most gaming-capable smartphones. However, if we are to consider the ones with high-end hardware and generally all-rounders, there’s no going past the Huawei P20 Pro. Outside of the gaming world, this phone is among the best on the market. Throw Huawei’s GPU Turbo technology in the mix and you have a device that can smoothly play any mobile game without any lags. The story is also true for Huawei Mate 10 Pro, but it should get even better with the new Huawei Mate 20 Pro, which rocks a new and more powerful Kirin 980 processor.

Although not highly spoken of when it comes to gaming, the kind of hardware specs the likes of OnePlus 6T, OnePlus 6LG V35 ThinQ, LG G7 ThinQ, LG V40 ThinQ, Xiaomi Mi MIX 3Mi MIX 2S, Mi 8, and Sony Xperia XZ3 have makes them top-level smartphones when it comes to mobile gaming, but of course, you must be willing to part with some significant amount of money to get your hands on some of them. We are talking specs like the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, up to 10GB RAM and 256GB internal storage, sophisticated internal cooling mechanisms, big-screen panels, and huge battery units to keep them going for long hours during and after intensive gaming, among others.

OnePlus-6T-Android-Phone-2-e1540907237154

Related:

What if you can’t afford any of the phones in the above sections but still want a great Android phone for gaming? Well, read on…

The best budget Android phone for gaming

Device USA UK India
Huawei Honor Play $399 £280 INR 19,999
Xiaomi Poco F1 $395 £380 INR 20,999
Xiaomi Mi Max 3 NA £285 NA
Honor 8X Max Coming soon Coming soon Coming soon
Nokia 7 Plus $425 £340 INR 24,825
Xiaomi Mi A2 $250 £200 INR 16,999

As pointed out earlier, smartphone vendors are devising various way of adding gaming-focused capabilities not just to high-end phones, but also on budget phones that are affordable by all. Take Huawei for example. The company has been rolling out a feature known as GPU Turbo gaming technology aimed at improving the performance of the phones that get the update (and those with the feature preinstalled) when playing various mobile games.

RelatedThe list of Huawei devices that support GPU Turbo technology

Honor-Play-2

However, none of the updated budget Huawei phones can match the gaming standards set by the Honor Play. The device boasts preinstalled GPU Turbo technology that boosts the performance of the already powerful Kirin 970 chipset by an impressive 60% while reducing power consumption by up to 30%, but this is in comparison to the Kirin 960 chipset. The device also comes with Histen audio tech that allows for a better 3D surround audio experience when gaming and “4D Smart Shock” that vibrates the phone like a console gamepad would do.

Nonetheless, given the Honor Play’s asking price of just INR 19,999 in India (about $275), it has easily become a fan favorite for avid gamers, but the fact that it runs a slightly older and less powerful chipset than Xiaomi Pocophone F1 makes the latter a more suitable all-rounder for others, especially fans of MIUI.

Poco-F1-image-6

The Poco F1 is not a gaming lord like the Honor Play, but it’s the ultimate speed master in this category. Playing games requires top-notch hardware and this is exactly what you get in the Poco F1. The device’s latest Snapdragon 845 processor coupled with 6GB RAM, 64GB storage, a huge 6.18-inch display screen and a massive 4000mAh battery makes it a go-to option for avid mobile gamers running on a budget. To make the Poco F1 even better at gaming, Xiaomi included Liquid cooling technology to ensure it doesn’t overheat during prolonged gaming sessions.

One little problem with these two is their availability, but we’ve tried the best we can to provide purchase links in the table at the top of this section.

Related:

Mi-Max-3-8

Another budget phone that will excite gamers is Xiaomi Mi Max 3. Basically, gaming is enjoyed best on big-screen phones and what better big-screen device than the Mi Max 3 and its massive 7-inch display screen? Even better, you can grab the slightly bigger Huawei Honor 8X Max that has a monstrous 7.12-inch display screen. These two have the same power under the hood courtesy of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 chipset with up to 6GB RAM and 128GB storage in support, which can further be expanded via a microSD card. The Mi Max 3 is even better thanks to a 5500mAh battery as opposed to the 8X Max’s 5000mAh unit and both have support for fast charging technology.

To ensure a smoother gaming experience, Xiaomi Mi Max 3 comes with a system-level game toolbox aimed at improving the overall gaming experience on this big screen. Similarly, the Honor 8X Max has GPU Turbo out of the box, which is Huawei’s proprietary gaming technology meant to get the best out of the hardware on board to improve your gaming experience.

Honor-8X-Max

Related:

Alternatively, the Nokia 7 Plus and another of Xiaomi’s devices, the Mi A2, are also great budget phones that will do just as good when it comes to gaming. Of course, the experience might not be the same as the Honor Play or even Poco F1, but you are getting powerful-enough specs (both have a Snapdragon 660 chipset, 4GB RAM and 64GB storage), big display screens, and good batteries for an uninterrupted gaming experience.

Nokia-7-Plus-.

These two, more so the Mi A2, might not necessarily be built for gaming purposes, but they have good specs to power any mobile game quite comfortably. The fact that they are also on the list of devices with a promise of timely updates (Pie is already available for Nokia 7 Plus and is coming soon to Xiaomi Mi A2) thanks to Android One makes them perfect alternatives to the Poco F1 or Honor Play.

Related:

Are you a gamer? How is your current smartphone holding up? Share this experience with us in your comments below.

  • 1266 Posts
  • 0 Comments
Each one Reach one Teach one. Football Droid.