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7 min read 30 comments

Best phones for mobile gaming in 2018: power in your hands

The smartphone specs war continues to rage, with RAM and processors being boosted every year. Now, smartphones are more than capable of handling advanced and graphically beautiful games, and a new generation of specialized gaming phones is making its way to our hands. We've updated our list with the best phones for mobile gaming in 2018.

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Razer Phone: big, loud, and super-smooth

The company that made its name manufacturing powerful gaming accessories and the acclaimed Razer Blade range of gaming laptops didn't disappoint when it came to presenting the Razer Phone, with mobile gamers firmly in mind.

The Razer Phone's only available configuration packs in 8 GB of RAM alongside 64 GB storage and the (now no longer top-of-the-range) Snapdragon 835 chipset. All this with seriously powerful speakers in the side bezels for an immersive sound. But the real star of the show is the 5.7-inch display with a 120Hz refresh rate. The GPU can be synced to this refresh rate for lag-free, silky smooth frame rates on even the most demanding games, and is especially helpful on action titles where a split-second reaction can make the different between victory and defeat.

Another benefit is Razer's Game Booster, where you can control various settings related to gaming, like adjusting the resolution, frame rate and processing power. If you're someone with a ton of games on your phone, some requiring more power than others, this is great for making sure your phone handles them efficiently. You can even toggle anti-aliasing and disable notifications while a game is running so that you're not disturbed.

AndroidPIT Razer Phone Gaming 02
The Razer Phone was designed for optimal gaming experience. / © AndroidPIT

iPhone X: when you want to be first in the game

In contrast to the previous entry, iPhones don't exactly scream 'gamer' in appearance or marketing, but there's a definite advantage to them for gamers. With iOS, Apple keeps a well-trimmed walled garden across the iPhone range which makes it easier for app developers to develop a game for iOS than for Android, which suffers from fragmented distribution and a staggering variety of hardware configurations.

The result? High-end games often debut on the App Store much sooner than on Google's Play Store. iPhone owners have been playing Fortnite on their phones for months while Android gamers are still waiting. Same goes for upcoming titles such as Life is Strange or Alto's Odyssey. While I still prefer the greater choice and control of Android, I've cast an envious eye over to iPhone owners more than once for this reason. Apple's careful curation of the App Store also guarantees good optimization and performance for your hardware.

Naturally, the obvious choice is the iPhone X, Apple's top model of the moment, but the iPhone 8 Plus is also a good choice for iOS gamers who prefer a more classic look.

AndroidPIT iPhone X 5930
You'll get the latest games sooner with an iPhone. / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

Xiaomi Black Shark: a dedicated handheld gaming device

The Xiaomi Black Shark is a gaming-focused smartphone and not shy about it, with an aggressive angular look, black with bright highlights. But it's not all show. Inside the Black Shark, we find an array of hardware powerful enough to handle any modern game with ease: an octacore CPU, 8 GB RAM and the Adreno 630 GPU. Naturally, there's also a specialized cooling system.

Another striking feature is the dedicated Shark button. When you press it, your phone switches to maximum performance and and opens a gaming environment in landscape mode. From here you can manage your games and configure the snap-on gamepad.

AndroidPIT Xiaomi Black Shark 6719
Press the Shark button to go full gamer. / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+: Game Mode and Gear VR

The Galaxy S9 and its more powerful sibling, the S9+ may be the best Android smartphone on the market, and that still counts for gaming performance. Samsung's dedicated Game Mode, which is comprised of Game Launcher and Game Tools, shows the special care Samsung has taken to accommodate mobile gamers. The Game Launcher is home to all your games, while Game Tools changes the screen mode to accommodate games that don't support the unique 18.5:9 aspect ratio, among other things. All of this ensures that your experience is immersive, by disabling notifications and the invisible home button to allow for uninterrupted game play, for example.

The impressive hardware also allows for a smooth, engaging experience. The curved, 5.8-inch AMOLED Infinity Display of the Galaxy S9 (6.2 inches on the S9+) has a 18.5:9 aspect ratio with a 1,440 x 2,960 resolution for a great visual experience. All that screen real estate is held in a thin, ergonomic body and powered by a 3,000 mAh battery. The Galaxy S8 features the top of the line Snapdragon 845 processor with an Adreno 630 GPU and 4 GB of RAM (6GB in the S9+).

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Either of the Galaxy S9 siblings would make a great gaming device. / © AndroidPIT

It should also be mentioned that fans of VR mobile games have an additional benefit when it comes to choosing Samsung: the Gear VR is the best smartphone-compatible VR headset out there, and with it you can enjoy fantastic immersive VR games such as Endspace.

OnePlus 6: the flagship killer with more than enough RAM 

The OnePlus 6 is no slouch when it comes to gaming, thanks to its top specs including 6 to 8 GB of RAM. This gives it incredible gaming performance which is complemented by the Gaming Mode, which suppresses accidental presses of the keys and notifications, can route incoming calls to speaker, save battery and other useful tweaks to ensure you are not disturbed while playing. The 6.3-inch Full HD display is powered by a 3,300 mAh battery which can stand up to the most demanding games without overheating.

AndroidPIT OnePlus 6 5945
The OnePlus 6 places enough power in your hands. / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

Moto Gamepad: a budget console in a snap for the Moto Z2 Play

The Moto Gamepad will attach to any smartphone in the Moto Z family, giving you two control sticks, a D-pad and four "tactile action buttons". It resembles the Nintendo Switch. Since the Mod attaches to the device directly, there won't be any lag from wireless connections and Motorola says it will last up to 8 hours thanks to its 1,035 mAh battery. So, if you're thinking of investing in a smartphone that will provide a good gaming experience, in addition to other possibilities offered by Mods, you may want to consider a Moto Z device like the Moto Z2 Force, or the Moto Z2 Play which is a great budget option.

Sony Remote Play: play your PS4 from your Xperia phone

If you own a PlayStation 4, you can play it using some Xperia devices thanks to Sony Remote Play. It allows you to use your home Wi-Fi connection to stream to your phone or tablet and play using a connected Dualshock 4 controller. To get the most from the experience, you'll want a Game Control Mount, which attaches your phone to the top of the controller. The newest of the compatible Xperia devices is the Xperia XZ2, which has a 5.7-inch display, a Snapdragon 845 chipset and 4 GB of RAM.

There are plenty of other great phones (and accessories) for gaming on the go, and even more powerful gaming devices are arriving on the horizon, such as the upcoming Asus ROG Phone. If you're not running the most graphically demanding games, however, even mid-range devices should be able to handle most of what's new on the Play Store.

Which games do you enjoy most on mobile? Are there any phones you'd recommend for gamers? Share your thoughts with everyone in the comments.


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  • Please update the article. All the old phones are there in list... 👎👎👎

    • Brittany McGhee
      • Blogger
      Aug 3, 2017 Link to comment

      We've just updated our list again!

      • GASB Aug 10, 2017 Link to comment

        Reallyl? Are you recomending the Galaxy S8 for gaming, when it has poor GPU performance? The best phones for games are the phones with Snapdragon 820/821. Please you just do well your homework.

        Sorry for my words, but I hate this marketing that conceals with tecnology...


  • Mark
    • Admin
    Jan 28, 2017 Link to comment

    What about the LG V20 the perfect phone for gaming. With the removable battery you can play all day. AndroidPit you are so biased in your phone coverage it is pitiful.

  • The fact that the HTC 10 doesn't have an amoled display isn't necessary a bad thing, people talk like amoled displays are superior, when in fact amoled displays aren't as sharp, and while the high contrast may seem better in some cases, it provides a very unnatural picture, much like the camera on the S7. The HTC 10 actually outperforms the Galaxy S7 in many ways, the HTC 10 scored 30,000 higher according the antutu benchmark scores listed on the site, and the HTC 10 received the highest DXOMARK score of 88, (despite the S7 having the same score the 10 did better with still images which put it ahead), the 10 has better audio microphones, and speakers. The HTC 10 is water resistant just not as well as the S7, but considering your far more likely to drop your phone and break it than drop it in 3 ft of water, the metal body proves better than the S7's glass body, Not to mention the HTC 10 has uh-oh protection which covers the phone in any worst case scenario. The HTC 10 doesn't have all the bloatware found on the S7, which will weigh on the phones performance in the long run, the HTC 10 has adotpable storage, and receives Android updates within 15 days of release while Samsung takes months to get updates. The HTC 10 is the best all around device on the market right now.

  • Moto E LTE with Snapdragon 410. 4.5" screen pushing 960x540 resolution, makes it a no brainer everywhere I want to go device. Can find them for every carrier under $30, refurbs for $5, and it plays every android game with fair ease for on the go gaming.

    Sure a nice tablet for couch gaming, with a great resolution, but you cant beat a 2390mAH battery, running what would essentially be a 'Nintendo' level of handheld phone. There are other variants out there, with 410s, running 2Gb of RAM, but if you keep the screen res to the 960x540 range you'll be greeted with plenty of devices that are capable of the latest games your shield can play, while on the go for a much more friendly on the go price (breaks, wear down. It's even got a splash proof coating on it for longevity).

  • Currently I have an Xperia T3, which I kind of love. I love the Xperia's but since I am a phone gamer, those can be shit too. My Xperia T3 is good overall, but when it comes to games... No. Just no. This is not a gaming phone.
    So, after this phone dies. I obviously want a new one. I'm thinking of abandon the Xperia series (I have been with them since Xperia Mini Pro) and get a really good gaming phone. I really don't like buttons, I prefer touch-buttons. Large screens is a must.
    1) Gaming phone
    2) Touch buttons only
    3) Large screen
    Please help me find my perfect phone!

  • Tilton Jul 11, 2016 Link to comment

    No G5? WTF

  • Lame no note series listed here, and my note 3 is still amazing at gaming

  • Mark
    • Admin
    Jun 9, 2016 Link to comment

    The Note 4 is the best for gaming big screen, Micro SD, replicable battery so you don't have to worry about running out of power.

  • Anand Jun 9, 2016 Link to comment

    Why Galaxy Note series is not listed? Note have always had amazing big screen with beefy flagship hardware for it's time.

  • Lg G flex 2 should be in there too. I don't understand why ppl complain about g flex 2 i mean its super fast and it can play all the games at max graphics. But since ppl didn't buy this device a lot it doesn't have any custom roms thanks to lg's locked bootloader. Waiting for xda g4 owners to find a solution.

  • for the price of the most smartphones you can get a mid range gamimg pc or at least a console. ->kind of useless to buy a "gaming" smartphone

  • Nexus 6P for screen / battery
    HTC 10 for audio

    All I need now is for a Chinese, or Korean, Smartphone manufacturer to deliver an affordable Tablet with these impressive features (stock Android OS Marshmallow with quick update to Android OS N) ;)

  • Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is the best. I think.

  • Man tough choices. Probably have to go with the S7 because it is 'set up' for gaming. Also, what game is in the last picture?

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