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7 min read 31 comments

Best phones for mobile gaming: power in your hands

The smartphone specs war continues to rage, with RAM and processors being boosted every year. Even though mainstream smartphones are more than capable of handling advanced and graphically beautiful games, specialized gaming phones offer additional features on top of sheer performance. We present to you the best phones for mobile gaming.

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Asus ROG Phone: one with everything

The recently released gaming smartphone from Asus sub-brand Republic of Gamers seems to have it all and then some. Special 2.9GHz Snapdragon 845 SoC, 8GB RAM, 128GB or 512GB storage, and a 6-inch AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate. In our review of the ROG Phone, we found it to be the best all-round gaming smartphone.

Like its rival from Razer, below, the ROG Phone has a light-up logo on the back, great front-firing speakers, an advanced cooling system and specialized software for managing your games and allocating system resources, with additional options for livestreaming and using special pressure-sensitive shoulder buttons called 'AirTriggers'. As well as extra inputs in games, these can be squeezed to trigger the 'X-mode' for maximum performance.

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The rear design just screams 'gamer!' / © AndroidPIT

Throw in all that plus a clip-on cooler that allows for an extra connection for charger an headphone jack, and you've got a device that can easily handle the most advanced mobile games for hours, with additional accessories such as Joycon-style controllers and a dual screen mod to be sold separately in the future. The downside? At $900, it's beaten only by the highest-end Galaxy smartphones as the most expensive on this list.

Razer Phone 2: big, loud, and super-smooth

The company that made its name manufacturing powerful gaming accessories and the acclaimed Razer Blade laptop range has upped its game with the Razer Phone 2, addressing several issues with the first generation and including the company's signature Chroma lighting on the back.

The Razer Phone 2 packs in 8 GB of RAM alongside 64 GB storage and the Snapdragon 845 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. 

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A fast display and handy software for games on the Razer Phone 2 / © AndroidPIT

Another benefit is Razer's Cortex app where you can manage your games, buy games, and 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.

iPhone XS: 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.

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You'll get earlier access to games with iPhones. / © AndroidPIT

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 XS or XS Max, 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.

Xiaomi Black Shark: for the gamer on a budget

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. One comes packed-in with the device, but another can be bought and added on the other side for a Nintendo Switch style setup.

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

For under $500, the Black Shark is one of the most affordable options that still has plenty of extras to offer gamers. 

Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+/Note9: Game Mode and Gear VR

The top range Galaxy smartphones from Samsung don't disappoint when it comes to gaming either. Galaxy S9 and its more powerful sibling, the S9+ pack enough power with a Snapdragon 845 and 8GB RAM, and the Note9 adds incredible screen real estate, extra storge and a bigger battery.

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. AMOLED Infinity Displays offer a great visual experience and all the phones have easy-to-handle, curvy ergonomic bodies.

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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. The Note9 doesn't fit too well in the headset, but Samsung offers a free adapter if you contact their customer service.

OnePlus 6T: the flagship killer with more than enough RAM 

The OnePlus 6T 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 6.4-inch Full HD display is powered by a 3,700 mAh battery which can stand up to the most demanding games without overheating.

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A fast smartphone that doesn't slack off for gaming. / © AndroidPIT

There are plenty of other great phones (and accessories) for gaming on the go, of course. Special mention must go to some cheaper devices like the Honor Play and Nubia Red Magic which still not as feature-heavy as the slightly more expensive Black Shark, still has some nice extras for gaming up its sleeve. 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.

31 comments

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  • S9, gaming,? Funny. You have to charge it after 30 minutes. 😂😂


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


    • 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...

        www.youtube.com/watch?v=064yCZHNWf4&t=158s
        www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-GcLKamGPM&t=203s


  • 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.

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