The specs war continues to rage, with RAM and processors being boosted every year. When it comes to gaming, the options have never been better. Whether you're looking for the most powerful, affordable or unique offering, we've got the right choice for you here. These are the best phones for mobile gaming.
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: for the ultimate choice
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is one of the most powerful smartphones on the market. Packing the latest Snapdragon 820 processor, the Adreno 530 GPU and 4 GB of RAM, it will cope with the most strenuous games available as well as those that are still to come.
Samsung's 2016 flagship is, of course, extremely pricey, but it offers the finest gaming experience available. It's also future-proof, as far as a smartphone can be, guaranteeing two years of top-level performance.
The upcoming Galaxy S8 will surely be a top performer as well, so when we get our hands on it, we'll let you know how it fares with games.
The screen, curved at the edges, makes the most of its 5.5 inches, dissolving unsightly bezels as it peels away. As usual for Samsung, the viewing quality is of the highest standard available on the market.
Aside from the through-the-roof specs, the device is set up specifically to offer a superlative gaming experience. A Samsung-only software feature, the Game Launcher, acts as a gaming center, storing and categorizing your games. It also employs a floating button arrangement called the Game Tool, which can be used, among other things, to block notifications and record your gameplay from within any game.
Not only that, but the S7 devices are the first smartphones to use the Vulkan API, which is looking set to be the future of mobile gaming.
Nexus 6P: for price, power and panoramas
Powerful hardware no longer sits outside the budget of the modest buyer. Xiaomi is producing handsets capable of competing with Samsung and Apple flagships for almost half the price, and mid-range devices are quickly climbing the ladder and biting at high-end heels.
The Nexus 6P contains last year's Snapdragon 810 processor and Adreno 430 GPU, placing it within spitting distance of the Galaxy S7 Edge. Studded with 3 GB of RAM and a 5.7-inch AMOLED screen, the Nexus 6P looks stunning, performs admirably and it does it all at an impressive price point.
You can pick up a Nexus 6P for around $450. That's $300 less than a Galaxy S7 Edge. Any gamer, even one pushing the performance through graphically demanding long-haul sessions, is unlikely to suffer through slowdown and frame rate drops with the Nexus 6P.
Although the specs are slightly lower than the S7 Edge, the Nexus 6P has the advantage when it comes to screen size. Its 5.7 inches of viewing space provide ample room to enjoy those HD graphics, and the AMOLED technology means color reproduction is superb. It also has the same resolution as the S7 Edge and, despite the larger screen size, the pixel density isn't far off: 518 ppi vs 534 ppi.
HTC 10: for flagship audio
If you like your games played loud, there's no better choice than the HTC 10. The company, long renowned for its BoomSound audio, has upped its game on the HTC 10. As on its previous models, HTC has employed stereo speakers, but they've also added a twist.
Only the top speaker is front-facing; the bottom speaker now resides on the the frame running along the base of the phone. The top speaker is used for trebles and mids, while the newly located bottom speaker plays the role of a subwoofer, focusing on lower-end frequencies.
The speakers are a standout feature on the HTC 10, but it's also a beautiful phone, and it contains specs to compete alongside the Galaxy S7 range. We find the Snapdragon 820 inside, along with the Adreno 530 GPU, just like Samsung's effort, and there's also 4 GB of RAM. Performance-wise, there will be little discernible difference between this and the Galaxy S7 Edge.
The only downside here is that the HTC 10 doesn't have an AMOLED display. It instead opts for Super LCD 5 technology. It looks great, but not it's not as close to perfection as the Galaxy S7's display, although it does have a higher pixel density.
OnePlus X: for price-conscious performance
Running the Snapdragon 801, the flagship processor of 2014, might not seem like enough to play with the big boys, but the OnePlus X puts in a sterling effort for a $199 phone. It's never going to compete with the Snapdragon 820-wielding beasts of 2016, but at this price point there's little room for argument.
Running the Epic Citadel benchmark, which uses the Unreal engine, on ultra-high quality, the frame rate did bounce around, but it rarely stuttered and ended up achieving over 40 fps on average.
The screen, at 5.1 inches, might not be enough for some, but there will always have to be sacrifices at this price point.
Overall, for under $200, the OnePlus X is a fantastic choice for the gamer who expects decent but not benchmark-breaking performance.
Which phone would you choose as your gaming companion? Let us know in the comments.
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