Mobile games have never been more alive or better than right now with full-on Nintendo games like Mario Kart Tour, narratives like Florence, and Fortnite being more popular than ever. At the same time, smartphones have gotten better and now there are even a few handsets designed specifically for gaming.These iOS and Android phones made for gaming are a step up from your average regular handset and they come packing overclocked processors and high-refresh-rate screens hitting 90Hz and up. Some gaming smartphones even feature specialized cooling systems such as liquid cooling or internal fans. Gaming phones is a burgeoning category in the smartphone world, and Ive picked out the best ones just for you.TL;DR These are the Best Gaming Phones:
1. Asus ROG Phone
Best Gaming Phone
Screen size: 6″ Resolution: 1,080 x 2,160 CPU: Snapdragon 845 RAM: 8GB Storage: 128GB Battery: 4,000mAh Rear camera: 16MP (wide), 8MP (ultra-wide) Front cameras: 8MP OS: Android 8.1 Oreo Size: 6.25″x 3.00″ x 0.33″ Weight: 7.05oz
The Asus ROG Phone (read our review) is without a doubt, the best gaming phone right now. Featuring binned 2.96GHz Snapdragon 845 processors (0.16GHz faster than usual), a 90Hz display, and virtualized air triggers, playing Fortnite and PUBG Mobile on this gaming phone has never felt better. Thanks to its vapor chambers and liquid cooling system, this phone will also stay cool to the touch and the phone comes with an included attachable fan to stay even cooler.Asus also has the most complete line of accessories for the ROG Phone complete with controllersincluding one that adds a second screendesktop dock, and a WiGig dock to connect the phone wirelessly to your gaming TV. It also has the same distinct copper, orange on gunmetal gamer aesthetic as the companys gaming laptops with a design that makes the phone look almost like an Iron Man suit.
2. ZTE Nubia Red Magic 3
Best Budget Gaming Phone
Screen size: 6.65″ Resolution: 1,080 x 2,340 CPU: Snapdragon 855 RAM: 8GB Storage: 128GB Battery: 5,000mAh Rear camera: 48MP (wide) Front cameras: 16MP OS: Android 9 Pie Size: 6.76″ x 3.09″ x 0.38″ Weight: 7.58oz
The Nubia Red Magic 3 is a gaming phone powerful enough to hang with the crowd of flagships like the Razer Phone 2 and Asus ROG Phone, but at a fraction of the price starting at $480. Despite being so much cheaper, this budget smartphone comes with the leading Snapdragon 855 processor. It also packs plenty of gaming-specific features including touchpad shoulder buttons, plus liquid-cooling and an internal fan to keep it cool.With the Nubia Red Magic 3 youll be playing on a large 6.5-inchalbeit only Full HD90Hz screen. For less than $500 youre getting a lot of phone as it comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage to start, not to mention a massive 5,000mAh battery that will keep you gaming for a long time.
3. Razer Phone 2
Best Android Phone for Gaming
Screen size: 5.72″ Resolution: 1,440 x 2,560 CPU: Snapdragon 845 RAM: 8GB Storage: 64GB Battery: 4,000mAh Rear camera: 12MP (wide), 12MP (2x telephoto) Front cameras: 8MP OS: Android 8.1 Oreo Size: 6.24″ x 3.11″ x 0.33″ Weight: 7.76oz
The Razer Phone 2s (read our review) most unique feature out of all the gaming phones is its 120Hz QHD display that makes gameplay look smoother than any other gaming smartphone. The handset also has a built-in 24-bit DAC that enhances your audio to go with that great screen.A Snapdragon 845 processor powers this whole experience, meanwhile a vapor chamber cooling system and a massive heat-pipe help keep this complete package running cool. Instead of having a global gaming mode like other phones, Razer has a curated list of mobile games in its Cortex Mobile app, which automatically adjusts settings like resolution, frame rate, and CPU clock speeds to run games optimally.
4. iPhone 11 Pro
Best iPhone for Gaming
Screen size: 5.8″ Resolution: 1,125 x 2,436 CPU: Apple A13 Bionic RAM: 4GB Storage: 64GB Battery: 3,046mAh Rear camera: 12MP (ultra-wide), 12MP (wide), 12MP (telephoto) Front cameras: 12MP OS: iOS 13 Size: 5.67″ x 2.81″ x 0.32″ Weight: 6.63oz
The world of mobile gaming has soured a little over the last couple of years thanks to the introduction of micro-transactions and timer, but Apple is trying to revolutionize mobile gaming with a subscription-based library of and the best way to experience it all is withThe iPhone 11 Pro (read our review) is Apple’s best smartphone in years and with all the exclusive games available only Apple Arcade, there’s never been a better reason to pick up this flagship iOS device. Apple went all out on specs this year as the latest model features a super-bright 800-nit display that peaks at 1,200-nit. It doesn’t feature nearly as much memory as some of the top gaming phones on this list, but Apple has always had a special way of optimizing iOS to do more with less. The iPhone 11 Pro also more than makes up for its RAM deficiency with its A13 Bionic chip, one of the fastest mobile processors you can get on a phone.
The best thing about getting an iPhone is you get access to plenty of mobile games, and it just so happens many of the best mobile experiences are available only through the Apple Arcade subscription service. Just a few of the top Apple Arcade games include Grindstone and WHAT THE GOLF?, and Exit the Gungeon.
5. Xiaomi Black Shark 2
Made to Game
Screen size: 6.39″ Resolution: 1,080 x 2,340 CPU: Snapdragon 855 RAM: 12GB Storage: 256GB Battery: 4,000mAh Rear camera: 48MP (wide), 12MP (telephoto) Front cameras: 20MP OS: Android 9 Pie Size: 6.44″ x 2.95″ x 0.35″ Weight: 7.23oz
The Xiaomi Black Shark 2 (read our review) was built for gaming first and you can tell just by holding its contoured shape. It’s like it was meant to be gripped in landscape mode for gaming. This gaming phone also features one of the biggest 6.39-inch AMOLED screens with a 1,080 x 2,340 resolutionbut only 60Hz refresh rate.The Black Shark 2 also features plenty of gaming specific software with a myriad of pull down Gamer Studio options to adjust the performance of your phone as well as display, touch, audio and networking settings. Like the Asus ROG Phone, Xiaomi has plenty of accessories designed for the Black Shark 2 including an attachable pair of controllers and TV connection hub.
6. OnePlus 7 Pro
True Full Screen Mobile Gaming
Screen size: 6.67″ Resolution: 1,440 x 3,120 CPU: Snapdragon 855 RAM: 12GB Storage: 256GB Battery: 4,000mAh Rear camera: 48MP (wide), 8MP (telephoto), 16MP (ultra-wide) Front cameras: 16MP OS: Android 9 Pie Size: 6.40″ x 2.99″ x 0.35″ Weight: 7.27oz
If all screen mobile gaming is what you seek, the OnePlus 7 Pro (read our review) is the best gaming phone for this particular job. The OnePlus 7 Pro skips all the front camera notches and bottom button business to give you a truly edge-to-edge 6.67-inch 1,440 x 3,120 display.This gaming phone also comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip thats plenty fast for even the most demanding mobile games. But you can also turn on Fnatic mode to prioritize processing power and networking speeds for whichever game youre playing. Theres also a basic gaming mode that blocks notifications, enhances haptic feedback, and activates a faux-HDR display mode that presents brighter highlights and deeper blacks on the screen.
7. Samsung Galaxy S10
Best Everyday Phone for Gaming
Screen size: 6.1″ Resolution: 1,440 x 3,040 CPU: Snapdragon 855 RAM: 12GB Storage: 128GB Battery: 3,400mAh Rear camera: 12MP (wide), 12MP (telephoto), 16MP (ultra-wide) Front cameras: 10MP OS: Android 9 Pie Size: 5.90″ x 2.77″ x 0.31″ Weight: 5.54oz
Just like sleeper gaming PCs, sometimes you just want a normal looking phone that offers better graphics performance than everyone else. Thats where the Samsung Galaxy S10 (read our review) comes in to play. Its one of the best and most popular smartphones around that’s also been carefully tuned for gaming.The Samsung Galaxy S10 is the first phone optimized for Unity-run games. Also, the GPU has been optimized for smoother gameplay for all mobile games no matter which engine theyre built on. Users can also turn on an enhanced gaming mode on the Galaxy S10 that gives you better video and audio from the Infinity-O display and Dolby speakers.
This phone also features an advanced heat pipe cooling system, which helps it stay cooler than other competing handsets. The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is also a great option if you want an even bigger screen and a vapor chamber cooling system to cool things down even more.
What’s Next for Gaming Phones
The third generation of gaming phones is starting to heat up and it’s all thanks to Qualcomm’s brand new Snapdragon 855 Plus processor.So far two new gaming phones have stepped forward, the Asus ROG Phone 2 and Xiaomi Black Shark 2 Pro, promising even better mobile gaming performance with the new chip.
The Asus ROG Phone 2 looks to be a pretty big step up from its predecessor, packing a newer processor, larger screen, 6,000mAh battery, and 120Hz screen. The Black Shark 2 Pro, on the other hand, aims to be the most affordable and powerful gaming phone that packs a Snapdragon 855 Plus chip with 12GB of RAM for just $450.
What to Look for in a Gaming Phone
Choosing the right gaming phone is a little different than finding the best smartphone. With regular phones, you might be more interested in battery life, the cameras, and a plethora of other specs, but the best gaming phones are all about their screens and processors with everything else being less important.With that in mind, well start with the processors. You pretty much want the latest chips available, which for Android are the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Snapdragon 855, and the newly announced Snapdragon 855 Plus chips. On Apples side, you should look for an iPhone with either an A11 Bionic or A12 Bionic CPU.
In terms of displays, you should pick out anything thats a step up from your average phone screen. Often, smartphones made for gaming will feature a display with a refresh rate greater than 60Hz. 90Hz screens are what most of the top gaming phones feature, but were starting to see more gaming smartphones with 120Hz displays coming to market as well.
That’s everything thing you need to know about gaming phones for now. We’ll be updating this list periodically, especially as rumors suggest we’re going to see a surge of new gaming smartphones that may include the Asus ROG Phone 2. Xiaomi has also announced that it intends to introduce the Black Shark 2 Pro by the end of the month.
Kevin Lee is IGN’s Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam