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Best smartphones for gaming



4 minute read

Playing games on your phone has never been better, thanks to a wide range of console-quality titles and a rash of new gaming-focused smartphones. Here are the five best gaming smartphones on the market, thanks to their fast hardware and unique gamer-friendly features. Let’s get started.

1. Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus
Image credit: Samsung

Samsung’s new Galaxy S10 Plus smartphone offers few compromises, and that includes gaming performance. Its bleeding edge Snapdragon 855 processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, even on the entry-level model, means you can expect a snappy experience throughout and plenty of room to install your favourite games. The S10 Plus also comes with a vapor chamber cooling system, which should keep the phone’s internals cool no matter how long you’re playing Fortnite. The inclusion of a sizeable 4100mAh battery and Wi-Fi 6 should also keep you gaming longer and with less latency. Finally, Samsung have also included a helpful Game Mode in their latest phones, which blocks out distracting - and potentially game-ruining - notifications and allows you to use every inch of space on the phone’s 6.4-inch display. All in all, an excellent gaming phone with plenty of thoughtful features to make things better - to say nothing of its strengths out of games too.

2. iPhone Xs Max

iPhone Xs Max
Image credit: Apple

What, an iPhone? Yes, most mobile games these days are released on iPhone first, Android second, so choosing an iPhone for gaming makes quite a bit of sense. The iPhone also supports controllers with Made For iPhone (MFi) certification, including both standalone models (e.g. the excellent SteelSeries Stratus Duo) and clip-on models (e.g. the Gamevice). The iPhone Xs beats out other iPhone models as it boasts the biggest screen and largest battery, which should allow it to outlast its rivals and deliver a better gaming experience.

3. Razer Phone 2

Razer Phone 2
Image credit: Razer

The Razer Phone 2 is the first phone on this list with a truly novel feature: a screen that refresh itself 120 times per second, twice as fast as a standard smartphone. These 120Hz displays have become essential for gaming desktop PCs, and they make just as much sense on gaming-focused phones like this one. The higher refresh rate halves input delay, the time between a command being entered and it being shown on screen, as well as making it easier to track moving targets in fast-paced games like PUBG or Fortnite. While the Snapdragon 845 processor isn’t quite as fast as the Snapdragon 855 we saw on the Galaxy S10+, Razer’s vapor chamber cooling will keep performance high in much the same way. The Razer Phone 2 is also a nice choice for PC gamers as it sports the same Chroma backlighting as Razer’s line of PC gaming peripherals, ensuring this phone looks the part too.

4. Asus ROG Phone

Asus ROG Phone
Image credit: Asus

The Asus ROG Phone is another option from a PC powerhouse that includes a high refresh rate display, although this one runs at 90Hz instead of the 120Hz of the Razer Phone. However, the ROG Phone provides its own advantages to offset this: an overclocked Snapdragon 845 processor at 2.96GHz, vapor chamber cooling and side-mounted ports that allow you to hold the phone in two hands while charging or using headphones. The ROG Phone also has ‘AirTriggers’, ultrasonic touch sensors embedded in the frame of the phone that serve as two extra programmable buttons. For example, you can use these to scope and fire in FPS and battle royale games, or brake and accelerate in racing titles. Stereo speakers and a capacious 4000mAh battery rated for 7 hours of gaming complete the package. Finally, you can also pick up accessories like clip-on fans and controllers or docks that include extra ports, a stand and/or a second screen. This makes the ROG Phone an expensive proposition, but the level of gaming-specific features here are unmatched.

5. Xiaomi Black Shark Helo

Xiaomi Black Shark Helo
Image credit: Xiaomi

If you don’t like the look of the Razer Phone 2 or ASUS ROG Phone, the Xiaomi Black Shark Helo is another Android gaming phone along similar lines. There are impressive specs - Snapdragon 845, 10GB RAM, 256GB storage, 4000mAH battery - plus several gamer-friendly features. You get a clip-on gamepad in the box too, which is a nice touch. The Black Shark Helo is one of the most affordable options available, but you’ll have to buy it on the grey market as Xiaomi’s official store doesn’t sell the phone in the UK just yet.

Wrapping up

So, there we have it - five excellent gaming phones for you to consider. We hope this article was helpful! If you have any feedback, please let us know by tweeting @wsjudd. Thanks for reading and we’ll catch you on the next one!

Header image credit: Razer

Written by wsjudd

Will is a gadget fanatic, working from cafes and gadget-infused mega-hovels to turn caffeine into technology articles. Follow him on Twitter @wsjudd and check out his newly redesigned tech review site!