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Our Best Phones For Gamers

Sure, you can play games on just about any smartphone, but our favorite gaming phones level-up the experience!
Two gamers playing a game on their phones.

When it comes to mobile gaming, things like seamless connectivity, eye-popping screen resolution, super-fast performance, cooling systems, and battery power are key to a truly immersive experience. So, which devices deliver it all in one package? Here’s our list of our best phones for gaming, including all the features that make them stand out from the rest.

Best Display: iPhone 14 Pro Max

There’s a reason TechRadar calls iPhone 14 Pro Max one of the best non-gaming phones for gaming1—and it’s the impressive A16 Bionic chip. With two high-performance cores and four efficiency cores, a five-core GPU and a 16-core neural engine, this chipset can perform up to 17-trillion operations per second, making it a great phone for fast, seamless gaming.

Additionally, iPhone 14 Pro Max comes with what Apple calls ProMotion, a feature that allows for a 120Hz refresh rate, making it much easier to stay one step ahead in fast-moving games.

Gamers might also appreciate the selection of games that are optimized for iOS and readily available in the App Store or the Apple Arcade subscription service.

  • What we like most: One of the fastest chipsets on the market, unavailable on other iPhones. ProMotion technology allows for an incredibly high refresh rate.
  • Other considerations: Earlier generations and lower tier iPhone 14s come equipped with a formidable A15 Bionic chip, which is still incredibly fast, plus the Pro series for 13 and iPhone 14 Pro also have ProMotion technology.

Best Processor: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

The only processor that outperforms the A16 Bionic Chip is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Its accelerated ray tracing support means that graphics will appear more intense. Plus, Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 features 8 cores to the A16 Bionic’s 6. More cores usually mean faster performance. Forbes raves, “This chip is snappy and makes navigating the phone’s menus and playing a range of demanding titles an absolute joy.”2

While all the phones in the S23 series rely on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, mobile gamers, specifically, might be interested in the S23 Ultra because it comes with an optional upgrade to 12GB of RAM, whereas the other models are limited to 8GB.

  • What we like most: The Galaxy S23 Ultra is likely the fastest non-gaming phone you’ll find on the market (though iPhone Pro Max is an incredibly close second).
  • Other considerations: Even without the extra RAM, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra costs a couple of hundred dollars more than other smartphones in the market. You may also have to add extra memory.

Best Price: OnePlus 10T 5G

OnePlus 10T has many features that make it the perfect phone for gamers at a much lower price than other phones that pack the processing power for fast-paced, great-looking games. However, one of the biggest advantages it has over other devices is that you can get a full day’s charge in just 10 minutes, or what Android Authority3 describes as “a blistering pace,” so you never have to miss out on the action for very long.

Additionally, the OnePlus 10T comes with HyperBoost Gaming Engine, designed to make gaming smoother and more responsive to touch. Plus, cooling features mean you never have to worry about your device overheating in the middle of gameplay.

  • What we like most: The OnePlus 10T is designed with gaming in mind, featuring a longer battery life, fast charging, and the HyberBoost Gaming Engine feature. Gamers will also likely love the price.
  • Other considerations: While the Snapdragon 8 gen 1 Pro processor offers considerable performance, it might not quite reach the towering levels of power found in some other smartphones on the market. And the OnePlus 10T only comes with 8GB of RAM.

What makes a great phone for mobile gaming?

Not sure what to look for when selecting a great phone for mobile gaming? Here’s what the top gaming phones all have in common:

The right hardware specs and performance

  • Processor: In a mobile phone, the processor (or chipset) acts as the brain of the device, controlling each command and completing billions of calculations every second you use your device. For gaming, a smartphone needs to be as “smart” as possible to ensure that each move a gamer makes translates to the action on screen as quickly as possible. The central processing unit (CPU) is the component of a processor responsible for the speed at which commands are received and signals are sent throughout the device. A good gaming phone has multiple CPU cores.
  • RAM: If a phone’s processor is its brain, then RAM is its memory. A gaming phone with sufficient RAM is important for ensuring the phone can handle the demands of running multiple apps and games simultaneously without any lag or performance issues. For a gaming phone, RAM should be at least 6GB, but ideally 8GB or higher.
  • Display: Beyond reducing lag, ensuring that games both look great and play smoothly is probably the second most important aspect of choosing the best gaming phone. A great display has two main factors. A high refresh rate means being able to more easily pick out moving targets or accurately time reactions. The best phones for gaming have refresh rates of 120Hz or higher. For better color accuracy and contrast, gamers should also look for a display with HDR10+ support.
  • Battery Life: No one wants to leave a game early to charge their phone, or worse, have their phone die right before a crucial victory. Games are notorious for draining batteries, so look for a phone with a large battery (4000mAh or higher) and fast-charging capabilities.
  • Cooling System: To prevent your phone from becoming too hot to handle during game play, make sure it has advanced cooling systems. Some gaming phones include features like liquid cooling technology and others have a dedicated cooling fan.

Game compatibility and optimization 

Gaming requires a phone that can handle fast-paced games without lag or overheating. The best phones will have faster processors, more sensitive touchscreens, and larger batteries than what non-gamers would normally need. Some dedicated gaming phones also offer features like the ability to manually adjust graphics settings to reduce the load on the CPU and GPU, allowing the phone to run the game more smoothly.

Budget considerations

To get the best of everything—processor, RAM, display, and battery life—you'll likely have to spend a bit of money. However, to get the best phone for your budget, think about the games you like to play. Pick a phone with your specific needs in mind. Likewise, there are older generation phones with fast processors and great display features that drop in price as new generations are released. Make sure to carefully check the specs on all phones and keep an eye out for deals.

In a nutshell, when shopping for a gaming phone, make sure it ticks off all of your most important boxes first. Look for phones with at least 8GB of RAM and refresh rates of 120Hz. From there, consider what you need your phone to do. If you want hours of gameplay without worrying about your device overheating, look for a liquid cooling system and a long battery life. And for the best phone within your budget, consider upgrading to an older generation phone that still has a great processor and stunning display.

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1. https://www.techradar.com/news/best-phone-for-gaming

2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/mitchwallace/2023/02/22/samsungs-galaxy-s23-ultra-packs-quite-a-gaming-punch/

3. https://www.androidauthority.com/oneplus-10t-review-3192108/