From budget deals and mid-range marvels to great flagships and foldable friends, smartphones come in all shapes and sizes. Some are designed specifically for one thing: gaming.
Mobile technology has been in full swing lately, which means you can play popular 3D titles like Genshin Impact and Call of Duty Mobile on the go. Sorry Doodle hop and Angry Birds – your time has passed. As you can imagine, an amazing gaming phone needs a processor capable of pushing performance to the limits, more RAM than a desktop computer, and a screen that dazzles. There is also no shortage of accessories that can take your mobile gaming to the next level.
Even with this knowledge, separating the best from the rest in a crowded market is no easy feat. That’s why we’ve taken the liberty of highlighting a few The best gaming phones we’ve encountered on our travels. Are you ready, player one?
What is the best gaming smartphone?
Before we get started with the full list, here’s a look at our top three options:
- Best overall gaming smartphone: Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro
Outstanding performance, a comprehensive list of accessories, and active cooling make Asus’ latest ROG Phones a clear winner for gamers who don’t want to compromise. It’s big, with a distinctive design that won’t be to everyone’s taste, and an average set of cameras for the price – but for consistently smooth frame rates, it’s a great buy.
- Best iOS gaming smartphone: Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
Apple Arcade subscribers can do no better than the iPhone 14 Pro Max. It’s more powerful, with a stunning display that will have any game looking its best, and a library of titles available through the App Store that approximate full game consoles in a way no Android phone can match. It’s also just a great all-round smartphone, even with this controversial price tag.
- Best affordable gaming smartphone: Poco F4 GT
You’ll have to look at a little older phones to get the best combination of powerful hardware and an affordable price. It’s something we think the Poco F4 GT does better at the moment: at £599 it’s about £300 less than our top pick, yet comes with pop-up triggers for physical input while gaming, and still has a top-tier Snapdragon CPU that turn on show.
Our roundup of the best gaming smartphones:
Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro (£899)
Asus’ latest Android gaming phone is “quite powerful” and “designed with the gamer in mind,” according to our review. It manages this with a combination of excellent specs, a screen you won’t want to take your eyes off of, and a few thoughtful accessories that make it much easier to use as more than just an old smartphone.
Under the hood, you get a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, a whopping 16GB of RAM — the same as the PlayStation 5 — and 512GB of storage, so you’ll be able to download plenty of games from the Google Play Store without worrying too. Lots of running out of space. The 6.78-inch screen takes the refresh rate all the way up to 165Hz, and it’s an AMOLED panel for vivid colors and excellent contrast.
In the box, you also get a Bluetooth gamepad and an active cooling stand, which plugs into the extra USB-C port halfway along the side of the phone to prop it up on a table, and with a fan whirring softly, dissipates some of the phone’s heat and prevents it from sluggish. Optional extras include a Kunai gamepad that centers the phone, and the amazing TwinView Dock that adds a second screen (with its own rechargeable battery) so you can run your game and chat app at the same time.
Read more: Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro review
iPhone 14 Pro Max (£1,199)
The new iPhone is always the best iPhone, and the iPhone 14 Pro Max is the latest and best. Until next year. It may be expensive, but if gaming on iPhones is your thing, the Pro Max is the best.
It’s not just the bigger and brighter screen, with the new “dynamic island” that replaces the notch, that makes this a must-have. It’s the A16 Bionic processor, which you won’t find in the base iPhone 14, and a massive increase in GPU memory bandwidth over the A15. This extra power makes the phone much faster than the competition, which means you’ll have better frame rates and have to wait less time while games load, and unlock additional anti-aliasing modes so your games look smoother.
There really is more power in this phone than anyone really needs. But, after all, it’s gamers who push their phones to the edge of performance by claiming to play titles like Total War: Medieval 2 on a train. With the iPhone 14 Pro Max, this is not an issue.
Read more: Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max review
Poco F4 GT (from £599)
The latest Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset doesn’t sway like the ROG Phone 6 up there, but the Poco F4 GT is an excellent option for gamers on a slightly reduced budget. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 at its heart is still very powerful, and the pop-up buttons are a great way to squeeze in some game time even when you don’t have a controller on hand.
The 6.67-inch screen will do 120Hz and HDR10+, but the display resolution is slightly lower than the other 2400 x 1080 pixels. Is this important? Not a speck, especially on a phone screen where the pixels are so tightly packed. That means less work for the GPU, too, delivering higher frame rates and lower temperatures at the cost of a bit of sharpness.
And with 120W fast charging, plus the right power adapter in the box, you won’t have to tie yourself to a power outlet for long if you run down the battery.
Read more: Poco F4 GT review
Google Pixel 7 Pro (from £849)
Google did a good job with the Pixel 6, but the Pixel 7, with its faster processor, builds on those foundations to become an excellent gaming phone. The Pro version is the top of the range, with a 6.7-inch AMOLED display that boasts a 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+ capabilities, and a Gorilla Glass coating. It is one of the first phones to run Android 13 as well.
The new G2 Tensor chip is an octa-core processor with faster clock speeds, upgraded cores, and a new GPU compared to the original. It’s great at things like voice recognition and anything that requires algorithmic processing. It’s no slouch for gaming, thanks to a decent helping of RAM, which means performance is up there with other flagship phones. The 5000mAh battery will keep you gaming all day if you need to.
Read more: Google Pixel 7 Pro review
Xiaomi 12T Pro (£699)
Not all great gaming phones need to have an exorbitant price tag. The price of some of them could be more reasonable. The Xiaomi 12T Pro may be more notable for its camera, but under the hood is a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset, paired with up to 12GB of RAM (although 8GB models are more common) and a 6.67-inch AMOLED display. suitable.
The screen refresh rate peaks at 120Hz, and the Snapdragon GPU is more than capable of pushing 3D gaming. We found that some graphical tweaks were necessary to maintain smoothness during gameplay.
Battery life is good, but games will drop sharply. Fortunately, then, it accepts up to 120 watts of power, allowing you to fill its tank in just 20 minutes.
Read more: Xiaomi 12T Pro review
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (£949)
Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones have always been gamers, and the S22 Ultra picks up where the old Note range left off. This means that it has a 6.8in AMOLED that can get quite bright and has an excellent resolution of 3088 x 1440 pixels, with a density of around 500ppi. This beats a lot of phones on the market.
Inside you’ll find a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset (no longer top-of-the-line, but still blazingly fast), and again, up to 12GB of RAM is available. The base model, with 128GB of storage, gets 8GB.
And while the S-Pen is normally used in drawing apps or as a writing app, there are uses for it in gaming as well, with a few made entirely with pen input in mind.
Read more: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review