The best gaming phones completely revolutionize your app library. Offering up seriously powerful processors, plenty of RAM and high quality, high refresh rate displays, these devices can push your favorite thumb tappers far further. With the rise of Xbox Cloud gaming services, smaller screens are becoming even bigger business, which means there are plenty of gaming phones out there for the Play Store power-user to choose from.
That makes it difficult to work out exactly what you need from your smartphone, and how much you need to pay for a gaming-specific device. Thankfully, as gaming phones develop, we're seeing prices on the biggest and best falling slightly down the scale. That means there's now options for all budgets, and we're rounding up our favorites right here.
Our team of experts is on hand to point out the best gaming phones currently gracing the market, not to mention the best prices. We've drawn on our own hands on experience with the latest and greatest releases to ensure you're getting an overview of the whole space before making that critical decision. Of course, you're not going to get the performance of a gaming laptop, or even the best gaming tablets, here - but for a pocket-sized thumb twitcher, these are the models we'd recommend.
The quick list
The Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro packs the latest and greatest components into a super slick chassis with a whole wad of extra gaming features to boot.
The RedMagic 8S Pro offers a fantastic price tag for its high performance components and luxury display. It's an older CPU, but there's still plenty of power under the hood and a slimline chassis to enjoy it all in as well.
If you don't want to break the bank and just want a phone that will run your favorite games without a hitch, we'd recommend the Samsung Galaxy A50. It's a solid budget-friendly, no-frills phone.
While gaming phones are now moving towards a flatter, skinnier form factor the Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate is one of the last to offer a more comfortable curved back.
The best gaming phone overall
With Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor at the helm and a sleek new chassis to house it all in, the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro stormed the shelves last year. Between its edge to edge display and fantastic in-game performance, this is the gaming phone to beat right now.
A slimmer form factor means the ROG Phone 8 Pro doesn't stand out too far from the crowd of mainstream smartphones - but the fun LED matrix display on the rear certainly does. A matte black surface keeps things classy, though, even if we didn't particularly enjoy the off-center USB-C port in testing.
Of course, those touch capacitive trigger buttons are back, with super sensitive pads offering a more gamepad oriented play style for the titles that support them. In the box, the Aero Active cooler allows for a more sophisticated set of bumper buttons while also boosting your phone's performance to boot. Throw in Asus's Armory Crate software and the sheer power of that Gen 3 Snapdragon chip and it's clear this svelt device is hiding some serious gaming chops. All that comes with a super crisp display running at a massive 165Hz (most gaming phones will cap you at 120Hz) to offer up super fluid motion whether you're gaming or browsing the web.
Blitzing performance, a wad of extra gaming focused features, a gorgeous display and even a decent camera setup make the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro the best gaming phone on the market right now.
Read more: Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro review
The best value gaming phone
While it's very similar to the model before it, the RedMagic 8S Pro is the best value gaming phone on the market today. It may be dropping back a step from the Snapdragon Gen 3 processors we're seeing in 2024, but you're getting an incredible price to performance ratio here with stunning results in-game. If you're after an Android gaming phone that won't break the bank but still offers an upgrade over a mainstream device, this is where you need to be looking.
Inline with other industry trends, the 8S Pro is more laid back in its aesethetic than previous entries. A flat sided block with a particularly skinny silhouette, the 8S Pro only hints at its gaming origins at first glance. Of course, things become a little more obvious once that RGB fans whirs to life, but from the outside this could be any mainstream flagship.
That means this is a device that looks good and feels comfortable in the hand, even if we did wish for a slightly curved back during landscape play. Not only that, but there are some handy small design features that speak to Nubia's attention to detail; two USB-C ports allow for charging no matter how you're holding the device, for example.
Of course, you're still getting all those gaming phone specific features. The 8S Pro offers two capacitive touch pads along the top which can read inputs at 560Hz, meanwhile the dedicated game launcher provides quick access to all your apps and can provide system information and performance controls with an in-game overlay as well.
Considering the cash you're spending, that display is something else. A super crisp AMOLED with a max 1,300 nit brightness is going to look good on any phone, but the screen ratio in here is fantastic considering its lower price point and everything still looks slick despite the lower-than-Asus 120Hz refresh rate.
Read more: RedMagic 8S Pro review
The best budget gaming phone
Picking up a cheaper gaming phone doesn't mean limiting yourself to match-three puzzlers or go with an unknown brand. The Samsung Galaxy A50 costs a small fraction of its flashier siblings like the S20 or Note series, but this is still a great phone and a stone-cold bargain if you want to spend less, but get a phone that won't let you down.
I was testing this for gaming against some very expensive phones and I almost had to have a word with it and explain how it needed to stop showing up the big boys. Call of Duty Mobile on high settings for graphics and frame rate. Why not? Sure, it wasn't quite as smooth or detailed as your $1000/£1000 flagship phones, but at less than a third of the price, the A50 is way better than it should be.
As a day to day phone, the Samsung Galaxy A50 has a very good camera, with only the night pictures being prone to a loss of detail if there are too many artificial light sources. Amazingly for a phone at this price, it has a dual-SIM slot, making it handy if you have separate work/home SIMs or if you're picking up a cheap data card when traveling abroad. There's a newer Galaxy A51 out there now, which aside from an upgrade to 48MP/32MP (back/front) camera lenses, carries the same internal spec and display, so we'd stick with the A50 for the generally cheaper cost, but if you're curious, here are the latest Galaxy A51 prices.
The most comfortable gaming phone
The latest ROG phone certainly doesn't rip up the rulebook. Sporting an almost identical design to the previous generation, the Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate is a familiar sight with the chunky form factor and bezels of a much older device. However, with newer releases opting for a harsh flat design this is a golden age of comfort we're keen to keep alive.
A Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset runs this show, offering some incredible performance and the cooling to back it up. Without the dedicated AeroCooler system (sold separately), things can get a little heated when pushed to max, but we were never uncomfortable during standard everyday gaming. That's not something we can say for the majority of gaming phones out there.
Pair that with a gorgeous screen (working particularly hard for you considering its resolution sits at just 2448 x 1080) and a beastly set of front firing speakers and the overall experience is unlike anything we've experienced before. Everything is crisp and snappy thanks to the AMOLED display running at 165Hz, meanwhile the touch sensitive triggers make sure you're taking every shot with excellent precision.
The ROG Phone 7 Ultimate has even avoided software pitfalls that sometimes plague even the best gaming phones. The Armoury Crate software neatly pulls all your games together while also serving as a hub for performance settings, framerate limits, and screen recordings. It's not unusual to find these features split across several different programs clogging up a gaming phone, so this sparsity is a welcome relief.
All of that makes the lofty price point all the more enticing, particularly if you're happy to invest in a high-end device. However, there is one flaw that may well stop you in your tracks. The charging USB-C port to the bottom of the phone is off-centre. That means you won't be able to use the Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate with the majority of mobile controllers which often connect directly via this USB-C port. Bluetooth gamepads won't be effected but if you're looking to use something like the Razer Kishi V2, you'll need to look elsewhere.
Overall, though, this is a serious piece of kit with the serious price tag to match. If you want the best of the best, Asus is a good place to start, but there are some sacrifices you can make (and likely won't notice) if you do want to keep the cost down.
Read more: Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate review
The best controls on a gaming phone
Balancing the top spot for best gaming phone is tricky business. Yes, this device needs to be one of the most powerful models on the market, but it also needs to be within reach. The price to performance ratio of the Black Shark 5 Pro is excellent. It's no cheap device by any means, but there's little sense of inflated costs here. Plus, for a device to truly be considered the best gaming phone overall it needs to function just as well as an actual smartphone as it does a gaming machine. That's where the camera of the Black Shark 5 Pro comes in.
It's rare to find a gaming phone offering such top-line specs and performance while still carrying a decent set of lenses in its corner. We were particularly impressed by the shots we were able to take here. Yes, you are making some smartphone sacrifices - the lack of wireless charging being the biggest here - however this is still an everyday device with the battery to back it up.
Load up some games, though, and you'll really see the Black Shark 5 Pro shine. Everything is smooth and crisp on that gorgeous OLED display, and with physical pop up trigger buttons to keep all your movements precise and snappy as well. Few phones offer these physical clickers these days, opting for the more svelt touch-capacitive buttons along the top. However, we were particularly thankful for these small additions, making for a far more engaging experience overall.
Add to all that a design and feel that brings the Black Shark line more into the realm of the everyday smartphone market and you've got yourself a secret weapon in your pocket. This is a dream of a phone without topping the price charts.
Read more: Black Shark 5 Pro review
How we test gaming phones
Why you can trust GamesRadar+
Each handset that passes our pockets goes through a series of tests to see if it's worthy of being listed as one of the best gaming phones on the market. First and foremost, though, we live with these devices to see just how well their form factors, cameras, screens, and - crucially - battery lives hold up under every day use. That's why we adopt each model as our own throughout the testing period, putting each phone through its paces in both standard use and through heavy gaming sessions.
After that, we run each gaming phone through a series of titles to determine their performance as well as how much battery they consume. Call of Duty Mobile, PUBG, Magic The Gathering: Arena, and Fortnite (on Android) are our primary titles.
You can find out more about how we make our recommendations in our full GamesRadar+ Hardware Policy.
Which phones are best for gaming?
In our testing, the best phone for gaming is currently the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro. However, if you're after value for money we'd recommend checking out the slightly solder RedMagic 8S Pro.
Are gaming phones worth it?
If you're invested in the wide and wonderful world of mobile gaming, sinking some cash into a device that can keep up with your pursuits will always be worth it. You'll enjoy a faster screen, more RAM and storage, a more powerful processor, and additional gaming features like fps caps and performance modes.
However, if you tinker with Apple Arcade every now and then or jump into the odd PUBG session, we'd recommend aiming for a phone that can support your mobile gameplay, but not at the sacrifice of other features. The best gaming phones often drop camera and high-end networking features, and can cost a pretty penny to boot, so it's worth working out whether you'll actually be using those additional gadgets before investing.