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The best gaming phones 2019

best gaming phones
(Image credit: Samsung, Apple, OnePlus)

With Apple Arcade reigniting our interest in mobile games, now's a good time to pick up the best gaming phone so you can take advantage of them. The tricky bit is working out which one's right for you; Apple, Samsung, Razer, Google and beyond all have killer devices that are worthy of your cash. That's where we come in. To help point you in the right direction, our team of experts have rustled up a list of top-tier phones that are also perfect for playing games. These recommendations will also list the best deals as they happen, so keep your eyes peeled for discounts - there are bound to be some crackers as we inch toward Black Friday, up to and including the best gaming tablets.

Gaming on the go

(Image credit: Sony, Audeze)

Best gaming headphones
Want the most immersive experience? Don't miss these gaming headphones.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that the best gaming phone will be the biggest and most powerful device, though. I mean, sure, that helps. But mobile games don't normally require tons of horsepower anyway, so there's no need to drop a fortune on cutting-edge tech. It's more important that your device can run apps without slowing to a crawl when you've got a few open at a time. A larger screen is handy too, and high-definition HDR displays are a good way to future-proof yourself.

Storage space is just as important, though - if not more so. Although smaller memories will get you by, you'll frequently have to delete games or beloved photos if you want to install something else. And trust us, that sucks. As a result, we'd advise grabbing something with as many gigabytes as possible (64GB is a good amount, if you're wondering). That way you can store as many of the best Android games and iPhone games as you like.

Black Friday game deals
Black Friday is coming up (it begins in late November 2019), so bookmark our guide and these Black Friday gaming specials to ensure you don't miss any big offers.

Best gaming phone

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1. OnePlus 7 Pro

The best gaming phone

OS: OxygenOS (based on Android 9) | Screen size: 6.67" Fluid AMOLED | Resolution: 3120 x 1440 pixels | Dimensions (HxWxD): 162.6mm x 75.9mm x 8.8mm | Weight: 206g | Storage: 128GB/256GB | Cameras: 48MP main lens, 8MP telephoto, 16MP ultra wide, 16MP front camera | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 | Features: 90Hz refresh rate, 48MP main lens, telescoping front camera, Warp Charge 30, liquid cooling, Fnatic Mode

Overclocking
Gorgeous screen
90Hz refresh rate
OxygenOS could be better

Few phones are truly games-focused; most of the time they get little more than a cursory nod. The OnePlus 7 Pro is an exception to that rule. Designed in collaboration with eSports competitors, its dedicated ‘Fnatic Mode’ promises an "aggressive CPU focus, with almost all available resources being concentrated into the game". It does this by blocking network access from other apps and banning all calls or notifications while activated, leaving every scrap of power for your game. It's PC-style overclocking, in other words - and that's something we very rarely see on mobile devices.

Another feather in this phone's cap is its speed. Honestly, this is one of the fastest phones we've ever used. That's due to a blistering 90Hz refresh rate, which in turn is 30Hz more than most other phones. The quad HD+ display with a resolution of 3120 x 1440 help tie a bow around what is already a top-quality offering (oh, and that telescoping front camera is really cool).

Read more: OnePlus 7 Pro hands-on

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2. Apple iPhone 11 Pro

The best premium gaming phone

OS: iOS 13 | Screen size: 5.8" Super Retina XDR OLED | Resolution: 2436 x 1125 | Dimensions (HxWxD): 144mm x 71.4mm x 8.1mm | Weight: 188g | Storage: 64GB/256GB/512GB | Cameras: 12MP ultra wide, 12MP wide, 12MP telephoto, 12MP front camera | CPU: A13 Bionic | Features: Face ID, water resistance, 4K video recording

OLED screen looks amazing
iOS is still the mobile OS to beat
Cameras are best-in-class
Expensive

This year's iPhones have arrived with the pizazz of a fireworks display, and they're arguably the best yet - particularly the triple-lensed iPhone 11 Pro. Even though you may not notice much of a difference between it and the older iPhone XS range at first glance, look closer and you'll find enough to wow you here. To begin with, its battery life is far better than those older models. That'll definitely come in handy if you like to play Fortnite or Pokemon Go on your morning commute. It also has a gorgeous 5.8-inch OLED screen that'll make your games a visual delight. 

However, the biggest improvement would have to be its trio of high-quality cameras. You get 12MP wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto lenses, not to mention a 12MP front-facing camera and 'Night Mode' for shots in dark environments as well. Yes, it's not a gaming-related feature, but that still puts the iPhone 11 Pro head and shoulders above older iPhones.

Read more: Best iPhone 11 deals

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3. Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus

The best Android gaming phone

OS: Android | Screen size: 6.4" Dynamic AMOLED | Resolution: 3040 x 1440 (Quad HD+) | Dimensions (HxWxD): 157.6mm x 74.1mm x 7.8mm | Weight: 175g | Storage: 128GB/512GB/1TB | Cameras: 12MP standard lens, 16MP ultra wide, 12MP telephoto, 10MP and 8MP front camera | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 | Features: Infinity O display, water resistance, powershare, RGB depth camera

Plenty of screen real estate
Snappy chipset can handle anything
Wireless Powershare
Expensive

The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is a step up from the S9 (and even the standard S10) in practically every way. Packing the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor as the OnePlus 7 Pro, it has horsepower to spare. Its beautiful Super AMOLED screen is also something to behold; you get vibrant visuals and the blackest of blacks when tackling realistic titles or movies. Thanks to a larger 6.4" display, you also won't miss a thing no matter whether you're playing Mario Kart Tour, Fallout Shelter, or The Elder Scrolls: Blades.

There are a few non-gaming perks to this upgrade, too - it's got Wireless Powershare functionality, an in-screen fingerprint sensor, 12MP main, telephoto, and ultra wide lens, and 93.1% screen-to-body ratio. That makes it a must-have if you're set on a Samsung device.

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4. Honor 20 Pro

The best gaming phone for photos

OS: Android | Screen size: 6.26" Dynamic AMOLED | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 | Dimensions (HxWxD): 154mm x 73mm x 8mm | Weight: 182g | Storage: 128GB/256GB | Cameras: 48MP standard lens, 16MP ultra wide, 8MP telephoto, 32MP front camera | CPU: Kirin 980 | Features: 48MP lens, 32MP selfie camera, 91.7% screen-to-body ratio

Optimized for games like Fortnite
Incredible set of cameras
Superb battery life
May lose Android support
No 3.5mm socket

The Honor 20 Pro is an absolute beast for gaming. Not only does it have a powerful Kirin chipset and 8GB of RAM, which easily chews through the most demanding of games, but it's also optimized for play on the go. It boasts the ability to not only lock Fortnite Mobile to 60fps, but also includes a series of features that boost your online connection, and specially tunes other features on your phone to increase battery life and divert resources to make everything run as smoothly as possible. There's a generous 256GB of storage, which means you can download a whole lot of games before filling the device up, and the 6.26-inch screen is large enough to offer decent control over most titles.

As a phone, the 20 Pro is extremely versatile. The 48Mp main camera brings crystal clear shooting, and there's a decent macro lens on there too. The wide-angle and zoom lenses are... just fine, and there's a great selfie camera too. The main drawbacks are that there's no 3.5mm socket here, so you're reliant on Bluetooth connections for headphones (the phone speakers are pretty good, if you're gaming alone), and that the screen isn't QHD like some competitors, so you can't display ultra-HD content. The other issue is that Honor is owned by Huawei, who are currently in dispute with Google (and the US) over the use of the Android OS on its phones. This situation changes almost daily, but be aware that it's a factor.

As a phone, however, the Honor 20 Pro is superb for gaming, and works well as a day-to-day handset. It's competitively priced, too, so won't break the bank like all Apple phones, or the likes of the Galaxy S10 and Note 10.

Read more: Honor 20 Pro review

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5. Razer Phone 2

The best dedicated gaming phone

OS: Android | Screen size: 5.7" | Resolution: 1440 x 2560 | Dimensions (HxWxD): 158.5mm x 77.7mm x 8mm | Weight: 197g | Storage: 64GB | Cameras: 12MP standard lens, 8MP front camera | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 | Features: HDR 120Hz display, long battery life, Dolby Atmos sound

Amazing 5.7" screen perfect for games
Great Dolby Atmos sound
10 hour battery life
16:9 aspect ratio feels old
No headphone jack

The Razer Phone 2 really is a marvel when it comes to gaming. That 5.7-inch screen, which does both HDR and 120Hz refresh rate is a thing of beauty, and it enhances pretty much any game you stick on there. No, it isn't edgeless, and it still sticks to the 16:9 aspect ratio, but the quality of the picture more than compensates for this. Add in the Dolby Atmos sound, and the terrifyingly fast Snapdragon 845 processor, and this will run anything you throw at it with panache. The overall build and feel of the phone is large, chunky and well made, so you know it won't break if you get a bit excited on the train, playing PUBG.

It runs Android, so you're getting a phone with a neat, customizable OS, and there are loads of settings within the system to allow you to prioritize gaming and movie watching. The battery is commendable too, offering both rapid charging (which means you're fully charged from 0% in under two hours) and a whopping usage time of 10+ hours. That's not just messaging and occasional use either; that's playing games, using the camera, and accessing the media player. The battery especially stacks up very well against this phone's competition.

The Razer Phone 2 is only let down by everyday use features. Yes, it's large, and no it doesn't have a headphone socket, but it's a powerful phone specifically designed for gaming. If that's your primary concern, this is way ahead of the competition.

Read more: Razer Phone 2 review

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6. Sony Xperia XZ2

The best budget gaming phone

OS: Android | Screen size: 5.7" | Resolution: 1080 x 2160 | Dimensions (HxWxD): 153mm x 72mm x 11.1mm | Weight: 198g | Storage: 64GB | Cameras: 19MP, 5MP front camera | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 | Features: Haptic feedback, dual front-facing speakers, 4K HDR recording

Haptic feedback
Stereo audio
Great performance
4K HDR recording
Limited options

When you want a quality smartphone experience for gaming, look no further than the manufacturer of the PlayStation 4 itself: Sony. The Sony Xperia XZ2 is an exercise in decadence that may not measure up to the rest of the never-ending cavalcade of smartphone releases over the rest of the year, but it still sports several features that push it quite far ahead of the rest of the pack. 

Its top-of-the-line Snapdragon 845 chipset powers a stunning 1080 x 2160 HDR display with 5.7 inches of screen real estate that's perfect for any game, bolstering performance in a big way. But other phones offer largely the same setup – it's the Xperia XZ2's stereo speakers that end up setting it apart. Its dual front-facing speakers are something to marvel over, especially when playing games where sound matters and earbuds just won't do. Coupled with its haptic feedback, dubbed the "Dynamic Vibration System," it offers one of the closest things to a true console experience any other smartphone has yet to deliver. 

With decent battery life and microSD support for an abundance of storage, Sony's excellent smartphone is a viable contender for on-the-go gaming, no matter what your preferences lean toward. 

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7. Google Pixel 3 XL

The best Google gaming phone

OS: Android 9 (Pie) | Screen size: 6.3" OLED | Resolution: 1440 x 2960 | Dimensions (HxWxD): 158mm x 76.7mm x 7.9mm | Weight: 184g | Storage: 64GB/128GB | Cameras: 12.2MP rear camera, 8MP front camera | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 | Features: OLED screen, priority Android updates

Improved OLED screen 
Gets Android updates before other phones
Lively development community for games
Lacks a 3.5mm jack

If you want Android the way it was meant to be, look no further than the Google Pixel 3 XL. This phone, straight from the creators of Android themselves, offers a stock Android experience on an absolute beast of a device. It's not a massive improvement over the Google Pixel 2 XL, but if you're looking to upgrade from a phone that's a couple of years old, you'll be hard-pressed to find a model that can top the Pixel 3 XL.

The Pixel series is the spiritual successor to Google's Nexus line, but where the Nexus cut corners to offer a premium product at a low price, the Pixel goes for broke. It touts a camera that surpasses the iPhone in many tests, and the new mode of OLED screen fixes any of the problems the Pixel 2XL had with washed out colors. However, all that comes at a cost. Though gaming on the Pixel 3 XL is a pleasure, the $900 price tag is getting into iPhone territory. Given that it shares the same CPU with many current flagships, and even has less RAM than some, you may do better to shop around for a similar phone.

If money is no object, though, the Google Pixel 3 XL is one of the best ways to experience Android. It receives updates straight from Google, so you're not stuck waiting months for the latest version of Android, and it has a lively development community, so if the stock feel isn't your thing you can tinker until you find something that is.

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8. iPhone XR

A cheaper Apple alternative

OS: iOS | Screen size: 6.1" Liquid Retina LCD | Resolution: 828 x 1792 | Dimensions (HxWxD): 150.9mm x 75.7mm x 8.3mm | Weight: 194g | Storage: 64GB//128GB/256GB | Cameras: 12MP rear camera, 7MP front camera | CPU: A12 Bionic | Features: Liquid Retina display, water resistance, FaceID

Same power as the XS/XS Max for $200 less
iOS still feels smoother than Android
Comes in five different colors
LED screen doesn't match OLED

The iPhone XR has all of the meat of the iPhone X and none of the gristle. While some might miss the dual cameras or OLED screen, when it comes to gaming the iPhone XR matches and perhaps even exceeds its predecessor. The new A12 Bionic processor that the iPhone XR shares with its bigger brothers, the XS and XS Max adds a little more oomph over the A11 found in the iPhone X, and as mobile games continue to grow more sophisticated you'll be glad for the extra horsepower.

The biggest appeal of the XR over other current iPhone models is the price. At $799 unlocked, the iPhone XR gives you performance matching that of the XS for $200 less. Despite some Android phones having more impressive stats on paper, you'll find that games tend to be better optimized on iOS, an advantage of only having to support a small number of devices.

However, the XR also comes with the iPhone's biggest weakness. If you're someone who likes to tinker with new phone ROMs or wacky stuff like streaming your PC games to your phone, the iPhone XR just doesn't have that flexibility. When it comes to gaming it's the Apple App Store or bust, and that might be a dealbreaker depending on what you desire out of your phone.

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9. Nokia 6.1

The cheapest gaming phone

OS: Android | Screen size: 5.5" | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | Dimensions (HxWxD): 148.8mm x 75.8mm x 8.2mm | Weight: 172g | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Cameras: 16MP rear camera, 8MP front camera | CPU: Snapdragon 630 | Features: 16MP rear camera, affordable price

Excellent for just about any budget
Decent specs for the price
Good chipset
Lower specs than other gaming phones
Less RAM than other similar models

If the best and the brightest mobile tech doesn't concern you and you just need a formidable piece of hardware suitable for gaming, the Nokia 6.1 is a viable option. It's perfect for mobile gamers who want a more cost-effective option than the latest and greatest selections out there, and while it sacrifices newer tech for a lower price, it's still capable of reliable performance. 

The stylish Nokia phone comes standard with the Snapdragon 630, which obviously isn't the top of the line when it comes to processing power, but the phone's decent amount of RAM ensures there are few issues when playing labor-intensive games. Still, it’s a bit less than what you may be used to. You won't be able to crank up your graphics settings to Ultra or anything like that, but it's perfectly fine if all you care about is having an available mobile device to jump into the most popular titles out on the App Store or Google Play Store with friends. 

You get a decent suite of additional specs as well for the price, but the spotlight here is the price, since it's the most affordable out of the current crop of phones out there appropriate for regular gaming. It's nowhere near top-tier with its list of specs, but the price is certainly right, and that lets it hang with the best of them. 

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10. Moto Z3

The best customizable gaming phone

OS: Android 9 (Pie) | Screen size: 6.01" | Resolution: 1080 x 2160 | Dimensions (HxWxD): 156.5mm x 76.5mm x 6.8mm | Weight: 156g | Storage: 64GB | Cameras: 12MP rear camera, 8MP front camera | CPU: Snapdragon 835 | Features: Customizable via Moto Mods, Verizon exclusive

Moto Mod add-ons
Excellent price for the specs
Exclusive to Verizon
Moto Mods can be pricey

The Motorola Z3 is another midrange phone in Motorola's confusingly-named lineup. Not to be confused with the Motorola Z3 Play, the Z3 is a Verizon-exclusive phone that offers excellent performance in an affordable package. Of course, this device will have limited appeal, being sold exclusively through Verizon Wireless. However, if that happens to be your carrier and you're looking to get a (close to) top-of-the-line Android phone for a little more than half of what Samsung, LG, and Apple's offerings retail for, the Z3 is worth checking out.

Besides the more than adequate device specs, the Moto Z3 will appeal to gamers because of Moto Mods. The Z3 is one of the only phones to allow you to expand its capabilities with add-ons. You can get a gamepad that fits the phone perfectly and adds two joysticks, a D-pad, four face buttons, and two shoulder buttons on each side. The Moto Gamepad also adds another 1035 mAh battery to augment the Z3's internal power so you can game longer.

The Moto Mods can be a bit expensive, but they're custom made to fit the platform and add extendability to the Z3 that other phones just don't have. If you're looking at mid-range Android phones and happen to use Verizon as your carrier, consider the Z3 if you plan on using your device for a lot of gaming.