The best gaming phone is also one of the best 'consoles'. No, really - we're serious. Although phones aren't a traditional games machine, the mobile space is one of the most vibrant in all of gaming nonetheless. There's always something new to try or geek out over, especially with services like Apple Arcade.
The hard part is knowing where to start. There are many, many options on the table from Apple to Samsung, so narrowing it down to the best gaming phone isn't easy.
That's where we come in. 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 worked hard to make sure you know about big discounts and bargains as soon as they happen, so be sure to pop back in every now and then.
Broadly speaking, we'd recommend going for as large a screen as possible if you want a great gaming experience. Although it's not essential, it helps if you aren't squinting to see what's going on beneath your thumbs (and if size is still a concern, be sure to check out the best gaming tablets as well). Having a good amount of memory is also handy - that means you won't be running out of space after downloading a few apps. We'd suggest 64GB as a bare minimum for storage. That way you can store as many of the best Android games and iPhone games as you like, which is always nice. Whatever you go for though, we recommend giving the best antivirus software a look to see if it can keep your shiny new gaming device extra secure.
Best gaming phone
1. ROG Phone 2
The best gaming phone
OS: Android Pie (ROG UI) | Screen size: 6.59-inch AMOLED 10-bit HDR | Resolution: 2340 x 1080 pixels | Dimensions (HxWxD): 170.99mm x 77.6mm x 9.48mm | Weight: 8.47oz (240g) | Cameras: 48MP main lens - 13MP ultra wide - 24MP front camera | Storage: Up to UFS 3.0 1TB | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
There aren't many phones that specifically target gaming, but one stands head-and-shoulders above the rest - the ROG Phone 2. Alongside bonus cooling and powerful innards that put the competition to shame, it has a unique selling point that's beyond useful: 'ultrasonic' Air Triggers. These are touch buttons on the side of the device that act just like the bumpers on a PS4 or Xbox One controller. Used when the device is in a landscape position, they allow for easier, more accurate control schemes that would otherwise be impossible without extra attachments. Because they're linked to onscreen commands through an easy drag-and-drop method, these Air Triggers can be assigned to aim-down-sights or shooting in the likes of Call of Duty Mobile. That offers up a more traditional experience, allowing for greater comfort and leaving your thumbs clear for moving or reloading. As you'd expect, this provides an edge in combat where speed is of the essence. Frustrated by imprecise mobile controls? This is your answer.
That practicality is matched by overclocking capabilities and additional cooling attachments that bring down the system's overall temperature in the middle of a long gaming session. Don't worry about the ROG Phone 2's day-to-day tasks suffering as a result, though. Those gaming features are matched by an admirable performance in everyday usage, not to mention an arresting design and reskinned OS built on the Android system. The world's first 120Hz/1ms AMOLED HDR Delta-E display doesn't hurt, either.
Read more: ASUS ROG Phone 2 review
2. OnePlus 7 Pro
The best gaming phone for everyday use
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: 7.26oz (206g) | Storage: 128GB - 256GB | Cameras: 48MP main lens - 8MP telephoto - 16MP ultra wide, 16MP front camera | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
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
3. 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: 6.63oz (188g) | Storage: 64GB - 256GB - 512GB | Cameras: 12MP ultra wide - 12MP wide - 12MP telephoto - 12MP front camera | CPU: A13 Bionic
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
4. 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: 6.17oz (175g) | Storage: 128GB/512GB/1TB | Cameras: 12MP standard lens, 16MP ultra wide, 12MP telephoto, 10MP and 8MP front camera | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
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.
5. 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: 6.41oz (182g) | Storage: 128GB/256GB | Cameras: 48MP standard lens, 16MP ultra wide, 8MP telephoto, 32MP front camera | CPU: Kirin 980
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
10. Black Shark 3
The best phone for big-budget gaming
OS: Android | Screen size: 7.1" AMOLED capacitive touchscreen | Resolution: 1080 x 2400 pixels | Dimensions (HxWxD): 168.7 x 77.3 x 10.4 mm | Weight: 222g | Storage: 128GB/8GB RAM | Cameras: 64MP rear camera, 13MP front camera | CPU: Octa-core
There's no mistake that the Black Shark 3 is an absolute beast of a gaming phone. With its giant, 1080x2400 resolution screen, liquid cooling system, and leviathan of a dual battery that is as fast to charge as it is slow to drain, this machine has been built exclusively with video games in mind. It's an expensive choice for a smartphone, with the standard model setting you back roughly £600/$700, but absolutely worth the investment if you're someone who plays on their mobile device as much as doing anything else with it.
Featuring a 90Hz refresh rate, front facing stereo speakers, adaptive HDR tech, and seamless compatibility with its own first-party controller attachments, the Black Shark 3 turns mobile gaming into a fully-fledged blockbuster experience that stands toe to toe with other portable platforms. Just be warned that the system's size and operating power makes it larger and heavier than most other phones, meaning you'll feel that thing in your pocket when out and about. Still, it's a compromise worth taking for one of the most impressive gaming phones we've ever seen, and one that does justice to the biggest and best mobile games out there.