Looking to use your smartphone as a bonafide mobile games console? Well you’re in luck as there are a wealth of stellar gaming phones to choose from at the moment.
For those that missed it, gaming phones are a burgeoning sub-category of the mobile market focussed on doing exactly what they say on the tin: offering users the best possible mobile gaming experience. The category was debatably created by PC-heavyweight Razer many moons ago when it released its first smartphone, the aptly named Razer Phone.
Though the original Razer Phone didn’t set the world on fire, it created the genre and opened the door for a number of common technologies seen on most mainstream and gaming phones in 2020. These include high refresh rate screens, custom overclocking software and add on peripherals.
But, in the last two years the genre really has begun to take off thanks to the arrival of cool new services, like Apple Arcade and GeForce Now. These have graduated both Android and iOS phones from casual gaming stop shops to full on games console rivals as a platform in many players’ eyes, ourselves included.
This in turn has led many players outside of the regular gaming scene to dip their toes in the market and established heavyweights to come out all guns blazing.
But, as ever, not every gaming phone is created equal and some are head and shoulders better than others. To make sure you don’t make the wrong purchase decision picking your next mobile frag station we’ve created this guide detailing the best phones for gaming we’ve reviewed that are still on the market.
Related: Best phones
1. Black Shark 3 Pro
Best for big screen gaming
- Great screen
- Good value
- Loads of decent gaming features
- Design will put non-gamers off
The Black Shark 3 Pro is one of the most unsubtle phones on the market right now, but for the small number of hardcore mobile gamers out there it’s a great choice.
For starters, the phone has an outright ginormous 7.1-inch AMOLED 4120 x 1440 resolution, 90Hz screen. That makes it bigger than some early Android tablets and, with the high refresh rate and HDR-ready certifications, an outright dream for gaming and general Netflix binging.
But, more important than that are its nifty “Master Triggers”. These are clever, programmable pop out top shoulder buttons on the phone’s long side. These, plus the phone’s improved haptic feedback engine and screen make the Pro feel more like a console than most regular phones when gaming, especially on mobile shooters like CoD Mobile or PUGB.
Add to this the phone’s powerhouse Snapdragon 865 CPU, wireless charging support, “Sandwich Liquid Cooling” system and RGB lighting and the Black Shark earns a place as one of the best gaming phones available at the moment.
The only downside is that its design and size make it a little bit ostentatious looking for everyone but the most hardcore of mobile gamers.
Read out Black Shark 3 Pro review for more information
2. Galaxy S20 Plus
Best regular Android phone for gaming
- Cool design
- Great screen
- Nippy performance
- Decent battery
- Ugly skin
- 8K video recording is pointless
If the Black Shark 3 Pro is a little too 90s gamer for your liking then the Galaxy S20 Plus is the best regular Android phone for gaming at the moment.
The phone has a blissfully premium design and, though it’s not being marketed as a gaming phone, ticks all the right boxes you’d expect of one when it comes to functionality.
For starters, it has a best in class 120Hz AMOLED screen. Then there’s its super swish design, 5G connectivity and cutting edge CPU (Qualcomm or Exynos depending on your region). The combined package make it THE best overall Android phone on the market and an absolute delight to game on.
Being a Samsung phone it also has a larger library of compatible gaming peripherals and third party add ons than many competing handsets.
If that wasn’t enough to tempt you, it also has a few nifty features that can help your console or PC gaming sessions, if you have a Samsung SmartThings compatible TV. The SmartThings app lets you mirror the Galaxy S20 Plus screen in a small in window view on the TV, which is a boon if you want to watch a tutorial or chat on Discord while playing.
Read our Galaxy S20 Plus review for more information
3. iPhone 11 Pro Max
Best iPhone for gaming
- Lovely screen
- Fantastic battery life
- Triple camera array is among the best we’ve tested
- Apple’s services are now more enticing than ever before
- Very expensive
- Don’t even bother with the 64GB model
- The notch is more obvious now as the competition is beginning to get rid of it
Apple’s not a brand you traditionally think of for gaming. But recently, thanks to the growing library of titles on iOS and iPad OS that’s slowly been changing. The arrival of Apple Arcade, a subscription service for gaming, has also helped make the firm’s mobile and TV devices outright brilliant options for more casual gamers.
When it comes to hardware, if you want the best possible experience on mobile, it’s going to cost you, however. The iPhone 11 Pro Max is the firm’s current flagship and, thanks to its giant OLED screen, which outright dwarfs its smaller siblings, is the best iOS mobile gaming station currently available.
However, before you go rushing to get one, be warned, the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s time in the sun is coming to an end. Apple’s expected to unveil its new line of iPhone 12 handsets in the very near future. Though the information is far from official the iPhone 12 line is rumoured to bring a number of awesome gaming features to Apple’s mobile offering.
Industry rumblings suggest all the new iPhone 12 phones will feature improved graphics and (possibly) more responsive 120Hz screens. So, if you can wait, it may be worth holding out for the new iPhones.
Read our iPhone 11 Pro Max review for more information
4. Razer Kishi
Best way to turn any handset into a gaming phone
- Compact design
- Comfortable to use
- Easy Setup
- Build quality could be better
- Some bugs
We are aware the Razer Kishi is not a phone. But it is the best way to turn most Android handsets into gaming phones, which is why it’s earned a place on this list.
For those that missed it, the Razer Kishi is a custom peripheral from the gaming powerhouse that connects to most Android smartphones via USB C. It then offers games a full fat controller experience when playing games.
What sets it apart from most other third party peripherals, however, is its app, which lets you create custom profiles for any game on the Play Store and GeForce Now support.
The GeForce Now support is particularly awesome as it lets you turn your phone into a Nintendo Switch rival and stream triple-A PC games over the cloud to your handset and enjoy a full fat console experience.
The tech worked a treat during testing on everything from the affordable Moto G Pro to the Galaxy S20 Plus, making it a must have purchase for any early GeForce Now adopter or hardcore mobile gamer.
Read our Razer Kishi review for more information