Last Updated on September 21, 2018 by Larious
Modern smartphones can be used for just about anything. They’re important tools to stay in touch with friends and family, stay up-to-date on the world around us, and to entertain us. The world of mobile gaming is becoming increasingly popular as newer and higher-quality games are released into the Play Store. It makes sense that how good a phone is at gaming is now a key comparison point when choosing a phone.
Here’s our list of the four best phones for gaming on the market right now.
1. Razer Phone
The Razer Phone is built for gaming. Coming from the company who made its name with excellent mine, keyboards, and gaming laptops, the phone was built from the ground up with gaming in mind.
It all starts with the display. The 5.7-inch, 2560 x 1440p Sharp IGZO IPS is a 120Hz display that looks incredible in person. Everything is fluid and it just looks perfect. Games and animations look so smooth it’s hard to believe you’re looking at a display on a mobile device and not a gaming monitor.
Flanking that screen are two front-facing speakers. If you pay attention to Android phones at all, their design is going to look pretty familiar. Razer stuck with the Nextbit Robin’s design (it bought Nextbit in 2017) to prioritize audio. The huge speakers are some of the best on the market and do a great job of keeping you immersed in whatever you’re playing or watching.
2. Samsung Galaxy Note 8
When you’re looking for a phone for gaming, what’s important? For me, it’s display, speakers, and battery life. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 checks all of those boxes and has an added killer bonus: the S Pen stylus.
The 6.3-inch Super AMOLED display on the Note 8 is widely regarded as the best on the market. It’s massive, the colors are amazing, it gets super bright and very dark when needed, and makes everything you look at look immersive. There’s a ton of real estate so you’re not trying to tap in cramped quarters and the phone is an ergonomic masterpiece and easy to hold.
As for battery life, the Galaxy Note 8 has some of the best out of any flagship. It has a smaller battery than its sister phone, the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, but manages to get almost the exact same battery life. The engineers over at Samsung are wizards.
Samsung also includes different performance modes that you can select based on how you use your phone. Game mode increases your brightness, raises your screen resolution and turns on game launcher. Game launcher allows you to use the system’s Game Tools, which are a suite of options which can do things like stretch the game to your entire screen, turn off alerts while you’re playing games, disable the digital home button, turns off-screen lock and allows you to easily take screenshots and record your screen.
3. OnePlus 5T
The OnePlus 5T is simply one of the best values in phones today. The “budget flagship” has better specs than many on this list with. It comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and 6 GB of RAM with 64 GB of storage. For just $60 more, you can bump that up to 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. That’s enough for every one of your favorite games and more.
Those excellent specs don’t mean anything if the software isn’t great too. Luckily, OnePlus’ own OxygenOS version of Android is one of the best skins on the market. Combining the simplicity of stock Android with subtle tweaks and features, Oxygen OS offers Toyota reliability and Lamborghini speed. Since the OS won’t be slowing you down, you can expect excellent performance while you’re playing your games.
OnePlus has released two devices for the last couple of years. This year saw that OnePlus 5 and 5T. So, what’s the difference? Not too much. The OnePlus 5T has a larger, 6-inch 18:9 AMOLED display. If you’re into bigger phones with huge screens, you’ll love the OnePlus 5T due to that very display. It’s big, bright, and has great color reproduction. Like we said before, the display is a huge reason to buy a phone for gaming and the OnePlus 5T has a perfect display for that. Since it’s only at a 1080p resolution, it won’t kill your battery as fast either.
The OnePlus 5T isn’t perfect, but it does fill the void left by the death of the Nexus program. You can get a great flagship device with close to stock Android for a fair price. If you’re not a fan of the software that comes on the OnePlus 5T (it is running Android 8.0 Oreo), you can flash any number of custom ROMs currently under development.
4. Motorola Moto Z Play/Moto Z2 Play
This one might catch some people off guard, but hear us out. The Moto Z Play and Moto Z2 Play feature processors and GPUs that can keep up with most modern games and RAM to keep them all in memory. They also both support microSD card slots so you can store as many games, movies, music, and pictures as you want.
But, the killer feature for us is Moto Mods. Moto Mods are modules that you can connect to the back of Moto Z family phones to increase their functionality. For gaming, there are three in particular that catch our attention: the Moto Gamepad, the Moto Insta-Share projector, and the Moto Turbopower Pack.
We’ll start with the least sexy first, the Moto Turbopower Pack. This one is simply just a huge battery that you can strap to the back of your phone during long gaming sessions to make sure you don’t drain your battery. It serves the same purpose of a battery bank, but is far more convenient.
The Moto Insta-Share project allows you to broadcast a 70-inch version of your screen onto a wall or projector screen. How cool would it be to load up your favorite game, connect a Bluetooth controller and this projector and game away for hours? That sounds like a fun night with friends to me!
Last but certainly not least is the Moto gamepad. This handheld gamepad adds buttons on both sides of your screen and totally reminds us of the Sega Game Gear from way back in the day. It’s perfect for racing games and shooters alike.