If you’re reading this, you’re interested in mobile gaming and are looking to get a new phone or make an upgrade. Yet there are dozens of notable models on the smartphone market, and comparing them can be a bit much. You need to balance the graphic capabilities, the screen, the extra features, and the OS. On top of this, you’re likely to use it as your everyday phone, so you need to make sure it works well for all basic uses. A gaming phone is, therefore, more of a thoughtful purchase than you might think.
Yet worry not, as we went through the options and handpicked five of the best gaming phones on the market, whatever your budget and needs might be. You’re sure to find at least one phone that interests you here.
Without further wait, here’s how we picked out the best gaming phones and our top recommendations:
When reviewing a phone or judging its usefulness for gaming, some factors are more important than others. Here are the key things we looked at when deciding on the best gaming phones for 2023:
Longevity and Design: We considered how long the model has been out and how long we expect the phone to last based on the build quality, design, etc. Also, the design partially matters so the phone can dissipate heat properly. Phones that overheat aren’t great for gaming. We would also like to notethe phone feels in your hands. However, everyone’s hands are different. A larger or smaller version of a smartphone model mentioned might be better for someone depending on hand size.
Processing Power and Graphics: The real heart of the matter when it comes to a gaming phone is the graphics. If a smartphone doesn’t have a great processor and graphics capabilities, then everything else is for naught in gaming.
Screen Size and Resolution: You can’t shoot your Fortnite or Call of Duty: Mobile opponents if you cannot see your opponents. A larger screen and a better resolution helps significantly with that and provides a better gaming experience. We looked for better options here while also ensuring those phones had the graphical power to keep up.
Battery Life: There is perhaps nothing more draining on a phone’s battery than online gaming. We want you to be able to play a game on your phone for more than an hour or two, so we took battery life into heavy consideration.
Price: As we all do, we judged price on a sliding scale. A more expensive phone better be worth it or provide more value than a less expensive phone. Similarly, if a phone is available for a great price, we’re more likely to consider it.
Additional Features and Software: Phones aren’t uniform devices, and the manufacturer and OS can mean that each one can be unique even if the hardware under the surface doesn’t look all that different from its competitors. We looked at various options, features, and tools that come with phones that might be helpful for gamers.
Without further wait, here are our top five choices for gaming phones in 2022, with a top pick for five different categories of phones or potentially interested buyers:
Picking the all-around best gaming phone was a tough choice given the need to balance every factor with the price point. Still, we think the best phone currently available today for the average hardcore mobile gamer is the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. It was a toss-up between this and the S22 Plus, but the Ultra simple has a better screen, is larger, and has a bit more battery life to make those gaming sessions go uninterrupted. It is simply an excellent phone no matter what you want to use it for, making it an excellent gaming phone. After all, you won’t be just using it for gaming. You’ll effectively be living with it.
It's plenty powerful with a 2.99GHz octo-core 4nm processor and should be able to play anything on the market today. The display is a huge 6.8” 3088x1440 screen, and gamers and users alike are pleased with the brightness and glare-reduction features. You should be able to game wherever you like with the S22 Ultra. The phone also comes packed with 12GB of RAM and enough memory to get you started.
The phone also comes with the S Pen, which is effectively a well-made stylus that fits in the phone. Its gaming applications might not be as many as you would like, but for some games, we expect it will be much nicer than tapping with your much larger thumb.
If you aren’t sure where to start or have no strong preference or budget for a phone, then we recommend the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. You won’t be disappointed with it.
Price: Starting at $1100 and going up depending on additional features.
Best for: People who don’t have particular gaming needs or want to pick out a solid phone without agonizing over it. This is also the best option to get as a gift if you don’t know the recipient’s preferences.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 is great and all (perhaps that’s an understatement), but it might not be for everyone. Sometimes people want a gaming phone or phone in general that can do everything and then some. In that case, we recommend the ASUS ROG Phone 6. This was built with gaming in mind from the get-go, and was constructed with price not being the first factor whatsoever. It will likely cost you more than $1500. Enthusiasts will say it is worth staying on the cutting edge of mobile gaming greatness.
The ASUS ROG Phone 6 is an absolute powerhouse in every respect. It has a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset and advanced cooling features to match this power, complete with a clip-on cooler that makes gaming forever feel like a possibility if the phone is plugged in. Its screen has a 6.78” AMOLED display with a 165 Hz refresh rate. You will find that this screen is very responsive, with a 23ms touch latency rate. There are options to tweak the settings and UI on the phone to provide the optimal gaming experience.
And it might take a minute to get used to, but the phone has plenty of input methods for people who want more than just the touch controls. You can connect a controller, of course, but you also can utilize more precise gyroscopic aiming and plenty of additional controls using the sides of the phone. To many, after a bit, using the phone will feel like using a controller. Even the vibration features of the phone are above and beyond what you will find with a “non-gaming” smartphone.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg for specialized gaming features. We recommend you look more closely at what the company says about it if you’re still interested and the price tag doesn’t dissuade you from it.
To summarize, the ASUS ROG Phone 6 is not a practical choice. But is it the fun choice and the choice that will bring the best features to you? Consider it if you want the best possible mobile gaming experience.
Price: About $1600 as of this writing.
Best for: People who want the best possible gaming experience and will spare no expense to have it. Additionally, people who know they want a gaming phone and other uses are lower priority.
Gaming can be an expensive hobby, but it doesn’t have to be if you find the right phone. If your budget is your first concern, we recommend the Xiaomi Poco X4 Pro, an Android phone with a 6.67 IPS display that operates at 120Hz. It’s a 2400 x 1080p screen (not the highest), but it's good for many games and the best you might find for this price.
Despite being a budget phone, you can still get up to 8GB of Ram and 256GB of storage on it with the right model. The Snapdragon 695 5G is a high-end chipset, and it competes today in terms of power with top phones at a fraction of the price. It should still be able to meet the needs of most games, if not at the absolute highest settings on all of them.
Why is it a budget phone, then? Partially because it doesn’t have some of the polish of other phones. This phone had a few bugs and issues at launch, which hopefully will be resolved by the time you consider getting one. In addition, the camera works fine and will take a fine picture, but it doesn’t compare to the cameras available in current flagships.
Overall, it comes down to the price of the X4 Pro. Like the price point and find everything else acceptable? This is a fine phone. Otherwise, look at our other recommendations.
Price: You can likely find the Xiaomi Poco X4 Pro for $300 or less.
Best for: People who want to have an excellent mobile gaming experience without breaking the bank.
For the most part, you will not be able to expect an Amazing VR experience from a phone you would hope for from something like PlayStation VR, Oculus, or the Valve Index. Phones do not have that capability. However, that does not mean you cannot have a VR experience from your phone. You just need the right phone and equipment (a VR headset). For the right phone, we recommend the Samsung Galaxy S10+.
For many, this would be an odd choice. It’s an older phone by this point and not the top-end pick that other publications would choose. This is partly because this is an alternative to the iPhone Pro Max 13 and the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra that we recommend, both of which would be amazing for VR but also very expensive. For something more dedicated to VR, the S10+ has a great screen and a proven track record.
VR gaming, whether by smartphone or not, isn’t for everyone. We recommend trying it out somewhere else before diving in and buying the best smartphone for it first.
Yet people who like VR gaming rarely just like VR gaming and ignore all other forms of gaming. Therefore, you will be pleased to know that the S10+ will be able to meet the needs of most of the latest games even today, with 8GB of RAM, an 855 Snapdragon processor, and up to 1TB of storage with some models. This phone will keep games running for years to come.
As for the VR headset, we recommend you look at other articles and resources for the best one for your eventual phone. There are a few bad choices, but some poor pairings.
Price: About $350-$400 as of this writing.
Best for: People who love or would like to try VR gaming without the heavy equipment that PC VR gaming (while admittedly superior) can provide. It is also best for people who want to try it out without buying a high-end phone otherwise listed here.
There are quite a few reasons you might want an iPhone, even if you are a frequent mobile gamer. iPhones have a good interface and design for gaming, and the Apple Store has many exclusive games you’d be hard-pressed to find on another mobile device. Developers in smaller studios often must choose between Android and iOS when making their games, as developing for both would be too much at first. Given iPhones' popularity, especially in the United States, many choose iOS. This leads to a great number of exclusive options. Add onto this the service of Apple Arcade, and many people turn to Apple phones for their mobile gaming needs.
This is all well and good, but which iPhone should you buy? As of this writing, the iPhone Pro Max 13 is the best iPhone on the gaming market, and perhaps the best iPhone available in general. The Max provides a larger screen (6.7 inches) than the Pro but is otherwise equal. However, for gaming, that extra screen space is excellent. The display is also an OLED at 120 Hz, making for a wonderfully smooth viewing experience for games that will support it.
For those who like extended gaming sessions, the iPhone Pro Max 13 is great at ensuring the phone doesn’t heat up too much due to the efficiency of the chips used in the iPhone. Nonetheless, the performance is still excellent, and we cannot think of any mobile game released as of this writing that this phone cannot play.
General excellent features include great cameras, good battery life compared to the competition (about 12 hours of general use), and the UI and apps that Apple is known for. If you were already an Apple fan, you were probably looked at this. Consider this that one extra push you were looking for.
However, before you rush out and buy one, do make sure that you note that often the best Apple phone for gaming is the newest one, regardless of what recommendations you might see otherwise. It will be expensive, of course, but you will be set for at least a few years. At least compare the latest release with the iPhone Pro Max 13 in specifications and price.
Price: Starting from $1099
Best for: People who still want or need to use an iPhone but want the best gaming experience possible.
A gaming phone isn’t terribly complicated and can just be considered a high-end phone by everyone else. Yet if you’re buying a phone for gaming, the following information might be helpful:
Getting a new phone is a significant investment, and if you’re spending perhaps a thousand dollars or more on a piece of technology, you want the best. We hope that the above five recommendations provide you with a great starting point and that you find the gaming phone that you will enjoy for years to come.
Yet as we’ve stressed before, you need a solid connection and a good phone if you’re hoping to get the most out of your mobile gaming experience. If you’re looking for a solid phone plan to back up your gaming experience, then this site can also help you.