The best gaming phones for 2021

Once mocked as the home of “dirty casual”, mobile gaming has come on a boom over the years, with games like presumption, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds: Mobile, and fortnite Showcasing the humble smartphone can bring as much joy as a console standing in front of a TV.

While almost all smartphones will play mobile games, some are better at it than others. our top picks Asus ROG Phone 2 Because it is a phone specially made for gamers. If you’re really serious about sports, perhaps even at a competitive level, there are phones explicitly made for this purpose.

Best Gaming Phones at a Glance

  • best gaming phone Asus ROG Phone 2 ($900)
  • Best mainstream gaming phone: Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max (from $1,100)
  • Best Android Mainstream Gaming Phones: OnePlus 8 Pro (from $900)
  • best budget gaming phone Nubia Red Magic 5G (from $579)

Here’s why we picked these phones in more detail, followed by some helpful guidance on the App Store, plus what you need to know about Google Play Pass, Apple Arcade, and Google Stadia.

Best gaming phone: Asus ROG Phone 2

Asus ROG Phone 2
Andy Boxel/Nerdshala

Why you should buy this: It is the last gaming smartphone available today.

what’s that for: It is made by gamers for gamers.

Why we picked the Asus ROG Phone 2:

It’s the ultimate gaming smartphone available today because Asus’s Republic of Gamers (ROG) division understands what gamers want, and what makes a great gaming device. Everything on the ROG Phone 2 is all set to make the game more enjoyable.

The 6.59-inch AMOLED screen has a 120Hz refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling rate, and 10-bit factory calibrated HDR color, without any of the curves that make it look weird. It has loud, bass stereo speakers in front of you, touch-sensitive buttons called Air Triggers on the top corners, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus processor with 12GB of RAM for power.

Then you have X Mode, which allows you to maximize the phone’s performance, set macros for complex button combos, and adjust the screen’s refresh rate. The ROG Phone 2’s design is also clever, as it has an additional USB Type-C charging port on the side of the phone so the cable doesn’t get in the way when charging and playing in landscape orientation, though the 6,000mAh battery is a mass of energy anyway . Asus has thought about putting Wi-Fi antennas inside the phone, making sure your hands don’t cover them while holding the phone for maximum reception and speed.

All this, great design, and the wealth of accessories available for disease phone 2 Make this the most comprehensive, thoughtfully designed and capable smartphone for gamers. It’s also fine to use it as your everyday phone, as the camera is good, the battery lasts a lifetime, and the software is good too. The downside is it’s quite big and heavy. It’s a flagship smartphone, and the $900 price reflects that. Still, if you regularly play games on your phone for five or more hours a day, the Asus ROG Phone 2 is made for you.

Read our full Asus ROG Phone 2 review

Best mainstream gaming phone: iphone 11 pro max

Why you should buy this: The best smartphone you can buy with access to a packed app store in which you can play as many great games as you want.

what’s that for: Someone who prioritizes gaming but also needs a highly capable smartphone for everyday use.

Why we picked the iPhone 11 Pro Max

The iPhone 11 Pro is extremely capable, with a great screen, a great camera, and access to the Apple App Store. This is important, as many of the latest and most anticipated games arrive on iOS first, and there are occasional graphical changes that take advantage of the iPhone’s features.

The reason it has been labeled the best mainstream gaming phone and not overall, is because it doesn’t have the gaming-specific features of the Asus ROG Phone 2. It does everything you could want and more, but it doesn’t have a 120Hz refresh screen, special gaming modes, air triggers, or the cool ROG touch design (yes, we mean the RGB light-up logo).

However, there’s no doubt that the iPhone 11 Pro Max is a serious gaming machine. Inside is the latest Apple A13 Bionic processor, a 64-bit monster with a GPU that’s 20% faster than the previous chip in older iPhone models, plus lots of clever software for developers to exploit and make games better than ever. to make and play. The sound is also great, thanks to Apple’s stereo speakers, Spatial Audio technology, and Dolby Atmos support.

iphone 11 pro max Our recommendation is because of the larger 6.5-inch, 2,688 x 1,242 pixel Super Retina XDR screen, which is better for playing games and watching videos than the smaller 5.8-inch screen on the iPhone 11 Pro. With that said, the smaller iPhone 11 Pro has the same display pixel density and performance, so the smaller model is also a good option.

Read our full Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max review

Best mainstream Android gaming phone: oneplus 8 pro

Andy Boxall/

Why you should buy this: It’s an excellent everyday Android smartphone with some great gaming-specific features and software

what’s that for: Keen mobile gamers who don’t think they need a gaming-specific phone

Why we picked the OnePlus 8 Pro

We highly rate the $900 OnePlus 8 Pro. From Snapdragon 865 processor to 6.78-inch, 120Hz refresh rate, AMOLED screen with HDR10+ support, this is one of the most powerful multimedia smartphone you can buy. There’s up to 12GB of fast LPDDR5 RAM, a 5G connection, and Wi-Fi 6.

There are two gaming modes on the OnePlus 8 Pro (and on the smaller OnePlus 8 as well). The first is Game Space, which acts as a library for your phone and boosts CPU, GPU, and RAM performance while playing. There is also an option to optimize graphics performance. Furthermore, OnePlus has partnered with e-sports team Fnatic to create Fnatic Mode, which goes a step further.

Fnatic mode further optimizes the CPU, RAM, and GPU for gaming when activated, cutting out distracting notifications, and enhancing network connectivity for online play. The OnePlus 8 Pro also has excellent haptics, and the audio quality is great, providing a better gaming experience. The 4,510mAh battery is strong enough to last a full day, even with plenty of play time, and fast charging is excellent as it goes from zero to 100% in an hour.

The phone also offers great design, water resistance, excellent OxygenOS software and a capable camera. However, remember oneplus 8 pro There’s a curved screen, which may make it a bit more awkward for gaming than “flat” screen phones like the ROG Phone 2.

Read our full OnePlus 8 Pro review

best budget gaming phone Nubia Red Magic 5G

Andy Boxel/Nerdshala

Why you should buy this: It is a capable, dedicated gaming smartphone at a good price.

what’s that for: Someone who wants to play a lot on their phone but doesn’t want to spend much money.

Why we chose Nubia Red Magic 5G

The Nubia Red Magic 5G is a laser-focused gaming smartphone with its best capabilities focused on gaming fun rather than camera or software. It’s not the best everyday Android smartphone you can buy, but it’s a decent gaming phone if you don’t want to pay for the Asus ROG Phone 2.

It has all the power and capability of a Snapdragon 865 processor and 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM, a 5G connection, as well as a 6.65-inch AMOLED screen with a 144Hz refresh rate and 240Hz touch sampling. Like the ROG Phone 2, it lies flat to make holding the phone more comfortable, and has two programmable shoulder trigger buttons. Oh, and the Red Magic logo on the back lights up, as you’d expect.

Inside is a liquid cooling system with an actual fan to make sure the phone doesn’t overheat, stereo speakers are loud and clear, plus an excellent haptic feedback system. Red Magic’s Game Space adds performance enhancements, a screen recorder, fan controls, and other gaming-specific adjustments all in one place.

At $579, it’s significantly less than all the other phones on our list, yet packs in many of the same features and technology. It doesn’t take the overall top spot due to not being as polished as the software, and it has a disappointing camera. But if you just want to do sports, Nubia Red Magic 5G Good value.

Read our full Nubia Red Magic 5G review

Consider the App Store before you buy

Hardware is only half the mobile gaming puzzle. You need games once you have your phone, and you’ll need to dig deep into the requisite App Store to get them. On Android, you’ll use Google Play and on iPhone, Apple’s App Store, and despite both doing essentially the same thing, there are a few differences to consider before jumping in.

Generally, the Apple App Store is a bit more expensive for games, apps, and in-app purchases. Google Play often has more free apps, but that means you’ll probably see more ads. Apple often acquires exclusive titles for the App Store, and due to the more tightly controlled store and stronger developer support, many new features come to iOS before Android.

Apple and Google both have subscription-based game streaming services, and both cost $5 per month. Apple Arcade has a list of over 110 games that you can play for free, while Google’s Play Pass gives access to over 350. Apple has withheld a number of specifications for Arcade, however.

What about Google Stadia?

Google Stadia, Google’s cloud-based gaming service, enables you to play games on a variety of devices, from your computer to your television, and your phone or tablet. Stadia’s list of games includes The Elder Scrolls, Grid, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Red Dead Redemption 2, Borderlands 3, and many more.

Rich Shibli/Nerdshala

While Google Stadia has its own hardware, it’s also Compatible with a range of smartphones do you want…

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