Gaming on phones has been a thing ever since we all first booted up our Nokia 3310s for hours on Snake, before our iPhones became clogged with hours of Candy Crush Saga.
But increasingly smartphones are becoming viable gaming devices alongside home consoles.
Such is the power of modern smartphones. Gaming sensations like Fortnite and PUBG can thank their mobile platform and portability for ridiculous run-away success. And it’s no wonder considering the power inside the best smartphones around.
While the latest Apple and Samsung phones are capable of running the most demanding mobile games, the market is so popular that there are also dedicated gaming phones like the Asus ROG Phone, Razer Phone and Xiaomi Black Shark. Since there are only a handful like this, we’ve also included some ‘normal’ phones that also offer a good gaming experience.
Red Magic 3
The Red Magic 3 somehow manages to offer high-end gaming features including the latest Snapdragon 855 processor, a huge 6.55in 90Hz display and touch-sensitive trigger buttons for less than £500/$500. The gaming experience is superb, with smooth gameplay and no hint of lag, even during intense PUBG Mobile sessions.
It does lack a little in the camera department, sporting a single 48Mp sensor, but it’s an improvement on what’s on offer from the Red Magic Mars, also featured in our chart. The design is a little ‘in your face’ and while some gamers love it, some will hate it – it’s down to your personal choice.
The only real downside is the lack of polish in terms of software, with key Android Pie features like gesture navigation missing, along with instances of broken English and even Mandarin displaying within some OS menus. Still, for the price, you’ll struggle to find anything better.
Black Shark 2
We’re impressed by what the Black Shark 2 offers gamers, with impressive specs, innovative gaming-focused tech and a very affordable price tag, but there are a few niggles that stop it from being the best.
The gaming experience is premium, sporting powerful internals, industry-leading cooling tech and a range of accessories to enhance performance, but unlike most other gaming phones, the Black Shark 2 is capped at 60Hz, half that of the Razer Phone 2. It’s also worth noting that the gaming accessories are sold separately, and they’re not the cheapest accessories we’ve seen either.
However, it’s little issues with the Black Shark 2 that bring the overall experience down, including a rather dim display, hit-and-miss controller design and a camera setup that has admittedly been improved, but is still not quite up to the standards set by other 2019 flagships, or even other mid-range phones.
Asus ROG Phone
Asus really has pulled it off with the ROG Phone, by absolutely going to town with the design and features with gamers in mind.
It might not have a 120Hz screen like the Razer Phone 2, but 90Hz still means silky smooth performance and many will prefer the AMOLED tech anyway. You also get an overclocked Snapdragon and plenty of other gaming extras like the AeroActive fan and AirTriggers.
Those, along with the software, give it the edge over its rivals. However, this is a sort of joint first position as the ROG Phone is so lairy – ostentatious even – that we would totally understand if the Razer Phone 2 is more your style.