Best Smartphones for gaming (May 2020)

The growth of mobile gaming shows no sign of stopping. Just think that 90% of the downloaded paid apps are games.

The success of mobile gaming is due to the evolution of smartphones. Their performance increased exponentially. But It’s also due to the rapid spread of faster connections, which have allowed us to move from simple offline games to online and cross-platform games.

In this guide we want to introduce you to the very best phones for gaming. We are going to compare the ones that are behaving better during games that require high graphics processing such as PUGB, Asphalt 9 Legends, Real Racing 3, Modern Combat 5: Blackout, Shadow Fight 3, Gangstar Vegas and Fortnite.

Smartphones to play: what are the factors that matter the most?

What are the determining factors in the gaming experience in a smartphone? It’s trivial to say that a gaming smartphone must have powerful hardware. Some manufacturers overclock CPUs and GPUs in order to have a greater boost in support of gaming sessions. But power alone is not everything.

Display

The quality of the screen is perhaps the main aspect of a gaming smartphone. A large screen of more than 6 inches offers a more immersive experience, an OLED panel offers, thanks to the depth of blacks, much greater contrasts than an LCD screen, and finally, a high refresh frequency (90Hz or 120Hz) is essential for a smooth gaming experience.

Temperatures

With 3D games requiring high graphics processing, the processor is working at high temperatures, which impact the range and reduce processor lifetime. A smartphone designed for gaming involves optimized temperature management, through a liquid cooling system or internal fans.

Autonomy and charging speed

Games like the ones listed above all have one thing in common: they quickly consume the battery. Therefore a gaming smartphone must have a battery capable of holding extended gaming sessions. Also for users who play on the go and have the ability to charge their smartphone only at certain times of the day, the smartphone must support fast charging.

In addition to the screen quality, thermal management and autonomy, there are also small tricks designed by the manufacturers and that a gamer knows well, such as fan adjustment, RGB, or the presence of soft-touch buttons, which is useful in many games.

What are the best gaming smartphones? 

Nubia Red Magic 5G

Scary hardware at a great price

The Nubia Red Magic 5G is going to be one for the first prize in the best gaming smartphone released in 2020. Its hardware makes it competitive and the ratio price-quality is impressive.

Specifically, we’re talking about a Snapdragon 865, The current top-of-the-range Qualcomm, supported by 8/12 GB of LPDDR5 RAM and a 128/256 GB internal memory.

These top-notch specs generally provide excellent performance, but to have a good gaming experience you need, however, even a good panel and Nubia certainly did not neglect this aspect.

The display of this Red Magic 5G is a great 6.65-inch FHD OLED panel (2340 to 1080 pixels), with an update rate of 144Hz. The high refresh rate further accentuates the fluidity, allowing the hardware to express itself even more.

The pleasant surprises, however, do not end there: Nubia has equipped this smartphone with several goodies not to be underestimated. First, to assist with steam chamber cooling, a small but useful additional wind was inserted. It’s not very quiet, but it’s adjustable. Secondly, the Red Magic 5G has the “trigger buttons”: 2 soft-touch buttons, placed on the side of the device, which if touched will simulate a real physical touch. It’s an effective solution that can really make a difference in FPS titles.

Stereo speakers offer a good sound experience and being a gaming phone has not been deprived of the 3.5mm jack,now absent in many top of the range.

The last aspect to include is the range: 4500 mAh, actually lower than the battery of the model of the last generation but also sufficient for extended gaming sessions.

The game hub, entitled “Game Space” is very well cared for and complete, absolutely on par with that of the most famous brands in the industry (Asus and Razer, just to name a few).

You can manage RGB lighting, fan behavior and even manually change game-by-game parameters. The price is undoubtedly a strong point of its own:it starts from 569 euros for the 8/128 base model.

Nubia Red Magic 5G
  • Support 5G – AMOLED display from 6.65 inches to 144 Hz.
  • Dual SIM, Dual Standby, no contract, no SIM lock.
  • Primary memory: 8 GB/12 GB/16 GB DDR5 RAM: 128 GB/256 GB UFS 3.0 ROM.
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, Octa Core, 2.84 GHz – main camera (IMX686) 64MP/ 12MP front-facing camera , 4500 mAh (55W) battery.

Asus Rog Phone 2 Strix

A milestone in gaming phones

Asus’ Rog Phone was one of the first smartphones dedicated to gaming. This Rog Phone 2 Strix Edition has top-of-the-range hardware and a range of features designed by Asus specifically for gaming.

Moving the whole thing is a Snapdragon 855,the Top-of-the-generation Qualcomm’s top-of-the-range SoC, flanked by 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of UFS 3.0 storage. Performance, just as you’d expect, shines in all titles.

The display, always important when evaluating a gaming smartphone, is equally valid. Let’s talk about a beautiful OLED FHD panel, very bright and equipped with excellent colors, with frequency of update of 120Hz. The high refresh rate returns a perfect feeling of fludity, giving an extremely enjoyable gaming experience.

On the side of the body are the” Air triggers“, soft touch keys very similar to the “trigger buttons” of the Red Magic 5G. In the package Asus also provides an auxiliary fan stand, fully controllable via software, which also has a type-c input and the headphone jack. Stereo speakers are very powerful and allow good listening quality even without headphones.

The battery is 6000 mAh, which translates into a range capable of sustaining many hours of play. The Rog Phone 2 will be able to accompany you even in the most intense and prolonged gaming sessions, and during breaks you can resort to a super fast charging via a 30W charger.

The Game Hub, theX Mode is well-groomed and complete. You can manually adjust the game-by-game parameters. You can also control wind settings, RGB lighting and air triggers. The price of 699 euros is not exaggerated considering what is offered, and makes it a product that will make the happiness of many gamers, with a low expense.

Asus Rog Phone 2 Strix
  • Snapdragon 855
  • OLED FHD panel, very bright and equipped with excellent colors, with frequency of update of 120Hz
  • 6000 mAh battery.

OnePlus 8 Pro

Besides power there is so much more

The OnePlus 8 Pro is the Chinese company’s new top-of-the-range company, known for its lightning-fast devices at a super aggressive price. This year the price list has gone up, and by a lot, but in addition to the power there is a lot more.

Let’s start with the datasheet: a Snapdragon 865 chip backed by 8/12 GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 128/256 GB of UFS 3.0 memory. The performances are also unbeatable here and it is practically impossible to put it in difficulty whatever the load to which it is subjected.

The display is a masterpiece: a 6.78-inch AMOLED screen with QHD resolution (3168-1440 pixels), bright and with a 120Hz refresh rate. , thanks to which it returns a very different perception of fluidity than a traditional 60hz display.

Not being a “purosangue” from gaming, Oneplus has not equipped this smartphone with goodies aimed at this specific use. No side soft-touch buttons or windlines for dissipation, although the latter do not miss it since steam chamber cooling does its job well enough.

Stereo speakers have great volume and good sound playback, so we think they are absolutely good to enjoy the best of the gaming experience.

The 4500 mAh battery, similar to that of the Red Magic 5G, allows you to stay calm during intense and prolonged gaming sessions even if it is recommended to take advantage of a few moments of break to charge the battery through the fast Warp Charge at 30W. There is a game hub called“Game Space“, which allows the management of different parameters and optimizations, although it is obviously less complete than the “native” products for the game. There is, however, an additional mode, the “Fnatic Mode” which takes the possibilities offered by the classic Hub for games to the extreme.

Oneplus price lists have skyrocketed over time, rising to 919 euros for this OnePlus 8 Pro for the 8/128 “basic” variant. If you have a large budget you won’t be disappointed, but if you’re looking for more gaming-specific products, you’d be right to consider the other models in this guide.

  • Super fluid amoled 3D display – high resolution with 120-hz refresh rate – swiping, swiping and switching from one app to another is quick and easy
  • 17.5 cm / 6.78″ fluid amoled display – for an unprecedented multimedia experience, instant touch responsiveness, superior speed and fascinating sharpness
  • Ultra-sharp quad camera – 48mp main camera, 3x hybrid zoom, ultra-square 48mp, 8mp telephoto lens, 5mp IR lens and 16mp front camera; Super slow motion up to 960 fps will make you see things you’ve never seen before; additional features: ultrashot, nightscape, studio lighting, portrait, pro mode, panorama, hdr, to scene detection, raw image
  • 8 GB ram and 128 GB of internal memory for superior performance, high speed/high-performance qualcomm snapdragon 865 with 5g connectivity
  • Battery 4510 mAh – fast wireless charging and warp charge 30t technology (ready in 20 minutes) / Android operating system 10

Realme X2 Pro

A perfect best buy for gaming

Realme has recently debuted on the European market, but has already achieved a good reputation, managing to propose itself immediately as an alternative to Xiaomi in the mid-range.

X2 Pro is the current mid-to-high-end proposal of the company belonging to the BBK group (of which Oppo, Oneplus and Vivo are part). It is undoubtedly not free of defects, given the low price, but certainly able to give the competition a hard time.

The datasheet is that of a real top of the range: Snapdragon 855th to run everything, thanks to the support of 8/12 GB of RAM and 128/256 GB of UFS 3.0 storage. These are top-notch components that are not afraid of the heaviest loads and are able to shine even in the most challenging games.

The display is a great OLED FHD unit with a 90Hz refresh rate. It is a bright panel with a good reproduction of colors, able to give a good in-game experience. The feeling of fluidity given by the 90Hz is necessarily less accentuated than that conferred by the refresh rates of the panels at 120 and 140Hz, but it allows you to perceive a clear difference compared to the traditional screens at 60Hz. In game, it manages to further enhance the hardware equipment and a great deal of headlines comes out of it very close to that of a high-end gaming smartphone.

Again this is not a product that targets the heart of gamers and there are no specific tricks (such as soft touch buttons). Stereo audio is very good: high volume and proper frequency playback return a good immersion during the game.

The 4000 mAh battery on paper may not sound exciting but in practice the range is better than you might expect. The Realme X2 Pro is reliable even if subjected to prolonged gaming sessions and with the superVOOC fast charging it takes a pit stop of a few tens of minutes to play carefree for several hours a day.

There is a “Game Space” mode that includes several interesting functions (such as fpS counters) in addition to the classic options for adjusting the various parameters.

The asking price for the 8/128 “base” model is 429 euros,a figure perfectly in line with what the product in question is offering. If you’re looking for a smartphone that’s not too expensive but is suitable for gaming,the Realme X2 Pro is definitely the model to find your way around.

Realme X2 Pro
  • Snapdragon 855
  • OLED FHD panel, very bright and equipped with excellent colors, with frequency of update of 120Hz
  • Full-focus hawk eye system
  • Qualcomm snapdragon 855 plus
  • Quad 64MP camera with fluid display

Iphone 11 Pro

When hardware doesn’t make the difference

Iphone 11 Pro does not need great presentations. Among the technical features are the Apple A13 Bionic processor, an OLED display with 2,436 x 1,125 pixel resolution, unfortunately limited to 60Hz. The absence of a high refresh rate is noticeable dramatically in games, especially in shooters. If you can pass over it in everyday tasks, the advantage of a panel at 90/120/ 144Hz is clearly visible.

With these premises you would hardly associate iPhone with gaming, yet it is a product that possesses a killer feature absent in all android smartphones: the proprietary service Apple Arcade. It is a subscription service released in conjunction with the release of the new iPhones. What is offered is a large catalog of exclusive titles,therefore only available on Apple platform. There’s something for all tastes and all kinds of players, whether it’s casual gamers looking for some fun or talking about a particularly passionate user. Many titles are made with a care almost nowhere to be found on the Android playground, so much so that some are worth the price of the subscription alone. There is no pay-to-win mechanics and the like and there are no purchases in the app. During the game the impression is to have in your hands a console title (and indeed some flagship games has also been released on Nintendo Switch) more than one designed for mobile platform. The price of the subscription is contained: 4.99 euros per month.

The audio sector is also of the highest level after so many years Apple has finally returned to equip its smartphones with an adequate battery: 3046 mAh, not many in the absolute sense but the management of resources by iOS is very different from that Of Android and in practice Iphone 11 Pro has a sufficient autonomy even for gamers. For the hardened who try their hand at gaming marathons, our advice is to find your way around the “Max” model with about 1000 mAh more that translates into a truly enviable autonomy.

The price is high, even more so if we consider the panel at only 60Hz and from no implementation aimed at gamers (there is not even a Game Mode). On the other hand, however, Apple Arcade is a great service, which can very well serve as a complement to the classic titles of the App Store, offering a quality and a gaming experience that is difficult to obtain otherwise.

It is this service that serves as the needle of the scale: if you are interested in the game package offered by Apple Arcade, and that kind of experience is what you are looking for, then our advice is to buy a state-of-the-art iPhone (wishing it also a XR) which offer a perfect combination of performance and autonomy. Conversely, if Apple Arcade is not for you, perhaps because you are not going to pay an additional subscription, we strongly recommend that you evaluate one of the Android smartphones proposed in this guide.

  • Dust and water resistant (4 meters up to 30 minutes, IP68)
  • 12MP triple camera system (ultra-grand-angle, wide-angle and telephoto) with Night mode, Portrait mode and 4K video recording up to 60 fps
  • TrueDepth 12MP front camera with Portrait mode, 4K video recording, and slow-motion
  • Face ID for Secure Authentication and Apple Pay
  • Chip A13 Bionic with third-generation Neural Engine

Conclusions

In this article we have proposed what we consider the best smartphones for gaming. We analyzed them step by step, highlighting each one’s strengths and shortcomings. These are in any case great products, but before you make a challenging purchase like this it is good to evaluate which smartphone actually reflects your needs. We hope to have been exhaustive but if there are any doubts during the purchase write it in the comments box, we are ready to help you!

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