Over the course of a decade or so, mobile phones have become invaluable devices for gamers. Once upon a time, our phones supported only the most basic games (Tetris, Snake, and the like), but with the emergence of smartphones and app downloads, things changed quickly. Now its’ more like we’re each carrying around a miniature gaming console at all times.
Even so, some phones are better than others when it comes to gaming. Screen size, display quality, processing power, app availability, and various other features all come into play, such that even though the differences between smartphones can be subtle, they do make an impact on the gaming experience.
These are our top 10 mobile phones for gamers as of October of 2018.
01. iPhone XS Max
This is the biggest version of the newest flagship iPhone from Apple, and as such it just about tops this list by default. Clearly, it has a big screen (6.5 inches) and Apple’s most robust battery yet. However, the main perk here is Apple’s new A12 Bionic processor, which it boasts is 50 percent more powerful than the A11. That will make a noticeable difference in-game performance, and makes this the best phone on the market for gaming.
02. iPhone XS
The iPhone XS isn’t as large as the XS Max but carries its other advantages, which still give it a leg up on just about every other phone. This also speaks to some of the inherent advantages of Apple devices, which basically boil down to the app store. Consider a wildly popular game like Super Mario Run for instance. This was an iOS exclusive for three months, leading to 78 million downloads before it was even available for Android. That’s not always the case, but iOS-compatible phones do have an advantage fairly often.
03. Razer Phone
Most modern smartphones, it’s fair to say, are made with some consideration for gaming. Few are made with gaming as the top priority. The Razer Phone is just such a device, however, and it was popular enough to make a sequel, as we learned recently. Strong processing power, an adequate (though not exceptional) display, and some of the best battery (4,000mAh) and speakers you’ll find in a mobile phone make it a blast to the game on.
04. Samsung Galaxy Note 9
Samsung has fallen a bit behind iPhone in gaming, but the Galaxy Note 9 is still formidable – even if it’s more phablet than the phone. A screen to (nearly) match the iPhone XS Max and a battery equal to the RazerPhone make it a formidable gaming device, and the extra screen room makes it particularly nice for some of the most popular, console-like games people play today, such as Fortnite.
05. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
As with the iPhone XS and XS Max, the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus are effectively the little brothers of the Galaxy Note 9. However, like the smaller iPhones, they still carry some inherent perks of Android gaming devices that shouldn’t be ignored on a device of this quality. While Android is often behind iOS for major releases, it also does a better job of hosting certain genres of games that Apple is less conducive to. For instance, if you’re interested in casino gaming, Android may be better for you. A range of authentic games in this category is available as Android apps that you won’t always find via Apple.
06. Sony Xperia XZ2
You have to at least give a few moments’ consideration to a phone that comes from the same company putting out PlayStations, which are still among the most capable consoles in the gaming world. It’s essentially just a well-rounded phone for gaming, even if Sony phones aren’t typically recognized in the major U.S. market. It’s the biggest perk that not all phones on this list necessarily support is space for microSD cards that can store additional gaming content if the phone is overloaded.
07. Google Pixel 2 XL
The Google Pixel line is too often ignored in conversations like this one. With full access to the Google Play store and some of the Android-specific games therein (as mentioned regarding the Samsung Galaxy line), the Google Pixel phones also happen to be arguably the best iPhone imitations outside of Apple. The Pixel 2 XL is just a nice, solid phone for gaming with a 6-inch screen with very small bezels, front-facing speakers, and an up-to-date Snapdragon 835 processor. It’s not the best on the market, but it won’t disappoint you.
08. LG V30
While it may not be quite as nice phone in other areas, the LG V30 is very similar to the Pixel 2 XL from a gaming standpoint. It has many of the same specs, features, and capabilities, including an identically sized screen and Snapdragon 835 processor. If choosing between the two, it may just come down to whether you prefer LG or Google.
09. Asus ROG Phone
The Asus ROG Phone is viewed by some as the primary successor to the Razer Phone, in that it seems to have been designed largely as a gaming device. A 4,000mAh battery, 6-inch display, and Snapdragon 845 processor make it competitive with just about every phone on the market purely from a performance standpoint. The screen resolution is somewhat mediocre next to some high-end devices, however, and it’s a pretty big device (about the size of the iPhone XS Max) to carry around just for gaming.
10. Moto Z2 Force
This is another phone designed largely for gaming purposes, to the point that it has its own gamepad. That alone is kind of cool if you mostly want a portable gaming device with some mobile phone capabilities. That said, the battery life is limited, most of the specs are nothing special, and at this point, there are other gamepads that can be used with other mobile phones if that’s what you’re interested in.