Best Gaming Phones 2023: The top smartphones for gaming on the go



Introduction

If you’re a self-proclaimed gamer, and fancy gaming on the go whether you’re on the commute to work or sitting on the toilet, then it may well be worth having a look at the best gaming phone options on the market.

Gaming phones prioritise important areas for portable gaming, which include performance, battery life and a screen’s refresh rate. That does mean non-gaming features, such as the camera, aren’t given as much attention. But if you do want a more rounded phone, there are also more versatile options such as the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro Max that aren’t labelled as gaming phones, but still excel at gaming.

So what are the best gaming phones you can buy right now? Our team of experts have tested countless phones that excel at gaming, and so we’ve whipped up this comprehensive list of the cream of the crop.

Every phone included has been put through a thorough testing process, which includes performance benchmarks, real-time gaming, battery drains and measuring how long it takes for a full recharge. Combined with our day-to-day use of the phone, we then award each phone a rating out of 5. Those that achieve at least a 4-star rating, and excel at gaming, are considered for this very best list.

If you’re after the best all-round phones that are excellent at a range of other skills besides just gaming, then you should check out our best phones guide. If you’re on a tighter budget, then take a glance at our best mid-range phones and best cheap phones articles for a selection of more affordable handsets.

Best gaming phones at a glance

How we test

Learn more about how we test gaming phones Every phone we review goes through a series of uniform checks designed to gauge key things including build quality, screen accuracy, battery life, performance and camera prowess.These include formal synthetic benchmarks and scripted tests, plus a series of real-world checks, such as how much battery it loses per hour streaming video. For gaming phones, we pay particular attention as to how well they run some of the most popular mobile titles.We also make sure to use every phone we review as our primary handset for at least a week to ensure our review is as accurate as possible. You can see a more detailed breakdown of our testing methodology in our how we test phones guide.

Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate

Best gaming phone

Pros

Elite performanceMammoth battery lifeLoud and booming speakersAirTriggers improve gaming controls

Cons

Very expensiveToo similar to ROG Phone 7

Take price out of the equation, and there’s no doubt that the Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate is the very best gaming phone you can buy. Our benchmark tests prove that it boasts one of the fastest performances you can find on an Android phone thanks to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, and is jam-packed with lots of gaming-centric features. 

The AirTriggers are our favourite feature, acting as virtual triggers so you can use the phone like a traditional gamepad rather than relying solely on touchscreen prods. The haptic feedback is superb, and it’s customisable so you can set any function you want – for Call of Duty Mobile, we assigned the triggers to crouching and shooting. 

The Ultimate model of the ROG Phone 7 also has a rear screen panel, which can provide handy alerts for notifications, charging status and more. Asus has also installed a panel on the back that will automatically open up whenever it senses the phone overheating, allowing increased airflow to cool down the internal components. 

Booming speakers, a huge AMOLED display and a mammoth battery also combine to make the Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate the absolute best gaming phone on the market. The only major concern is the price, costing over £1000/$1000. That makes the standard Asus ROG Phone 7 a tempting alternative, but the Ultimate model remains an outstanding choice. 

Reviewer: Ryan JonesFull Review: Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate review

Nubia RedMagic 8 Pro

Best mid-range gaming phone

Pros

Excellent gaming performanceHigh-quality hardware and great designAffordable starting priceSolid battery life

Cons

Software has quite a few small bugsNo water or dust resistance ratingFlawed vent design allows for dust ingress

Not everyone is lucky enough to have fistfuls of cash to throw at a phone, especially if it’s a secondary phone that you’re just using to satisfy your gaming needs. That’s why a device like the Redmagic 8 Pro comes in handy. It costs a lot less than the flagships on this list, but don’t let that fool you: it still delivers blistering performance.

Despite its mid-range price tag, the RedMagic 8 Pro sports Qualcomm’s top-end Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset with either 12- or 16GB of RAM to play with, making it a true powerhouse for gaming that can compete with plenty of expensive Android flagships – though it does fall short of the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate’s lofty heights.

Still, performance is solid even during prolonged gameplay sessions thanks to active cooling vents on the rear. The problem is that, without any mesh on the vents, dust and debris can get sucked in. Coupled with the transparent back, that’s not ideal.

Elsewhere, the 6.8-inch AMOLED display is a very good canvas for gaming, offering a 120Hz refresh rate, a dizzying 960Hz touch sampling rate, and a 1080p resolution with an improved 1,300 nits max brightness compared to its predecessor – one of our biggest complaints about the display, in fact. The unmistakable gaming-centric semi-transparent design also incorporates two 520Hz touch buttons which give you a real competitive edge.

Unfortunately, however, Nubia’s user interface continues to be cluttered and clunky with translation mistakes to be found as well, which hardly makes for an enjoyable experience. But if you can look past this flaw (and the sub-par camera system), then you’ve got yourself a highly capable gaming phone.

Reviewer: Palash VolvoikarFull Review: Nubia Red Magic 8 Pro review

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Best Android flagship for gaming

Pros

200MP camera delivers in both well-lit and low-light conditionsTop-notch performance from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for GalaxyAll-day battery lifeStunningly detailed 6.8in 120Hz display

Cons

Very expensiveRelatively slow 45W chargingDifficult to use one-handed

While the previous two entries in this list are dedicated gaming phones, built expressly for that purpose and nothing else, this one is a flagship smartphone that boasts excellent gaming performance as just one of its many accomplishments. If you pick this device, you’ll be able to play the best games in style – but you’ll get more than that, too.

In terms of its gaming capabilities, you’ll find a truly excellent performer here that is among the speediest Android phones around with an exclusive Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset. It’s also got an utterly brilliant 120Hz WQHD+ screen, arguably the best on any smartphone you can buy, and it makes games a joy to play.

You won’t get some purist gaming enhancements, such as shoulder trigger buttons, but you will get some advantages that other gaming phones may miss out on, including a guaranteed five years of software updates and a brilliant camera system with a suite of lenses that include a main 200MP sensor and impressive zooming capabilities that are head and shoulders above the others on the market.

If you’re looking for an Android device that can handle games with aplomb but offer so much more, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is an easy recommendation.

Reviewer: Lewis PainterFull Review: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review

iPhone 14 Pro Max

Best iPhone for gaming

Pros

Stunning displayPerformance that should stay fast for a long timeReliable cameras in all conditionsLong battery lifeDynamic island is a great idea

Cons

No big zoom camera improvementsUncomfy design without a case

In our tests, we found the A16 Bionic chipset at the heart of the iPhone 14 Pro Max to be a gaming beast, comfortably capable of playing any title we could throw at it with ease.

Pair this with the large, responsive 6.7-inch ProMotion display which ramps up to 120Hz and the fantastic collection of titles available via both the App Store and Apple Arcade, and you have a true gaming champion.

You do miss out on the more gaming-specific features other phones we’ve included on this list possess. There are, of course, no built-in triggers nor the ROG Phone’s RGB lightning. It’s also a little more finicky streaming games from Game Pass on iOS than it is on Android, but it is doable.

You’re also getting an excellent phone in other areas. The three rear cameras are great, the software top-tier and the screen quality the best we’ve reviewed. 

Reviewer: Max ParkerFull review: Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max review

Poco X5 Pro

Best cheap phone for gaming

Pros

Fully-capable 6.7-inch OLED displaySurprisingly well-equipped cameraDecent performance

Cons

Cheap rear designMIUI software is very clutteredUnfriendly amount of bloatware

If you can’t get enough of your mobile gaming but don’t have a large disposable income to spend on one of the all-singing all-dancing flagships that we’ve listed above, then don’t worry; you can still get a great gaming experience at a lower price.

For this purpose, we’d especially recommend the Poco X5 Pro 5G. Despite the sub-$400/£400 price, it boasts key gaming-focused features including a 6.7-inch AMOLED display with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate and 900 nits of brightness, along with support for HDR10+ for times when you aren’t gaming. That’s backed by a whopping 5,000mAh battery that can compete with most flagships for battery life, and a 108MP main snapper does a decent job too.

Of course, performance standards aren’t on the same level as flagship models, but they should be good enough to see you through your gaming sessions without too many problems.

This great value handset is well worth a look if you want to game to your heart’s content but can’t splash out on some of the bank-breaking options that excel in this area.

Reviewer: Connor JewissFull Review: Poco X5 Pro 5G review

We also considered…

Apple iPhone 14

Not a huge upgrade on the iPhone 13, yet it still is a great phone with a top camera, good battery and all the iOS benefits

FAQs

What is the best gaming phone? Overall, we’d pick the Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate as the best gaming phone you can buy. Which iPhone should I buy if I like gaming? We’d recommend the iPhone 14 Pro Max if you love gaming but want to stick with an iPhone.

Best Gaming Phones: Specifications Comparison

UK RRP

USA RRP

EU RRP

CA RRP

AUD RRP

Manufacturer

Screen Size

Storage Capacity

Rear Camera

Front Camera

Video Recording

IP rating

Battery

Wireless charging

Fast Charging

Size (Dimensions)

Weight

ASIN

Operating System

Release Date

First Reviewed Date

Resolution

HDR

Refresh Rate

Ports

Chipset

RAM

Colours

Stated Power

Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate

£1199.99

Asus

6.78 inches

512GB

32MP + 13MP + 5MP

32MP

Yes

IP54

6000 mAh

Yes

77 x 173 x 10.4 MM

239 G

Android 13

2023

13/04/2023

2448 x 1080

Yes

165 Hz

USB-C x2

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

16GB

Storm White

65 W

Nubia RedMagic 8 Pro

£579

$649

Nubia

6.8 inches

128GB, 256GB, 512GB

50MP + 8MP + 2MP

16MP

Yes

No

6000 mAh

Yes

76.4 x 8.9 x 164 MM

228 G

B0BRKJQHWK

Android 13 (RedMagic OS 6)

2022

23/06/2023

1116 x 2480

Yes

120 Hz

USB-C

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

12GB, 16GB, 8GB

Black, Transparent

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

£1249

$1199

Samsung

6.8 inches

256GB, 512GB, 1TB

200MP + 12MP + 10MP + 10MP

12MP

Yes

IP68

5000 mAh

Yes

Yes

8.9 x 163.4 x 163.4 MM

234 G

Android 13 (OneUI 5.1)

2023

3088 x 1440

Yes

120 Hz

USB-C

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy

12GB, 8GB

Phantom Black, Cream, Green, Lavender

iPhone 14 Pro Max

£1199

$1099

€1449

CA$1549

AU$1899

Apple

6.7 inches

128GB

48MP Main, 12MP Ultra Wide, 12MP 2X Telephoto, 12MP 3x Telephoto

12MP

Yes

IP68

Yes

Yes

77.6 x 7.85 x 160.7 MM

240 G

iOS 16

2022

2796 x 1290

Yes

120 Hz

Lightning

A16 Bionic chip

Space Black, Silver, Gold, Deep Purple

Poco X5 Pro

£369

Unavailable

€349

Unavailable

Unavailable

Pocophone

6.7 mm

128GB, 256GB

108MP + 8MP + 2MP

16MP

Yes

IP53

5000 mAh

Yes

76 x 7.9 x 162.9 MM

181 G

Android 12 (MIUI 14)

2023

20/02/2023

1080 x 2400

Yes

120 Hz

USB-C

Snapdragon 778G

6GB, 8GB

Black, Blue, Yellow

Best Gaming Phones: Tests Comparison

Geekbench 5 single core

Geekbench 5 multi core

Geekbench 6 single core

Geekbench 6 multi core

Max brightness

1 hour video playback (Netflix, HDR)

30 minute gaming (intensive)

30 minute gaming (light)

1 hour music streaming (online)

1 hour music streaming (offline)

Time from 0-100% charge

Time from 0-50% charge

30-min recharge (included charger)

15-min recharge (included charger)

30-min recharge (no charger included)

15-min recharge (no charger included)

3D Mark – Wild Life

3D Mark – Wild Life Stress Test

GFXBench – Aztec Ruins

GFXBench – Car Chase

Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate

1992

5614

7 %

8 %

3 %

40 min

17 Min

77 %

46 %

81 fps

106 fps

Nubia RedMagic 8 Pro

1336

4783

1300 nits

6 %

6 %

42 min

16 Min

80 %

48 %

3663

79 fps

97 fps

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

1489

4527

7 %

5 %

91 min

28 Min

51 %

28 %

3766

3726

55 fps

68 fps

iPhone 14 Pro Max

1872

5264

600 nits

9 %

8 %

6 %

1 %

1 %

92 min

32 Min

Poco X5 Pro

786

2988

7 %

7 %

3 %

68 min

32 Min



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