The best gaming phones are specifically tailored to gamers. Ideally, when buying a gaming phone, you need fast performance, a large, high-resolution screen with a high refresh rate, good battery life, and features tailor-made for gaming.
So, while some of the best smartphones, such as the iPhone 14 Pro Max and Sony Xperia 1 IV, might do a great job tackling mobile games, you’re better off getting a gaming phone for a better gaming experience. That’s especially if you spend more of your free time gaming and you want that distinctive gamer aesthetic.
A dedicated device tends to boast better cooling as well as come with shoulder triggers and even detachable physical controls. Phones like the Asus ROG Phone 6D offer all these features, for example, which is why it tops our list of the best gaming phones.
Having tested more than our share of phones, we’ve ranked all the best gaming phones, prioritizing those that are specifically designed with gaming in mind, followed by more general smartphones that come with enough power to give you a smooth and immersive gaming experience. Take a look at the best gaming phones below.
Once you know what phone to buy, check out our look at the best iPhone games and best Android games to find plenty of titles to play. We’re constantly updating this list as well, so check back soon if you’re not set on any of the options here.
The best gaming phone 2023
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Asus knows how to make good gaming phones as demonstrated by the Asus Rog Phone 6D. It has a near identical design to the Asus Rog Phone 6 but with superior cooling so it’s never going to overheat while you play.
MediaTek’s Dimensity 9000 Plus chipset is a force to be reckoned with while it’s paired up beautifully with a 6.78-inch full HD OLED display. A 165Hz refresh rate will delight gamers along with plenty of viewing modes to set. Speaker performance is excellent too while Asus’s software includes extensive in-game tools.
The only downside here is the camera which is fairly average, but if you’re solely focused on gaming, the Asus Rog Phone 6D will delight.
Read our full Asus Rog Phone 6D review
The Black Shark 5 Pro offers some fantastic performance for the price, easily ensuring it’s the best gaming phone around now. It can play top-end games at their highest graphics setting without a hitch thanks to its Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor and 12GB of RAM.
Further helping your gaming experience are a set of pop-up physical triggers that can be assigned a function for your game. It makes a big difference, effectively turning the phone into a gaming controller all-in-one.
While it gets rather hot and battery life could be a little better, the Black Shark 5 Pro is a potent gaming system that’s perfectly suited for gaming on the move.
Read our review: Xiaomi Black Shark 5 Pro
The Asus ROG Phone 5 is a remarkable gaming phone – even though it’s a generation behind our number one pick, the Asus ROG Phone 6. Its highlights include power from the pairing of a Snapdragon 888 chipset and up to 16GB of RAM, plus a screen that has a refresh rate of 144Hz and a touch sampling rate of 300Hz – both of which are higher than most phones and we found this pairing beneficial to games.
The Asus ROG Phone 5 also has a huge 6,000mAh battery, so you can game for longer, and with 65W charging you won’t be out of action for long when it runs dry.
Add to that responsive shoulder buttons, programmable RGB lights, and compatibility with a range of gaming-focused accessories, and the Asus ROG Phone 5 really is the complete package for gamers.
Read our review: Asus ROG Phone 5
The Nubia Red Magic 7 isn’t shy in any way. Bold and brash and a little heavy and thick, it offers some great specs. There’s a large-sized 6.8-inch AMOLED screen with a refresh rate of 165Hz which means it can handle fast-moving action at every turn.
Under the hood, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor can play any top-end game you want with some fantastic benchmark scores. Like other gaming phones, it gets a tad hot but a fan helps cool things down fairly quickly.
Elsewhere, its battery life might not get you through a day of gaming but fast 65W charging helps you get back up to speed faster at least. Ultimately, it’s the screen that will keep you coming back to the Nubia Red Magic 7.
Read our review: Nubia Red Magic 7
Bulky it might be but the Black Shark 4 Pro has a lot to love here. As with other Black Shark phones, it has integrated gaming triggers that pop-out and can be customized to do what you need them to do.
Sporting a 6.67-inch Super AMOLED screen, it’s a great option for those that want to see their games shine too. A 144Hz refresh rate means the action is always silky smooth here, while a Snapdragon 888 processor keeps the action sailing at all times.
A dedicated gaming app in the form of Shark Space rounds things off nicely, allowing you to focus on your gaming time. It even manages more than a day between charges.
Read our review: Black Shark 4 Pro
The best non-gaming phones for gaming
We’ve suggested the best phones designed for gaming, but if you’d rather have a more mainstream device, here are all the phones we recommend that, among the rest of their strengths, are also very good phones to play games on.
You’ll find a lot of overlap with our best phones list, for good reason: these handsets have top-end specs and screens to give the best gaming experience possible outside of gaming-focused phones.
It’s worth noting also that there’s now native Xbox and PlayStation controller support on both iOS and Android, so although the following phones don’t – for the most part – have dedicated gaming peripherals from their makers, they do support some existing peripherals.
The Sony Xperia 1 IV is the gaming phone that isn’t a gaming phone, by which we mean that while it isn’t marketed as a gaming phone – and is a top all-round handset – it has a snap-on cooler accessory, which is basically designed for gamers.
Plus, it also has features to help with mobile game streaming, and with its powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset and incredibly sharp 4K screen, it has all the performance and display quality that gamers need.
As such, it’s a fantastic option for mobile gamers who want something like a gaming phone, but that doesn’t, well, look like a gaming phone, and that also performs well for non-gaming things like photography – as the cameras here are excellent too.
Typically for Sony you’ll also enjoy respectable battery life from its 5,000mAh juice pack, so it can survive a sustained gaming session as well.
Read our review: Sony Xperia 1 IV
The iPhone 14 Pro Max is one of the very best conventional smartphones for gaming, as while it might lack gaming-specific features like physical triggers, it has something no dedicated gaming phone has access to – the A16 Bionic chipset.
Benchmarks suggest this is more powerful than anything Qualcomm, Samsung or MediaTek can muster, so for sheer power the iPhone 14 Pro Max is a top choice. That power can translate to better quality graphics and improved frame rates.
Plus, more games will be well optimized for this phone than a lot of the Android competition, since it’s such a popular handset. Add to that the wealth of games available on the App Store – not to mention the Apple Arcade subscription service – and this is a clear winner on the gaming front.
Its 6.7-inch 120Hz screen is large and high quality too, so games will look good, and its battery life exceeds that of most non-gaming phones, so you won’t need to plug it in too often.
Read our review: iPhone 14 Pro Max
Just after the iPhone 14 Pro Max comes the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. It’s Samsung’s best absolute phone ever and is just about perfect for gaming. With a large 6.8-inch display, a powerful processor, and every bell and whistle you can think of, the S23 Ultra is worth strong consideration.
With the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, Samsung’s S23 Ultra will fly through most games like a hot knife through butter, while remaining cool and lasting for longer off the charger than the S22 Ultra.
The only flaw of the S23 Ultra in gaming is that you can find many other Android phones that fill that niche for less. Samsung itself offers a strong second option with the S23 Plus — but we can’t really fault the company for making too many good phones, now can we?
Read our review: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
As with the Galaxy S23 Ultra, OnePlus also uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. It is an excellent phone with powerful internals, a speedy refresh rate, and a large roomy display. We’ve gone on about how the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 elevated the S23 Ultra’s performance, and the same holds here too for the OnePlus 11. It’s not a souped up variant as Samsung has, but it’s 90% of the way there.
In our review, we found the OnePlus 11 outperformed the iPhone 14 Pro when playing a game of Marvel Snap. It even wowed with more powerful games such as Call of Duty Mobile.
The OnePlus 11 is a lot cheaper than the S23 Ultra as well, so you’ll also also be saving some money while getting a top tier Android experience.
Read our review: OnePlus 11
The Poco F4 GT is a great phone that also happens to be ideal for gaming. It has two triggers built-in and held in place by a magnetic lock, allowing you to use them as needed.
Continuing the gaming prowess, the 6.67-inch AMOLED display looks great, with a 120Hz ideally suited for fluid gaming sessions.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor flies as expected with a battery life of about a day doing well enough. Fast charging certainly helps here. Just don’t count on it being a good phone for regular purposes like photography.
Read our review: Poco F4 GT
How to choose the best gaming phone for you
When you’re choosing a gaming phone, you need to think about which games you like to play. If your games benefit from extra controls, you might consider a phone with shoulder buttons. If you play a lot on the go and need amazing battery life and fast charging, look for a phone with a big battery and high wattage charging. If you’re looking for a serious gaming powerhouse with the fastest display and coolest look for gamers, that’s going to be the top phone on our list. Whatever you want in a gaming phone, we have a pick for all of your priorities.
How we tested
We only include phones on this list once we’ve put them through a full review and passed a final verdict on them, so we know exactly how good they are. We then compare and rank them, factoring in their review scores, prices and specs – with a particular focus on the aspects important to gaming.
What is the best gaming phone?
That depends on whether you want a phone specifically built for gaming, or a great all-round handset that also excels for gaming, but we’ve got picks for both.
What should I look for when buying a gaming phone?
The three main factors to consider are screen (particularly size, resolution and refresh rate), battery life, and processing power. Beyond that, look to extra features that might be useful when gaming, such as triggers or fans, and look to the library of available games, as it differs between Android and iOS.