Smartphones have come a long way since the early models of the early 2010s. Most handsets released in the last couple of years come with more processing power than an average consumer laptop, all packed into a much smaller space.
This has made these mobile devices perfect for tasks like watching TV shows, recording high-definition video, and playing games. There are many different options though, so if you want a smartphone that will handle all your favourite games, it can be difficult to know which phone to choose.
Part of the answer will depend on the type of games that you like to play. Like computers, each smartphone has a different technical specification, meaning some are more powerful than others. Some games have higher technical requirements that others, and therefore, the titles that you want to play will be a major factor in working out which handset you need.
For example, puzzle and card games such as PokerStars and Mini Metro will run on most Android and iOS smartphones sold in the last five years. PokerStars requires Android 4.4 and above, which is almost seven years old, while Mini Metro needs at least version 4.1, which is even older.
On the other hand, games like Asphalt 9: Legends, Call of Duty: Mobile and The Elder Scrolls: Blades are all incredibly detailed games that are resource-intensive. While they may run on some lower-end phones, you won’t get to enjoy the graphics on their highest settings.
So, here are some of the best smartphones for each type of game you may want to play.
If you only play casual games, then the chances are, you won’t need a top-of-the-range flagship phone. This means you can save some of your hard-earned cash and buy a phone that will still handle everyday tasks just as well.
There are several great options to choose from, including the OnePlus Nord and Google Pixel 4a. Both of these are mid-range smartphones from leading manufacturers that still pack plenty of power.
Both include an octa-core processor, 6 GB of memory, and powerful graphics processing chips. They’re not at the same level as the flagship OnePlus 8 or Pixel 4 from these brands, but they’ll handle games like Candy Crush Saga, Super Mario Run, and Fruit Ninja just as well as a more expensive device.
The OnePlus Nord sells for around $480, more than $200 less than the lowest-priced OnePlus 8 model. While the Google Pixel 4a is even cheaper at $349 which was significantly cheaper than the flagship 4 model.
If you would prefer an Apple device to play your games, perhaps to take advantage of Apple Arcade, then the iPhone SE is a great option. It has the exact same processor as the iPhone 11, meaning it can deliver similar performance levels. It has a smaller screen and a slightly lower resolution (but still respectable) camera, but like the mid-range Android phones, offers great value for money at $399.
If you enjoy bigger games, then a more powerful phone will likely be a better choice. Current flagship smartphones, like the Samsung Galaxy S20 and OnePlus 8 are the most powerful mass-market devices we have ever seen.
They both have octa-core processors that run at faster speeds than the mid-range models, they also have up to 12 GB of memory, which is twice that of most phones on the market and three times as much as you’d find in a typical consumer laptop.
The iPhone 11, Apple’s latest device has a hexa-core processor and 4GB of memory. Though this is a lot less than the Android devices, it’s widely agreed among the tech community that iPhones can perform as well with fewer resources because of the way the devices run apps.
This means that you’ll get similar performance from all three of these handsets, allowing you to run leading games like Fortnite, Call of Duty: Mobile, and Asphalt 9: Legends on the highest graphics settings without worrying about lag or low framerates.
These flagship phones come with price tags of around $700 to $1,500, so you’re going to be paying a lot more for the improved graphics.
Dedicated Gaming Phone
There is another type of handset that may appeal to you if you play a lot of games. Dedicated gaming phones are Android smartphones that are designed specifically to play games on.
Internally, the hardware is very similar and it’s unlikely you’ll see much performance when conducting benchmarks. Over long gaming sessions, you may see minor benefits from the add-on cooling modules since processors work better when they’re not too hot.
The main differences come in the aesthetics, with gaming phones sharing their styling with gaming PCs.
They also have ergonomic improvements, like charging sockets on the side and adding hotkey buttons that can help you perform certain in-game actions more quickly.
These phones come with a high price tag though. The Asus ROG Phone II costs around $2,000 while its successor the ROG Phone III is still expected to have a price tag of more than $1,000.