Best Gaming Phone 2022: Top Mobile Performance

Best Gaming Phone 2022: Top Mobile Performance

Gaming on phones has been a thing ever since we all first booted up our Nokia 3310s for hours on Snake, before our iPhones became clogged with hours of Candy Crush Saga. But increasingly smartphones are becoming viable gaming devices alongside home consoles and these are the best ones you can buy.

Such is the power of modern smartphones. Gaming sensations like Fortnite and Call of Duty Mobile can thank their mobile platform and portability for ridiculous run-away success. And it’s no wonder considering the power inside the best smartphones around. 

While the latest Apple and Samsung phones are capable of running the most demanding mobile games, the market is so popular that there are also dedicated gaming phones like the Asus ROG Phone 5, Red Magic 6S and Black Shark 4. Since there are only a handful like this, we’ve also included the odd ‘normal’ phones that also offer a good gaming experience.

Do you need all the highest specs?

These phones often have specialised hardware or even sometimes clip-on controllers to help you game better. Internals often have boosts in RAM or the most powerful CPU or GPU to help the phone keep up, while high refresh rate displays are common to allow you to hit even higher frame rates while playing. A couple even have liquid cooling.

Specs are pretty important if you want to game to the highest level on a phone, but it does depend on which games you want to run smoothly. If you are more into arcade or puzzle games then you might not need to splash out on a high-end gaming phone.

Below are our recommended best phones for gaming. Take some time to consider which has the best features at the best price for you, for the games you want to be able to run.

Best gaming phone 2022


Asus ROG Phone 5 – Best Overall


144Hz AMOLED display
Top-notch performance
Gaming-focused features


Gets hot quickly
Tall and heavy design
No cooler in the box

The Asus ROG Phone 5 is the ultimate gaming phone, hands down. It might not have mass appeal with a bulky, gamer-esque design, but that’s not the aim here.

Gaming is the priority here, and Asus has taken things up a notch with a 144Hz AMOLED screen, two 3,000mAh batteries, the top-end Snapdragon 888 and up to an eye-watering 16GB of RAM. It can handle just about any game available on Android right now, with enough power left over to future-proof the phone for quite some time – all at a price cheaper than big-name flagships.

The gaming experience is further enhanced by haptic triggers built directly into the side of the ROG Phone 5, and if you want to take things a step further, the plethora of official accessories – including Nintendo Switch-esque Kunai 5 controllers and the fan-powered AeroActive Cooler 5 cooling system – should be right up your street. 

They’re not related to gaming, but even the cameras are decent, which is unusual for a gaming phone. We can only really complain about the size and weight, measuring in at 10.3mm thick and 238g, but that’s not so applicable in the gaming sector.

Read our full Asus ROG Phone 5 review


Red Magic 6S – Best gaming phone display


6.8in 165Hz OLED display
400Hz touch sample rate
Great performance


Heavy build
Hit-and-miss camera performance
Can’t change default launcher

Nubia has once again succeeded in producing an excellent gaming phone with the Red Magic 6, with a fast 6.8in 165Hz OLED panel and 400Hz touch sample rate that beats even Asus’ premium ROG Phone 5. Though you might not notice much of a difference in real-world performance, it’ll certainly satisfy the need for gamers to have the best of the best. 

That’s paired with the top-end Snapdragon 888+, 12- or 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage as well as a built-in fan system to keep things cool during longer gaming sessions.

There’s also a plethora of gaming features including side-mounted shoulder triggers, advanced haptic feedback and the ability to control performance on a per-game basis, and it’s all presented in Red Magic’s ‘Game Space’ mode. However, other elements of the custom Android skin are a little harder to adjust to and can become frustrating over time, especially considering you can’t switch the launcher. 

The rear-facing triple camera setup remains unchanged from the Red Magic 6, which in itself was the same as the Red Magic 5S, and it’s beginning to show its age in everyday performance, but it’ll suffice for those not too fussed about mobile photography.

Cameras aside, if you’re on the hunt for the best gaming-focused display on a smartphone (and you don’t own the Red Magic 6) you won’t be disappointed with the Red Magic 6S.

Read our full Nubia Red Magic 6S Pro review


ZTE Axon 30 Ultra – Best flagship for gaming


Svelte design
Great performance
6.67in 144Hz AMOLED display


Gets hot quickly
No gaming-specific hardware
No gaming accessories

Though the ZTE Axon 30 Ultra doesn’t look like much of a gaming phone – in fact, at 8mm thick and 188g, it’s lightweight compared to the likes of the ROG Phone 5 – but the svelte flagship has a surprise or two up its sleeves.

It’s powered by Qualcomm’s top-end Snapdragon 888 with either 8GB or 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and up to 256GB of storage, able to take on dedicated gaming phones like the Red Magic 6 in our benchmarks. There’s also the 6.67in AMOLED display on offer, with a buttery-smooth 144Hz refresh rate and 300Hz touch sample rate, providing a responsive gameplay experience.

Gaming prowess aside, it has all the bells and whistles you’d expect including 65W fast charging and a quad-camera array comprised of three 64Mp cameras and a telescope lens, all at a price much cheaper than competing flagships from Samsung and OnePlus. What’s not to like? 

Read our full ZTE Axon 30 Ultra review


iPhone 13 Pro Max – Best iPhone for gaming


Powerful A15 Bionic chipset
Superb battery life
6.7in 120Hz display


No charger in the box

When it comes to gaming on iOS, the 6.7in iPhone 13 Pro Max is the one to beat. Apple’s 5nm A15 Bionic is one of the most powerful chipsets on the market right now and can handle just about anything you can throw at it without a hint of stutter or lag – and our benchmarks back that up too.

Importantly, the iPhone 13 Pro Max sports a gorgeous Super Retina XDR display that makes games look incredible on the iPhone, whether they’re free-to-play titles or the latest Apple Arcade exclusives.

It’s also one of the first iPhones to make the jump to a variable 120Hz refresh rate, offering the buttery-smooth refresh rate – and improved response time – that make Android rivals so strong. 

There’s also up to a whopping 1TB of storage available, so you can carry an entire library of mobile games in your pocket, and the battery life is the best of any iPhone to date for longer play sessions. 

The catch? It’s on the expensive side, and you don’t even get a charger in the box. 

Read our full Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max review


Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra – The ultra-premium option


Premium design
Incredible cameras
6.8in 120Hz AMOLED display


No microSD slot
Very expensive
No charger in the box

Samsung’s premium Galaxy S21 Ultra is both an exceptional flagship and one of the most well-rounded – and expensive – phones on the market right now, and that makes it a great gaming phone too.

You get a 20:9 6.8in display and WQHD+ resolution, HDR10+ visuals and an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate for smooth gameplay. Sporting the ultra-powerful Exynos 2100, performance is top-notch, making it a great option for enjoying media and gaming, there’s 5G onboard and 25W fast charging means you can refill 56% of the phone’s 5,000mAh battery in half an hour. 

Plus, sporting an 108Mp primary camera and other high-end camera tech, it doesn’t skimp on its photography prowess like some gaming-focused phones in our chart. 

While other gaming phones focus solely on the gaming experience, the Samsung S21 Ultra is a great all-rounder.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review


Red Magic 6R – Most affordable gaming phone


Impressive performance
144Hz AMOLED display
Built-in triggers


Disappointing battery life
Red Magic OS
Hit-and-miss cameras

The Red Magic 6R is one of the cheapest gaming-dedicated smartphones on the market right now, but that doesn’t mean it skimps on features or performance.

Sporting a AMOLED display slightly smaller than that of the flagship Red Magic 6, you’ll find the same 1080 x 2400 resolution and 400Hz touch sampling rate. The 144Hz refresh rate may be slightly slower, but it’s still safely in gamer territory and the difference is negligible in real-world use. 

Under the display you’ll find the powerful Snapdragon 888 with either 6GB, 8GB or 12GB of RAM depending on the variant you opt for. It’s capable of keeping up with flagship gaming phones in the performance department, but the lack of an active fan cooling system means it gets hot much quicker than premium alternatives. 

The only real disappointment is battery life, with a 4200mAh battery only able to provide all-day usage if you drop the refresh rate from 144Hz to 90Hz.

Still, if you can look past battery life issues, the Red Magic 6R offers a premium mobile gaming experience at an affordable price. 

Read our full Nubia Red Magic 6R review


Poco X3 Pro – Best budget phone for gaming


Great performance
Very affordable
Long-lasting battery


No 5G
Bulky design
Average camera performance

Xiaomi’s Poco X3 Pro may not be a dedicated gaming phone, but it has built on the success of the popular Poco X3 NFC to provide fast performance without the price tag. 

The headline feature is the inclusion of the Snapdragon 860, an impressive feat when you consider the budget nature of the X3 Pro. That’s coupled with 6- or 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage, and the 6.67in LCD panel offers a boosted 120Hz refresh rate and a 240Hz touch response rate.

The whopping 5160mAh battery is more than enough to get you through an intense gaming session or two, and while 33W wired charging isn’t the quickest available, it’s still pretty nippy.

The Poco X3 Pro might not be quite as capable as some of the dedicated gaming options in our chart, but it certainly offers bang for your buck when compared to similarly priced smartphones available right now. 

Read our full Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro review


Vivo Iqoo 3 5G – Great value, difficult to find


6.4in AMOLED display
Decent performance
Gaming-specific features


Hard to find
60Hz refresh rate
Pre-installed bloatware

The Vivo Iqoo 3 is India’s first 5G gaming phone and boasts impressive speed, performance and excellent battery life. What makes it even more attractive is its price. Though it’s not available directly in the UK, you can pick it up for around £600 or less from retailers like Banggood or eBay, and non-5G options cost even less.

In terms of gaming specs, the phone comes with dedicated pressure-sensitive gaming buttons along the side and an Ultra Gaming Mode that lets you customize a seamless gaming experience. You can activate 4D game vibration, customise air triggers or block calls while gaming – the list goes on.

It’s powered by the Snapdragon 865 making it a worthy competitor against the Black Shark 3, but at a lower price point.

Whether you’re a gamer or not it’s easy to see the appeal of the Iqoo 3. It’s just a shame you can’t easily find it on UK high streets.

Read our full Vivo iQoo 3 5G review


Oppo Find X3 Pro – Performance at a price


6.7in 120Hz AMOLED display
Great performance
Excellent battery


Performance throttling
Very expensive
No gaming-specific features

The Oppo Find X3 Pro is a phenomenal phone that somehow manages to outshine 2020’s equally impressive X2 Pro. The 6.7in, 10-bit, 120Hz, QHD+ panel is certainly the best display in any phone right now, perfect for mobile gaming, and Oppo backs it up with the fastest wired charging around at 65W to get you back in the game quicker. 

Though it may not have the gamer aesthetic of other options, the mirror-like finish and curved glass camera housing will certainly catch the eye, and at 193g, it’s relatively lightweight compared to the competition too.

In terms of performance, the Find X3 Pro is well equipped to handle even the most intense gaming sessions, with all of the above plus a Snapdragon 888, 256GB storage and 12GB RAM to boot, and the rear-facing quad-camera setup is among the best around – you just have to be willing to pay the price, as it doesn’t come cheap.

And unlike dedicated gaming phones in our chart, there is wireless charging available on the Find X3 Pro – a big plus compared to last year’s model too. 

Read our full Oppo Find X3 Pro review

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