/Best phone for gaming 2019: the top 10 mobile game performers

Best phone for gaming 2019: the top 10 mobile game performers

The best gaming phones in 2019 have become a big surprise. We now have dedicated gaming phones with souped-up specs to help improve gaming experiences, while others in this best gaming phones list are just the outright best phones.

Beyond any fancy gamer features, the best gaming phone should have a powerful processor, bright and sharp display, and a beefy battery to keep your phone alive even during long gaming sessions. To get the most out of demanding games like Fortnite and PUBG Mobile, you’ll want a phone that’s strong in all of those respects.

We’ve picked out phones that offer just what you need, with all the power to play these games lag-free even at max settings, letting you take the most advantage of their high-resolution, bright displays. And, if you opt for some of the newer phones on this list, you can count on their performance lasting for some time to come, helping you stay prepared for the next big games yet to come.

Our recommendations consider processor and GPU speeds, RAM size and other odds and ends. It also considers the app ecosystem, which is the lead reason Apple’s iPhones frequently top the list. They generally have access to more games than Android. and often get multi-platform titles them first. 

But there are newer “gaming phones” that have come out in the past year which are…actually pretty good, and we’ve inserted them into our list accordingly. If you want high specs AND ‘gamer’-appealing perks like RGB lights, you no longer have to choose. 

We’ve examined all the options and chosen the best phones for gaming based on the factors above. Here’s our top ten list:

1. iPhone XS Max / iPhone XS

Maximum screen, maximum battery for the App Store.

Release date: September 2018 | Weight: 208g | Dimensions: 157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7mm | OS: iOS 12 | Screen size: 6.5-inch | Resolution: 2960×1440 | CPU: A12 Bionic chip | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64/256/512GB | Battery: 3.179mAh | Rear camera: Dual 12MP | Front camera: 7MP

Access to the best games ecosystem 

Fastest chipset for mobile gaming

The priciest on the market 

The iPhone XS Max is the bigger, better brother of Apple’s new flagship smartphone in a few key ways, but if you’re picking either model for gaming, you might as well go with the best. The 6.5-inch screen on the iPhone XS Max is bigger than the one on its 5.8-inch sibling and its larger battery manages to stay working nearly a full hour longer than the standard iPhone XS. 

Those perks will give you more of an edge than with the iPhone XS, but both benefit from this Apple phone generation’s true advantage: the A12 Bionic processor. We have high hopes that this chip will outperform the A11 Bionic found on last year’s iPhone X since Apple claimed it is 40% more efficient and 50% more powerful than the older processor. In our tests, it loaded up Clash Royale and PUBG even faster, and speed is crucial in online gaming. All this in a Apple’s sleek, modern look – though it’s the most expensive mainstream phone on the market, even before including all the bells and whistles.

Read the full reviews: iPhone XS Max, iPhone XS

Samsung Galaxy S10 models

2. Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus/S10/S10e

The best Samsung phones right now

Release date: February 2019 | Weight: 175g | Dimensions: 157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.4-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 3040 | CPU: Snapdragon 855 / Exynos 9820 | RAM: 8/12GB | Storage: 128GB/512GB/1TB (up to 1.5TB with card) | Battery: 4,100mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 16MP | Front camera: 10MP + 8MP

Excellent screen-to-body ratio

Powerful chipset

In-screen fingerprint sensor

Pricey

Slippery design

Don’t be too surprised to see Samsung so high on the list. It’s latest family of Galaxy S10 smartphones are the first to feature Qualcomm’s powerful new Snapdragon 855 chipset, which quickly boosted them to the top of the pack in terms of sheer performance.

But, it’s not just the chipset that makes these excellent gaming phones. They all have sharp Super AMOLED displays with support for high dynamic range, so you’ll get excellent visuals in movies and games alike. The screen real estate is also expanded, so you have that much more game to look at. With these phones, you’re getting both a killer phone and a powerful mobile gaming device in one.

Better still, VR fans can still make use of the new phones with existing Gear VR headsets, according to The Verge. Letting you enjoy the immersive game medium on the phones’ crisp displays.

 Read our full Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus review 

 Image Credit: TechRadar 

 Image Credit: TechRadar 

3. Asus ROG Phone

Top specs and several wild mobile gaming accessories

Release date: October 2018 | Weight: 200g | Dimensions: 158.8 x 76.2 x 8.7mm | OS: Android 8.1 Oreo | Screen size: 6-inch | Resolution: 2160 x 1080 | CPU: Snapdragon 845 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB/512GB | Battery: 3,520mAh | Rear camera: 12MP f/1.8 | Front camera: 8MP f/2.0

Top specs and performance

Plethora of mods

Non-gaming phone parts might be lacking

The Asus ROG Phone may “look like an irate Decepticon” as our reviewer put it, but outside its appearance, the device is a powerful phone with plenty of extras to entice gamers. It’s also a decent phone in its own right, and it has notable advantages over the comparable Razer Phone 2.

Its specs are solidly advanced for phone released at the tail end of 2018: an ‘overclocked’ Snapdragon 845, 8GB of RAM and a 4,000mAh battery, as well as a 90hz refresh rate screen that pales only to the Razer Phone 2’s 120hz. 

As for gaming, the phone’s “AirTrigger” touch-sensitive buttons on the top-right and top-left of the phone (when held in landscape) are cool, customizable ways to play that your typical smartphone just doesn’t have.

True to Asus’ Republic of Gamers brand, you can buy a selection of accessories to augment your mobile game experience. These include a clamshell case with a bonus screen, a pair of controller halves that clip to either side and a docking platform that extends your phone to a big display, Nintendo Switch-style. There’s even a simple clip-on fan to reduce device heat during games.

The ROG Phone’s appeal lives or dies on its external design, and we wouldn’t blame you for skipping it for something a bit more conservative. But its advances, especially the AirTriggers, shouldn’t be overlooked when considering phones for serious gaming.

Read our full review: Asus ROG Phone

 Image Credit: TechRadar

 Image Credit: TechRadar

4. Razer Phone 2

Gaming-specific features that outshine its everyday ones

Release date: October 2018 | Weight: 205g | Dimensions: 158.5 x 78.9 x 8.5mm | OS: Android 8.1 Oreo | Screen size: 5.72-inch | Resolution: 2560×1440 | CPU: Snapdragon 845 | RAM: 6/8GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB (up to 1TB with card) | Battery: 4,000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP f/1.75 wide angle / 12MP f/2.6 telephoto | Front camera: 8MP f/2.0

Top-line specs and 120hz refresh rate display

Backside logo glows in millions of RGB hues

Low minimum storage (64GB) for price

Smaller 5.72-inch screen

 The first Razer Phone was a solid first effort to bring the gamer-specific brand to a mobile device, but it had a few shortcomings that dropped it further down our list. The second version has addressed some and come out with a stronger device for it, though it’s still aimed primarily at gamers.

What does that mean? The camera and display aren’t nearly as impressive as other phones that cost this much, so casual gamers might want to look elsewhere. But if you’re more serious about mobile gaming and can afford it, this is a solid choice.

Outwardly, the Razer Phone 2 hasn’t changed much from its predecessor, though it’s upgraded to the Snapdragon 845 chip and switched to a glass back for Qi wireless charging. It’s also added a slick vapor chamber to cool the device as you game.

At the end of the day, the phone’s beefy chipset, 8GB RAM, great speakers, 120hz refresh rate screen and 4,000mAh battery, as well as extensive settings to tweak battery life and performance, make this a great choice for gaming.

Read the full review: Razer Phone 2

Best Android Phone

(Image: © TechRadar)

5. Huawei P30 Pro

Release date: March 2019 | Weight: 192g | Dimensions: 158 x 73.4 x 8.4mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.47-inch | CPU: Kirin 980 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128/256/512GB | Battery: 4,200mAh | Rear camera: 40MP + 20MP + 8MP + ToF | Front camera: 32MP

Fantastic cameras

Eye-catching design

Display ‘only’ Full HD

EMUI lacks polish

Huawei’s P30 Pro may not be a phone on many people’s radars, but it’s an amazing Android phone from the Chinese manufacturers. Much of the attention the P30 Pro is getting comes from its impressive camera system, which has three rear cameras including one with a 5X zoom and a stunning dark mode.

But, the Huawei P30 Pro has plenty to offer gamers as well. The Kirin 980 chipset inside is plenty powerful for the latest Android games, and 8GB of RAM can keep everything running smooth even when you’re switching back and forth from gaming and other activities.

The hefty 4,200mAh battery can ensure your gaming sessions aren’t cut short. An improved heat pipe ad vapor cooling chamber inside the P30 Pro help it keep cool while gaming, so it can continue to play Fortnite, Real Racing 3, and PUBG without a hitch.

Read more: Huawei P30 Pro review

Image Credit: TechRadar

6. LG G8 ThinQ

Release date: April 2019 | Weight: 167g | Dimensions: 151.3 x 71.8 x 8.4 mm | OS: Android 9.0 Pie | Screen size: 6.1-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 3120 | CPU: Snapdragon 855 | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 3,500mAh | Rear camera: 12+16MP | Front camera: 8MP

Excellent display

Loud speaker

Powerful, new chipset

Small battery

Over priced

The LG G8 ThinQ is not the most exciting phone. The design isn’t as dramatic a step forward as the new Samsung Galaxy S10 family, and it has a wobbly price that often lands too high to make it a real winner. But, there’s still plenty to benefit gamers in this package.

The first big thing the LG G8 offers is the Snapdragon 855 chipset, which offers a considerable upgrade in terms of performance over the preceding Snapdragon 845. Then there’s the display.

The LG G8 boasts a 6.1-inch OLED display with a 1440 x 3120 resolution. So, you’ll get incredibly crisp visuals in everything you do on the phone. And, you can game even in some unfavorable conditions, as the display is plenty bright for sunny days, and the phone has an IP68 protection rating so you won’t have to worry about a bit of rain. A little perk is the 3.5mm headphone jack, which will let you game on the LG G8 with your favorite wired headphones without the need for a dongle.

Read more: LG G8 review

 Image Credit: TechRadar 

 Image Credit: TechRadar 

7. OnePlus 6T

A strong phone at an affordable price

Release date: November 2018 | Weight: 185g | Dimensions: 157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.41-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 | CPU: Snapdragon 845 | RAM: 6/8GB | Storage: 128/256GB | Battery: 3,700mAh | Rear camera: 20MP + 16MP | Front camera: 16MP

In-display fingerprint scanner

All-day battery life

No headphone jack

‘Only’ full HD display

If you want some serious gaming power but don’t want to spend too much on a phone, the OnePlus 6T is a great option. It has the Snapdragon 845 chipset inside that powers some of the most capable smartphones, ensuring that it’ll still be a gaming beast for some time to come.

The OnePlus 6T has a big, 6.41-inch OLED display that’s plenty sharp without being too sharp. It has a resolution of 1080 x 2340, which isn’t as high as some of the competition but is therefore easier for internals to drive. Add in the 3,700mAh battery, and you can game for a good while on this phone. 

Beyond gaming, you get some cool new tech as well. The OnePlus 6T has an in-screen fingerprint scanner, which allowed it to stretch the screen over even more of the front of the device without making the phone overly large.

Read more: OnePlus 6T review

 Image Credit: TechRadar 

 Image Credit: TechRadar 

8. iPhone X

It’s all about the App Store

Release date: October 2017 | Weight: 174g | Dimensions: 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 5.8-inch | Resolution: 1125×2436 | CPU: A11 Bionic | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 64/256GB | Battery: 2716mAh | Rear camera: 12MP+12MP | Front camera: 7MP

Great game app ecosystem

Maximized OLED screen

The notch can be distracting

A very expensive smartphone

While the iPhone XS has dethroned the year-old iPhone X as the top Apple smartphone, the latter is still a great choice with high-performing hardware. If you can find it for sale (it’s no longer available on Apple’s website), the iPhone X’s 5.8-inch OLED display will offer plenty of screen space for games along with incredible contrast ratios, making visuals pop when a scene has a dark and light contrast.

While other phones may slightly outperform the iPhone X, the biggest advantage of Apple phones for gaming is the App Store. Part of this is due to the love developers show it: iPhones almost always get the best games first, like Fortnite, which launched exclusively on iOS for some time. 

Apple is also on the forefront of delivering the first meaningful and mainstream AR experiences, including AR multiplayer gaming as one of the many iOS 12 features.

Check out our iPhone X review video below.

 Image Credit: TechRadar

 Image Credit: TechRadar

9. iPhone 8 Plus

Powerful specs and a big screen

Release date: September 2017 | Weight: 202g | Dimensions: 158.4 x 78.1 x 7.5mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | CPU: A11 Bionic | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 64/256GB | Battery: 2691mAh | Rear camera: Dual 12MP | Front camera: 7MP

Great game app ecosystem

Large 5.5-inch LCD display

Lots of bezel makes the phone too big

Expensive

There’s no getting around it: Apple phones are powerful and have a lot of great games. The same internals and App Store that earned the iPhone X a spot on this list earn the iPhone 8 Plus the a spot as well.

The iPhone 8 Plus has a less-showy Full HD display, but in our experience is still great for gaming. The 5.5-inch screen is plenty spacious. Apple’s A11 Bionic CPU and graphics make for a mean gaming experience, and ARkit offers up augmented reality games that give Apple’s iPhones more to offer gamers. 

This is the one to buy if you want a gaming phone with a home button and don’t want to spend top dollar on the iPhone X or newer iPhones.

 Image Credit: TechRadar

 Image Credit: TechRadar

10. Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus

Samsung former powerhouses

Release date: March 2018 | Weight: 189g | Dimensions: 158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5mm | OS: Android 8 Oreo | Screen size: 6.2-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2960 | CPU: Snapdragon 845 / Exynos 9810 | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB | Battery: 3,500mAh | Rear camera: Dual 12MP | Front camera: 8MP

Giant 5.8- and 6.3-inch screen

Game Tools app is actually helpful

Battery not amazing

We’ve lumped the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus into one spot, because they both offer nearly the same incredible smartphone gaming experience with only a minor difference in screen size. 

The Snapdragon 845, Adreno 630 graphics, and 4GB of RAM (6GB in the S9 Plus) make both of these phones incredible performers both in game and out. But, a powerful chipset isn’t all that earns the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus its ranking. The S9 has a plenty large and plenty sharp 1440 X 2960, 5.8-inch display, and the S9 Plus has an even larger 6.2-inch display with the same resolution. Both are Super AMOLED and support HDR10 for stunning visuals.

The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus also feature Samsung’s Game Tools, which can help with taking screenshots, recording gameplay, and keeping notifications out of the way. Let’s not forget that Samsung also has the impressive Gear VR headsets that offer super sharp virtual reality experiences with the Galaxy S9’s and S9 Plus’s pixel-dense displays.