Once mocked as the home of “filthy casuals,” mobile gaming has advanced over the last few years, with games like Genshin Impact, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds: Mobile, and Fortnite showing that the humble smartphone can provide just as much enjoyment as the console parked in front of the TV.
While almost all smartphones can play mobile games, some are better at it than others. If you’re really serious about games, perhaps even at a competitive level, there are phones built expressly for the purpose. Our top choice is the Asus ROG Phone 6 because it’s made specifically for gamers.
To experience the latest games at their full potential, you’ll need a suitable smartphone with an impressive screen and a powerful processor that can handle whatever you want to play. Once you’ve found the right phone, you’re ready to start playing some of the best Android games and best iPhone games out there.
Next, we’ll detail why we picked these phones. After that, we’ll offer some helpful guidance on app stores, plus what you need to know about Google Play Pass, Apple Arcade, and Google Stadia.
The best mainstream Android gaming phone
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Andy Boxall/Digital TrendsAsus ROG Phone 6 The best gaming phone
- Immensely powerful
- Versatile shoulder buttons
- Clean, fast software
- Vibrant and big screen
- Great sounding audio
- Kunai 3 gamepad accessory
- Big and heavy
- Lacks wide appeal
- Average camera
Why you should buy this: It’s the best gaming smartphone you can buy right now.
Who it’s for: It’s made by gamers for gamers.
Why we picked the Asus ROG Phone 6:
This is, hands down, the best gaming smartphone you can buy right now. You can grab the ROG Phone 6 immediately, but the 6 Pro is coming at the end of September, so you might want to wait even though the main difference between the two phones is the design and rear screen.
Asus’ Republic of Gamers (ROG) division really gets what gamers want and knows how to make a great gaming device. That means everything on the ROG Phone 6 is geared toward making your gaming sessions more enjoyable, from its cool design to its cooling system and superb audio.
Out of the box, you’ll be floored by the phone’s good looks. The ROG Phone 6 comes in black with the RGB Republic of Games logo that illuminates when the phone is in X Mode or when notifications arrive. You can also set it to cycle through colors, strobe, or flash whenever the screen is on. It’s definitely an eye-catching device. The ROG Phone 6 Pro comes in a gorgeous pearl-effect Storm White, with a 2-inch OLED “ROG Vision” screen on the rear of the phone that’s definitely gimmicky yet still fun. When X Mode is active, it can show different animations, as well as incoming calls and notifications. The Dare to Play logo above the screen is also illuminated when X Mode is active.
Both the ROG Phone 6 and ROG Phone 6 Pro share the same 6.78-inch AMOLED screen, with a dynamic 165Hz refresh rate (a boost from their predecessor’s 144Hz refresh rate) and an impressive 720Hz touch sampling rate. The sound here is vibrant and lively and is — dare we say — probably the best audio you’ll find on a smartphone, thanks to two 12mm-by-16mm drivers. You also get that coveted 3.5mm headphone jack, an EQ, Snapdragon Sound, AptX Adaptive, and AptX Lossless.
Don’t underestimate the heft of the ROG Phone 6, though — it’s a beast, weighing in at 239 grams and measuring 10.3mm thick. Under the hood, there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor with up to 16GB of RAM for the ROG Phone 6 and up to 18GB of RAM for the 6 Pro.
Battery life is excellent, too, with a 6,000mAh battery easily seeing you through a full day of gaming, and 65W HyperCharge for fast charging, which should take you from almost empty to full in around 45 minutes. Sadly, there’s no wireless charging on offer here. There’s also no expandable storage, though you do get up to 512GB of onboard storage. Then you’ve got X mode, which lets you control everything from macros for button combos to refresh rate and system preferences.
Although the ROG Phone 6 series is aimed at gamers, it holds its own as an everyday phone, too. You should easily get through a couple of days with regular use (not gaming), and there’s a decent camera on board, too. This is hands down the best smartphone for gamers around right now — whether you go for the ROG Phone 6 or the 6 Pro. If you’re serious about gaming, this is the phone to get.
The best gaming phone
Dan Baker/Digital TrendsiPhone 13 Pro The best Apple mainstream gaming phone
- Packs lots of power into its size
- Incredible camera and video performance
- Very long-lasting battery
- Smooth and responsive 120Hz screen
- Comes with 1TB storage option
- No fast charging
- No USB-C
Why you should buy this: This is one of the best smartphones you can buy, with access to as many excellent games as you want in the app store.
Who it’s for: Serious gamers who are also looking for the best smartphone for everyday use.
Why we picked the iPhone 13 Pro:
The iPhone 13 Pro boasts a stunning 6.1-inch OLED display, a brilliant camera, and Apple App Store access. Why is that important? You’ll find that the latest and most-anticipated games often land first on iOS, with graphical tweaks designed to leverage the iPhone’s features.
The iPhone 13 Pro isn’t specifically designed for gaming, which is why we’ve awarded it the best Apple mainstream gaming phone title. With this in mind, you won’t find the gaming-specific features that the Asus ROG Phone 5 packs in, like Air Triggers, the special gaming modes, or the cool RGB light-up logo. However, those deficiencies are more than overcome by the phone’s ProMotion technology, adaptive refresh rates up to 120Hz, the HDR display, and up to 1,200 nits of brightness. ProMotion allows for variable refresh rates from 60Hz to 120Hz, depending on the content. If you’re looking for a mainstream phone that’s also great for gaming, the iPhone 13 Pro excels.
It features the latest Apple A15 Bionic processor, enough to handle even the latest and most graphically demanding games. Everything looks great, too, thanks to the True Tone, Wide color (P3) display, plus there’s 5G connectivity for gaming on the go. Battery life is excellent, with a 3,095mAh battery and 6GB of RAM that should easily give you a full day of gaming — even with intensive games like Genshin Impact and Asphalt 9. If you’re using your phone for everyday to-dos, it’s also worth mentioning that the camera is excellent.
We recommend the iPhone 13 Pro for superlative gaming due to its immersive 6.1-inch, 2532 x 1170 pixel resolution at 460 pixels-per-inch screen, which provides a premium gaming experience. An even larger but comparable experience is available from the iPhone 13 Pro Max, a 6.7-inch version of the phone with 2778 x 1284 pixel resolution at 458 ppi. You may, however, want to wait for the iPhone 14 series, expected in September.
The best Apple mainstream gaming phone
Andy Boxall/Digital TrendsSamsung Galaxy S22 Ultra The best mainstream Android gaming phone
- S Pen is convenient and highly accurate
- Versatile camera takes great photos
- The latest processor for power
- Long software support