The future of hand-held gaming definitely lies with the smartphone! More and more of us are turning to mobiles to play and connect, leaving behind our Nintendo Switches and PSPs. And let’s face it: Why wouldn’t you? With mobile phones having ever faster processers, larger screens for optimised visuals and batteries that last longer, you’ll love the fact you can be on a call one minute and playing your favourite game the next!
But with so many mobile gaming choices available, how do you choose the right one? Do you just go for raw processing power? Or is it important to get a device that works for both your gaming and smartphone needs?
Below, we’ll take you through some of the best phones available for mobile gaming today. And we won’t just look at specialist gaming devices – we’ll also consider flagship handsets from some of the world’s biggest smartphone producers, including Apple and Samsung.
Buying a phone for mobile gaming
Before choosing the best phone for you, let’s consider what you need to think about when buying a device for mobile gaming.
A big factor in any decision is the power of your mobile phone’s processor. Put simply, faster processors mean better gaming experiences. They make loading faster and playing more enjoyable. And let’s face it, you never want to be the one ‘lagging’ behind when playing online with your friends!
Another key thing to look for is a mobile’s screen size, as well as its resolution. In most cases the bigger the screen, the better your gaming experience will be. But you’ll also need to consider how optimised the screen is in ‘landscape’ mode, especially as this is how most popular mobile games are played.
The last thing you want is for your phone to die when you’re playing games on-the-go! So you’ll definitely need to consider battery life. But we also recommend looking into a device’s charging capabilities. That way, you’ll be able to get back to gaming more quickly – and for longer!
How much do you want to spend on your mobile gaming device? Many of the best devices are pretty expensive, even when compared to top-end smartphones. But thankfully, there are ways of getting your hands on the best phones for mobile gaming without spending crazy amounts of money. For instance, have you considered buying a refurbished phone? (more on this later)
The smartphone itself
This is a point that often gets overlooked. But you’ll need to think about whether you’re looking for a phone specifically designed for gaming. Or are you more interested in a great smartphone that has decent gaming capabilities on the side?
As a general rule, top-end phones designed for gaming don’t have great cameras or useability. And although top-end smartphones (like the Apple iPhone 12 Pro or the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra) aren’t completely optimised for gaming, they do offer a decent trade-off between smartphone usability and gaming capabilities.
The best gaming phones in 2021
We’ll consider phones optimised for gaming, as well as devices that offer both a decent gaming experience and superb smartphone useability.
1. Lenovo Legion Phone Duel
Viewed by many as the best mobile gaming device available on the market today, the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel is dedicated to providing you with the best gaming experience. It’s fitted with a 90W fast-charging battery, utilises a pop-up camera and has a top-end processor that allows for entirely optimised gaming. It also has built-in software that enables perfect viewing in ‘landscape’ mode.
The only issues we have with the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel come when you consider its smartphone capabilities. The camera is pretty poor by today’s standards and some of its software is fairly underwhelming. But if you’re just looking for the best mobile gaming experience, the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel is probably the product to choose.
- Fast processing power
- Optimised software and screen
- Battery life
- Expensive if buying ‘new’
- Poor smartphone capabilities
2. Black Shark 3
A better compromise between a great gaming experience and a decent smartphone, the Black Shark 3 really is a top-end device. Its bold design and processing power are real pluses, as is its camera – which at 64 Megapixels is comparable with many good smartphones on the market.
However, the refresh rate is a little lower than more optimised gaming devices. At 90Hz, you’ll certainly notice it – especially when compared to the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel. It also lacks a few of the dedicated gaming features found on other phones.
- Great trade-off between smartphone and gaming
- Affordable, especially considering the phone’s features
- Lower refresh rate than other gaming devices
- Lack of dedicated gaming features
3. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Probably the best compromise between mobile gaming and smartphone capabilities, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra combines a top-end processor with a large screen and fast-charging battery. With its signature Samsung design, you’ll also benefit from a mammoth 108 Megapixel Camera.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is great for both gaming and using as a smartphone. The only real issue is its price. Buying ‘new’ is likely to price many out, so you should definitely consider a ‘refurbished’ option to bring costs down while still maintaining the qualities the product has to offer.
- No better device when it comes to combining gaming and a smartphone
- Hard to argue with a camera that good!
- Very expensive if buying ‘new’
- No microSD slot
4. Apple iPhone 12 Pro
If you want to buy an iPhone, the 12 Pro is the gaming device for you. With a 6.1-inch Display, it’s the perfect size for all your gaming needs. And you won’t find any problems with the amount of choice in the App store either!
The 12 Pro has the most powerful chip in any iPhone (the A14), providing the device’s powerful processing capabilities. And with up to 512GB of internal storage, you’ll never need to worry about running out of space.
The iPhone 12 Pro is pretty expensive, but it’s 5G enabled. And while this isn’t much of an issue at the moment, it’ll be a game-changer in years to come. So buying the Apple iPhone 12 Pro could quickly become a canny purchase in the long run.
- Access to the App Store and hundreds of great games
- Optimised screen
- Expensive if buying ‘new’
- Battery can quickly drain on-the-go
Consider buying a refurbished phone
As you can see from our pros and cons for each handset, one of the biggest issues with the best mobile gaming phones is their price. Don’t expect too much change from £1,000 if you buy any of these devices ‘new’ – they’ll often be more.
So why not purchase a refurbished phone from a trusted retailer like The Big Phone Store. We have refurbished phones to suit every budget and meet every requirement. All our refurbished phones are fully tested, cleaned and had their memories wiped in accordance with the Data Protection Act. They also come with a 12-month warranty – giving you complete peace of mind and a great gaming device at the right price!