Best gaming phone 2021: the top 10 mobile gamer performers

Best gaming phone 2021: the top 10 mobile gamer performers: The top gaming phones for Smart, Android, and iOS

Smartphones have almost entirely replaced handheld consoles for gaming, and with good reason – they often have excellent screens and plenty of power, while the App Store and Google Play Store both have a large and ever-growing selection of games.

But not all smartphones are good for games, and there’s more to consider than just raw power – though that’s certainly a factor.

There are phones like the Nubia Red Magic 5G, Asus ROG Phone 3, Black Shark 2, and Razer Phone 2, which are all built specifically with gaming in mind, meaning they have things like extra high refresh rates, touch-sensitive triggers, cooling systems, and more. We just got our hands on the Asus ROG Phone 5, and we’ll finish evaluating where it fits in the lineup soon.

On the other hand, there are also excellent gaming phones that aren’t aimed specifically at that market, with many top flagships like the iPhone 12 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20 also doing a superb job, thanks to their stunning screens and high-end specs.

We’ve included all the best options below, ranked from best to worst, but you’ll find those designed specifically for gaming at the top, while standard handsets that happen to be good for gaming are further down.

Make sure to check back regularly too, as we’re keeping this article constantly updated with new arrivals.

And once you’ve picked your phone we’ve got you covered when it comes to picking games as well, with our best iPhone games, best free iPhone games, best Android games, and best free Android games lists – all of which are also regularly updated.

Best gaming phones 2021

1. Lenovo Legion Phone Duel

Top gaming and software, Released 2020, October 15. 239g, 9.9mm thickness. Android 10, Legion OS/ ZUI12. 256GB/512GB storage, no card slot.

  • Release date: October 2020
  • Weight: 239g
  • Dimensions: 169.2 x 78.6 x 9.9mm
  • OS: Android 10Screen
  • Size: 6.65-inch
  • Resolution: 1080 x 2340
  • CPU: Snapdragon 865 Plus
  • RAM: 12/16GB
  • Storage: 256/512GB
  • Battery: 5,000mAhRear
  • Camera: 64MP + 16MP
  • Front camera: 20MP
REASONS TO BUY +Super-fast charging
+Lots of processing power
REASONS TO AVOID -Pretty expensive
-Software issues

The first gaming phone from Lenovo, the Legion Phone Duel, matches great gaming-dedicated features with some other top specs and features.

The phone supports 90W fast charging and has a pop-up camera so the screen remains unbroken. It’s also got a top processor and software optimized for use in landscape mode. All of these contribute to making it great for gaming.

Our issues with the phone don’t touch its gaming prowess, though its high price, software issues, and a mediocre camera might affect some.

If you’re looking for the best gaming phone right now, this is it; if you’re looking for a great smartphone that is also good for playing games, this is a good choice, though you should check the others on this list before buying.

2. Nubia Red Magic 5G

Nubia Red Magic 5G runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Chipset backed up by an Octa-core processor configuration comprising Kryo 585 Single core 2.84GHz, Kyro 585 Tri core 2.42GHz, and Kryo 585 Quad-core 1.8GHz. The massive 8GB RAM along with an Adreno 650 GPU offers a comprehensive gaming experience.

SPECIFICATIONS Release date: March 2020
Weight: 218g
Dimensions: 168.6 x 78 x 9.8mm
OS: Android 10Screen
Size: 6.65-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2340
CPU: Snapdragon 865
RAM: 8/12GB
Storage: 128/256GB
Battery: 4,500mAhRear
Camera: 64MP + 8MP + 2MP
Front camera: 8MP
REASONS TO BUY +144Hz display is ideal for gaming
+Shoulder triggers are handy
REASONS TO AVOID -Screen isn’t the most high-res
-Software bugs

The Nubia Red Magic 5G has the world’s first 144Hz smartphone screen, which makes it ideal for gaming, as that’s a silky smooth refresh rate.

But that’s not the only thing that makes this ideal for gaming. In fact, it’s designed specifically for this pastime, with shoulder triggers to give you increased control, a fan and a liquid cooling system to keep the handset cool under pressure, a dedicated ‘Game Space’ to let you customize your gaming experience and a ‘4D Shock’ feature that adds vibration to games.

That last feature isn’t supported by many titles at the time of writing, and nor is the 144Hz display, but if game developers embrace them then this could be one seriously future-proofed phone.

It also supports 5G of course and has plenty of power. It’s only let down slightly by a 1080 x 2340 screen, which isn’t among the sharpest around, along with some software bugs and a design that will prove divisive.

3. Asus ROG Phone 3

3. Asus ROG Phone 3

Built from the ground up for gamers

SPECIFICATIONS Release date: July 2020
Weight: 240g
Dimensions: 171 x 78 x 9.9mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.59-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2340
CPU: Snapdragon 865 Plus
RAM: 8GB/12GB/16GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
Battery: 6,000mAh
Rear camera: 64MP + 13MP +5MP
Front camera: 24MP
REASONS TO BUY +Fantastic 144Hz AMOLED screen
+Excellent battery life
+AirTriggers and other gaming modes
REASONS TO AVOID -No waterproofing rating
-No wireless charging

The Asus ROG Phone 3 remains a phone with all the perks a mobile gamer needs, including a staggeringly large 6,000mAh battery (for extended gaming sessions), and a slick 144Hz AMOLED screen, in a large 6.59-inch size.

Add to that truly top-tier specs, with the combination of a Snapdragon 865 Plus chipset, up to 16GB of RAM, and masses of storage, and you can see why the Asus ROG Phone 3 makes our list.

Being designed specifically for gamers, it also has features you won’t find on most other phones, such as a clip-on fan, which is generously included in the box, and a range of other accessories (such as a gamepad), which you’ll have to buy separately.

There’s also built-in software to help you tailor your gaming experience, through, for example, overclocking the already meaty CPU, and adjusting the fan speed.

There are some omissions in the Asus ROG Phone 3, but most of them don’t affect gaming. It doesn’t have wireless charging or water resistance for example, and the design is sure to be divisive. If all you want your phone for is gaming though, and you either like this design or don’t much care, then the Asus ROG Phone 3 is hard to beat.

4. Black Shark 3

4. Black Shark 3

Best-Top-end specs and 5G

SPECIFICATIONS Release date: March 2020
Weight: 222g
Dimensions: 168.7 x 77.3 x 10.4mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.67-inch
Resolution: 2080 x 2440
CPU: Snapdragon 865
RAM: 8/12GB
Storage: 128/256GB
Battery: 4,720mAh
Rear camera: 64MP + 13MP +5MP
Front camera: 20MP
REASONS TO BUY +Affordable for specs
+Cameras are surprisingly capable
REASONS TO AVOID -Appearance may be divisive
-Refresh rate behind the competition

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