The best gaming phone 2023: top mobile game champions

best gaming phone against a Purple TechRadar background
(Image credit: Future)

The best gaming phones are specifically tailored to gamers. Ideally, when buying a gaming phone, you need fast performance, a large, high-resolution screen with a high refresh rate, good battery life, and features tailor-made for gaming.

So, while some of the best smartphones, such as the iPhone 14 Pro Max and Sony Xperia 1 IV, might do a great job tackling mobile games, you're better off getting a gaming phone for a better gaming experience. That's especially if you spend more of your free time gaming and you want that distinctive gamer aesthetic. 

A dedicated device tends to boast better cooling as well as come with shoulder triggers and even detachable physical controls. Phones like the Asus ROG Phone 6D offer all these features, for example, which is why it tops our list of the best gaming phones. 

Having tested more than our share of phones, we've ranked all the best gaming phones, prioritizing those that are specifically designed with gaming in mind, followed by more general smartphones that come with enough power to give you a smooth and immersive gaming experience. Take a look at the best gaming phones below.

Once you know what phone to buy, check out our look at the best iPhone games and best Android games to find plenty of titles to play. We’re constantly updating this list as well, so check back soon if you're not set on any of the options here.

The best gaming phone 2023

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A photo of the Asus ROG Phone 6D Ultimate with MediaTek Dimensity internals

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)
The ultimate gaming phone

Specifications

Release date: September 2022
Weight: 247g
Dimensions: 173 x 77 x 10.4mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 6.78-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2448
CPU: MediaTek Dimension 9000+
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 512GB
Battery: 6,000mAh
Rear camera: 50MP + 13MP + 5MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Great display
+
Loud speakers

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Not available in the US

Asus knows how to make good gaming phones as demonstrated by the Asus Rog Phone 6D. It has a near identical design to the Asus Rog Phone 6 but with superior cooling so it's never going to overheat while you play.

MediaTek's Dimensity 9000 Plus chipset is a force to be reckoned with while it's paired up beautifully with a 6.78-inch full HD OLED display. A 165Hz refresh rate will delight gamers along with plenty of viewing modes to set. Speaker performance is excellent too while Asus's software includes extensive in-game tools. 

The only downside here is the camera which is fairly average, but if you're solely focused on gaming, the Asus Rog Phone 6D will delight. 

Read our full Asus Rog Phone 6D review

Xiaomi Black Shark 5 Pro

(Image credit: Future)
Gaming for happy trigger fingers

Specifications

Release date: April 2022
Weight: 220g
Dimensions: 163.9 x 76.5 x 9.5 mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 6.67-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2400
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
RAM: 8/12/16GB
Storage: 256/512GB
Battery: 4,650mAh
Rear camera: 108MP + 13MP + 5MP
Front camera: 16MP

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful performance
+
Retractable triggers

Reasons to avoid

-
Lackluster battery life
-
Gets hot

The Black Shark 5 Pro offers some fantastic performance for the price, easily ensuring it's the best gaming phone around now. It can play top-end games at their highest graphics setting without a hitch thanks to its Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor and 12GB of RAM. 

Further helping your gaming experience are a set of pop-up physical triggers that can be assigned a function for your game. It makes a big difference, effectively turning the phone into a gaming controller all-in-one.

While it gets rather hot and battery life could be a little better, the Black Shark 5 Pro is a potent gaming system that's perfectly suited for gaming on the move. 

Read our review: Xiaomi Black Shark 5 Pro

Asus ROG 5

(Image credit: Future)
The best gaming phone that appeals to non-gamers too

Specifications

Release date: April 2021
Weight: 238g
Dimensions: 172.8 x 77.3 x 10.3mm
OS: Android 11
Screen size: 6.78-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2448
CPU: Snapdragon 888
RAM: 8/12/16GB
Storage: 128/256GB
Battery: 6,000mAh
Rear camera: 64MP + 13MP + 5MP
Front camera: 24MP

Reasons to buy

+
Remarkable performance
+
Great display and speakers

Reasons to avoid

-
No telephoto camera
-
Large, heavy and dense

The Asus ROG Phone 5 is a remarkable gaming phone – even though it's a generation behind our number one pick, the Asus ROG Phone 6. Its highlights include power from the pairing of a Snapdragon 888 chipset and up to 16GB of RAM, plus a screen that has a refresh rate of 144Hz and a touch sampling rate of 300Hz – both of which are higher than most phones and we found this pairing beneficial to games.

The Asus ROG Phone 5 also has a huge 6,000mAh battery, so you can game for longer, and with 65W charging you won’t be out of action for long when it runs dry. 

Add to that responsive shoulder buttons, programmable RGB lights, and compatibility with a range of gaming-focused accessories, and the Asus ROG Phone 5 really is the complete package for gamers.

Read our review: Asus ROG Phone 5

Image of the Nubia Red Magic 7 smartphone

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)
The best value gaming phone

Specifications

Release date: February 2022
Weight: 215g
Dimensions: 170.6 x 78.3 x 9.5 mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 6.8-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2400
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
RAM: 8/12/16GB
Storage: 128/256/512GB
Battery: 4,500mAh
Rear camera: 64MP + 8MP + 2MP
Front camera: 8MP

Reasons to buy

+
Great screen
+
Powerful processing

Reasons to avoid

-
Poor battery life
-
Bulky design

The Nubia Red Magic 7 isn't shy in any way. Bold and brash and a little heavy and thick, it offers some great specs. There's a large-sized 6.8-inch AMOLED screen with a refresh rate of 165Hz which means it can handle fast-moving action at every turn. 

Under the hood, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor can play any top-end game you want with some fantastic benchmark scores. Like other gaming phones, it gets a tad hot but a fan helps cool things down fairly quickly. 

Elsewhere, its battery life might not get you through a day of gaming but fast 65W charging helps you get back up to speed faster at least. Ultimately, it's the screen that will keep you coming back to the Nubia Red Magic 7.

Read our review: Nubia Red Magic 7

Xiaomi Black Shark 4 Pro being held in a hand, showing the front

(Image credit: Future)
The best gaming phone for battery life

Specifications

Release date: March 2021
Weight: 220g
Dimensions: 163.8 x 76.4 x 9.9 mm
OS: Android 11
Screen size: 6.67-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2400
CPU: Snapdragon 888 5G
RAM: 8/12/16GB
Storage: 128/256/512GB
Battery: 4,500mAh
Rear camera: 64MP + 8MP + 5MP
Front camera: 20MP

Reasons to buy

+
Dedicated gaming features
+
Great battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Bulky
-
Mediocre camera

Bulky it might be but the Black Shark 4 Pro has a lot to love here. As with other Black Shark phones, it has integrated gaming triggers that pop-out and can be customized to do what you need them to do. 

Sporting a 6.67-inch Super AMOLED screen, it's a great option for those that want to see their games shine too. A 144Hz refresh rate means the action is always silky smooth here, while a Snapdragon 888 processor keeps the action sailing at all times. 

A dedicated gaming app in the form of Shark Space rounds things off nicely, allowing you to focus on your gaming time. It even manages more than a day between charges.

Read our review: Black Shark 4 Pro

The best non-gaming phones for gaming

We've suggested the best phones designed for gaming, but if you'd rather have a more mainstream device, here are all the phones we recommend that, among the rest of their strengths, are also very good phones to play games on. 

You'll find a lot of overlap with our best phones list, for good reason: these handsets have top-end specs and screens to give the best gaming experience possible outside of gaming-focused phones.

It's worth noting also that there's now native Xbox and PlayStation controller support on both iOS and Android, so although the following phones don't - for the most part - have dedicated gaming peripherals from their makers, they do support some existing peripherals.

Sony Xperia 1 IV

(Image credit: Future)
Sony's ultimate phone right now

Specifications

Release date: June 2022
Weight: 185g
Dimensions: 165 x 71 x 8.2mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 6.5-inch
Resolution: 1644 x 3840
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
RAM: 12GB
Storage: 256/512GB
Battery: 5,000mAh
Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 12MP + 0.3MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Continuous optical zoom
+
Can shoot 4K 120fps footage

Reasons to avoid

-
Temperamental fingerprint scanner
-
Very expensive 

The Sony Xperia 1 IV is the gaming phone that isn’t a gaming phone, by which we mean that while it isn’t marketed as a gaming phone – and is a top all-round handset – it has a snap-on cooler accessory, which is basically designed for gamers.

Plus, it also has features to help with mobile game streaming, and with its powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset and incredibly sharp 4K screen, it has all the performance and display quality that gamers need.

As such, it’s a fantastic option for mobile gamers who want something like a gaming phone, but that doesn’t, well, look like a gaming phone, and that also performs well for non-gaming things like photography – as the cameras here are excellent too.

Typically for Sony you’ll also enjoy respectable battery life from its 5,000mAh juice pack, so it can survive a sustained gaming session as well.

Read our review: Sony Xperia 1 IV

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max full home screen

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
The best Apple iPhone

Specifications

Weight: 240g
Dimensions: 160.7 x 77.6 x 7.9mm
OS: iOS 16
Screen size: 6.7-inch
Resolution: 1290 x 2796
CPU: A16 Bionic
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
Battery: 4,323mAh
Rear camera: 48MP+12MP+12MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Bold new camera upgrades
+
Excellent battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Longevity can vary wildly
-
3x zoom is now lagging behind the market

The iPhone 14 Pro Max is one of the very best conventional smartphones for gaming, as while it might lack gaming-specific features like physical triggers, it has something no dedicated gaming phone has access to – the A16 Bionic chipset.

Benchmarks suggest this is more powerful than anything Qualcomm, Samsung or MediaTek can muster, so for sheer power the iPhone 14 Pro Max is a top choice. That power can translate to better quality graphics and improved frame rates.

Plus, more games will be well optimized for this phone than a lot of the Android competition, since it’s such a popular handset. Add to that the wealth of games available on the App Store – not to mention the Apple Arcade subscription service – and this is a clear winner on the gaming front.

Its 6.7-inch 120Hz screen is large and high quality too, so games will look good, and its battery life exceeds that of most non-gaming phones, so you won’t need to plug it in too often.

Read our review: iPhone 14 Pro Max

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra screen

(Image credit: Future)
Amazing cameras, also plays games

Specifications

Release date: February 2022
Weight: 228g
Dimensions: 163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 6.8-inch
Resolution: 1440 x 3088
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 / Exynos 2200
RAM: 8GB / 12GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
Battery: 5,000mAh
Rear camera: 108MP + 10MP + 10MP + 12MP
Front camera: 40MP

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful performance
+
Gorgeous screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Battery life could be better

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is almost the ultimate Android gaming phone for someone who also wants all the benefits of a regular smartphone. It has a gorgeous 6.8-inch AMOLED display with up to 120Hz refresh rate depending on the situation. Thanks to exceptional brightness, it even works well in direct sunlight.

Elsewhere, you get powerful cameras including features like 100x Space Zoom, but the highlight for the gamer is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor which means it can deal with any game you like without a hiccup.

Battery life could be a little better for such a sizeable phone but other than that, this is a mature and professional phone that also happens to play games wonderfully. 

Read our review: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

OnePlus 10T

The OnePlus 10T in a hand. (Image credit: Future)
A flagship-killer price for gaming

Specifications

Release date: August 2022
Weight: 204g
Dimensions: 163 x 75.4 x 8.8mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 6.7-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2412
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1
RAM: 8/12/16GB
Storage: 128/256GB
Battery: 4,800mAh
Rear camera: 50MP + 8MP + 2MP
Front camera: 16MP

Reasons to buy

+
Fastest processor
+
Super-fast charging

Reasons to avoid

-
Cameras not good as OnePlus 10 Pro
-
Slower charging speed in US

The OnePlus 10T uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, currently the top of the line mobile platform from Qualcomm, making it one of the fastest phones you can buy. That alone should set its gaming bona fides in stone, but the phone has plenty more to recommend it, including super-fast charging that gets you back in the game quickly. 

The display can refresh up to 120Hz, making it prime for fast-moving games. OnePlus even sells a special case for the phone that it says dissipates heat, making it especially useful for long-term gaming sessions, in case you doubted this phone's gaming power. 

Read our review: OnePlus 10T

Poco F4 GT

(Image credit: Future)
Smartly designed for gaming

Specifications

Release date: April 2022
Weight: 210g
Dimensions: 162.5 x 76.7 x 8.5 mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 6.67-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2400
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
RAM: 8/12GB
Storage: 128/256GB
Battery: 4,700mAh
Rear camera: 64MP + 8MP + 2MP
Front camera: 20MP

Reasons to buy

+
Great gaming triggers
+
120W charging

Reasons to avoid

-
Poor camera
-
No waterproofing

The Poco F4 GT is a great phone that also happens to be ideal for gaming. It has two triggers built-in and held in place by a magnetic lock, allowing you to use them as needed. 

Continuing the gaming prowess, the 6.67-inch AMOLED display looks great, with a 120Hz ideally suited for fluid gaming sessions. 

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor flies as expected with a battery life of about a day doing well enough. Fast charging certainly helps here. Just don't count on it being a good phone for regular purposes like photography.

Read our review: Poco F4 GT

How to choose the best gaming phone for you

When you're choosing a gaming phone, you need to think about which games you like to play. If your games benefit from extra controls, you might consider a phone with shoulder buttons. If you play a lot on the go and need amazing battery life and fast charging, look for a phone with a big battery and high wattage charging. If you're looking for a serious gaming powerhouse with the fastest display and coolest look for gamers, that's going to be the top phone on our list. Whatever you want in a gaming phone, we have a pick for all of your priorities. 

How we tested

We only include phones on this list once we've put them through a full review and passed a final verdict on them, so we know exactly how good they are. We then compare and rank them, factoring in their review scores, prices and specs - with a particular focus on the aspects important to gaming.

What is the best gaming phone?

That depends on whether you want a phone specifically built for gaming, or a great all-round handset that also excels for gaming, but we've got picks for both.

What should I look for when buying a gaming phone?

The three main factors to consider are screen (particularly size, resolution and refresh rate), battery life, and processing power. Beyond that, look to extra features that might be useful when gaming, such as triggers or fans, and look to the library of available games, as it differs between Android and iOS.

Philip Berne
US Mobiles Editor

Phil Berne is a preeminent voice in consumer electronics reviews, having reviewed his first device (the Sony D-EJ01 Discman) more than 20 years ago for eTown.com. He has been writing about phones and mobile technology, since before the iPhone, for a variety of sites including PCMag, infoSync, PhoneScoop, and Slashgear. He holds an M.A. in Cultural Theory from Carnegie Mellon University. 


Phil was the internal reviewer for Samsung Mobile, writing opinions and review predictions about top secret new devices months before launch. He worked at an Apple Store near Boston, MA, at the height of iPod popularity. He has been a High School English teacher at Title I schools, and is a certified Lifeguard. His passion is smartphones and wearables, and he is sure that the next big thing will be phones we wear on our faces.