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General gaming

Top 10 Android phones for gaming

Clash between Asus, Xiaomi, OnePlus, ZTE, Realme, Motorola, Huawei, and Samsung. Which phones give the best gaming performance?

Android gaming 101

Gaming is a passion shared by millions. The rush is like none other. There are innovations in mobile gaming all too often now. And the entire meaning of a “mobile game” has changed since a console or PC gamer last heard of it – .jar files on Nokia Symbian generic phones. Let’s celebrate this adaptation, this beautiful transformation of mobile gaming into a legitimate and serious affair.

gamer playing game on phone

A smartphone is a mini-console in many ways. Atari is coming with its mini-console anyway, and then there’s Nintendo Switch. Apart from them, there’s the iPhone gaming platform that my fellow writers have already covered here, including Apple Arcade. So, why should we not discuss the best hardware to play Android games? It’s gaming hardware anyway.

Android gaming is a full-blown hobby. A serious gaming platform. Androids are more affordable than iPhones, which means more users have the potential to play an Android game (though the iPhone remains to be a better gaming machine).

But Android games have seen exponential growth, and so have various smartphones. It’s safe to say that Android phones today built for long hours on gaming are full of features and heavy-duty components that can be comparable to the iPhone and even gaming laptops.

Dolby sound, big screens, huge RAMs, fast processors, OS/skin technologies that help gamers, esports tournaments based around smartphone games – all these signal the heralding of the Android gaming age.

Note: we’re going to talk about the chipset. The chipset is the motherboard + CPU. In smartphones, the CPUs are directly fused to the motherboard, saving space and increase speed.

Also note: All specs are written in the lists except the display size. The display size is written in the main body and is in bold.

playing pubg on android

What are the best Android phones for gaming as of November 2020?

1. Asus ROG Phone 3

($599 for 128GB/$820 for 256GB)

ROG Phone 3 is possibly the best phone for Android gaming. It’s claimed the throne and rightfully so. Completely designed with gamers in mind, the Phone 3 from Asus ROG, a renowned gaming brand, features top-of-the-line specs.

Asus ROG Phone 3
The Asus ROG Phone 3 (official website) is a bewitching device and a beauty to hold in your hands. 144Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time.

This phone boasts a 6.59” display with a whopping 144Hz screen refresh rate. 512GB storage, 16GB RAM, Snapdragon 865 Plus, and a 6000 mAh battery make it a beast.

Largest from many angles, and truly high performance.

Specifically designed for gaming, the product comes with an AeroActive 3 cooling fan that keeps overheating at bay during long gaming sessions.

The ROG Phone 3 is although everything a gaming phone needs to be, it does have certain glaring drawbacks. No microSD slot or 3.5mm audio jack. The camera is pretty basic. And the price is a little expensive.

  • 128GB storage, 8GB RAM; 128GB storage, 12GB RAM; 256GB storage, 12GB RAM; 512GB storage, 12GB RAM; 512GB storage, 16GB RAM.
  • Front: Gorilla Glass 6, back: Gorilla Glass 3, aluminium frame build with an RGB light panel on the back.
  • AMOLED 1 billion colors screen with HDR10+ and 650 nits brightness. 144Hz screen refresh rate.
  • 391 ppi density at 1080×2340 pixels resolution (19.5:9).
  • Qualcomm SM8250 Snapdragon 865+ (7nm+) chipset.
  • Adreno 650 GPU and octa-core Kryo CPU (1×3.1GHz, 3×2.42GHz, and 4×1.8GHz).
  • 6000 mAh battery with Fast Charging 30W.

2. Xiaomi Black Shark 3 Pro

($870 for 12GB RAM/$900 for 8GB RAM – both 256GB)

The best thing about the Black Shark 3 Pro is that it’s not expensive at all. The massive 7.1″ OLED display with HDR10 and a 90Hz refresh rate makes sure that gaming is not affected at all.

It also comes with RGB lights and a very promising battery life that will keep going on. Couple that with shoulder triggers and a Snapdragon 865 chipset, you have the ideal Android gaming smartphone.

The Xiaomi Black Shark 3 Pro (official website) comes with the Sandwich liquid cooling.
  • 256GB storage, 8GB RAM; 256GB storage, 12GB RAM; 512GB storage, 12GB RAM.
  • Glass front, aluminium back, and aluminium frame build. Comes with physical pop-up triggers for gaming.
  • AMOLED screen with HDR10+ and 500 nits brightness. 90Hz screen refresh rate.
  • 484 ppi density at an amazing 1440×3120 pixels resolution (19.5:9).
  • Qualcomm SM8250 Snapdragon 865 (7nm+) chipset.
  • Adreno 650 GPU and octa-core Kryo CPU (1×2.84GHz, 3×2.42GHz, and 4×1.8GHz).
  • 5000 mAh battery with Fast Charging 65W.

3. OnePlus 7T

($400 for 128GB/$600 for 256GB)

The 7T from OnePlus is one of the best gaming smartphones. Overall excellent display, high-end components, in general a very high-performance system to play games on. The 7T is one of the flattest high-end gaming Android smartphones, which is always a plus.

OnePlus is known to attract the eyeballs with its flagship launches, and the 7T (official website) did it really well, following the tradition.

Apart from all the powerful components and the 6.55″ screen size, the smartphone also packs a versatile tripe camera and comes with a great battery life.

  • 128GB storage, 8GB RAM; 256GB storage, 8GB RAM.
  • Front and back: Gorilla Glass 5, aluminium frame build.
  • Fluid AMOLED screen with HDR10+. 90Hz screen refresh rate.
  • 402 ppi density at 1080×2400 pixels resolution (20:9).
  • Qualcomm SM8150 Snapdragon 855+ (7nm) chipset.
  • Adreno 640 GPU and octa-core Kryo CPU (1×2.96GHz, 3×2.42GHz, and 4×1.78GHz).
  • 3800 mAh battery with Fast Charging 65W.

4. ZTE nubia RedMagic 5G

($550)

The RedMagic 5 series from ZTE is a smartphone designed for gaming, and only gaming. Although the series has other models as well like the 3S and the 5S, the 6.65″ 5G is most gamer-friendly.

It offers a bright display and has amazing touch feedback. With a built-in fan, trigger buttons for gaming, RGB lighting built in, and a very economical price point considering the competition, the RedMagic 5G is one of the best smartphones to play games on.

RedMagic (official website) was the first 144Hz AMOLED Android gaming smartphone on the market.

The obvious drawback is the phone’s lack of a global presence. Marred by availability issues, you’ll also struggle because of poor translation, lack of a 55W charger outside of China, and a myriad of software/skin issues. The camera is also bad when compared with closest competitors.

  • 128GB storage, 8GB RAM; 128GB storage, 12GB RAM; 256GB storage, 12GB RAM; 256GB storage, 16GB RAM.
  • Corning Gorilla Glass protection.
  • AMOLED screen with a blazing fast 144Hz screen refresh rate.
  • 388 ppi density at 1080×2340 pixels resolution (19.5:9).
  • Qualcomm SM8250 Snapdragon 865 (7nm+) chipset.
  • Adreno 650 GPU and octa-core Kryo CPU (1×2.84GHz, 3×2.42GHz, and 4×1.8GHz).
  • 4500 mAh battery with Fast Charging 55W.

5. Realme 6 Pro

($329 for 64GB/$369 for 128GB)

The Realme 6 Pro is more of a value proposition. It’s priced almost half of many smartphones on the list. If you’re not hell-bent on getting the very best of hardware and display, then the Realme 6 Pro can be a great fit for you.

It comes with a large 6.6″ 90Hz LCD screen and a 720G chipset from Snapdragon, ideal for smooth gameplay.

Still bad news for US residents – availability issues are still on.

The phone is plagued by availability issues and although more and more locations are becoming available, there can still be certain issues.

  • 64GB storage, 6GB RAM; 128GB storage, 6GB RAM; 128GB storage, 8GB RAM.
  • Front: Gorilla Glass 5, glass back, plastic frame build.
  • IPS LCD (same as most gaming monitors) screen with a 90Hz screen refresh rate and 480 nits brightness, considerably lower than others.
  • 399 ppi density at 1080×2400 pixels resolution (20:9).
  • Qualcomm SM7125 Snapdragon 720G (8nm) chipset.
  • Adreno 618 GPU and octa-core Kryo CPU (2×2.3GHz and 6×1.8GHz).
  • 4300 mAh battery with Fast Charging 30W.

6. Motorola Edge

($400)

The Motorola Edge sports a large OLED screen and comes with various gamer-friendly functionality such as virtual trigger buttons. It has a splash-proof design with plenty of battery juice. The phone runs on clean Android.

The curved OLED screen of the Motorola Edge (official website) with its virtual gaming triggers is a charm.

It’s indeed a mid-range gaming smartphone and as such, certain drawbacks are in order. Low-light camera performance, fast charging, display quality, long-duration high-FPS gaming, etc. are all dealbreakers

But at this price point, the 6.7″ Edge delivers some great gaming performance. Couple that with various Motorola-specific improvements and add-ons and you have yourself a perfect gaming buddy.

The best way to define Edge would be an adequate gaming smartphone at a great price point.

  • 128GB storage, 4GB RAM; 128GB storage, 6GB RAM.
  • Front: Gorilla Glass 5, aluminium frame, plastic back build.
  • OLED screen at a 90Hz screen refresh rate.
  • 385 ppi density at 1080×2340 pixels resolution (19.5:9).
  • Qualcomm SDM765 Snapdragon 765G (7nm) chipset.
  • Adreno 620 GPU and octa-core Kryo CPU (1×2.4GHz, 1×2.2GHz, and 6×1.8GHz).
  • 4500 mAh battery with Fast Charging 18W – particularly slow.

7. Huawei P40 Lite

($260)

A great balance between adequate gaming performance, battery life, and camera quality. The 6.4″ Huawei P40 Lite is ideal for gaming and streaming if your budget is low. Sure, you won’t get the best gaming performance but it still packs quite the punch.

It has a large screen with a very small cutout.

The P40 Lite (official website) comes has a large screen with a very small cutout.

EMUI 10 gaming optimizations make sure the phone doesn’t fall too far behind in performance. With 70% charge in just 30 minutes, the Huawei P40 Lite is a great phone when it comes to battery backup.

Unfortunately, the P40 Lite doesn’t come with Google services (which includes Google Play Store and Google Play Games support), so you have to source your apps from other markets or manually download and install APKs, which can be a tiresome business.

Memory expansion has to be done via NM slots.

  • 128GB storage, 6GB RAM.
  • Glass front, plastic back, plastic frame build.
  • LTPS IPS LCD screen without a high refresh rate.
  • 398 ppi density at 1080×2310 pixels resolution.
  • Kirin 812 (7nm) chipset.
  • Mali-G52 GPU and octa-core Cortex CPU (2×2.27GHz and 6×1.88GHz).
  • 4200 mAh battery with Fast Charging 40W.

8. OnePlus 8 Pro

($740)

OnePlus has outdone itself with the 8 and 8 Pro. The 8 is also a tough competitor but we’re only going to talk about the 8 Pro here.

The OnePlus 8 Pro comes with a 120Hz screen refresh rate. 6.78” full HD display and a 4510 mAh battery make it a tough competition. Snapdragon 865, 12GB RAM, 256GB storage, 5G support, are all attributes that fight head to head with the Asus ROG Phone 3.

OnePlus 8 Pro
The Fnatic mode (named after the esports team) optimizes the OnePlus 8 Pro (official website) further for gaming.

Both the chipset and display together provide an amazing gaming experience.

  • 128GB storage, 8GB RAM; 256GB storage, 12GB RAM.
  • Gorilla Glass 5 front and back, aluminium frame build.
  • Fluid AMOLED display with 1 billion colors at 120Hz screen refresh rate and HDR10+.
  • An amazing 513 ppi density at 1440×3168 pixels resolution.
  • Qualcomm SM8250 Snapdragon 865 (7nm+) chipset.
  • Adreno 650 GPU and octa-core Kryo CPU (1×2.84GHz, 3×2.42GHz, and 4×1.8GHz).
  • 4510 mAh battery with Fast Charging 30W.

9. Samsung Galaxy S20

($650)

Although the Samsung Galaxy S20 is not for gamers, it’s still a very high-performance phone for high-end Android gaming. 120Hz screen refresh rate, Snapdragon 865, 12GB RAM, 128GB storage, 5G support, a 6.2″ screen, and a 4000 mAh battery make it a tough contender for the best Android phones for gaming.

The HDR+ dynamic AMOLED screen is beautiful. Truly a powerhouse. Buying the Galaxy S20 will get you 3 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for free.

Samsung Galaxy S20
The Galaxy S20 base model (official website) offers an amazing build quality, design, and display.

There’s also a S20 FE (6.5″), S20+ (6.7″), and S20 Ultra (6.9″).

  • 128GB storage, 8GB RAM.
  • Gorilla Glass 6 front and back, aluminium frame build.
  • Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with HDR10+. Screen refresh rate of 120Hz.
  • An amazing 563 ppi density at 1440×3200 pixels resolution (20:9).
  • Qualcomm SM8250 Snapdragon 865 (7nm+) chipset (outside of the US, the Galaxy S20 comes with an Exynos 990 chipset).
  • Adreno 650 GPU and octa-core Kryo CPU (1×2.84GHz, 3×2.42GHz, and 4×1.8GHz).
  • 4000 mAh battery with Fast Charging 25W.
  • Note that both the GPU and chipset are different outside of the US.

10. Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro

($930)

The 6.67″ Mi 10 Pro is a flagship gaming phone. I’ve been eternally fascinated with Mi’s innovation and design sensibilities towards gamers, and with the 10 Pro, they’ve aced their game.

8GB RAM with a Snapdragon 865 is although less than the 12GB Android gamers are used to, it’s still enough for most games. 256GB storage makes sure you can stop worrying about games filling your storage up. A 4500 mAh battery ensures you can game for long hours.

VC liquid cooling sysem, 90Hz screen refresh rate, TrueColor technology, and dual speaker system all make gaming absolutely thrilling on the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro (official website).

In fact, the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro performs almost as well as the Asus ROG Phone 3 that has a 6000 mAh battery.

  • 256GB storage, 8GB RAM; 256GB storage, 12GB RAM; 512GB storage, 12GB RAM.
  • Front: Gorilla Glass 5, glass back, aluminium frame build.
  • Super AMOLED display with HDR10+. Screen refresh rate of 90Hz and a screen brightness of 500 nits.
  • 386 ppi density at 1080×2340 pixels resolution (19.5:9).
  • Qualcomm SM8250 Snapdragon 865 (7nm+) chipset.
  • Adreno 650 GPU and octa-core Kryo CPU (1×2.84GHz, 3×2.42GHz, and 4×1.8GHz).
  • 4500 mAh battery with Fast Charging 50W.

Honorable mention for lower budget

Samsung Galaxy A50

($230)

The best available budget gaming smartphone is the Samsung Galaxy A50. The A50 sports a dapper 6.4” Super AMOLED display and comes with an octa-core processor. The icing on the cake is the 128GB storage, 6GB RAM, and a 4000 mAh battery.

Samsung Galaxy A50
The 15W fast charging on the Galaxy A50 (official website) is very adequate.

In conclusion

Well, the Asus ROG Phone 3 is definitely the clear winner. But it’s easily an expensive smartphone for gaming. The Xiaomi Black Shark 3 Pro and the ZTE nubia RedMagic 5G both offer 144Hz screen refresh rates but varying specs.

If you want as much RAM as possible without spending as much as the costliest ROG Phone 3 model, then the RedMagic is the clear option.

As for budget phones, Huawei P40 Lite, Realme 6 Pro, and Motorola Edge all give a very satisfactory gaming experience and come with their own unique perks.

By ShadowPanda

ShadowPanda lurks in the shadows, eats atop the trees. Well, not really. Shadow is a cat-lover with 12 cute little kitties currently. He likes to spend his time by either drawing concept art of imaginary characters, debating in Reddit threads regarding the practicality of indoor golf, or fry some brains in the best landscapes the entire hack and slash genre has to offer. He likes quantity above quality when it comes to games and hey, we don’t judge!