The world of Android has expanded to include a complex mix of categories across a range of price brackets. That includes devices dedicated to everything from cameras to durability and battery life. But for mobile gaming, Android smartphones also offer some of the best experiences around. And there are even a few gaming-specific companies more often associated with PCs that make handsets.
None of that necessarily makes choosing a smartphone that’s great for playing games easier. But, fortunately, Android Headlines has spent quite a lot of time with mobile gaming devices. So we’re well placed to help find a smartphone in that category for any price range. Whether you’re looking for a relatively cheap smartphone, potentially as a secondary device dedicated to gaming, or a high-end device that will suit all of your daily smartphone needs.
Top 10 Best Gaming Smartphones 2020 Summary
Of course, there are phones that would obviously be well suited for a list of ‘best gaming smartphones’ that you won’t find on this Android Headlines list. Just about any flagship smartphone is going to be well-suited for gaming. And even among those, there are going to better phones than others. But those phones won’t necessarily offer the best gaming experience.
To make the cut, phones needed to be built by dedicated gaming brands. Or come packed with gaming-elevating features that gamers will appreciate. For instance, phones with higher frame refresh rates and higher touch response rates were more likely to make the cut. A better screen and better responsiveness do equate to a better gaming experience in many cases. Even at lower resolutions.
Gaming-specific features such as built-in shoulder buttons, custom lighting, and more can also be found in dedicated gaming phones. Albeit not all of them, as we’ll soon discover.
Now, not every phone makes the grade and this list. Many of those that didn’t make the cut will still be a great option. With that said, here’s our take on the best gaming smartphones running Android.
|POCO X3 NFC||From $269||Amazon, Walmart|
|POCO F2 Pro||From $404.99||Amazon, Walmart|
|RedMagic 5S||From $579.00||RedMagic|
|Vivo IQOO 3 5G||From $582.22||Amazon, Walmart|
|Xiaomi Black Shark 3||From $599.00||Amazon|
|Razer Phone 2||From $799||Amazon|
|Xiaomi Black Shark 3 Pro||€899.00||Amazon Germany|
|Lenovo Legion Phone Duel/Pro||From £799.99||Lenovo|
|ASUS ROG Phone 3||From $715||Amazon|
|Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra||$1,299||Samsung|
Best budget Android gaming smartphone
POCO X3 NFC
- Price: From $269
- Where to buy: Amazon, Walmart
First up on our list is arguably the best Android has to offer when it comes to gaming smartphones that don’t break the bank. Namely, the POCO X3 NFC. In fact, POCO is one of two gaming brands launched by Xiaomi and both have found their way here. As both one of the most highly-regarded and the third-largest smartphone OEM in the world, that shouldn’t come as a big surprise.
It should also come as no surprise that POCO X3 NFC is an incredibly high value. Starting with the 120Hz refresh rate, 240Hz touch rate of its 6.67-inch FHD+ HDR10-compatible display. That continues through to its up to 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. And through to its not-quite-flagship Snapdragon 732G chipset.
Now, there’s no external or interior lighting with this phone. Customization and personalization come back to what you do with the home screen and ringers. But that’s not too bad considering the internals POCO packed this phone with. Especially at its price.
More than 7-hours of screen-on time in tests, solid 4G, NFC, Bluetooth 5.1, and WiFi 5 connectivity, even in the US, and an IR blaster for controlling other electronics are just icing on the cake.
Best Android gaming smartphone at the top of the budget tier
POCO F2 Pro
- Price: From $404.99
- Where to buy: Amazon, Walmart
Our next entry is available from Walmart or Amazon starting at $404.99 in either Electric Purple or Phantom White. The POCO F2 Pro is, summarily, another budget-minded gaming device from POCO and it’s arguably one of the best smartphones available for the money.
With 6GB RAM and 128GB, this one might sound, at first glance, a lot like the POCO X3 NFC. But it’s not. And that’s because it’s led by a flagship-level Snapdragon 865 SoC. The RAM and storage are the fastest around too. LPDDR5 and USF 3.1, to be exact. All tucked neatly between a Gorilla Glass 5 front and back panel, with a 6.67-inch FHD+ AMOLED screen at the front.
RAM and storage can be boosted up to 8GB and 256GB, respectively, for a bit more money.
LiquidCool Technology 2.0 keeps things cool. Power Delivery 3.0 and Quick Charge 4+ couple under everything else with 30W charging for the 4,700mAh battery. The display is only rated at 60Hz. But POCO makes up for that, at least a bit, with the latest in connectivity, 10+ hours of screen-on time, IR Blaster, and a great 64-megapixel quad-cam. Plus, all the software needed to enhance games both on visuals and performance.
Best value mid-range Android gaming smartphone
- Price: From $579.00
- Where to buy: RedMagic
RedMagic isn’t a brand that most are going to be familiar with. But make no mistake, it makes some of the best, dedicated gaming smartphones on the market. And its latest is the RedMagic 5S.
Not only does RedMagic pack this handset with a 5G-ready Snapdragon 865 chipset, UFS 3.1 storage up to 256GB, and LPDDR5 RAM up to 12GB. Cooling via ICE 4.0 Active Liquid-Cooling with a “Turbo Fan” and an available “Ice Dock” aren’t bad either for this 144Hz refresh rate, 6.65-inch Esport AMOLED display. And the included Game Space software and customizations don’t hurt either.
RedMagic additionally gave this smartphone shoulder triggers with a response rate of 320Hz. And a 4,500mAh capacity battery that can be charged at up to 55W via Quick Charge. Over 4,000 levels of brightness, a 240Hz touch sampling rate, and boosted GPU make things even better. That’s setting aside the 64-megapixel triple-camera with night mode.
This is arguably one of the best smartphones up for consideration at its price, whether you’re gaming or not. But it’s also going to be an obvious choice for those who want something stylish and unique that is absolutely made for gaming.
Best alternative mid-range Android gaming smartphone
Vivo IQOO 3 5G
- Price: From $582.22
- Where to buy: Amazon
If you’re looking for something that’s still unique with a bit less flash, the Vivo IQOO 3 5G may be exactly what you’re looking for. Thanks to its Snapdragon 865 backed by up to 12GB RAM and 256GB UFS 3.1 storage, this phone is an absolute beast. Its 6.44-inch AMOLED HDR+ display with 180Hz touch response rate doesn’t hurt matters either. And neither does its 4,440mAh 55W charging battery.
Now, what really sets this phone apart from the rest of the pack and makes it one of the best gaming smartphones isn’t just its capacitive sensitivity-adjustable L and R shoulder buttons either. And it’s not the dedicated gaming software or optimizations. It’s the starting price and the remaining features.
Vivo gave the game-dedicated IQOO 3 5G a feature-rich 48-megapixel quad-camera. Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, and a 3.5mm audio jack and Hi-Fi audio output are part of the bundle too. All in a solid but understated frame that makes this phone a real sleeper when it comes to hardcore gaming. Put more succinctly, this is a device that has all of the looks of a business-ready smartphone. With all the power and prowess needed to dominate on the gaming side.
Best mid-range Android gaming smartphone
Xiaomi Black Shark 3
- Price: From $599.00
- Where to buy: Amazon
Not to be confused with the ‘Pro’ model, the standard Xiaomi Black Shark 3 sits decisively in the mid-range. But it’s also the best among its peers when it comes to that price bracket for gaming-specific smartphones.
Like the majority of its competitors, Black Shark 3 delivers on performance via a software- and firmware-optimized Snapdragon 865 chipset. And, like its peers, it comes with the latest in RAM and storage. But users are also given more choice at its starting price. That’s between 8GB LPDDR4X 2133 MHz and 128GB UFS 3.0 storage, 12GB LPDDR5 2740 MHz and 128GB storage, and 12GB LPDDR5 with 256GB storage. So gamers can choose the performance and price bracket to best fit their needs.
Similarly, this phone comes with all of the add-on software expected for a gaming phone but with additional external lighting options. And in Midnight Black or Knight Grey colorations. A triple camera led by a 64-megapixel snapper, 5G support, and display with true DC Dimming is part of the build too.
But that’s also topped by a dual 2,360mAh, 65W charging battery for all-day gaming and rapid refuels, dual triggers, and a 270Hz touch refresh rate latency at 24ms. The screen is only rated at 90Hz but that’s a 6.67-inch AMOLED FullHD+ display panel too. WiFi 6 and a plethora of other features such as an available dedicated gamepad attachment make this an obvious choice for professional and non-professional gamers alike.
Best Android gaming smartphone from a dedicated gaming brand
Razer Phone 2
- Price: From $799
- Where to buy: Amazon
Razer is a dedicated brand most commonly associated with top-tier PC accessories and gaming. But it also sells some of the best smartphones for gaming on the market. And it sells those with plenty of add-on attachments too.
Now, the company hasn’t released the third iteration of its Razer Phone just yet. So this isn’t going to be the newest smartphone on this list. But it’s still easily one of the best, time-tested options around. Among the top reasons for that is the fact that Razer Phone 2 is smaller than some others. So there are more pixels per inch on its 5.72-inch IGZO 120Hz screen.
It doesn’t pack the best cameras around, featuring a 12-megapixel snapper. But the 2,560 x 1440 display packs a wider-than average color gamut to match its refresh rate and has a better touch response rate than average too. For an even more immersive experience, it’s also packing a 24-bit DAC for radio output.
Under the hood, powering Android 9, with Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi 5, NFC, and everything else is a Snapdragon 845 SoC. That’s coupled with vapor chamber cooling, 8GB RAM, 64GB expandable storage up to 1TB, and a 4,000 mAh wireless and a fast-charging battery.
The Razer Phone 2’s IP67 dust and water resistance rating isn’t too bad either. And neither are its dual stereo front-facing speakers with Dolby Atmos.
Best alternative high-end Android gaming smartphone
Xiaomi Black Shark 3 Pro
- Price: From $899.00
- Where to buy: Amazon Germany, AliExpress, Banggood
Everything we’ve said about the Black Shark 3 from Xiaomi stands with the next entry amid the best gaming smartphones. That holds through the onboard specialty software, lighting effects, add-on attachments, design, and special features such as the shoulder triggers. Except that here it’s been amplified with a higher-priced and better specced “Pro” edition.
For starters, the battery is bumped up to a 65W charging, dual-cell 5,000mAh capacity arrangement. The 270Hz touch response rate and 90Hz screen remain, but that’s been taken to the next level via 2K+ resolution. And it’s a 7.1-inch display too. So this will be the one to pick up if you need a larger, more immersive experience. Better vibration motors so you can really feel the action help on that front as well.
The same Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset is included under the hood as well, coupled with LPDDR5 and UFS 3.0 RAM and storage. But that’s at a higher capacity too, starting at 8GB and ranging up to 12GB for memory and up to 512GB of storage. That’s driving the latest in Android with 10-bit Color with Delta E < 1 accuracy on the display.
Front-facing stereo dual speakers round out the package, easily making this one of the best smartphones around for gaming. Or for just about anybody who wants the best performance available. As does the quad-pixel 64-megapixel camera leading its triple-camera array.
Best top-tier dedicated Android gaming smartphone
Lenovo Legion Phone Duel/Pro
- Price: From £799.99
- Where to buy: Lenovo
If you haven’t heard about Lenovo’s Legion Phone Duel — sold as the “Pro” in China — that may be the case because it’s the newest phone on this list. But, among gaming smartphones, it’s also going to be the best in terms of customization, style, and cooling. It’s also among the most expensive at £799.99 — over $1,049 by today’s currency exchange rate.
That’s not without good reason.
Dirac-tuned front speakers, a Snapdragon 865+ chipset, up to 16GB of top-rated RAM, and a dual-camera led by a 64-megapixel snapper are part of this package. As are ultrasonic triggers on the shoulders for more console-like gaming. A dual-2,500 mAh battery ensures fast charging, much faster than the battery can be drained by even the most intensive gaming. A full charge can be had in a half-hour, Lenovo says.
On the storage front, buyers can choose up to 512GB of UFS 3.1 storage. So there’s plenty of space for games.
All of that is packed behind a 6.65-inch FullHD+ — 2,340 x 1080) display with a 144Hz refresh rate. And that’s an AMOLED panel too.
Best dedicated Android gaming smartphone
ASUS ROG Phone 3
- Price: $715
- Where to buy: Amazon
ASUS ROG is the computer manufacturer’s dedicated gaming division. So, with a name like the “ASUS ROG Phone 3,” you already know what to expect. And, following on the ASUS ROG Phone 2, that’s some of the best gaming features on the market from a trusted brand.
The ASUS ROG Phone 3 stands apart as one of the best gaming smartphones around for several reasons. It packs a 6.59-inch FullHD+ resolution display panel with a refresh rate set at 120Hz. And a Snapdragon 865+ drives the gaming experience, alongside a load of game-specific features and enhancements typically reserved for gaming PCs and laptops.
8GB RAM, 12GB RAM, and 16GB RAM variants are available. Those are coupled with 128GB or 512GB storage, respectively. And that’s some of the fastest storage and RAM on the market.
Despite the hefty hardware and aim to support heavy gaming, the battery is going to last a long time too. Not least of all because a 6,000mAh capacity unit is used. All without overheating, thanks to advanced cooling. ASUS ROG Phone 3 is going to give you the best bang for your buck when it comes to the best gaming smartphones.
Best high-end smartphone for gaming and everything else
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
- Price: $1,299
- Where to buy: Samsung
Now, on the off chance that what you’re looking for is one of the best overall smartphones that also packs some gaming prowess, it’s going to be hard to go wrong with the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. Not least of all, that’s because it comes with the best processor around — for now — with the Snapdragon 865+. And that’s also backed by 12GB RAM and 128GB of the fastest storage available. That storage can be expanded via a microSD card.
For gamers, this phone also comes with a three-month pass to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. That’s a $45 value. But, more importantly, for a limited time, buyers can also find bundles with a PowerA’s MOGA XP5-X Plus controller. So gaming out-of-the-box is going to be a snap and provide some of the best console gaming on-the-go. All of that is limited time, of course. But this phone will game brilliantly with or without those add-ons.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s 6.9-inch 120Hz QHD+ AMOLED display is, at that point, the icing on the cake. And when you’re not gaming, the 4,500mAh battery, refreshed S Pen stylus, and 108-megapixel main camera sensor — in a great quad-camera array — only serve to sweeten the deal.