Best gaming phone 2018: T3's top gaming phone picks

These are the best phones for gaming, period.

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Smartphones continue to get faster, and more capable, and more powerful – and that means the games you can play on them are getting more and more advanced too. Maybe not up to PlayStation or Xbox standard, but certainly a long way ahead of Angry Birds.

So if you're serious about your mobile gaming, what's the best handset to get in 2018? We've picked out 10 fantastic phones geared specifically towards gamers and power users, which should provide a good starting point to finding the phone you need for your gaming.

Best gaming phone

Razer Phone

1. Razer Phone

By the gaming experts

Specifications
Weight: 197g
Dimensions: 158.5 x 77.7 x 8mm
OS: Android 7.1.1
Screen size: 5.7 inches
Resolution: 1440 x 2560 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 835
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 64GB
Battery: 4000mAh
Rear camera: 12MP f/1.8 + 12MP f/2.6
Front camera: 8MP f/2.0
Reasons to buy
+Super-smooth 120Hz refresh rate display+Super-clear dual front-facing speakers
Reasons to avoid
-Camera technology isn't the best

Considering Razer's pedigree in the gaming market you would certainly expect it to know what gamers are after in a phone, and the Razer Phone doesn't disappoint: it's crammed full of every possible feature that you might need for gaming on the go. At the same time, it's a powerhouse of a smartphone for general use as well.

For a start there's that amazing 5.7-inch screen, boasting a 120Hz refresh rate that means you shouldn't miss a single frame of the action. Even the fastest-moving games are going to look as smooth as silk on this, because it works in tandem with the GPU to make sure everything is kept in sync. The 8GB of RAM and Snapdragon 835 processor, meanwhile, should be able to take anything you throw at them.

Add in the Dolby Atmos, THX-certified speakers, and the Game Booster software that lets you tweak performance to maximise battery life, and it's a great all round package for gamers. The blocky design might not be to everyone's tastes, and the dual-lens 12MP+12MP rear facing camera isn't all that impressive, but in terms of having everything you need for mobile gaming, the Razer Phone ticks all the boxes.

Best gaming phone

OnePlus 6

2. OnePlus 6

Undoubtedly one of the phones of the year

Specifications
Weight: 177g
Dimensions: 155.7 x 75.4 x 7.8mm
OS: Android 8.1
Screen size: 6.28 inches
Resolution: 1080 x 2280 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 845
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 64/128/256GB
Battery: 3300mAh
Rear camera: 16MP f/1.7 + 20MP f/1.7
Front camera: 16MP f/2.0
Reasons to buy
+Packed with high-end specs+Huge, gorgeous-looking screen
Reasons to avoid
-Don't drop it in the sink

Spacious, crisp, vibrant screen? Check. Oodles of power under the hood? Check. A very competitive price? Check. Whether you want to do gaming or anything else with the OnePlus 6, it's an impressive all-round proposition, and one that's going to last you for many years to come as well. In terms of value for money, it's difficult to find anything better at the moment.

With the combination of the Snapdragon 845 processor and a whopping 8GB of RAM, you're unlikely to find superior specs on a phone this year, certainly as far as Android is concerned – and benchmarks have shown the OnePlus 6 is a force to be reckoned with, which bodes well if you're planning on loading up this handset with the top-tier gaming titles of the moment.

We're also big fans of that 6.28-inch screen, which is going to shine no matter what you're running on it (and the minimal use of bezels around it certainly help too). As part of the Android P beta programme, you know that the OnePlus 6 is good for timely updates in the future, while the phone's minor drawbacks – like no wireless charging and no IP rating – are unlikely to trouble gamers.

Best gaming phone

Asus ROG Phone

3. Asus ROG Phone

High-end performance for gamers

Specifications
Weight: 200g
Dimensions: 158.5 x 76.2 x 8.6mm
OS: Android 8.1
Screen size: 6.0 inches
Resolution: 1080 x 2160 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 845
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128/512GB
Battery: 4000mAh
Rear camera: 12MP + 8MP
Front camera: 8MP
Reasons to buy
+X Mode for managing game resources+Unbeatable combination of specs
Reasons to avoid
-You might struggle to fit it in your pocket

There's no doubt that the Asus ROG laptops are some of the best in the business for gamers, so what about the similarly branded smartphone? Again, we have to give Asus two thumbs up for what it's managed to do here – it packs in some excellent specs even by 2018 standards, and throws in plenty of extras designed specifically to appeal to gamers.

Take the customised in-case cooling solution, for example, so you can get the most out of the Snapdragon 845 processor and 8GB of RAM (the dedicated X Mode in the phone software should help here too), or the way that the charging and audio ports are on the side of the device so you can easily hold it in landscape mode. Then there's the advanced, ultra-responsive AirTrigger sensors on the ends of the phone to make it easier to control the in-game action.

It's all topped off with a 6-inch screen running at 90Hz refresh rate of 90Hz, so games are going to look their absolute best too. With all this power packed into the case, the phone is of course not the slimmest or lightest around, but if you've got some gaming to do it's undoubtedly one of the best.

Best gaming phone

Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

4. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

Another Samsung hit

Specifications
Weight: 189g
Dimensions: 158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5mm
OS: Android 8.0
Screen size: 6.2 inches
Resolution: 1440 x 2960 pixels
CPU: Exynos 9810 or Snapdragon 845
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 64/128/256GB
Battery: 3500mAh
Rear camera: 12MP f/1.5-2.4 + 12MP f/2.4
Front camera: 8MP f/1.7
Reasons to buy
+One of the best displays around+An all-round phone champion
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't come cheap

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is just a great smartphone full stop. As far as gaming goes, that 6.2-inch Infinity Display screen is the star of the show, with minimal bezels and an elongated 18.5:9 aspect ratio that means any kind of game (or indeed app) is going to shine. For gaming we'd say the extra price is worth it over the standard Galaxy S9, because of the additional screen space you get.

Even though it was one of the first flagships of 2018 to make an appearance, and therefore is older than some of the other phones on this list, the S9 Plus still offers a massive amount of horsepower for keeping everything running smoothly. You get an Exynos 9810 or Snapdragon 845 CPU coupled with a generous 6GB of RAM, as well as your choice of 64GB, 128GB or 256GB of storage for storing all your games.

When the gaming stops, the Galaxy S9 Plus still has plenty to offer, with a fantastic 12MP+12MP dual-lens camera on the rear that excels in low light situations, wireless charging, full IP68 water and dustproofing, and a "Samsung Experience" version of Android that's getting better all the time.

Best gaming phone

Honor Play

5. Honor Play

Honor joins the gaming phone trend

Specifications
Weight: 176g
Dimensions: 157.9 x 74.3 x 7.5mm
OS: Android 8.1
Screen size: 6.3 inches
Resolution: 1080 x 2340 pixels
CPU: Kirin 970
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 64GB
Battery: 3750mAh
Rear camera: 16MP f/2.2 + 2MP f/2.4
Front camera: 16MP f/2.0
Reasons to buy
+Lots of screen space for your games+Dedicated GPU Turbo enhancements
Reasons to avoid
-Only 64GB of on-board storage

Not wanting to be left out of the gaming phone party, Honor has the Honor Play, a 6.3-inch beast of a phone that runs Huawei's own Kirin 970 processor and packs in up to 6GB of RAM, depending on the configuration you pick. It doesn't quite have the grunt of some of the other phones we've covered in this list, but it's still going to be more than capable of handling the top-tier mobile games out there.

Honor is promising a special GPU Turbo mode to maintain a smooth frame rate under any kind of load (we're not sure exactly how this works yet, but it sounds good to us), as well as "4D" haptic feedback, which from what we can tell is a more advanced take on the usual buzzes you'll get from a phone when it's held in your hands.

As for the other specs here, you've got 64GB of storage plus a microSD card slot for adding more, and a dual-lens camera around the back – though the main 16MP lens is accompanied by just a 2MP one, so you're maybe not going to get the greatest landscape or wildlife shots out of this one. As far as the gaming prowess goes, however, the Honor Play is a dedicated gaming phone that won't let you down.

Best gaming phone

Huawei P20 Pro

6. Huawei P20 Pro

Three (cameras) is the magic number

Specifications
Weight: 180g
Dimensions: 155 x 73.9 x 7.8mm
OS: Android 8.1
Screen size: 6.1 inches
Resolution: 1080 x 2240 pixels
CPU: Kirin 970
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 4000mAh
Rear camera: 40MP f/1.8 + 20MP f/1.6 + 8MP f/2.4
Front camera: 24MP f/2.0
Reasons to buy
+Powerful internal components+Fine fit and finish quality
Reasons to avoid
-On-board software has its quirks

There isn't much we can say about the Huawei P20 Pro in terms of its specific suitability for gaming: it's just a really, really good smartphone, with a great screen and enough power inside to deal with any game you want to load up and run on it. Despite the large 6.1-inch display, the lack of any real bezels means it's not too unwieldy to hold, especially when you're using it in landscape mode for gaming.

Inside the P20 Pro you get Huawei's own ultra-speedy Kirin 970 processor, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of internal storage (there's no memory card slot for expanding that though). We like the loud front-facing stereo speakers, the glass and aluminium frame, and the tasteful design – even if Huawei's take on Android isn't the best we've ever come across.

On top of that, the phone is leading the charge with the triple-lens rear camera, an innovation that other flagship phones might well follow along with in the years to come. When you're not gaming, you're going to be able to take some fantastic-looking photos with that 40MP+20MP+8MP triple-lens camera. The 4,000mAh battery should be good for plenty of camera shots and gaming levels too.

Best gaming phone

Sony Xperia XZ2

7. Sony Xperia XZ2

Sony's best handset to date?

Specifications
Weight: 198g
Dimensions: 153 x 72 x 11.1mm
OS: Android 8.0
Screen size: 5.7 inches
Resolution: 1080 x 2160 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 845
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 64GB
Battery: 3180mAh
Rear camera: 19MP f/2.0
Front camera: 5MP f/2.2
Reasons to buy
+Impressive build quality and design+Visuals and audio a cut above
Reasons to avoid
-Screen resolution isn't the sharpest

The Sony Xperia XZ2 certainly impressed us when we reviewed it, and it's a fine handset whether you're using it for gaming or not: a 5.7-inch screen, a top-of-the-range Snapdragon 845 processor, 6GB of RAM, and a 19MP rear camera that benefits from all Sony's expertise in digital photography. The Xperia XZ2 certainly won't let you down when it's not being used for games.

It's really the power under the hood and that HDR-enabled display that makes it most suitable for gaming on the go, though the impressive time between charges – thanks to the 3,180mAh battery – is a definite plus point as well. It's already running Android 8.0 Oreo and we would hope it gets an Android P update in good time, which means you won't have any compatibility issues with the newest games.

The  X-Reality Dynamic Contrast Enhancer that Sony has built into the screen leaves games looking vibrant and vivid on screen, while the new Dynamic Vibration system is another extra that will appeal to gamers – giving you much more subtle responses in terms of haptic feedback. On top of that, there are a pair of impressive stereo speakers that pump out clear audio even as you crank up the volume.

Best gaming phone

HTC U12+

8. HTC U12+

HTC's strong run continues

Specifications
Weight: 188g
Dimensions: 156.6 x 73.9 x 8.7mm
OS: Android 8.0
Screen size: 6.0 inches
Resolution: 1440 x 2880 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 845
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 64/128GB
Battery: 3500mAh
Rear camera: 12MP f/1.8 + 16MP f/2.6
Front camera: 8MP f/2.0
Reasons to buy
+Plenty of power in the core specs+Better audio than most phones
Reasons to avoid
-Android skin could use some work

HTC smartphones perhaps don't get the recognition they deserve, and the HTC U12+ is another fine handset that has a lot to offer mobile gamers as well as smartphone users in general. Let's start with the sharp, 6-inch screen, which is one of the phone's strong points and is going to look great no matter what game you're running.

The Hi-Fi edition BoomSound speakers that the HTC U12+ is rocking are going to make sure your games sound fantastic as well as look fantastic, too – don't be afraid to crank up the volume on this phone, because the audio system can take it. Meanwhile, the Snapdragon 845 processor and 6GB of RAM mean that your games are always going to have the performance they need, no matter how much action is on screen.

With HTC confirming an upgrade to Android P is planned, you also get the peace of mind that the HTC U12+ is always going to have a recent version of Google's mobile OS on board, which helps with game support and stability. Add in a 12MP+16MP dual-lens rear camera, IP68 dust and waterproofing, and up to 128GB of on-board storage (expandable via microSD card), and it's a compelling all-round package.

Best gaming phone

Moto Z2 Force

9. Moto Z2 Force

The durable, value option

Specifications
Weight: 143g
Dimensions: 155.8 x 76 x 6.1mm
OS: Android 7.1.1
Screen size: 5.5 inches
Resolution: 1440 x 2560 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 835
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 64/128GB
Battery: 2730mAh
Rear camera: 12MP f/2.0 + 12MP f/2.0
Front camera: 5MP f/2.2
Reasons to buy
+All the power you're likely to need+One of the more affordable options
Reasons to avoid
-Battery life could be better

And so to the Moto Z2 Force, which isn't the most powerful phone on this list, or the one with the biggest screen – but with its solid casing, the toughened outer layer on the screen, and lightly skinned version of Android, it's definitely worth considering as your gaming phone of choice. It's also likely to cost you significantly less than some of the other handsets we've included here.

As far as the phone specs go, you're looking at a Snapdragon 835 chipset paired with a generous 6GB of RAM, and then there's your choice of 64GB or 128GB of internal storage (you probably want the bigger option if you're installing a lot of games). All that is topped off with the 5.5-inch screen, which is big enough to see what's happening while small enough to hold comfortably in one hand, just about.

You don't get much in the way of features included specifically for gaming, but it doesn't matter – this will still play any title you care to install from the Play Store, and play it well. Don't forget the Moto Mods either, which let you add extra battery power, or a louder speaker, or a projector to throw your games up on a blank wall.

Best gaming phone

iPhone X

10. iPhone X

The best you can get from Apple

Specifications
Weight: 174g
Dimensions: 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm
OS: iOS 11.1.1
Screen size: 5.8 inches
Resolution: 1125 x 2436 pixels
CPU: Apple A11 Bionic
RAM: 3GB
Storage: 64/256GB
Battery: 2716mAh
Rear camera: 12MP f/1.8 + 12MP f/2.4
Front camera: 7MP f/2.2
Reasons to buy
+Super-fast hardware and software+All the best games first
Reasons to avoid
-It's going to cost you

No, we haven't forgotten about Apple – and while the iPhone X might be down at the bottom of this list, it's by no means last in the pecking order as far as gaming phones go. Under the hood there's the Apple A11 Bionic CPU and 3GB of RAM, all of which means whatever games and apps you install should scream along.

This being an iPhone, you get the benefit of the smooth and solid iOS on board – and while almost every game comes to both iOS and Android these days, many of them show up on iOS first. You've also got a better guarantee of getting new updates faster than you might on Android, and running the latest mobile OS goes a long way to keeping your games fast and stable well into the future.

The iPhone X also boasts that fantastic 5.8-inch screen of course (complete with notch) – bright, sharp, and ready for whatever game you want to load up on it. What's more, as with every iPhone, you've got a ton of accessories to choose from, whether you need an attractive-looking case to carry your phone in or a gamepad controller to slot on top.