Best gaming phones 2019: T3's best gaming phone picks

Get our picks for the best gaming phones of 2019 with this definitive list

Best gaming phone 2019 Razer Phone 2

There's nothing quite like playing games and, after a dedicated gaming portable console, smartphones are the best devices for it. That's why we've compiled a list of the best gaming phones available today, gaming smartphones that combine top-end hardware with the latest software to deliver fantastic virtual experiences.

It's a combination we love here at T3: we're very keen on both premium phones and premium games, and we've brought all that expertise to bear on this list of the best gaming phones you can buy in 2019.

If you've not noticed, now is a great time to pick up a quality gaming phone, too, with big name players like Razer, Honor and Asus all offering discounts on their best gaming phones – it seems every week the Honor Play, the Razer Phone 2, the Asus ROG Phone or a similar device gets a price cut.

So if you're serious about your mobile gaming, what's the best handset to get in 2019? We've picked out 10 fantastic phones geared specifically towards gamers and power users, giving you an excellent starting point to finding the best gaming phone for your needs in 2019.

Razer Phone 2 best gaming phone 2019

Best gaming phones 2019: Razer Phone 2

1. Razer Phone 2

The best gaming phone gets even better

Specifications
Weight: TBC
Dimensions: 158.5 x 79 x 8.5mm
OS: Android 8.1
Screen size: 5.7 inches
Resolution: 1440 x 2560 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 845
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
+Sharp, bright display+Improved cooling

Razer certainly knows what it's doing when it comes to gaming, and it's followed up the impressive Razer Phone with the even more impressive Razer Phone 2. The screen is brighter, the speakers are louder, and there's more power under the hood to push those frame rates on the most demanding games that the Android platform has to offer.

With a resolution of 1,440 x 2,560 pixels, the 5.7-inch display is super-sharp at 513 pixels-per-inch – and with a 120Hz refresh rate, you shouldn't miss any of the action. Plus, an improved cooling system inside the chassis means the Snapdragon 845 processor and 8GB of RAM can really get to work without overheating becoming a problem on the phone.

Maybe the improved IP67 water resistance and dual-lens 12MP+12MP rear facing camera won't be of as much concern to gamers, but they mean the Razer Phone 2 is also going to do an excellent job when it comes to being a normal smartphone too. Built for gamers, by the gaming experts, this is the best gaming phone full stop for most users out there.

Best gaming phones OnePlus 7 pro

Best gaming phones 2019: OnePlus 7 Pro

(Image credit: OnePlus)

2. OnePlus 7 Pro

A superb, powerful handset that's particularly good for gamers

Specifications
Weight: 206g
Dimensions: 162.6 x 75.9 x 8.8mm
OS: Android 9.0
Screen size: 6.67 inches
Resolution: 1440 x 3120 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 855
RAM: 6GB/8GB/12GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB
Battery: 4000mAh
Rear camera: 48MP f/1.6 + 8MP f/2.4 + 16MP f/2.2
Front camera: 16MP f/2.0
Reasons to buy
+Plenty of power under the hood+Gorgeous notch-free display+OxygenOS is quickly improving

It's not specifically marketed as a gaming phone, but let's count the ways the OnePlus 7 Pro is one of the best gaming phones of the moment anyway: that giant, 6.67-inch screen, for example, with its curved edges and no notch. Turn it sideways and it's perfect for gaming, with virtually no bezels (and did we mention, no notch?).

Then there's all the power and performance that this phone is capable of, with the latest Snapdragon 855 CPU running inside and a maximum of 12GB of RAM (depending on where in the world you're buying the OnePlus 7 Pro from). So fantastic visuals, fantastic performance, and fantastic audio as well, thanks to the Dolby Atmos-compatible stereo speakers.

The OnePlus 7 Pro also stands out due to its 90 Hz display refresh rate (for keeping up with your favourite first-person shooters), as well as an upgraded Gaming Mode to enhance the picture quality and to improve haptic feedback. The Gaming Mode can also block calls and notifications while you're playing.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro best gaming phone 2019

Best gaming phones 2019: Huawei Mate 20 Pro

3. Huawei Mate 20 Pro

An all-round powerhouse of a phone, that is unsurprisingly great at gaming

Specifications
Weight: 189g
Dimensions: 157.8 x 72.3 x 8.6mm
OS: Android 9
Screen size: 6.39 inches
Resolution: 1440 x 3120 pixels
CPU: Kirin 980
RAM: 6/8GB
Storage: 128/256GB
Battery: 4200mAh
Rear camera: 40MP f/1.8 + 20MP f/2.2 + 8MP f/2.4
Front camera: 24MP f/2.0
Reasons to buy
+Packed with power+Large, sharp display

We like the Huawei Mate 20 Pro very, very much, and if you're looking for the best gaming phone in terms of screen, raw power, and fit and finish then this is hard to beat. That's mainly down to the nippy Kirin 980 processor and 8GB of RAM that Huawei has packed into this device – it's been able to take every mobile game we've thrown at it, and then some.

And let's show some respect for that huge 4,200mAh battery packed into the Mate 20 Pro, ready to power up a whole day's worth of gaming if you don't happen to have a job to go to (or it's the weekend). As gaming phones go, this one is going to run smoother than most and last longer than most, and everything else you get on top of that is really a bonus.

Speaking of everything else, this being a Huawei phone it excels at mobile photography too, with no fewer than three lenses on the rear camera. That means the Mate 20 Pro is capable of some smart and impressive mobile photo-taking tricks, so when the gaming is over you can head out for a serious photo session. Definitely one to consider for gaming.

iPhone XR best gaming phone 2019

Best gaming phones 2019: Apple iPhone XR

4. Apple iPhone XR

The best gaming phone for Apple fans

Specifications
Weight: 194g
Dimensions: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm
OS: iOS 12
Screen size: 6.1 inches
Resolution: 828 x 1792 pixels
CPU: Apple A12 Bionic
RAM: 3GB
Storage: 64/128/256GB
Battery: 2942mAh
Rear camera: 12MP f/1.8
Front camera: 7MP f/2.2
Reasons to buy
+Super-fast A12 Bionic CPU+Large, bright 6.1-inch screen

With its extra versatility and more in the way of customisation options, most of the gaming phone attention tends to go to Android, but let's not forget iOS completely – with blazing fast processors, powerful graphics performance and tight hardware/software integration, iPhones are also excellent choices when it comes to picking up a mobile gaming handset.

Introducing the iPhone XR, perhaps the best gaming iPhone of the bunch in 2019, not least because of its cheaper price. You also get that generous 6.1-inch LCD screen, and of course the super-powerful A12 Bionic processor that sits inside all the iPhones Apple released this year. If you couldn't tell already, this is a phone that we really like, and it's ideal for gaming.

From battery life to build quality, there are plenty of reasons to consider the iPhone XR if you want the best gaming phone money can buy. It's difficult to beat in terms of raw power, you've got a vast choice of games to pick from on iOS, and it's going to work seamlessly with any other bits of Apple kit you happen to have set up around the home.

Asus ROG Phone best gaming phone 2019

Best gaming phone: Asus ROG Phone

5. Asus ROG Phone

The best gaming phone for crazy high-end performance

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

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 2019 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 gaming phones of 2019.

Honor Play best gaming phone 2019

Best gaming phone: Honor Play

6. Honor Play

Honor joins the gaming phone trend with spectacular results

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

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 undoubtedly one of the best gaming phones of 2019.

Best phones Sony Xperia 1

Best gaming phone: Sony Xperia 1

(Image credit: Sony)

7. Sony Xperia 1

The best gaming phone for an ultra-wide display

Specifications
Weight: 180g
Dimensions: 167 x 72 x 8.2mm
OS: Android 9.0 Pie
Screen size: 6.5 inches
Resolution: 1644 x 3840 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 855
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 64/128GB
Battery: 3300mAh
Rear camera: 12MP f/1.6 + 12MP f/2.4 + 12MP f/2.4
Front camera: 8MP f/2.0
Reasons to buy
+21:9 aspect ratio, 4K-resolution screen+Light and premium in the hand
Reasons to avoid
-Still room for improvement in the overall design

If you're after the very best gaming phone of 2019 then there's a lot to like about the Sony Xperia 1: not least that 21:9 aspect ratio, 6.5-inch 4K resolution screen, which means games are going to look vibrant and sharp whether you love space racers or cerebral puzzlers.

Sony has packed all kinds of tech into its 2019 flagship phone, including HDR support for the display and Dolby Atmos audio so your gaming (and movie watching) is guaranteed to be as immersive as possible. That Snapdragon 855 processor and the 6GB of RAM keep games ticking along nicely as well.

Away from gaming, that triple-lens rear camera is capable of some impressive shots while you're out and about, and it comes with Android 9.0 Pie on board as well. Definitely worth investigating for your next gaming phone.

Xiaomi Black Shark best gaming phone 2019

Best gaming phone: Xiaomi Black Shark

(Image credit: Xiaomi)

8. Xiaomi Black Shark

Xiaomi's gaming smartphone comes out swinging

Specifications
OS: Android
CPU: Qualcomm Octa Core
Screen size: 5.99
Band Mode: 2SIM/Multi-Bands
Resolution: 1080x2160
Graphics: Adreno 630 Graphics processor
SIM Card Quantity: Dual SIM Cards
Recording Definition: 1080P
Charger type: USB Type-C
Reasons to buy
+Independent image processor+One touch gaming mode support

Xiaomi's first proper gaming smartphone isn't messing around and fits straight into our best gaming phones for 2019 list. This is a powerful handset in and of itself, but one that's packed with some powerful specs and enough gaming focused features to keep even the most hardcore of portable players sated while gaming on the go.

The dedicated gaming mode – redirecting incoming calls and notifications – means you'll never get distracted midway through a match of PUBG, and while it lacks the refresh rate of the Razer 2 phone, it's still got plenty of power courtesy of its Snapdragon 845 processor and Adreno 630 graphics chip, enabling it to run even the most demanding of mobile titles with ease.

The Black Shark also comes bundled with its own bespoke controller, snapping on to the bottom of the device and providing an analog stick and face buttons – making racing and shooters far easier to control. The accessory works with most Android games, making it a great addition when paired with the Black Shark's price point.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 best gaming phone 2019

Best gaming phone: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

9. Samsung Galaxy Note 9

More than a stylus, this is one of the best gaming phones going

Specifications
Weight: 201g
Dimensions: 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8mm
OS: Android 8.1
Screen size: 6.4 inches
Resolution: 1440 x 2960 pixels
CPU: Exynos 9810/Snapdragon 845
RAM: 6/8GB
Storage: 128/512GB
Battery: 4000mAh
Rear camera: 40MP f/1.5-2.4 + 12MP f/2.4
Front camera: 8MP f/1.7
Reasons to buy
+One of the very best screens+The stylus is useful

When it comes to the best gaming phone out there, what do you want? What do you really, really want? You want a huge screen and a huge amount of power, don't you? Which is why the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is a perfect choice for a big and beautiful gaming phone – and there's no notch of course, which means you don't lose any of the screen real estate either.

That 6.4-inch, lovely looking screen really is the star attraction here. Whatever Samsung is doing with its Super AMOLED displays, it's working, and it's one of those displays that has to be seen to be believed. The rapid processor and oodles of RAM definitely help too, meaning even top-end games are going to run smoothly on the Note 9 without any issues.

Away from gaming, this is a productivity workhorse and a mobile photo studio too. The upgraded S-Pen stylus can be used for everything from snapping pictures to skipping through presentation slides, and with that 4,000mAh battery packed in as well, you won't be always looking for a charger. It's going to cost you quite a bit, but it's worth the price.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus best gaming phone 2019

Best gaming phone: Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus

10. Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus

The best gaming phone if you can afford to spend big

Specifications
Weight: 175g
Dimensions: 157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8mm
OS: Android 9.0
Screen size: 6.4 inches
Resolution: 1440 x 3040 pixels
CPU: Exynos 9820/Snapdragon 855
RAM: 8/12GB
Storage: 128/512GB/1TB
Battery: 4100mAh
Rear camera: 12MP f/1.5-2.4 + 12MP f/2.4 + 16MP f/2.2
Front camera: 10MP f/1.9 + 8MP f/2.2
Reasons to buy
+Glorious 6.4-inch display+Up to 1TB of storage for games

For even faster innards and the same size screen as the Note 9 (but no stylus), consider the brand new Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus as the best gaming phone of 2019 – though you'll have to pay more for it.

It comes with the updated Snapdragon 855 or Exynos 9820 processor, up to 12GB of RAM, and up to a whopping 1TB of storage on board, which means plenty of space to store all those high-resolution graphics and other assets. That 4,100mAh battery should help with gaming on the go, too.

Oodles of power, a huge and sharp screen, bags of storage... the Galaxy S10 Plus could be cheaper but it's well worth a place on this list. If you want to save a little cash, check out the standard Galaxy S10.

Apple iPhone XS Max best gaming phones

For pure gaming prowess, you can do better than Apple's biggest phone.

(Image credit: Apple)

11. Apple iPhone XS Max

The biggest iPhone is also the best for gaming.

Specifications
Weight: 208g
Dimensions: 157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7 mm
OS: iOS 12
Screen size: 6.5 inches
Resolution: 1242 x 2688 pixels
CPU: Apple A12 Bionic
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64/256/512GB
Battery: 3,174mAh
Rear camera: 12MP(wide) + 12MP (telephoto)
Front camera: 7MP
Reasons to buy
+Huge and beautiful display +Oodles of power+Loads of apps and games

For those who are unencumbered by price, the iPhone XS Max is the phone for you. While Android and its various handsets dominate this list, it's easy to forget both just how capable iPhone handsets are – even with comparatively lower specs – and how many top-draw games are available on iOS, with more being added all the time.

The XS Max is, to put it simply, a beast. Weighing in at 208g, it's the heaviest phone on the list and it packs the biggest punch. Apple says the A12 Bionic chip is its most powerful ever, offering up to 15% better performance than the A11 while using up to 50% less power. 

In our testing, there wasn't a lot to dislike about the XS Max: the display is stunning, especially at this size; the camera takes beautiful pictures and videos; Face ID works almost flawlessly; and battery life is above average, although intensive gaming is likely to grind that down. If you don't mind the cost and using iOS, this is the best gaming phone for you.

Best ultimate phone for gaming phone: Xiaomi Black Shark 2

(Image credit: Black Shark)

12. Xiaomi Black Shark 2

Xiaomi ups the ante with a veritable beast of a gaming phone

Specifications
OS: Android 9.0 Pie
CPU: Snapdragon 855
Screen size: 6.39 inch AMOLED
Band Mode: 2SIM/Multi-Bands
Resolution: 1080x2340
Graphics: Adreno 640 Graphics processor
SIM Card Quantity: Dual SIM Cards
Recording Definition: 4K 30fps
Charger type: USB Type-C
Reasons to buy
+Long battery life+Impressive performance+AMOLED screen

The second iteration of Xiaomi's impressive Black Shark gaming phone, the Black Shark 2 has brought even more to the table, with an upgrade from the Snapdragon 845 to 855, and at incredibly affordable price to boot.

Xiaomi has also increased the screen size, from 5.99 inches to a more generous 6.39 inches with full HD+ resolution and a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. An AMOLED screen at this price point means that the refresh rate isn't going to push past 60Hz to the coveted upper echelons of 90Hz, and that it won't be as bright as its LCD competitors. On the other hand, it offers rich, vibrant colours that you may prefer, depending on your proclivity - much like the difference between Sony's first PS Vita (AMOLED) and the subsequent, refreshed model (LCD).

The 4000mAh battery is particularly impressive, with streaming and gaming sessions using a surprisingly little amount of juice. Which is exactly what you want from your gaming on the go device.

If you can get past the lack of a 90Hz refresh rate and aren't married to the idea of an LCD screen, the Black Shark 2 is a powerful and affordable handset that's a must for gamers - even those that aren't on a budget.