Best smartphones for gamers (late 2015 edition)


By now it's clear that phones have taken over the place of dedicated portable gaming gear, and while they are still far off from replacing a PC or a console for the hard-core gamer, the quality of games on a mobile has improved tremendously.

The whole landscape has changed quite a while in the past couple of years as now we have an established division between smaller-sized phones and the larger phablets.

Naturally, for a gamer, screen space is of paramount importance, and that's why when going on a quest for the best gaming smartphone, phablets with their larger display, larger batteries and better heat management are the optimal choice.

When compiling this list we also considered the sheer amount of new games and their quality, an area where Apple is still particularly strong. Apple's iPhone is - obviously - compatible with all the latest games on the App Store, while on Android, we've had compatibility issues with even rather popular games. These, along with the huge performance gain that Apple brought with the A9 chip were among the main reasons to order the phones in this article in the way they are. With this in mind, check out the best new phones for gamers as of late 2015.

#1. Apple iPhone 6s Plus


Price: $750
System chip: Apple A9

The 5.5-inch Apple iPhone 6s Plus has the larger display that gamers will appreciate, the latest games and even some early titles with support for the innovative new 3D Touch functionality. Then, you have the great performance of the Apple A9 system chip, the very good battery life that Apple is able to squeeze out, and even things like support for accessories like gamepads is on the side of Apple's 6s Plus to grant it our recommendation as the best smartphone for gamers right now.

It's not without its flaws, though: the phone is the most expensive one in this round-up, yet its base model features merely 16GB of internal storage, while lower-priced Android alternatives have now made the jump to the much more manageable 32 gigs.


#2. Nexus 6P


Price: $500
System chip: Snapdragon 810

Second on the list is the Huawei-made Nexus 6P. A device with an excellent build quality, a spacious 5.7-inch display with pleasing colors, the refined and zippy Snapdragon 81- system chip, the Nexus 6P is not only powerful - it's an amazing value for the money Google asks for it. At just $500 you get the 32GB version, and for a slight premium you have the option to get a 64 gig version and even a 128GB model. Keep in mind that the dual front-firing speakers are particularly powerful and a great thing to have for games, an important advantage.


#3. Samsung Galaxy Note 5


Price: $670 (via MobileCityOnline)
System chip: Exynos 7 Octa

Third on the list is the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, another 5.7 incher in the Android camp that has the extremely capable Exynos 7 Octa chip under the hood. The Note 5 is a bit on the expensive side when compared to the Nexus 6P, though, while the two are comparable in pretty much every aspect. At this point, if money is not an absolute priority, you won't do any wrong if you pick either of the two - the Nexus or the new Note - just select the one with the design you like better. Let's also mention that the Note 5 comes with a model with 32GB of storage as base, which is nice.


#4. Motorola Moto X Pure


Price: $400
System chip: Snapdragon 808

The Motorola Moto X Pure is the budget option: a $400 buy, it's a 5.7" phone with a great feel in the hand. There is one main compromise: the system chip. The Snapdragon 808 on board the Moto X Pure is not nearly as powerful as the others in this list and some more demanding games might run at lower framer rates. If you want the best budget option, though, the Moto X Pure has little competition with its large, good-looking display, front-facing speakers and combination of specs for the price.


#5. Xiaomi Mi Note Pro


Price: $500
System chip: Snapdragon 810

If you want to stay out of the mainstream, there is another phone you should know about: the Xiaomi Mi Note Pro. A 5.7-inch monster from China, you can import it for around $500, the same prices as that of the Nexus 6P. It's hard to say whether this is worth it, but the Xiaomi Mi Note Pro has a lot going for it: the powerful Snapdragon 810 SoC roaring under the hood, an extremely sleek design that seems to have served as an 'inspiration' to companies like Samsung and its current designs, and it also runs on the sleek-running MIUI skin. You also get a lot of phone at $500: 64GB of internal storage and 4 gigs of RAM are on board.

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If the T-Rex HD component of GFXBench is demanding, then the Manhattan test is downright gruelling. It's a GPU-centric test that simulates an extremely graphically intensive gaming environment that is meant to push the GPU to the max. that simulates a graphically-intensive gaming environment on the screen. The results achieved are measured in frames per second, with more frames being better.

Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6s Plus
38.4
Google Nexus 6P
17
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
15
Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (2015)
9.3
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro
17

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26 Comments

1. Theus

Posts: 13; Member since: Dec 10, 2014

Where are the xperias with the PS4 Remote Play?

12. moechanndud

Posts: 7; Member since: Oct 12, 2015

Yeah, and native support for DS3 and DS4, to play with any kind of emulator and some games which support them was awesome. but what you expect from PA? Apple must be number 1 !!

18. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Apple Actually Deserves The #1 Spot This Time Tho.

19. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

No doubt about that, they have literally destroyed everyone on the GPU side this time. Hopefully this pushes the Android tech to compete more, will have to see next year.

2. Hexa-core

Posts: 2131; Member since: Aug 11, 2015

Yeah PA!! Apple always #1 on your ratings... heck, how do you run those benchmarks? I'll get different scores - scores that would favor any phone other than Apple's if I want to.. Heck, it's very natural for a 1080p phone to score more points than a 1440p phone in benchmarks, but the latter offets superior graphic quality, let alone VR games.

3. SIGPRO

Posts: 2817; Member since: Oct 03, 2012

iphone nr:1.......whahahah.....iphone should not be nr1, there are better phones!

4. TyrionLannister unregistered

How does on-screen benchmarks matter. These phones will never play games in QHD anyway as almost no game supports it. And even if they do, you have the option to play it in lower resolution in most high end games. And soon we will have a game resolution controller like the 'game tuner' app by Samsung. You can play at your preferred resolution and frame-rate.

5. bur60

Posts: 981; Member since: Jul 07, 2014

Stupid article indeed.

20. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Doesn't matter, the gfx power of the iPhones currently outpaces most Android flagships pixel for pixel as well. Thanks to qualcomm going full retard and Samsung getting lazy, Apple has no competition until the next hardware release.

21. TyrionLannister unregistered

I know that. But the difference at equal resolution is much lesser than this graph represents.

22. Diezparda

Posts: 941; Member since: Oct 23, 2013

No doubt 6S still better than competitors but showing on-screen benchmark? Well you know it's phonearena they like to brag about how Apple A9 simply leave Android far behind.

6. Unordinary unregistered

Dont really care about benchmarks but for a phone with "2012 specs".... Ouch to the rest lmfaoooooooo

7. ihavenoname

Posts: 1693; Member since: Aug 18, 2013

1. Xperia Z4 with remote play ...................... 2. iPhone 6S Plus/Note 5/GS6/Nexus 6P (iPhone has better game selection and games tend to be better optimized, while Androids have higher resolution) 3. Rest That said, pretty much every flagship phone since GS4 is probably good enough. Plus, mobile gaming... Most of us just play something like Threes, QuizUp or Candy Crush Saga.

8. lylee73

Posts: 84; Member since: Mar 18, 2015

I really want to see which phone has the best gaming performance-to-price ratio.

9. jellmoo

Posts: 2585; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

I'm of a mixed mind here. I can see the appeal that the iPhone has for gaming as the AAA titles tend to ship on iOS first (or even end up exclusive) which does give it an edge. However, with no easy path to emulation, it's hard to really accept it as a gaming device.

10. iphonexus

Posts: 130; Member since: Jan 04, 2015

well tbh i think iphones are best for gaming

11. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

Meizu PRO 5 and Z5C are missing

13. Konsento

Posts: 139; Member since: Apr 10, 2015

Where the heck is the Z5 series? Sony, are you kidding me?

14. Konsento

Posts: 139; Member since: Apr 10, 2015

Gah, meant PhoneArena. And perhaps the HTC One M9? With its Snapdragon 810 and BoomSound speakers?

23. Hitokage

Posts: 103; Member since: Mar 01, 2015

It throttles really badly iirc

15. Odeira

Posts: 300; Member since: Jun 29, 2012

The fact of the matter is, iPhone games take 100% leverage of its specs - from the hardware to the software and in between. That is why it is SIGNIFICANTLY SUPERIOR in gaming - quality and quantity. What chance will Android phones? 50? 75 at the most? And then what? They're IAP messes. It's like the Wild West in Android gaming to be honest!

16. antmiu2

Posts: 550; Member since: Jun 19, 2011

The GFXBench Manhattan does not represent real world gaming experience.. iPhone arena should know better.

17. xperiaZlover

Posts: 202; Member since: Nov 15, 2015

where is the Z5/z3+ with playstation remote play.it is the only high end phone that can play playstation games on a phone natively. PA has some revenge with sony these days. I agree apple is the best because of the superior GPU.and Samsung is also okay. Where is Z5 and Z3+? PA is promoting samsung and chinease devices so much now. and moto x pure should not be in the list too.it has an adreno 418. PA is not neutral anymore. I used to love the reviews of you people. but now i am left with only one trusted review site which is the German site notebookcheck.

24. GreekGeek

Posts: 1276; Member since: Mar 22, 2014

This is just an iPhone Ad

25. AlikMalix unregistered

So we can safely assume that articles that put Samsung (or another device) on top is an advertisement for them too? I guess you gotta believe something because iPhone staying on top make you loose sleep....

26. Hexa-core

Posts: 2131; Member since: Aug 11, 2015

because it's well known that PA is biased for Apple

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