The 5 best smartphones for mobile gaming

The 5 best smartphones for mobile gaming
In a time when smartphones mature and gamers embrace the mobile revolution, we try to analyze the current smartphone offering and identify the 5 best phones for gaming.

As much as the modern phone is a jack-of-all-trades device, there are certain pillars of the overall experience that users tend to grow more fond of. Since the dawn of the smartphone, gaming has been one of the areas that has drawn significant interest over time. 

But what makes a great smartphone? As it turns out, there are many components and aspects that have to work together as best as possible; the display has to be sharp, bright, and vivid, the internal hardware has to be powerful enough to run 3D intensive games without lags and stutters, athe battery needs to last for as much possible and recharge as quickly as possible. Last but not least, these would all be for nothing if cool games for the respective operating system came in limited supply.

With this in mind, let's take a close look at what the smartphone industry has to offer and identify the best smartphones for gaming:

Samsung Galaxy S6

If you're looking for an Android smartphone with great gaming capabilities, make sure to check out the standard version of the Samsung Galaxy S6 first. 

The Galaxy S6 comes with a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1440 by 2560 pixels (QHD) at a PPI of 577. Right until Sony officially unveiled the Xperia Z5 Premium, these were the sharpest screens in the mobile industry. The displays are also bright, vivid, and provide accurate color reproduction.

This viewing experience is complemented by some of the most powerful internal hardware available on any smartphone. The Exynos 7420 paired with 3GB makes for a powerful combo that can keep up with any modern graphics-intensive game. Check out our full Samsung Galaxy S6 review for more details about the handset.

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+

Although it's technically part of the Galaxy S6 series, the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ deserves a special mention in the context of this article. 

The S6 edge+ comes with a larger 5.7-inch SAMOLED panel running at the same resolution and a PPI of 518. Technically, it's not as sharp as the display on the 5.1-inch Galaxy S6 edge, but you probably won't be able to tell the difference with the naked eye at a regular viewing distance. During our Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ review, we found that the phone offers a beautiful viewing experience overall. The S6 edge+ also comes with 4GB of RAM, which is a GB above what its more compact siblings have to offer.

Although none of the Galaxy S6 phones comes with a removable battery, they all come with fast charging capabilities. Furthermore, the Galaxy S6 edge+ deserves a special mention here, as what looks like an unimpressive 3000mAh battery turns out to be a real performer when it comes to endurance.

As far as smartphone gaming goes, the iPhone remains to be a tough player to beat at the moment. The raw processing power of the iPhone 6 series was already in the top sector, and if Apple's claims turn out to be accurate, the Apple A9 chipset will bring even more power to the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus. Furthermore, the new iPhones also come with 2GB of RAM, which should definitely be of use in some of the more hardware-taxing games.

However, although raw performance is always a good thing to have, and despite the fact that Apple appears to be very capable of optimizing iOS to take advantage of its hand-picked hardware, these are not the reasons why the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus are very compelling choices for gaming smartphones. The main driver here is the fact that most mobile gaming developers, from indie devs that only launch their gaming titles on iOS to still adopt an iOS-first approach.

Although most high-end smartphones are marketed as great gaming smartphones, almost none of them is marketed as a phone built specifically for gamers. The Acer Predator 6, recently announced at IFA 2015 in Berlin, will come with a very powerful set of specs, as well as a design that's just nerdy enough to help make gaming more at home in the handset form factor. 

At the moment, Acer has yet to announce the full spec list. For instance, while the name suggests that the Predator 6 will come with a display diagonal around the 6-inch mark, the company has yet to reveal the exact diagonal or the resolution. What we do know, however, draws interest. We're talking about a deca-core Helio X20 chipset paired with 4 GB of RAM, quad speakers, as well as a haptic feedback vibrations. 

image via CNET


Although the LG G4 isn't the fastest Android smartphone around, the phone still offers great value for mobile gamers with autonomy on their minds. 

Right off the bat, it should be mentioned that the LG G4 comes with 5.5-inch display running a resolution of 1440 by 2560 pixels, and these pixels are rendered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, which isn't the current flagship SoC from Qualcomm. Benchmarks show that the chip suffers a bit during the most taxing mobile games, but gamers are not likely to notice a performance difference in most Android titles.

If you can live with a slightly toned down chipset, the LG G4 is perfect for gamers. With games eating up through the battery like no other app category, battery life is of particular interest in the context of this article. As the LG G4 comes with a removable battery, users can buy a spare battery, and then swap a dead battery for a new one with more mana in no time. Read more about the LG G4 in our full review.



1. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

G4 with S808 lolololol.

5. alex3run

Posts: 715; Member since: May 18, 2014

It is better than you think but... Yeah, Note 4 Exynos is suitable for gaming more than LG G4 if not throttling.

32. CyberFalcon

Posts: 223; Member since: Apr 17, 2014

PA suggests G4 and not Moto X Style/PE?

34. Shocky unregistered

Both are equally bad and don't belong on the list.

2. AlikMalix unregistered

Considering capabilities is half, you gotta the platform that delivers these games more and better optimized for specific device above where Apple has an edge as they mentioned, but also consider accessories like VR and control pads where android takes the cake...

3. Sidewinder

Posts: 515; Member since: Jan 15, 2015

^ha ha I was thinking the same thing.. I think gflex 2 would have been a better candidate from the LG stable

10. legiloca

Posts: 1676; Member since: Nov 11, 2014

1 word: Oven

14. Mimas

Posts: 22; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

That's three words

4. Ruturaj

Posts: 1484; Member since: Oct 16, 2014

Where is my note 5?

6. phonehome

Posts: 812; Member since: Dec 19, 2014

I call b.s. with each and every one of these devices. Unless there is a slide-out physical gamepad that I am not aware of.

8. buccob

Posts: 2975; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

Exactly... IMO my smallish Z3 Compact with 720p screen is better for gaming than those phablets with QHD... Stereo speakers gives you an edge over enemies and the compatibility with DualShock controllers is great for many games (specially for Emulators)

7. buccob

Posts: 2975; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

So... no Xperia device even when it comes with native PS Controller support (which I use frequently) and PS4 Remote Play and Front Facing Speakers..... Even devices with SD801 are fully capable of running every single game you trow at it... and the new high resolution only hurts performance with almost no benefits for the user.

33. GTNavy

Posts: 55; Member since: Oct 13, 2014

You are right. They haven't made a mobile game yet that takes full advantage of high end phones from two years ago. With the spec wars in full swing, developers will never catch up to hardware.

9. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

high-end flagship sure have overkill spec for gaming nowadays.. what i really want for mobile gaming is simply no-lag and long Screen-on-Time, i guess moto X Play is good enough for this case

11. Nallaikumaran

Posts: 61; Member since: Sep 14, 2015

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ - One of the best phones of 2015.

12. trickster_qc

Posts: 107; Member since: Jun 18, 2013

I think we need more images of the LG G4!

13. AlikMalix unregistered

Yeh they misses a few angles.

15. cnour

Posts: 2305; Member since: Sep 11, 2014

iOS is the best as usual.

18. SirYar

Posts: 351; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

The best at limiting it's users.

22. gaming64 unregistered

From what? Multitasking? File managers? Themes? Launchers? Get a darn PC.

16. mdsheik

Posts: 52; Member since: Sep 03, 2015

1080p screen is more than enough for mobile gaming. Z3 compact plays well all the game we throw at it than S6, because of poor ram management S6 lags manytimes while gaming more than 10min. why PA didnt mention ASUS zenfone2 the one packed with 4gb ram.

24. hound.master

Posts: 1044; Member since: Feb 27, 2015

And iPhone dies off too soon to even be considered good for gaming.

26. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

You might reread the poor ram management bug on the S6. The S6 kills off background apps too quickly. It does not kill the foreground app and gaming isn't affected by it.

28. Shocky unregistered

With the latest COH2 firmware this doesn't happen to me anymore. Not saying it's completely fixed but I can't reproduce the issue now, so at the very least it's improved.

29. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Good to hear :) My point wasn't so much the bug still there, but he was just incorrect in his statement. Gaming doesn't lag on the S6, not because of so called poor ram management.

19. yemkoid

Posts: 41; Member since: Aug 17, 2015

Note 4 exynos and SD805 too

21. wargreymon

Posts: 764; Member since: Nov 05, 2013

Best phone for mobile gaming? G Flex! 6" AMOLED 720p display that drains nothing, huge battery and SD800 that doesn't need to work its fullest to move the few pixels.

23. hound.master

Posts: 1044; Member since: Feb 27, 2015

You know iPhone is not even available and I'm pretty sure the difference in game performance can't be seen even gaming is not even about graphics mobile games are too weak to even challenge even some outdated socs. A gaming phone should have good handling(GS6/edge out) good sounding with means stereo speaker with many of these don't have,a high resolution(iPhone don't have that) good battery(iPhone don't have that too lg g4 too but it can be optimized to have more) so essentially most of these phones are not even suitable for gaming.

25. Shocky unregistered

I wouldn't say the LG G4 was a gaming phone, maybe for a 1080p display but not 1440p. LG are even lowering rendering quality and increase performance(Fact, Google it), definitely NOT a gaming phone. .

30. zachki17

Posts: 294; Member since: Sep 14, 2014

i own both G4 and the GS6 When it comes to performence G4 is better then the gs6 and better then you think .. you can play all heavy games with high graphics config with 0 lag .. but with the Gs6 you will notice some bugs with high graph config and it hass memory issues like all galaxy phone .. i think LG Stil Winning ..and the G4 is Thinnerr then the Galaxy S6 it Comes from 4mm to 8.9 mm The thickers point is 8.9 because its curved and feel great in the hand .. i get 6 H with heavy usage and 2 days with norml usage

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