Best gaming phones (2021)

Best gaming phones (2021)
Gaming phones used to be a niche thing, with crazy designs and bloated software, but that has gradually changed in recent years. Even if you aren't necessarily a hardcore mobile gamer, you'll likely appreciate gaming-capable smartphones for their powerful specs, smooth, high refresh rate displays and often superior speakers than the average mainstream phone. And speaking of mainstream, high-end mainstream phones are also so powerful nowadays, that we can't overlook those as viable options for gaming either.

So, are you a gamer who's looking for the best gaming phone, that will help ensure your winning streaks in your favorite multiplayer shooter? Well, you've come to the right place!

Best phones for gaming in 2021, summarized:

Asus ROG Phone 3

Asus ROG Phone 3
8.0

Asus ROG Phone 3


The Good

  • Outstanding all-round performance
  • Lots of storage and RAM for its price points
  • Loud, spatial audio
  • Useful proprietary accessories available — docks, fan, dual screen case

The Bad

  • Minimum brightness does not get low enough
  • No water resistance
  • GSM only (no Verizon support)


The Asus ROG Phone 3 came out in late 2020, sporting a much less gamer-y design than its predecessors, which most users likely prefer. Aside from the light-up ROG logo on its back, it can pass for a normal smartphone, but it's a beast on the inside.

This phone delivers outstanding all-around performance, thanks to its Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ processor and 12GB of RAM. The ROG Phone 3 also has arguably the greatest, fullest-sounding dual stereo speakers on any Android smartphone to date, which is key for a fantastic multiplayer gaming experience. It also has a huge battery, a super-smooth OLED display (up to 144 Hz) and two AirTriggers, which are touch-sensitive areas on its top frame that you can use as buttons for your games.

Read more: Asus ROG Phone 3 review

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
9.1

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra


The Good

  • The longest, cleanest zoom on a phone, and most versatile camera set
  • The best battery life in its class
  • Brightest display with the most granular adaptive refresh rate
  • Stylish Contour Cut design and richer variety of colors
  • Unique 12-bit color RAW capture at 108MP
  • S Pen stylus support
  • Next-gen Wi-fi 6E standard support

The Bad

  • Still big and bulky to carry and use, especially with an S Pen case on
  • $1200 gets you just 128GB, no charger, earbuds, or memory card slot
  • The new ultrasonic finger scanner is still comparatively slow
  • Softness in the main camera sample edges


The Galaxy S21 Ultra is Samsung's newest flagship smartphone and as such, it sports some of the best specs you can get on an Android phone right now.

It has a game mode that will set its gorgeous, large display to refresh at 120 Hz and with its powerful processor (Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100) and 12GB of RAM, it's a fantastic phone for hardcore gaming. It also has a huge battery and beautiful design, making it a great all-around smartphone to rock out and game on for years to come.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
9.0

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max


The Good

  • Largest, toughest display on an iPhone
  • The best camera set on an iPhone
  • Double the base storage of its predecessor
  • Futureproof 5G support with bands record
  • Best water-resistance on a general purpose phone

The Bad

  • Static 60Hz display refresh on a $1099 phone
  • Blocky and heavy compared to its peers
  • Expensive $599 body repair if you crack the rear
  • No power adapter in the box, slow charging


If you're leaning towards iOS gaming and the Apple Arcade subscription service, the most powerful phone for gaming from Apple you can get right now is the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Its high performance will crush any games at their highest settings without breaking a sweat, while its solid battery life will ensure that you'll be comfortable playing for hours on end without needing to recharge. In our 3D gaming battery test, the iPhone 12 Pro Max lasted a solid 8 hours. It also sports the largest display ever put on an iPhone.

Note to Fortnite gamers: Fortnite is currently unavailable on iOS, so you may be better off buying an Android phone.

Read more: Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max review

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
8.8

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2


The Good

  • Head-turning, bragging-rights form factor used for added multitasking value
  • Keeps the small-to-big foldable phones' promise thanks to the large Cover Display
  • Smooth scrolling and interface on the first foldable 120Hz display
  • Very usable with one hand on the go when closed
  • Smooth performance
  • Great selfie pictures and video taken with the main camera
  • Excellent stereo speakers
  • Excellent display replacement warranty with the free Galaxy Z Premier service
  • Smooth, noiseless hinge movement

The Bad

  • More expensive than the OG Fold with twice less base storage
  • Still a thick and heavy phone to carry around, especially with a case on
  • Squished and tiny keyboard on the narrow cover screen
  • Taking selfies with the main camera could be less convoluted a process
  • 8K video-capable processor but no camera resolution to support it
  • Subpar camera performance in low light
  • Battery life takes a hit if you are mainly using the foldable screen
  • A lot of apps are not optimized for the main display's squarish aspect ratio


If you're ready to go to the next level with your smartphone gaming, there is nothing like playing mobile games on the Galaxy Z Fold 2. It's a candy bar-shaped phone when you need it to fit in your pocket, but it can unfold into an extremely powerful tablet when it's time for play.

Games like Pub G play fantastic on it, plus its stereo speakers are superb in volume and richness. The phone feels great in the hands and is easy to game on, not too large or unwieldy as a tablet might be. Any game looks gorgeous on the Z Fold 2's large, foldable, smooth 120 Hz AMOLED display.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
9.3

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra


The Good

  • Beautiful styling, luxurious feel
  • Super smooth and snappy performance
  • Excellent camera quality for both photos and videos (auto-focus issue is fixed)
  • The biggest improvement to the S Pen so far
  • Outstanding 6.9” AMOLED screen
  • Cool features like Wireless DeX

The Bad

  • $1,300 starting price is a bit too much
  • Gigantic size might be a turn off for some, no smaller model available
  • Battery life is just okay, 120Hz takes a toll
  • No headphones in the box


The Note 20 Ultra is not just a huge, powerful smartphone that will deliver amazing 3D gaming experiences, but thanks to its included S Pen stylus, it's arguably the best phone to pick for casual gaming also.

For example, playing card games or chess with the S Pen can be a joy, much more convenient than using your finger. So for all-around versatility and a huge, almost 7-inch display, you can't go wrong with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, for any kinds of games.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review

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