Pocket-lint is supported by its readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

(Pocket-lint) - The mobile gaming community continues to grow, with hot new titles hitting download stores and an ever-expanding fanbase of dedicated players. Manufacturers have noticed this too, and are crafting handsets specifically tailored for mobile players.

It's not a brand new concept, but with a number of big brands now into the production of their sixth or seventh-generation devices, we run down what's out there in the gaming phone market that's worth considering, alongside which special features might make it worth buying one device over another.


Best gaming phones in 2022

  1. Black Shark 5 Pro
  2. Asus ROG Phone 5S
  3. RedMagic 7
  4. RedMagic 7S Pro
  5. Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Our Top Pick: Best Gaming Phone

Pocket-lint Best gaming phone 2020 The best gaming handsets you can buy photo 23

Black Shark 5 Pro

squirrel_widget_12853967

For

  • The best speakers we've heard on a phone
  • Top-notch performance
  • Satisfying physical triggers

Against

  • No headphone socket or wireless charging
  • Advertisements in the system apps

The Black Shark 5 Pro is one of the most powerful gaming phones that money can buy. Its pop-up physical triggers are both satisfying to use and a competitive advantage when it comes to shooter games. Combine this with a large and bright OLED display and the most impressive speakers we've tested on a smartphone, and you're on to a winner.

POCKET-LINT VIDEO OF THE DAY

What's more, the phone is easy to live with on a daily basis, thanks to its lightning-fast charging and decent camera performance. If you're looking for something that can game with the best, without sacrificing usability, then the Black Shark 5 Pro is an excellent option.

Gaming phones we also recommend

While we think that the Black Shark 5 Pro is one of the best gaming phones on the market, it won't be right for everyone, nor everyone's wallet. So, with that in mind, here are four more top gaming phones to consider.

Pocket-lint Best gaming phone 2020 The best gaming handsets you can buy photo 14

Asus ROG Phone 5S

squirrel_widget_6296001

For

  • Excellent stereo speakers
  • Snappy performance
  • Large, bright and responsive screen

Against

  • The battery doesn't last as long as you'd hope
  • It's a chunky one

The ROG Phone 5 impressed us by not only being an excellent gaming phone but by being a great phone in all regards. The 5S takes that winning formula and improves it even further by bumping up the CPU specs and increasing the touch response rate.

It's got a stylish and futuristic finish, excellent performance and a big, bright display. The included cooler adds triggers and a kickstand to the rear of the device when attached - an ingenious design. We think it's one of the best gaming phones money can buy.

Pocket-lint Best gaming phone 2020 The best gaming handsets you can buy photo 20

RedMagic 7

squirrel_widget_6691192

For

  • The most powerful gaming phone in its price range
  • Blazing-fast 165Hz refresh rate
  • Great styling and cooling

Against

  • The cameras aren't great
  • Battery life could be better

The RedMagic 7 features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset with active cooling to enable uncompromising gaming performance. Its gaming software is among the best around and the capacitive touch triggers are well implemented. Meanwhile, the gorgeous AMOLED panel with its speedy 165Hz refresh rate is equally great for gaming and media consumption.

Middling battery life and underwhelming camera performance hold it back from taking the top spot, but at this price point, it's an excellent choice.

Pocket-lint Best gaming phone 2020 The best gaming handsets you can buy photo 24

RedMagic 7S Pro

squirrel_widget_12854965

For

  • Actively cooled Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor
  • Uninterrupted full-screen gaming
  • Improved thermal design

Against

  • The under-panel camera is pretty terrible
  • No wireless charging or expandable storage

The RedMagic 7S Pro fixes some of our biggest gripes with its predecessor by improving the thermal design and granting longer battery life. This is one of the first gaming phones to feature Qualcomm's flagship Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor and, as a result, it's almost unrivalled when it comes to gaming performance.

The use of an under-panel camera allows for a near bezel-free and notch-less design that looks mighty impressive. Unfortunately, this cutting-edge camera tech results in a pretty awful selfie camera and you still pay a premium for it.

Pocket-lint Best gaming phone 2020 The best gaming handsets you can buy photo 18

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

squirrel_widget_6072368

For

  • Massive screen
  • 120Hz ProMotion smoothness
  • Top-notch cameras

Against

  • A single Lightning port is limiting for gamers
  • No headphone socket

This one might not be targeted specifically at gamers, but that doesn't mean it can't game. There are tonnes of iOS exclusive games, some of which are truly excellent, and we reckon the best device to enjoy them on is the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

It's got a gorgeous and gigantic display with a speedy 120Hz refresh rate and plenty of power to run games with. Battery life is excellent, too, so you can get a good long session in before you'll need to top it up.

Other products we considered

When trying to figure out what we believe to be the best gaming phones currently available, we spent hours testing and researching. We consider a range of factors when it comes to recommending devices - and also when a new device enters our top five selections. This isn't just our own testing, either, but also consumer reviews, brand quality and value.

In all of our roundups, there are also many products we test that don't make the final cut. Since they may be the right fit for some people, however, we've listed them below.

How to choose a gaming phone

There is a wealth of options when it comes to gaming phones, and when you consider that the majority of flagships are also rather adept at gaming, it can be hard to know where to start. So, in an effort to help you find your perfect match, here are a couple of things worth considering before you buy your next phone.

What kind of games do you play?

This is probably the most important factor when deciding on a phone for gaming. If you're trying to achieve the maximum frames per second on Genshin Impact you'd benefit from advanced features like CPU overclocking and the ability to pause background processes. On the other hand, if you're a competitive CoD Mobile player, then physical triggers and an increased touch response time could be invaluable.

If you mainly play 2D games that aren't very graphically intensive, you might be better served by a non-gaming-specific phone as they tend to offer some better general-purpose features like longer battery life and more advanced camera systems.

Thinking about the type of games you play will help to make the important features stand out.

Do you normally play at home or on the go?

Gaming phones tend to aim for the highest performance possible alongside the most powerful cooling, but this tends to come at the cost of battery life and portability. It's important to think about where you most frequently game, as this should factor into your buying decision.

If you game at home, then battery life won't be your biggest concern. Instead, we'd recommend looking out for devices that have multiple USB-C inputs, so that one can be used for power while the other can connect to peripherals like a controller or external cooling system.

If you game on the go, then battery life, as well as the size and weight, are something to think about more carefully. Maybe opting for a slightly less powerful handset with longer battery life would be more convenient, or maybe you're happy to always have a power bank at the ready.

More about this story

Every product in this list has been tested in real-life situations, just as you would use it in your day-to-day life.

A phone is something you use all day, every day, so we've used all the options on this list extensively to see how they hold up in the real world. We've tested battery life, gaming performance, connectivity, camera performance and everything else you could possibly need to know. Then we've given you all the data you need to help with your buying decisions.

As with any roundup, it's not possible to deliver a list that works for every type of user, but we lean on the experiences and opinions of the wider Pocket-lint team - as well as thoroughly assessing the areas above - in order to do our best in this regard.

What we always tend to avoid when compiling these picks are needless spec comparisons and marketing lines; we just want to provide an easy to understand summary that gives you an idea of what each product is like to use. Our verdicts are concise, but this is purely in the interest of brevity. Rest assured all the things on this list have been fully tested.

Writing by Luke Baker.