Best gaming phones 2022 | Android Central

Almost any phone can run free-to-play titles like Angry Birds or Subway Surfers, but for more graphically demanding games, you’ll need one of the best Android gaming phones with beastly internals and superb optimization.

Some of the best Android games are PC or console ports that — even in their downgraded state — run significantly better with more powerful chips, a lot of memory, and faster displays. Cloud streaming services like Google Stadia and Xbox Game Pass for Android may process data outside of your phone, but a high Hz and strong GPU still make a difference. So you have every reason to make sure your next phone is capable of handling it all in stride.

We think the ASUS ROG Phone 6 Pro is the best overall gaming phone, but if that doesn’t strike your fancy or is out of your price range, there are plenty of other options worth considering. Here are some of the best Android phones for gamers.

What are the best Android gaming phones?

ASUS ROG Phone 6 Pro held in one hand showcasing its backside

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Go big or go home

Reasons to buy

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Fantastic AMOLED display

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165Hz refresh rate and HDR10+

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Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 with up to 18GB RAM

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Giant 6,000mAh battery

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Multipurpose, customizable ultrasonic triggers

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IPX4 splash resistance

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Bloat-free, clean Android experience

Reasons to avoid

IP rating isn’t very good

No expandable storage

No wireless charging either

Large display makes it harder to hold

ASUS and its offerings continue to push the limits of what we expect from smartphones, and that applies especially to the world of mobile gaming. The new ASUS ROG Phone 6 Pro is among the most powerful we’ve ever seen, taking the crown for best Android phone for gaming by far.

Powering all of your games is some of the best silicon in the business. The ROG Phone 6 Pro contains the mighty Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, which shows a 10% uptick in processing speed and a huge 30% uptick in efficiency compared to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 found in the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. According to the tests conducted during our review, the ROG Phone 6 toppled every other Android phone in terms of performance benchmarks.

Beyond the chipset, the ROG Phone 6 Pro Ultra beats its competition in the hardware specs arena by most other gaming metrics. It destroys the likes of the S22 Ultra, Xiaomi 12 Pro, and iPhone 13 in terms of performance, as proven by our hands-on testing and benchmark scores. You get 12GB of RAM for the base model, with options that go up to a whopping 18GB. We’ll also note that the ROG Phone 6 Pro lineup rudely removed expandable storage, but you can get versions with as much as 512GB of internal storage. Since the base variant starts with 256GB, it’s your best bet for fitting a bunch of games at once.

We were most excited to note that the ASUS ROG Phone 6 Pro finally boasts an IPX4 splash resistance rating; a first for dedicated gaming phones. The ROG Phone 6 Pro also offers an astounding 165Hz variable refresh rate simultaneously at up to 1200 nits of brightness. Our ASUS ROG Phone 6 Pro review notes that the gigantic 6,000mAh battery easily sustains these features and charges back up in a flash thanks to 65W wired charging support.

Let’s also not forget the customizable ultrasonic triggers built into the shoulders of the phone, the secondary 2-inch OLED display on the back of the device, the loud stereo speakers that sound phenomenal, and the dual USB-C ports found on this amazing gaming phone from ASUS. Outfitted with such beastly gear, the ROG Phone 6 Pro handles high-res graphics or fast-paced shooters with absolute ease. If you’re in the market for a dedicated smartphone and have cash to spare, this ASUS phone has our vote.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra with its S Pen unsheathed

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Got the goods to game

Reasons to buy

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Stunning QHD+ display with 120Hz refresh rate

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Internals can handle games really well

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Fantastic cameras

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Great haptics

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IP68 rating

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S Pen functionality

Reasons to avoid

Too big for one-handed use

No headphone jack or microSD card slot

Samsung doesn’t explicitly market the Galaxy S22 Ultra as a gaming smartphone, as it focuses more of its marketing machine on other features like the S Pen. But the brand wouldn’t be wrong to throw in a comment or two about its gaming chops. With an IP68 water and dust proof rating, the S22 Ultra is robust for its large size. Pop the hood and you’ll let out a long, impressed whistle of admiration. Although there were performance throttling issues at launch, Samsung has since fixed the problem and the phone performs 25-30% faster than its predecessor.

For instance, it excels at streaming games from Xbox Game Pass, working like a charm when pairing it with a compatible Bluetooth controller. The 120Hz refresh rate gives the screen the fluidity necessary to keep games looking smooth, while the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 inside is more than enough to handle today’s latest mobile titles.

The 6.8-inch QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2x panel is hands down the best screen on the market, providing plenty of screen real estate for gaming. Battery life holds up well because the 120Hz refresh is dynamic, so it doesn’t kick in for everything you do on the device. Even at high refresh rates, 5,000mAh is a lot of juice so you won’t face any battery anxiety at all. Pair that with the 45W wired and 15W wireless charging speeds and all your worries will dissolve into thin air.

Red Magic 7S Pro lying flat on a map with its transparent back facing upwards

(Image credit: Jerry Hildenbrand)

Go all-in on gaming

Reasons to buy

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Buttery smooth, notchless 165Hz AMOLED display

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Robust cooling system

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Fast Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor with tons of RAM

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Red Core 1 co-processor for gaming

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Built-in trigger buttons for extra control

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5,000mAh battery + 65W charging

Reasons to avoid

Design isn’t for everyone

Mediocre cameras

Lacks IP rating, wireless charging, and audio port

You don’t need to be very familiar with Nubia or even recognize that it’s a sub-brand of ZTE. What you do need to know is that its Red Magic 7S Pro is one of the most fully-featured gaming phones you can buy, so if your interest in mobile gaming has you seeking something unique, you owe it to yourself to consider picking it up.

There’s a lot about the Red Magic 7S Pro that stands out. Starting first with its display, the phone sports a notchless 6.8-inch AMOLED, along with a 165Hz refresh rate. Its smoothness contributes to a wonderful gaming experience, just as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 does. The addition of the Red Core 1 gaming co-processor results in speedy performance unlike any other Android phone right now, as we found in our review. With up to 18GB of RAM and 512GB of internal storage, including 5G connectivity, it has plenty to enjoy a good game with.

Being a gaming phone, it really stands out with features catering to those expectations. The RedMagic 7S Pro has built-in triggers on the phone’s frame for more precise controls, plus an improved cooling system that includes an active fan to keep those rising temperatures in check when necessary. Embracing the full-blown gamer aesthetic, the cooling fan features RGB lighting that you can enjoy looking at thanks to the semi-transparent back. That’s a technically laudable feat and one you won’t find on another phone.

Even with all that, Nubia managed to squeeze in a 5,000mAh battery and include a 65W charger. So in about half an hour or so, you can go from empty to full power.

Black Shark 5 Pro on a plain grey table with its rear side facing upwards

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

Ready to entertain

Reasons to buy

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Gorgeous 144hz AMOLED display and customizable RGB lighting on the back

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Improved cooling system

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Magnetic pop-up triggers that can be customized

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Solid internals to keep playing

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120W fast charging with brick in the box

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Outstanding speakers

Reasons to avoid

Tons of bloatware

No headphone jack

Lacks waterproofing and wireless charging

Xiaomi may not be top of mind when it comes to mobile gaming, so prepare to be surprised. Black Shark is a Xiaomi sub-brand that focuses on working the company’s magic in the mobile gaming niche. We all know that Xiaomi thrives on budget-busting smartphones that cut a few corners to deliver impressive mid-rangers. Now imagine using that formula but for a gaming phone.

The Black Shark 5 Pro is exactly what we just described; a value gaming phone that aims to satisfice by trading off some cleverly calculated features. There’s a combination that definitely works here because you get the high-end Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, 8GB to 16GB of RAM, and 128GB or 356GB of internal storage. Smooth gameplay shouldn’t be a problem, especially with the Black Shark 5 Pro’s nine-layered cooling system to keep excess heat at bay. Touch-centric games get a nice boost from the 720Hz touch response rate.

You’ll be pleased with the 144Hz 6.67-inch AMOLED display that has the visual splendor you can appreciate while playing a game. The Black Shark 5 Pro’s design isn’t as insane as some other gaming phones, though you still get a cool RGB light on the back which is thoroughly customizable. Battery life holds up well, and with Xiaomi’s 120W HyperCharge technology, you could be back up and playing again a lot faster than before.

Use this phone with any game on Google Play or Xbox Game Pass, and you should have no issues. Those built-in magnetic triggers eliminate the need for a separate controller and you can even use them in your day-to-day usage by assigning custom functions to the triggers. We were disappointed with the Black Shark 5 Pro’s price considering the older Black Shark 4 Pro was delightfully cheap, but it’s still a great value buy overall. After all, this phone held its own against big fish like the S22 Ultra and the ROG Phone 6 in the performance benchmarks we conducted during our hands-on testing.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 inner display

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Two displays, one phone

Reasons to buy

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Large 7.6-inch AMOLED with 120Hz refresh rate

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Outstanding internal hardware

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Outer screen is useful for day-to-day tasks

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IPX8 water resistance

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Noticeably better performance over last generation

Reasons to avoid

No expandable storage

Insanely costly

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a fabulous foldable that takes gaming to a whole new level. The differentiator for the Z Fold 4 is the foldout screen that unfurls to a massive 7.6 inches, giving you a large canvas for playing the latest games. The inner and outer AMOLED screens have a 120Hz refresh rate, ensuring smooth playback of your favorite games.

As for the hardware itself, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is the best chipset you’ll find on Android, delivering more than enough power for even the most demanding of games. It doesn’t get hot like the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC and you get consistently brilliant performance. With 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and up to 1TB of UFS 3.1 storage out of the box, there’s more than enough memory for multitasking here, and you can easily store all of your games.

In terms of connectivity, you get global 5G bands and Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.2. Oh, and a nifty addition this year is IPX8 water resistance, making sure that you can continue gaming while at the pool. And finally, there are stellar cameras here, so when you’re not playing games, you can take stunning photos in just about any lighting scenario. The 4,400mAh battery ensures you get a full day’s use, and there’s 25W fast charging along with wireless charging.

It’s not just the chipset and other internals that have seen improvement. Samsung has finally refined its flexible display technology and the robust hinge is built to endure. You’ll notice the narrower hinge and slimmer bezels immediately compared to the last-gen Z Fold 3. This is a better, faster, and more power efficient foldable in every way, making for a fun gaming experience. All you need is a compatible controller for the Z Fold 4.

Google Pixel 6 Pro held in one hand with the display visible

(Image credit: Android Central)

The phone for game streaming

Reasons to buy

+

Gorgeous design

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High-quality AMOLED screen

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Plenty of power

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Good battery life

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Latest Android features

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Great Pixel camera

Reasons to avoid

Annoying software bugs

Limited global availability

With the Pixel 6 Pro, Google finally sorted out past hardware issues, and is now offering a phone that is one of the best in its category. The phone has a vibrant LTPO OLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate, and with Google’s custom and powerful Tensor chipset under the hood, it’s fantastic for playing games on the go. Google’s in-house silicon handles any game without stuttering, be it Call of Duty: Mobile or Genshin Impact.

It isn’t lacking when it comes to memory or storage either. You get 12GB of RAM as standard along with 128GB of storage. The trio of 50MP, 48MP, and 12MP lenses at the back form one of the best camera setups you’ll find on any phone today, and the 5,003mAh battery lasts all day — even with extended gaming sessions.

The hardware on offer makes the Pixel 6 Pro a great choice for Google Stadia, and the icing on the cake is that the phone is a stellar value, much lower in price than other Android flagships.

Your best Android gaming buddy

If you’re upgrading to a new phone and want something that can handle gaming with ease, the ROG Phone 6 Pro is your best bet. It’s an easy contender for phone of the year and is packed with pretty much all of the features you’d want for gaming and daily use. The ASUS gaming phone has the beefiest internals available inside any Android phone right now. Our testing aligned with the on-paper performance benchmarks, so you can rest assured that it is a gaming powerhouse.

Without a doubt, one of the best aspects of the Phone 6 Pro after performance is its display. It uses a Samsung-made AMOLED panel that is just as vibrant and colorful as ever, but this time around, it enables a sublime 165Hz refresh rate. This results in your eyes being treated to one of the best displays that exist on a smartphone right now, which contributes to a better user experience whether you’re gaming or using your phone for other tasks.

Another highlight of the ASUS ROG Phone 6 Pro is its sheer specs. With a Snapdragon 8+ gen 1 chipset, up to 18GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and a humungous 6,000mAh battery, this is a phone that’s outstandingly fast, has plenty of room for all of your local files/games, and can easily get through a full day of use. The ROG Phone 6 Pro isn’t a cheap or easily accessible device, but if you have the means to buy it, it’s without a doubt the best Android phone for games.

If you need something more readily available and versatile, the S22 Ultra is the obvious choice. It has high-end internals and an even better, more vibrant AMOLED screen, and manages to undercut its rival because of its IP68 rating, wireless charging, and an S Pen for added functionality. You still need to pay a lot more though, and the Samsung phone still lacks gamer-esque features like the ROG Phone’s ultrasonic triggers, additional USB-C port, and an extra OLED on the rear.

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