Best gaming phones 2023 - buyer’s guide

GSMArena team, Last updated 14 April 2024.

Last updated: April 14, 2024 (Changelog)

Phones have gradually replaced so many standalone devices we used to rely on, so why not take over our handheld gaming. Razer made waves in late 2017 and Asus' ROG branch joined in in 2018, with offers following from a Xiaomi-backed Black Shark and ZTE's nubia. Those have gaming-centric features and often sport a certain gaming aesthetic that may not be to everyone's taste, but there are also some mainstream phones that can do better for gaming than others. What's the best there is right now?

Here's what we consider to be the best gaming phones of 2022.

Editors' choice

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro

  • Most toned-down ROG design to date with mainstream appeal. Slimmed-down bezels and a much more compact body for the same display-diagonal
  • Proper IP68 ingress protection rating. A first on a gamer-specific phone. Gorilla Glass protection on both sides
  • There are no more POGO pins on the side port, which makes it simpler and more durable
  • Gorgeous 10-bit, HDR10+, AMOLED screen, 165Hz refresh rate and now with improved 2500 nits of peak brightness. Now with LTPO tech and adaptive refresh rate between 1Hz and 120Hz
  • Awesome battery life. Rich battery health prolonging options. Very fast charging (65W charger bundled) and now with 15W wireless Qi charging
  • Flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset with great options for performance tuning
  • Great Android implementation, control mapping and performance options. Now, with AI noise cancellation and semantic search features
  • Much improved camera versatility with a telephoto camera and gimbal stabilizer on the main cam. Solid daylight photos, as well as low-light images. Impressive selfie quality. Feature-rich camera app
  • Very good video quality, impressive EIS and new Super HyperSteady stabilization
  • The AirTrigger buttons are still present but have been downgraded a bit
  • The display is no longer uninterrupted and now has a punch-hole selfie
  • Slightly downgraded speaker setup compared to older ROG models
  • AeroActive Cooler X is required to make the most of the available hardware as the CPU is quick to throttle with it
  • The selfie and telephoto video capture capped at 1080p
  • AeroActive Cooler X is also a bit downgraded and only has two mappable buttons and no built-in subwoofer
  • It is smaller and more efficient at cooling, though

Nobody does smartphone gaming quite like Asus. Many iterations into the ROG Phone line, that remains a fact.

ROG Phone 8 generation and the ROG Phone 8 and 8 Pro are the phones with the most mainstream appeal to come out of the ROG family as of yet. This is the most compact and pocketable ROG Phone ever, now with proper IP68 ingress protection. Yet, that has not come at the expense of the excellent display, which still has a 6.78-indi diagonal, excellent upgraded 2,500 nits max brightness, HDR capabilities and 165Hz refresh rate, now with LTPO tech for adaptive refresh rate adjustment. The camera setup has been massively upgraded with gimbal OIS on the main cam and a dedicated telephoto shooter, both adding to the overall versatility and mainstream appeal of the ROG Phone 8 and 8 Pro.

The new, more compact design does come with a few sacrifices, though. The stereo speaker setup has been downgraded compared to previous generations. And the battery capacity, which has experienced a reduction from 6,000 mAh down to 5,500 mAh. However, in practice, neither is a major downgrade, and Asus has also done its best to mitigate other issues of the new design, like the punch-hole selfie camera interrupting the display experience and the absence of a notification LED.

Overall, we understand and support the changes Asus has introduced with the ROG Phone 8 family. In more ways than one, this move from purely gamer-focused device to one with a more general appeal has been an ongoing process for a good few ROG Phone generations. If this is what it takes for more people to notice the excellent ROG Phone family, then it is more than warranted. Plus, at its heart, the ROG Phone 8/8 Pro is still a gaming beast with excellent hardware and arguably industry-leading software to ensure the best possible gaming experience out there. It's just that it comes in a more mainstream package this time around.

Read full review
ZTE nubia Red Magic 9 Pro

ZTE nubia Red Magic 9 Pro

  • Unique flat, premium design
  • Large and fast 120Hz OLED panel, the UD selfie camera is inconspicuous
  • Exceptional battery life, fast charging
  • Plenty of gaming-oriented features, including pressure-sensitive shoulder triggers
  • Flexible and well-executed external display and peripherals gaming experience
  • Nice sounding stereo speakers
  • A decent ultrawide camera, finally
  • Feature-rich Redmagic OS 9
  • The cooling solution underperforms compared to previous generations
  • The display is not among the brightest and does not support HDR video
  • The software is still plagued by awkward English translations from Chinese
  • Ultrawide and selfie cameras are still rather underwhelming

The Red Magic 9 Pro is a capable gaming smartphone with tons of useful gaming features, excellent design, and probably one of the best, if not the best, price/performance ratios currently on the market. Kudos to nubia for maintaining its competitive pricing..

It's not only an affordable Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 option, but it also offers outstanding battery life (even better than before), decently fast charging and a great set of stereo speakers.

However, it's hard to get over the fact that this is the first Red Magic phone to overheat under prolonged loads. We checked, and every single Red Magic phone we've tested kept its cool under prolonged loads. That used to be its shtick, and now it's gone. Also, the display is not as competitive in brightness and HDR capabilities, the software still needs better translation, and the high refresh rate gaming is still a hit-and-miss. However, at this price tag, and a few software updates down the line, it does deserve a shot.

Read full review
Motorola Edge 40 Pro

Motorola Edge 40 Pro

  • Premium glass/metal build with attractive curves all around, IP68 rating.
  • Super smooth 165Hz display, good adaptive refresh rate handling.
  • Excellent battery life, super-fast charging.
  • Loud stereo speakers.
  • Clean Android interface updates up to Android 16, additional Moto custom bits, 'Ready For' PC-like capability.
  • Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is as snappy as they come.
  • Competent camera setup with standout low-light performance; particularly nice selfies too.
  • Back panel is about as slippery as possible.
  • At 2x zoom, the tele camera has a reach that's too short.
  • Daylight photo quality from the ultrawide and the telephoto is unimpressive.
  • Portrait mode results are disappointing.

The Motorola Edge 40 Pro doesn't market itself as a gaming phone. On the contrary, with its slick and toned-down exterior, it couldn't look further from it. However, it has a lot of the same makings and the potential to be a true gaming beast. Starting with the chipset, the Edge 40 Pro is rocking Qualcomm's best Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip. Then there's also the display. The Edge 40 Pro has a 165Hz OLED display, which is unheard of outside the gaming realm. The phone also does great with auto refresh rate handling, which is great for gaming.

The Edge 40 Pro also has excellent battery life and fast charging. Its only real shortcoming is the daylight camera performance, which falls a bit short. We guess that won't bother the gamer crowd too much, though.

Read full review
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max

  • Vast game ecosystem, early releases and exclusive iOS titles, console-level gaming
  • The most powerful chipset available
  • Great 120Hz OLED screen, Dolby Vision and HDR10
  • Very capable triple-camera
  • Excellent battery life
  • Upgraded connectivity across the board, UWB2,USB-C 3.2 too.
  • The Dynamic Island won't be everyone's cup of tea
  • No charger in the box
  • A lot more expensive than corresponding Android alternatives
  • The GPU throttles down to 50% of its max performance under load

Who would have thought that iPhones will become a regular recommendation in our gaming section of the buyer’s guide. And with the release of the new iPhone 15 series, it’s time to replace the older iPhone 14 Pro Max with the latest 15 Pro Max. But we are not doing it just for the higher performance, which the brand new Apple 17 Pro chipset provides.

Apple’s recent push in the gaming segment is showing some results as the company promises console-level gaming with its new iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. We chose the Pro Max for this section, of course, due to its bigger display and longer battery life.

The new A17 Pro chip ensures exceptional gaming performance, which you can bring on a bigger external display using the USB-C 3.2 port and Apple promises to bring big AAA gaming titles to iOS - Resident Evil Village, Resident Evil 4 Remake, and Assassin's Creed Mirage. This is actually a big step for the whole smartphone gaming segment.

In addition to the excellent performance, the 15 Pro Max offers great visual experience, full utilization of the 120Hz refresh rate, outstanding stereo speakers and long software support, ensuring support for future gaming titles.

Read full review
Xiaomi 13T Pro

Xiaomi 13T Pro

  • Top-notch design, IP68-rated, especially nice Alpine Blue.
  • Superb OLED, 12-bit color depth, color accurate, 144Hz, Dolby Vision.
  • Very good battery life, incredibly fast charging.
  • Good Dolby Atmos speakers.
  • Flagship-grade performance and stability.
  • Top-class battery life, fast to charge
  • IR blaster, 4 promised major Android updates, 5 year of security patches.
  • The selfie camera is disappointing.
  • A 3x optical zoom camera would have been better than 2x.

Although not specifically marketed as a gaming phone, the Xiaomi 13T Pro has a good proposition value in this aspect, no matter if it was intentional or not. In addition to the powerful Dimensity 9200+ chipset, which outperforms even handsets with Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in some benchmarks, the phone also sports a big, bright and fast 144Hz OLED panel, nice-sounding stereo speakers, dependable battery life, blazing-fast charging and a capable camera hardware.

But what’s power without control? Well, the 13T Pro surprised us with excellent sustained performance, even after long and extensive stress tests. These resulsts suggest that the device can handle long gaming sessions without resorting to heavy throttling and loss in performance. And besides, the Xiaomi 13T Pro is relatively cheap compared to most gaming-oriented or powerful flagship phones.

Read full review

Most recent updates

April 14, 2024: Replaced the Asus ROG Phone 7 with the ROG Phone 8 as new top. Replaced the nubia Red Magic 8S Pro with Red Magic 9 Pro. Removed the Black Shark 5 Pro and the Poco F4 GT.

November 7, 2023: Replaced the nubia Red Magic 8 Pro with Red Magic 8S Pro. Replaced the iPhone 14 Pro Max with iPhone 15 Pro Max. Added the Xiaomi 13T Pro. Removed the iQOO 9, Xiaomi Poco F4, Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G.

April 20, 2023: Replaced ROG Phone 6/6 Pro with ROG Phone 7. Replaced ZTE nubia Red Magic 7S Pro with ZTE nubia Red Magic 8 Pro. Added Motorola Edge 40 Pro.

March 13, 2023: Revisited and reconfirmed the phone shortlist.

November 11, 2022: Replaced the iPhone 13 Pro Max with the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Added a mention of the ROG Phone 6D.

July 27, 2022: Replaced the Nubia Red Magic 7 with Red magic 7s Pro.

July 25, 2022: Added the Poco F4 GT.

July 12, 2022: Replaced ROG Phone 5 with ROG Phone 6 as new top. Replaced the iPhone 12 with the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Replaced the Nubia Red Magic 6s Pro with Red Magic 7. Replaced the iQOO 7 Legend with the iQOO 9. Replaced the Black Shark 4S with Black Shark 5 Pro. Added the Galaxy A52s and the Poco F4 as budget offers. Removed the Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE and Moto Edge 20.

December 30, 2021: Added the iQOO 7 Legend as India Special. Removed the nubia Red Magic 6R (discontinued).

October 20, 2021: Added the Motorola Edge 20. Replaced the iPhone 11 with the iPhone 12. Replaced the Mi 11 Lite 5G with the 11 Lite 5G NE. Replaced the Red Magic 6 with Red Magic 6s. Replaced the Black Shark 4 Pro with Black Shark 4S Pro.

June 30, 2021: Added the nubia Red Magic 6R.

May 18, 2021: Replaced the ROG Phone 3 with ROG Phone 5. Replaced the Red Magic 5G with Red Magic 6. Replaced the Black Shark 3 Pro with the Black Shark 4 Pro. Replaced the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite 5G with Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G. Replaced the Lenovo Legion Duel with Lenovo Legion Duel 2. Removed Moto Edge, Huawei P40 Lite and iQOO 3.

Best phones by category

Reader comments

  • Rtdf
  • 03 Jul 2024
  • I@a

Tecno camon 30 pro or premier should be here since it's cheap And has the dimensity 8200 ultimate and has a 50MP front camera and triple 50MP main cameras

  • Anonymous
  • 01 Jun 2024
  • vaS

Iphone 15 Pro Max. Throttles to 50% of the gpu blah blah blah. Why is that even here lmao.

Can I know why the S23 ultra is not here,does it really throttle that much or am I really missing something?