A rundown of the very best mobile phones for your high-performance gaming needs
It is very rare that you will come across someone that doesn’t own a mobile phone these days. Even children are coming into possession of increasingly expensive phones at even younger ages, and older generations are even starting to catch on as well. Not everyone is happy to purchase a mobile phone based on how many minutes they get on their contract, how great the camera is, or simply by how it looks, however. There are many out there who feel that traditional, indoor gaming is too restrictive, forcing you to sit in front of a console for hours whilst you could be out there enjoying the world; these people are the mobile gamers, though their version of ‘enjoying the world’ is exactly the same as being inside on a console only it involves being outside playing games on their phone. There are a fair few phones out there whose manufacturers claim they are powerful enough for handling the demanding nature of mobile games, but with such a competitive market, it can be difficult to know whether the likes of Sony, Apple, and Samsung are telling the truth, so here is a rundown of gaming-suited phones that truly stand out from the crowd.
Essential Specs: 1.7GHz quad-core processor, 2GB Ram, 4.7 inch screen, 32/64GB built-in storage space
It’s no secret that the Android operating system is the platform on which a majority of the best gaming phones are built. Android is simply more versatile than any other operating system, allows for more customisation and tweaking from the user than its rivals, and has large numbers of increasingly popular high-end games flooding into its realms by the day. The HTC One is of course Android based and the first on the list because it may be wrongly overlooked by some as a suitable gaming phone to power their demanding virtual adventures.
The HTC One is a high-end Android phone with a seamless construction, a full HD screen, a camera that supposedly works well in low light conditions, and most importantly for our gaming related purposes, a quad-core processor that gives the phone its processing might. 2 GB of ram also gives the phone the random access memory it needs to power even the most demanding of games, which is the most important function in terms of today’s review because this is all the best phone for gaming.
You can’t play games without a decent screen, either, which is why HTC have ensured that the One comes equipped with a 4.7 inch screen with a 1080 x 1920, which is pretty high for a screen that is actually a little smaller than its Samsung Galaxy S4 rival. The screen is still bigger than the iPhone’s disappointing 4 inch display, though, and is plenty large enough for you to enjoy all of your 3D games
Essential Specs: 2.25 GHz quad-core processor, 2GB Ram, Adreno 330 GPU, 5.2 inch screen, 32/64GB built-in storage space.
To be fair, I haven’t really seen the LG G2 advertised anywhere, and I watch a lot of TV and am subjected to a considerable number of banner adverts in my line of work. It doesn’t take much research and many more than five minutes playing Real Racer to realise that the LG G2 is perhaps one of the best-kept secrets of mobile phone-based gaming that the smartphone market has ever seen.
Know for their hyper-stylish designs and for being somewhat of a dark horse in the smartphone world, LG has really pushed the boat out this time with the LG G2. Forget for a minute that it has a wonderfully large 5.2 inch screen (nice and big to see all the details of your games) with an eye-popping 424 ppi pixel density and look at this phone’s processor. Actually, look at its four processors; a quad-core 2.25 Ghz processor set, to be exact, which is an insane amount of power for a mobile device. There are notebook computers out there with less processing speed than this phone, which instantly makes it a serious competitor in the gaming-centric smartphone market.
In benchmark tests, the LG G2 unsurprisingly dominated across the board, beating the big names like the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4, though losing out by a fraction to the Sony Xperia Z Ultra in a few of the test. Nevertheless, the LG G2 should be a serious consideration for your gaming arsenal since it has the processing power, the ultra hi-res screen, and great GPU that provides it with extra graphics processing power to give it the edge over all other devices in this department.
Essential Specs: 1.3 Ghz GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB Ram, G6430 quad-core GPU, 4-inch screen, 16/32/64 GB storage.
Many find it hard to think of the iPhone as a device for serious mobile gamers, probably because it hasn’t always shone through in benchmark tests against other phones in the past but in spite of some seemingly lacking specs, the iPhone 5S’s performance is surprisingly powerful here. The phone’s design is impeccable as always, with an aluminium and glass construction that sits well in the hand with a good weight which feels nice for tilting when playing tilt-responsive games. The screen’s small size and relatively large resolution (640 x 1136 pixels at about 326 ppi) has always been a selling point of the iPhone. This retina display provides some unbelievably detailed images and with no pixels visible to the naked eye, your games are going to look as impressive as they possibly can.
On paper, this phone really doesn’t look that impressive: a dual-core 1.3 GHz cyclone processor and a G6430 quad-core graphics chip provide the processing power and graphics whilst a shameful 4 inch screen persists from the previous device. Its performance is surprisingly impressive, however, beating even the Samsung Galaxy S4 in benchmark tests, which I’ll be honest even surprised me.
No matter how fast the device is or how well it plays its games, however, the iPhone 5S is still lumbered with a 4-inch screen which is simply unacceptable for a phone that is to be considered a serious contender for the title of the best phone for mobile gaming, which is a shame because it truly is a seriously powerful device, it remains to be seen whether Apple's upcoming iPhone 6 will come in two versions with one being a 4 inch display and the other 5 inch plus. Moreover, the device’s outrageous price to screen-size ratio is simply unacceptable considering the relatively reasonable pricing of the Galaxy S4.
Samsung Galaxy S4
Essential Specs: 1.6Ghz GHz quad-core processor + 1.2GHz quad-core Cortex A7, 2GB Ram, , 5-inch screen,16/32/64 internal and expandable SD storage.
And so we move on to the device that is pretty much expected to perform at highest levels year after year. The Galaxy line of phones have always been the subject of much innovation and always the thorn in Apple’s side, but it feels like the margins between the competition this year are narrowing somewhat, particularly with the raw power of the iPhone 5S. Still, the S4 instantly trumps Apple’s pitiable 4 inch screen with its monstrous 5 inch offering that has a pixel density of 441 ppi. Its quad-core 1.6Ghz processor also makes it a very nippy device, and though it falls slightly short of the iPhone’s speed, you won’t find it stuttering or suffering from much lag when playing the more demanding games that are available for your mobile gaming pleasure.
Another feature that puts the Galaxy S4 ahead of the iPhone is the fact that you can actually expand the memory if you wish to have more storage on your phone whereas the iPhone is limited to the size of the device that you pay extortionate amounts of money for. If you’re a serious gamer, then you can pick either this or the iPhone for power since they are fairly similar, but this phone’s screen size makes it the winner every time.
Sony Xperia Z
Essential Specs: 1.5Ghz GHz quad-core processor, Adreno 320 GPU, 2GB Ram, 5-inch screen, 16 GB internal and up to 64 GB expandable SD storage.
The Xperia Z has done very well on benchmark tests across the board, though it is beaten by the likes of the mighty HTC One and isn’t by any means the very best and most powerful gaming phone available. It does have a quad-core 1.5GHz processor with an Adreno 320 GPU which runs most games with relative ease, however.
This is another one of the 5-inch screen lot, yet again beating out the iPhone’s 4-inch by one whole one and making it the better gaming phone for this reason alone. For those vigorous gamers that get too into their storylines and may be prone to dropping or throwing their devices, the shatter-proof and scratch-resistant glass is a big help, though its water resistance for depths of up to a meter for 30 minutes of full immersion is all the more impressive.
As one of the less expensive gaming phones out there, this does have great potential to be the answer to many mobile gamers’ problems but it doesn’t quite have the outright power of the S4 or the LG G2.
One Ring to Rule them All
It is extremely difficult trying to select the very best phone for games to buy from this collection because they are all extremely distinctive and very powerful devices. The fashion-conscious gamers will likely go for the iPhone 5S because of its sleek look and sheer power but I maintain that its screen is a letdown and users would be better off with the Galaxy S4. The rest of the market has caught up substantially though, meaning that the spotlight isn’t entirely on the Apple/Samsung bout anymore. If we’re going by pure power, then the LG G2 is an absolute powerhouse of processing speed and should be your first choice, though don’t forget the HTC, which is still one of the most powerful Android devices out there. If it was up to me, I would choose the LG G2 every time, but individual tastes differ, so I hope this small discussion of these brilliant smartphones can help you decide more readily.