The best gaming phones in 2023

Mobile gaming has come a long way in recent years, and if you want to make the most of it you’ll want to pick up a gaming phone. These come in all shapes and sizes, but choosing the best gaming phone for you will come down to a few questions:

  • How far can you stretch your budget?
  • Do you need hardware triggers for first-person shooters, etc.?
  • How important are cameras and other features?
  • iOS or Android?

Once you know what’s important to you, it isn’t too difficult to find a great phone for gaming. You can learn more in our detailed buyer’s guide, but we’ve done the hard work for you and tested nearly every phone on the market. Keep reading for the best gaming phones you can buy in 2023, starting with a phone that’s easily the cream of the crop.

The ROG Phone 7 is the best gaming phone for most people

Asus ROG Phone 7Asus ROG Phone 7
AA Editors Choice

Asus ROG Phone 7

Brilliant gaming performance • Elite gaming features • Excellent battery life

Level up your play with the ROG Phone 7

With next-level performance and full-on software customization, serious mobile gamers should look no further than the ASUS ROG Phone 7 to gain a competitive advantage.

ASUS ROG Phone 7 UltimateASUS ROG Phone 7 Ultimate
AA Editors Choice

ASUS ROG Phone 7 Ultimate

Blisteringly fast gaming performance • Packing with gaming features • Bundled cooler

The ultimate gaming phone of 2023

Level up your gameplay even further with the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate from ASUS with the exclusive ROG Vision rear display, unique colorway, AeroActive Portal cooling and bundled AeroActive cooler accessory, and more.

The ROG Phone 7 isn’t the latest in ASUS’ gaming lineup, but it’s easily the one we recommend for most people. Not only does it have all the great gaming-specific features you’d expect from a gaming phone, but it also performs well in other tasks. Most other gaming phones have glaring weaknesses, but this one is a fantastic all-around device. It’s also one of the very few phones with a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The biggest gaming feature here is the hardware shoulder buttons, called Airtriggers. These are located where your fingers rest when holding the device in landscape, and use ultrasonic sensors to perform a similar task to triggers on a console controller. However, we were a bit disappointed that they don’t give that satisfying “click” that gaming controllers have. Thankfully, you can get clicky triggers by picking up the all-new AeroActive Cooler 7 accessory, which also helps cool the phone. It also has a passthrough headphone jack and a subwoofer.

Power is a key concern when it comes to gaming phones, and the ROG Phone 7 lineup is at the top of its class. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in the ROG Phone 7 outperformed even the overclocked Snapdragon for Galaxy chipset found in the Galaxy S23 Ultra in our testing, mostly thanks to improved heat dissipation and the unique performance-oriented “X-mode” included as part of the Armoury Crate software package. Check out the full results in our ROG Phone 7 review, but suffice it to say that this is the most powerful gaming phone on the market, even without the boost from the AeroActive Cooler 7.

The ROG Phone 7 Ultimate has some added features, but the standard model is a better value.

The 165Hz AMOLED screen was also impressive in our testing. It features very high touch sampling (720Hz), so you can’t complain about input lag in competitive games. The main problem here is support from games. ASUS threw in a ton of great features like auto-capturing highlights or displaying on-screen alerts using AI, but few games support them. Likewise for anything above 60fps. Thankfully, the refresh rate can be reduced to 60, 90, 120, or 144Hz in settings (on a per-game basis, to boot), and automatically lowers to 30Hz for the always-on-display to save battery.

Speaking of battery, this thing packs two 3,000mAh batteries for a massive 6,000mAh overall capacity. This lasted for well over a day in our testing, and there’s a 65W charging brick in the box that should charge to full in roughly 42 minutes. There’s no wireless charging here, which we suspect is due to the nature of the enhanced cooling system within the phone.

Much like its predecessor the ROG Phone 6, the rest of the phone is more than good enough for everyday use. Camera performance is just average, and can’t compete with the best camera phones. The phone is also quite heavy, so we recommend using something like the ROG Kunai Gamepad 3 or a Bluetooth controller for marathon gaming sessions.

For anyone looking for a gaming phone, the standard ROG Phone 7 is probably the one to get. The ROG Phone 7 Ultimate features the same internals, but with an added cooling port and a nifty screen on the back. It also comes with the AeroActive Cooler 7 in the box, although we still don’t think it’s worth the extra $400.

What makes it stand out

  • Gaming first: This phone is built to game with hardware triggers and tip-top performance.
  • Great battery life: The beefy 6,000mAh cell lasts for two days or several hours of hardcore gaming.
  • Add-on accessories: ASUS makes a full ecosystem of accessories, most notably the Aero Cooler 7.

The nubia REDMAGIC 8S Pro is a budget powerhouse

Nubia RedMagic 8S ProNubia RedMagic 8S Pro

Nubia RedMagic 8S Pro

Powerful gaming unit • Fun RGB lighting • Big specs

High-performance mobile gaming

Equipped with an active cooling system, the Nubia RedMagic 8S Pro is a powerful gaming device with a 6.8-inch display, big battery life, and next-gen connectivity. The 8S Pro has 8GB or 12GB of RAM, look for the 8S Pro+ if you want up to 24GB of RAM.

If you want raw performance at bargain prices, the nubia REDMAGIC 8S Pro is worth a look. It sacrifices a lot when it comes to software features and long-term support, but the hardware is more than capable of extreme gaming.

Like other gaming phones, the REDMAGIC 8S Pro puts a heavy emphasis on cooling. It pairs 12 or 16GB of RAM with the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 as the ROG Phone 7 series, with a redesigned cooling system to lower temps while gaming. That means it outperforms the Galaxy S23 Ultra by a sizeable margin while costing hundreds of dollars less. However, the fans were noticeably loud under stress, so you may not want to run all games on max settings all the time.

The rest of the specs largely match the ROG Phone 7, with a massive 6,000mAh battery that lasts for hours of hardcore gaming. In our testing, the included 65W charger brought the phone from 0% to 50% in less than 15 minutes, and topped the phone all the way up to 100% in less than 40 minutes. The 120Hz AMOLED screen is still plenty speedy and bright, although few games support framerates above 60Hz. The phone also features capacitive triggers, which can be customized to emulate single taps, long taps, and more on any given part of the screen.

Speaking of software, the REDMAGIC 8S Pro includes the SuperBase software, which enables fine-tuning of many mobile games. In-game, Game Space allows you to quickly see and adjust performance settings, as well as access certain plugins like a timer, notes, crosshairs, and more. There are a lot of customization options to look through for demanding gamers, but outside of the game, REDMAGIC OS 8 is far from the best Android skin we’ve tested. It’s clear where nubia’s focus lies with this device, for better or worse.

Cameras aren’t great on any of the gaming phones we’ve tested, so it should come as no surprise that the REDMAGIC 8S Pro isn’t a great camera phone. In fact, the under-display camera is downright awful (like all under-display cameras we’ve tested), although it does allow for an uninterrupted, bezel-less display while gaming. The overall build quality is good, although the boxy corners might not appeal to everyone. In our testing, they were slightly less ergonomic than the rounded corners found on the ASUS ROG Phone 7, for example.

The biggest downside here is long-term support. nubia has a spotty record with software support, so don’t expect this gaming phone to stay on the latest software for long. Still, if you want top-of-the-line performance on a budget, this phone will meet and exceed your expectations. It’s worth noting that the REDMAGIC 9 Pro will be available for pre-order at the end of December, and it will come with the standard suite of incremental improvements.

What makes it stand out

  • Pure power: This phone pulls no punches when it comes to specs and raw power.
  • Improved cooling: nubia has further improved its cooling tech, providing better performance under pressure.
  • Clean display: The under-display selfie camera means uninterrupted screen real estate for gaming.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra trades triggers for a stylus

Samsung Galaxy S23 UltraSamsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
AA Editors Choice

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

New 200MP main camera • Beautiful display • S Pen functionality

The Ultra release of Samsung’s 2023 flagship line

Powered by the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 as the smaller models in the series, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra offers larger storage capacities and a whopping 200MP camera. S Pen support and a 6.8-inch display make the Ultra ideal for note-takers on the go.

Moving out of dedicated gaming phone territory, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is a powerhouse that will satisfy any mobile gamer’s needs. It doesn’t have shoulder buttons, but it does take a page out of the Galaxy Note’s book with a built-in S Pen. This can come in handy for strategy games that require precise tapping. We loved the new grippy texture of the latest S Pen, and it stows away safely in the phone itself.

Apart from that, this phone really does have it all. It’s easily among the best Android phones you can buy, earning our pick for the best premium Android phone outside of Samsung’s own foldables. The massive 6.8-inch dynamic AMOLED display is gorgeous and perfect for games, although it’s not suited for one-handed use. Playing games in landscape should be fine, but if you’re coming from a smaller phone there will be a learning curve. Speaking of which, the curved display will also take some getting used to if you want to avoid unwanted taps, which can be a big problem in competitive titles.

As expected, performance was nearly perfect in our testing. The Galaxy S23 Ultra doesn’t have any of the fancy cooling features of dedicated gaming phones, but it makes up for it in other ways. The Galaxy-exclusive version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is a great performer, and heat dissipation is much better than its predecessor. The phone also supports the latest standards like Wi-Fi 6E, mmWave, and sub-6GHz 5G, plus ultra-wideband for things like Bluetooth trackers (such as Samsung’s own Galaxy SmartTags). Some of these might make a minor difference while gaming, but they make a huge difference in everyday use. That said, the lowest-spec model starts at 8GB/128GB, which we think is too low for a phone at this price. The 12GB/256GB version is the one to get if you want the best gaming performance to price ratio.

If you want a gaming phone with camera chops, we’re happy to report that the S23 Ultra is among the best camera phones we’ve ever tested. The all-new 200MP main shooter, combined with a 12MP ultrawide and two 10MP zoom lenses, make for a very complete package. Results in our camera shootouts were fantastic, with lowlight and zoom performance as highlights.

All that comes at a price though, and that price is over $1200. That’s a lot of money, but what you’re getting is easily one of the best Android phones on the market that just happens to be a top-tier gaming phone. Samsung also offers the best software support in the industry, so you can expect the S23 Ultra to stay up to date for far longer than any of the other gaming phones on this list.

What makes it stand out

  • S Pen goodness: The S Pen housed in the device is excellent for strategy games.
  • Raw power: We experienced no hiccups or stutters, even in intense games.
  • Excellent cameras: This tops our list of the best camera phones, providing great versatility.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is best for the Apple crowd

Apple iPhone 15 Pro MaxApple iPhone 15 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max

Best camera in iPhone line • Titanium design • Ray Tracing

The ultra iPhone 15 model

Packed with the best of the best that Apple has to offer in 2023, the iPhone 15 Pro Max offers the new A17 Pro SoC, a well-equipped 6.7-inch display, and up to 1TB of storage.

If you want to opt for Apple’s side of things, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is a clear winner. It isn’t a huge improvement over last year’s iPhone 14 Pro Max, but we didn’t find many faults with that one, either.

Apple’s Bionic processors have always outperformed anything Android can muster, and the same is true for the Apple A17 Bionic. It handily beat the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra in our testing, although we did find that it heats up fast. That means that it likely won’t be capable of sustained performance in the most demanding games, although even when throttled games will look and play great.

Speaking of games, Apple’s ecosystem sports an even more robust catalog of games than the Google Play Store, and that’s expanded even further this year with the release of AAA titles like Resident Evil Village to the mobile platform. In our early testing, performance in both handheld and connected to a large monitor via USB-C was very impressive. If you would have told us that we were playing natively on a PS4, we would have believed you.

Apart from that, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is a top-notch smartphone. It features a 6.7-inch 120Hz OLED panel to make your games pop, with a large battery to keep you gaming for longer. The switch to USB-C in this year’s iPhones is a welcome change, but charging speeds are still limited to 20W, which is well below many other dedicated gaming phones. The 8GB of RAM may also be a limiting factor in the future, especially as more AAA games are released.

We think the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the best model for gamers, but if you prefer a smaller phone the iPhone 15 Pro packs just as big a punch. However, the other two devices in the lineup use the older A16 Bionic processor, so skip those models if you want more raw power. They’re still capable devices, but they’re a considerably worse value for gamers.

What makes it stand out

  • Bionic power: Apple’s Bionic A17 processor is extremely powerful and energy efficient.
  • ProMotion display: The large, 120Hz OLED display is perfect for games of all types.
  • Ecosystem: iOS always has the latest and greatest games, and now that includes true AAA games.

The POCO F4 GT is the best budget gaming phone

Poco F4 GTPoco F4 GT
AA Recommended

Poco F4 GT

Great performance • Shoulder triggers • Fast charging

One for the mobile gamers

The Poco F4 GT is a gaming phone that costs a lot less than some of its rivals. It comes with a large display, a high-end chipset, and shoulder triggers for an improved gaming experience.

Want a cheap gaming phone? The POCO F4 GT is a fantastic option, but only for those outside of the US. It has a lot of flagship specs for a €599 phone, but you are sacrificing long-term update support.

Starting with specs, you’re getting the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor found in phones that cost $200 to $300 more. In our testing, we found it can go toe-to-toe with the Galaxy S22 Ultra, although it ran hot without the enhanced thermals found in more expensive gaming phones. We did, however, love the retractable shoulder buttons. They provide nice feedback, and can be mapped to on-screen virtual buttons via the Game Turbo side menu.

The speedy 120Hz performed well during our review period, although it isn’t exactly anything special compared to the rest of Xiaomi’s (non-gaming) midrange lineup. You can switch between 60Hz and 120Hz to save battery in games that don’t support higher framerates, which is great because battery life was just average at around six hours in our testing. Thankfully, the 120W charging topped it back off in 17 minutes flat.

While gaming will be great on this phone, it’s a mediocre camera phone. We found the primary shooter to be fine in daylight, but it struggled at night. The other two were pretty disappointing, with a lot of noise and poor color reproduction. Again though, that shouldn’t be a dealbreaker for anyone looking for a cheap gaming phone.

What makes it stand out

  • Price: This is the best cheap gaming phone you can buy (but not in the US).
  • Shoulder buttons: The retractable shoulder buttons are a joy to use, and can be mapped to virtual buttons.
  • Fast charging: Battery life is decent, and you can top off to full in just 17 minutes.

What to look for in a gaming phone

Not sure what makes a gaming phone good? We’ve tested lots of phones, and here’s some quick insight into what we look for:

  • Powerful specs: Modern games can be very demanding, so a powerful SoC and a healthy helping of RAM are crucial to maintaining high framerates.
  • Thermal performance: One of the biggest drawbacks of the latest generation of flagship processors is heat. Many gaming phones have improved thermals to enable much better sustained performance than traditional flagships.
  • Hardware triggers: While not all of our picks have them, hardware triggers make a good gaming phone great. Bonus points if they offer nice haptic feedback. However, keep in mind accessories like the Razer Kishi can get around this.
  • Software: Obviously, gaming features are great, but there are other things to consider as well. Chief among them are updates. If your phone will only receive updates for two years, you’ll need to upgrade much sooner than you’d like.
  • Cameras: Camera performance is nearly always lacking on gaming phones, but some are still capable shooters. Likewise, many of the best camera phones, like the premium Galaxy S23 Ultra, are also excellent for gaming.


While 4GB is the minimum for standard phones, gaming phones should have at least 8GB, and preferably 12GB of RAM. Check out our guide to learn more.

The latest Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, Apple A16 Bionic, or Dimensity 9000 Plus are all great options. Each has pros and cons, which you can read about here.

Gaming phones from a few years ago will still be able to run the latest games, but they may not receive many years of software updates.

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Mobile gaming has come a long way in recent years, and if you want to make the most of it you’ll want to pick up a gaming phone. These come in all shapes and sizes, but choosing the best gaming phone for you will come down to a few questions: How far can you stretch…

Mobile gaming has come a long way in recent years, and if you want to make the most of it you’ll want to pick up a gaming phone. These come in all shapes and sizes, but choosing the best gaming phone for you will come down to a few questions: How far can you stretch…

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