It’s been a short while since we’ve run down a list of smartphones that are great for gaming. That’s one good reason for taking a look at what’s currently on the market for those of us who like to use our phones for gaming, but it isn’t the only reason.
The second (and bigger) reason is that we may never have cause to do this again, and so we’re going to cast one final eye over the hardware capabilities of phone handsets in terms of running games while it’s still relevant to do so.
Why do we think we may never have cause to do this again? It’s certainly not because mobile gaming is becoming any less popular. The brand new ‘Call of Duty’ mobile game is currently smashing every record in sight when it comes to download numbers, and the new season of ‘Fortnite’ is likely to do big numbers as well. The casino end of the gaming market is increasingly mobile-based, too.
Fifteen years ago, online slots started to draw business away from conventional casinos. Now, mobile slots are doing the same thing to online slots. Players have gravitated toward online casino games because they can play them wherever they are, and whenever they like. They largely gravitate toward mobile games for the same reason. Mobile slots, mobile games, mobile dating apps – the future is only going to become more mobile, not less. It’s just that the hardware is about to become irrelevant because of Google Stadia.
Google Stadia will launch later this year, and unless it fails to deliver what it’s currently advertising, it will be an enormous success. The burden of running a high-tech game will be taken away from the device the game is played on. Instead, the game is run on a powerful machine owned by Google, and streamed to the user’s screen.
That doesn’t just mean faster mobile games – it means playing the ‘real’ version of ‘Call of Duty’ on your phone screen if you wish. The speed of your internet connection will be the defining factor in terms of how well the process works. So long as your device has a display and a passable processor, the rest of the hardware won’t matter. The Stadia app will only be available on Google’s own phones at first, but it’s only a matter of time before it’s available everywhere.
If you can’t wait that long, though, and you’re looking for a dependable phone to play games on right now, here’s our take on the best performers currently available. They’re in no particular order, so consider all of them.
Razer Phone 2
Razer’s have always claimed that they make specialist gaming phones, and that claim has always been debatable. We would expect a ‘specialist’ gaming phone to be head and shoulders above any other smartphone when it comes to the ability to run games, and we’ve never felt that Razer’s phones are so far ahead of the competition.
They are, however, at least as good as the competition. That means they have to be in the argument. You won’t find anything superior to the Razer Phone 2 in terms of chipset or display when it comes to great gaming phones, and with a retail price of around £400, it’s at the cheaper end of the market, too. Just bear in mind that it’s not as functional as a traditional phone as some of the other options.
This is probably quite a surprising inclusion, so hear us out here. The Nokia 6 is a little old now, and it’s probably available somewhere near you for £250 or less. It’s not at the high end of the market when it comes to performance as a standard phone.
The parts of the phone that make it a good bet for gamers, though, are as good as you’ll find anywhere else. If your priority when buying a phone is that you can play the games you love without any issues – and we know that such users exist – this is a sensible option. You may not be able to pack it full of apps, and you’ll never be able to take incredible pictures with it, but if you don’t care about that, then where’s the downside?
ASUS ROG Phone II
Here’s an option for the very serious gamers out there. If you’re prepared to past with the best part of £1000, you could be the proud owner of an ASUS ROG Phone II. Like the Razer phone, it’s built by a company that specializes in making gaming-optimized laptops. It doesn’t out-perform the Razer phone in terms of chips or processors, but it has a couple of extra features that the Razer is lacking.
The first is a cooling system which ensures that the phone never becomes uncomfortably hot t handle while you’re playing. The second is a pair of ‘Air Triggers,’ which are ideal for playing games that require precise control. Again, such things will be irrelevant when Stadia becomes a reality, but right now, they’re a real selling point for this device.
Sony Xperia 5
Sony made the PlayStation. Sony makes the Xperia 5. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the phone was always likely to be a good gaming option, but it is anyway. The reason we rate this phone so highly for gamers is all down to the display.
Six and a half inches isn’t the biggest screen size on the market, but factor in the fact that it comes with 4K resolution and a 21:9 ratio, and you won’t find sharper graphics anywhere. In fact, this is a phone that’s more likely to come into its own when Stadia arrives rather than depreciating in value; the display will make those streamed games look all the nicer when they’re beamed to your screen. It costs around £750, but its shelf life as a gaming phone may be longer than the other three options we’ve considered.
And so that’s it – we may never look at gaming phones again, because we may never need to. If we can stream ‘real’ video games to our mobile phones, mobile games may cease to exist at all. Perhaps only Apple – who are unlikely to get access to Stadia – will still be offering mobile games a few years from now. Enjoy the next version of Candy Crush – it might be the last!