Buying A Gaming Phone

Buying Gaming Phone Guide | 8 Things You Were Never Told

We see many guides on buying a gaming phone, however, none of them even mention some crucial specs including the touch sampling rate, OS/UI optimization, and cooling system. So, here we are with this gaming phone guide to help you understand the technologies used in gaming phones and make a better buying decision.

Important Notice: We will try our best to update this guide with the recent advancements in mobile gaming. As of now, this guide is suitable for buying gaming phones in 2022.

Buying Gaming Phone Guide – For What Gaming Audience This Guide Is Suitable

This gaming phone guide is suitable for people who play either competitive games or super high graphics games including:

  1. Genshin Impact
  2. COD Mobile
  3. PUBG Mobile
  4. Fortnite
  5. Grid Autosport
  6. Asphalt 9: Legends
  7. Battle Prime
  8. Apex Legends Mobile
  9. Real Racing 3
  10. Shadowgun Legends

And other high graphics competitive gaming.

Warning: This guide is not for users who just want to buy a gaming phone to play Subway Surfers or Talking Tom.

Is iPhone Good For Gaming?

Let us make this clear, Apple’s iPhones are not gaming phones. They don’t have high touch response, a poor cooling system, and lower refresh rates. Even though they have a better SoC and OS, this doesn’t make them superior gaming phones. See the checklist below to make them qualify as gaming phones.

For light and mid gaming: Recommended

For competitive and high-end gaming: Not recommended

Buying Gaming Phone Guide – Gaming Phone Checklist 2022

Buying Gaming phone guide checklist 2022

Gaming Phone Guide – What to look for when buying a gaming phone?

These specs must be considered when buying a gaming phone:

1. SoC/Processor

Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 release SoC

The core of a gaming phone is its processor. That is why we have mentioned it at no.1 in this gaming phone guide. High-end processors whether they are from Qualcomm, MediaTek, Exynos, or Kirin are the foundation of solid gameplay.

Our recommendation on gaming SoC:

When it comes to gaming Qualcomm and MediaTek are the top leaders. Just look for their flagship SoCs of the current year, for example, Snapdragon 8 Gen1 from Qualcomm and Dimensity 9000 are the flagship SoCs of both manufacturers, respectively, this year. Meanwhile, the GPU performance of that SoC must also be validated. For example, Snapdragon 8 Gen1’s Adreno 730 is better than Dimensity 9000’s Mali-G710. So, a Snapdragon 8 Gen1 phone may perform better when it comes to gaming in comparison to Dimensity 9000.

However, certain games are more optimized with Qualcomm flagship SoCs. For example, PUBG Mobile provides 90 FPS gameplay to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 and above SoCs, of course with a 90Hz refresh rate display. Sadly, this is not the case with MediaTek SoCs, even if they are more powerful than Qualcomm; for example Dimensity 9000 vs Snapdragon 8 Gen1.

MediaTek flagship SoCs are considered great for value. You will find a Dimensity 9000 gaming phone slightly cheaper than a Snapdragon 8 Gen1 phone.

2. Screen Refresh Rate

gaming phone guide refresh rate

“A smooth gameplay with additional frames gives you an upper hand against a player, though the player must have lower FPS than you”.

This was considered to be an essential aspect of PC gaming, however, with mobile games like PUBG Mobile and COD Mobile, we are seeing this in the mobile gaming industry as well. The only way to get higher FPS even if your SoC supports it is to get a higher refresh rate display. The standard smartphone display is 60Hz. That is why most mobile games are locked to 60 fps. But then why are we purchasing a gaming phone? Well, the most demanding competitive games have already unlocked 90 fps and even higher. So, buying a gaming phone with a higher refresh rate is a must.

Our recommendation on Screen Refresh Rate:

At the moment (June 2022), we have a 144Hz refresh rate as the smartphone’s highest refresh rate which is found in an IPS LCD display. For the AMOLED display, we also have 144Hz as the highest. Choosing an AMOLED or IPS LCD display is your personal opinion. AMOLED has better contrast, deep blacks, and almost 2x and 3x brightness than LCD. They are suitable for horror games with dark backgrounds. IPS LCD is much cheaper, has better viewing angles, and has the advantage of it’s the only display available at 144Hz.

Here’s a video doing a comparison of 60Hz vs 120Hz vs 144Hz vs 240Hz refresh rate:

3. Touch Response Time / Sampling Rate

So, you have a 144Hz refresh rate display and Snapdragon 8 Gen1 SoC, but your screen’s touch sampling rate is low. More Hz in touch sampling rate means faster touch responses. You certainly don’t want to lose even if you and your competitor pressed the button at the exact time. This is why you must get a phone with a higher or the highest touch sampling rate. That is why we have touch response time as the third important thing in this gaming phone guide.

Our recommendation on Touch Response Time / Sampling Rate:

The standard phones now come with a 240Hz touch sampling rate. So, get a phone above the 240Hz touch sampling rate. The higher the better. As of now, Nubia Red Magic 7 Pro has the highest touch sampling rate of 960Hz.

4. Cooling System

gaming phone guide cooling system

High-performance processors are utilized the most when it comes to mobile gaming. The performance generates such heat that a phone’s temperature can shoot up to 50 to 60 degrees Celsius. At high temperatures, the processor performances start to decrease and that is the reason why you see mid or end-game choppy gameplay. Hot weather regions also make phones sizzle much quicker than the cold region. The solution to this is a cooling system. Most gaming phones come with a cooling system these days.

Our recommendation on Cooling System:

The level of the cooling system depends on the SoC being used. Snapdragon 8 Gen1 is notorious for high heat generation and must have a proper cooling system to make it work at 100% in the long run. Meanwhile, Dimensity 9000 has much-controlled heat generation and a simple cooling system may do the trick.

The starters come with composite graphene or some metal pipes to distribute the heat uniformly, while the premium ones have a dedicated centrifugal cooling fan with different speeds, VC liquid cooling plate, and even an aerodynamic thermodynamic aviation aluminum middle frame.

5. Game Booster

Red-Magic-5S-Game Booster

This one isn’t hardware-based but rather software-based in this buying gaming phone guide. Each OEM Android UI has a special game booster when in simple phones. That game booster is too simple with either memory clearing or some notification settings. Gaming phones game booster in almost every manufacturer is unique. They have many advanced features like touch-screen pressure calibration, contrast and brightness options, voice changer, high-performance mode, RGB lightning effects controls, and vibration intensity.

Our recommendation on Game Booster:

When it comes to buying a gaming phone look at its game booster, game boosters of JoyUI (Blackshark), Magic OS (Nubia Red Magic), ROG UI (Asus ROG Phone), MIUI (Xiaomi/Poco/Redmi), and even One UI (Samsung). Game boosters of Vivo, OPPO, Techno, and Realme are too basic. If you don’t want to use Google service, HarmonyOS (Huawei) is the best option for one of the best and most stable game boosters and OS optimization.

6. Battery

6000mah-battery-mobile-phones-d

Coming at no.6 in our gaming phone guide is the battery. Avid gamers are used to longer gaming sessions. These power processors, display, and high fps games require too much battery juice. You simply don’t want your phone to run out of power while playing a game or get a choppy gaming experience when the battery falls to critical levels. Even playing while charging the phone is quite troublesome.

Our recommendation on Battery:

2022’s industry standard for gaming phones is at least 4500mAh or 5000mAh. There are gaming phones which have a battery capacity of over 6000mAh. Moreover, fast charging is a must as well to quickly charge and return to action. Consider picking a phone with at least 30W charging. Some gaming phones have reached a stupendous 120W charging speed, charging a phone in under 15 minutes. Insane, isn’t it?

7. RAM and ROM

UFS 3.1 buying a gaming phone guide

RAM (memory) and ROM (storage) are also essential not as much as on PC gaming but still, they can’t be ignored. We usually talk about how much capacity of RAM is idle for gaming 6GB, 8GB, 12GB, or even 16GB and don’t even talk about the RAM technology being used. The same goes for ROM, 64GB/128GB/256GB/215GB/1TB but no mention of the storage technology used. The technology must be the 1st priority and then the capacity. Both of these allow faster loading of games.

Our recommendation on RAM and ROM:

Select the latest technology being used in RAM and ROM and then talk about capacity. For RAM, we have phones with LPDDR5. Meanwhile, for ROM, we have UFS 3.0 and above. Consider selecting these when buying a gaming phone. As for the capacity, for ROM, if you are using the phone for gaming purposes only, 128GB of internal storage is enough. And if you are using it for multi-purpose like storing files, video/picture editing, multimedia, and capturing videos/photos, 256GB and 512GB are the options. No need to buy a 1TB storage gaming phone. As of now, mobile games don’t occupy that much storage.

As for the RAM, consider an 8GB LPDDR5 RAM and above for a gaming phone. Even 8GB is slight overkill since mobile games even Genshin impact don’t require that much memory.

Also read: LPDDR5 vs LPDDR4x vs LPDDR4

8. Dedicated Buttons, Controllers, Cooling Pads

Nubia Red Magic 7 Pro dedicated buttons
A picture presenting dedicated buttons on Nubia Red Magic 7 Pro

Some dedicated gaming phones have extra buttons acting as programmable hotkeys which help gamers do quick actions. Even some such as BlackShark offer a Bluetooth gaming pad and cooling pad as an add-on.

Our recommendation on Dedicated Buttons, Gamepad, and Cooling Pads:

This is more of a biased opinion rather than a recommendation. If a gaming phone has extra buttons for gaming or a gamepad, it’s your decision to buy them or not. Think if you are comfortable with them and can they improve your gameplay at all. As for cooling pads, if a gaming phone doesn’t have even the basic cooling system integrated and is using a Snapdragon 8 Gen1, having a cooling pad is a must.

However, for almost every dedicated gaming phone you will see an advanced cooling system and may not need a cooling pad after all. Not having all these extras will not make you perform badly in competitive gaming. In fact, gaming (especially competitive) is more skilled-based.

The Best Recommended Hardware For A Gaming Phone in 2022

These are the recommended specs of a 2022 gaming phone:

DisplayFHD+ / 2K AMOLED Display with side or no notch
SoCSnapdragon 8 Gen 1
Snapdragon 865 and above (best for value)
RAMAt least 8GB LPDDR5 or above
ROMAt least 128GB UFS 3.1 or above
Cooling SystemYes, at least composite graphene or some metal pipes or cooling plate
Touch responseAbove 240Hz to 900Hz
Refresh rate90Hz to 144Hz
OS/UIAndroid 12 with Dedicated Game Booster
JoyUI (Blackshark), Magic OS (Nubia Red Magic), ROG UI (Asus ROG Phone), MIUI (Xiaomi/Poco/Redmi), and One UI (Samsung)
Battery5000mAh and above
At least 33W fast charging

As you can see, I have mentioned Snapdragon 865 in the table. This is because Snapdragon 865 is the SoC which is the first SoC to get optimized for 90FPS Android gaming including Asphalt 9 and PUBG mobile. Getting one in 2022 is considered to be the best for value.

FAQs

Are Gaming Phones Worth It?

Yes, gaming phones are worth spending money on. However, competitive games are mostly skilled-based. Yet, an up-to-date gaming phone can provide a slight advantage in gaming.

What are Gaming Phones?

Gaming phones are smartphones designed specifically for mobile gaming such as PUBG Mobile and COD Mobile. Their hardware and software are optimized for gaming.

What games can you play on a gaming phone?

You can play all the Android games available on a gaming phone as on a standard Android smartphone. These include PUBG Mobile, COD Mobile, Genshin Impact, Asphalt 9, Fornite, Real Racing, and the list goes on.

Are Samsung phones good for gaming?

Only a few Samsung phones are good for gaming. These include Samsung’s yearly flagship Galaxy S and Note series. The Qualcomm Snapdragon Samsung phones beat Exynos Samsung phones most of the time. However, they are not considered gaming phones.

We hope that this gaming phone guide will help you in making the right decision when buying a gaming phone. Still confused? Let us know in the comments.

  1. Finally after surfing through internet where instead of a gaming phone purchase guide, I was seeing gaming phone recommendation.

    Kudos, for creating this guide. Surely, it will need regular updates from time to time, but as of 2022, this one is perfect.

    Just want to add one thing, the size of the phone is also important. Most gaming phones are too big to get a perfect grip on which is crucial in competitive mobile gaming.

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