By now, everyone has a smartphone with a few games on them. Gaming on phones has grown into a beast that no one was expecting. As ever more complex and powerful apps and mobile games are hitting the market some may ask what hardware do you actually need a handle it all? We all know that games usually need something stronger but, does it have to be the latest flagship (with a price tag requiring you you to sell your kidney to afford it) or, can cheap gaming phones be just as good?
FEAR NOT! We are about to show you what we believe are the best affordable gaming phones on the market today. In many cases these will actually have the same internal specs as the more expensive brands (I am looking at you Samsung Galaxy S, Google Pixel and iPhone) but without the price tag. But, before we do that, lets touch on the aspect of dedicated gaming phones. Do you need one or, is a top of the range phone sufficient?
Gaming vs. non-gaming smartphone – what is the difference
As always, the reality here is slightly more complex than one would hope for. Putting it simply, it depends on how much you play and the build quality of your phone. There are technically three main aspects to this:
CPU and overheating
The longer period of time you play for, the higher the chance of CPU overheating and slowing down your phone – which is disastrous in a multiplayer environment. Some top of the range gaming phones tackle this with liquid cooling and fans (that is right, there are smartphones with fans). Will this affect all non-gaming phones? No, in fact there are a few gaming phones without any “space-age” cooling technologies and quite a few of great non-gaming smartphones (the ones we present below) that will not be affected by this (unless you play for 7h without a break). In other words, this has to be taken into account but is not necessarily a deal-breaker. The CPU itself will, of course, have to be top of the range or near to it so that it will last until you get a new phone.
The second difference in many (not all) gaming phones is the higher screen refresh rate. The higher the rate the more fluent the image (if the game can handle it). The best gaming phones will refresh your screen 120 times per second but that does not mean they have an AMOLED screen which kind of a let down (if they don’t have AMOLED). The screen gold standard is really AMOLED and the best phones will have one. Will that make a difference in gameplay – unlikely.
The third difference is sound. A great gaming phone will have great external speakers and s0me do but, far from all. There are some gaming smartphones out there that have only one speaker or where the sound is mediocre at best. On the other hand, there are some non-gaming smartphones with some amazing speakers. The reality is that, for most of us, good headphones is all that really matters.
The final difference between a dedicated gaming phone and a normal smartphone is the design. Gaming phones tend to look cool!
Our pick of the top affordable gaming phones
So now that you have been educated a bit, lets take a look at what we think are the most affordable gaming capable smartphones on the market right now. They might not all be the top of the range devices but trust us, they are more than sufficient to handle anything you can throw at them. All the mobile phones presented here have everything that a gamer would look for; a strong processing unit, a good battery and a great display. No one will miss a beat while playing Call of Duty, PUBG or the soon coming APEX LEGENDS MOBILE on any of these smartphones.
Before we review the phones, we have included some links to the best deals we could find where you can buy them. If you buy the phone via these links we will get a small commission that will help us to run the site. So if you are considering buying one of these phones, please use our links to do so.
Our pic of what we consider to be the best affordable gaming phones on the market today with the links to the cheapest sources online:
Razer Phone 2
The Razer Phone 2 has been marketed as a pure gaming phone. It is not the most beautiful phone out there but it is ideal for gaming. This phone has a 5.7-inch screen and a resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels. The screen is bright with great speakers and holds up against the fastest pace games out there. With a refresh rate of 120Hz, this screen surpasses the performance of most PC monitors that typically run at 60hz. The phone also has an improved cooling system inside which helps the Snapdragon 845 processor and 8GB of RAM really work without the fear of any overheat. Built by gamers, for gamers, votes this one of the best gaming phones. You can find it in the shops below. Unfortunately, we were not able to find a source for it in Europe.
|USA||Newegg – click here||$425|
|USA||Amazon – click here||$425|
|Worldwide & UK||Not available||–|
Oneplus 7 Pro
The second phone on this list is the OnePlus 7 Pro. It has a 6.67-inch screen and a resolution 1440 x 3120 pixels. It is not marketed as a gaming phone, but it is a beast of a phone. The screens are more curved so the horizontal way is great for gaming. It houses the latest Snapdragon 855 CPU and a maximum of 12 GB of RAM. The only difference is that the display refresh rate 90Hz with a Gaming Mode which blocks notifications and calls while a person plays.
|Worldwide & USA||Gearbest – click here||$537|
|USA||Newegg – click here||$614|
|United Kingdom||eGlobal Central – click here||£426|
Huawei Mate 20 Pro
The third of the list is the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. With a screen that is 6.39-inches and a resolution 1440 x 3120 pixels. It is a great gaming phone and it has the Kirin 980 processor and 8GB of RAM that keeps up with the previous two. This phone is also packed with a large 4,200mAh battery. This phone is cheaper than the Mate 30 and still as powerful. It’s not just a good gaming phone, but a good mobile camera as well, so the best of both worlds.
|UK||Amazon – click here||£479|
|USA||Newegg – click here||$749|
|Europe||Geekbuying – click here||€589|
Asus Rog Phone
Asus Rog laptops are some of the best in the business for gamers, but what about their phones? They do not fail to impress with the Snapdragon 845 processor and 8 GB of RAM or how they set the phone itself up so it is easy to hold in landscape mode. It has a 6-inch screen with AirTrigger sensors on the ends of the phone to improve the gaming experience. What makes it even more interesting is the magnitude of hardware add-ons that you can get for it. There is even a twin view dock! With the Asus Rog 2 being already out, the price the original Rog has dropped dramatically making it a very capable choice for the gamers out there.
|USA||Newegg – click here||$499|
|USA||Gearbest – click here||$399|
|Europe||Gearbest – click here||€364|
|UK||eGlobal – (128GB) click here||£290|
|UK||eGlobal – (512GB) click here||£317|
Nubia Red Magic 3
This phone has some history! It was banned in the US after some battles with the US government and then, reinstated with a lower price. Even today the Nubia Magic 3 is rated as one of the top gaming phones out there and has a built in fan – yes, it is true, this phone has a FAN like a gaming PC! The Nubia uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 which is strong enough to handle the most intensely graphical games while still conserving power. We are not even going to discuss the top 90Hz AMOLED screen. With between 8 and 12 GB of RAM this phone is hard to top for a gaming phone. What is even more amazing about this phone is its price. Since the Nubia Magic 3S has come out (with the only difference being the 855+ processor) it has dropped in price and is by far the cheapest flagship killer out there with the largest battery at 5000mAh! There are is only one issue with this phone: it will be a small goose chase to find it. Fortunately, we identified a number of places where you can buy one and it will cost you less than you think! This one is also our top recommendation for an affordable gaming phone!
|Europe||Nubia Direct- click here||€469|
|UK||Nubia Direct – click here||£409|
|UK||eGlobal Central- click here||£306|
|US||Nubia Direct – click here||$469|
|US||Newegg – click here||$509|
|Worldwide||Geekbuying – click here||€509|
Xiomi Mi 9
The Xiaomi has been around for quite a while now, however, until recently they mostly operated in Asia. This has changed over the last 2 years with the latest phones having global hardware. They work perfectly all over the world. The Mi 9 is the latest example of this and is stronger than one could think. It has the top of the range has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor with 6 or 8 Gb RAM. It also features a 6.39-inch AMOLED screen with a fingerprint scanner under the display. The MI 9 uses USB-C and supports Quick Charge 4.0+ this phone is able to handle any game you put in it. And since the Xiaomi Mi version 8 it is no longer region-restricted if you buy the global version. It is a beautiful phone that doubles as a hardcore gaming machine!
|USA||Amazon – click here||$337|
|USA||Newegg – click here||$395|
|Europe||Gearbest – click here||€430|
|UK||eGlobal central – click here||£296|
|Worldwide||Geekbuying – click here||€444|
The last phone on the list is the Black Shark by Xiaomi – and its promoted as a dedicated gaming phone. It comes with the Snapdragon 845 processor and liquid-based cooling to handle some of the toughest graphics out there on it’s 5.99 inch IP screen and a 60Hz refresh rate. The Black Shark has 4000 mAh battery with a quick charge functionality. There is no need to worry about losing battery or being confined to a chord for too long. Originally the Black shark was not exactly affordable. However, since the introduction of Black Shark 2 and Black Shark 2 Pro it’s price gone down dramatically. It is now a rather affordable gaming smartphone, sufficient for anything you can throw at it. Interestingly, in UK you can buy the Black Shark 2 for same price as Black Shark 1.
|UK (shark 2)||eGlobal Central – click here||£319|
|Worldwide||Gearbest – click here||€502|
|Europe (+UK)||Black Shark Direct- click here||€469|
|US||Amazon – click here||$335|
In Conclusion, you can find affordable gaming phones
Of course, these are not the only great cheap gaming phones out there but probably the best. They are as good if not better than what you can expect from the flagship smartphones. What phone one selects depends on a person’s preferences and how much they are willing to put into their phone. All of the presented phones are able to play the best mobile games out there. If you enjoy mobile games, and are looking for a new phone, give them a shot.