Xiaomi Mi 9
You know that part where we insinuated that this was a close run thing? Yeah. It really isn't. The Xiaomi Mi 9 is easily the best gaming phone you can get for under £400.
That comes down to one thing, essentially: the Snapdragon 855 CPU. It's the fastest mobile processor you'll find outside of a current iPhone, and you tend to only find it in a current Android flagship. Yet here it is, in a phone that costs half the price.
As if that wasn't enough, the Xiaomi Mi 9 also packs a beautiful 6.39-inch AMOLED display with only a small teardrop notch. Its triple camera isn't bad either.
Huawei Mate 20
Buying a new Huawei phone - that's a bit risky, isn't it? Not really. As of June 29, the US administration has given the go ahead for companies to do business with the Chinese manufacturer.
And that's good to know for any gamer on a budget, because Huawei gives you a lot of bangs for your bucks. The Huawei Mate 20 packs the Kirin 980 CPU, which is an incredibly speedy 7nm chip. It's not quite as quick as the Snapdragon 855, but it's still very good with games.
Aside from that, the Huawei Mate 20 packs a large 6.5-inch FHD+ display with an unobtrusive 'dewdrop' notch, stereo speakers, and excellent battery life.
You can pretty much take our advice for the Huawei Mate 20 and apply it to the Honor 20. Honor is the online sub-brand of Huawei, you see, and the Honor 20 is a rather similar device.
It pinches the Kirin 980 from the Huawei Mate 20 (and the more recent and much more expensive Huawei P30 Pro) and boasts a not too dissimilar design. The main difference for gamers is the display, which is a slightly smaller 6.26-inch example.
Oh, and it has a hole punch notch rather than the Huawei's teardrop example, the latter of which we find preferable for games. It doesn't have the Huawei's stereo speakers, either.
Appalling name and anonymous branding aside, the Vivo iQOO is right up there with the Xiaomi Mi 9 as a sub-£400 gaming phone. It too has a speedy Snapdragon 855 CPU and a similar 6.41-inch AMOLED display.
Vivo has actively targeted the iQOO at gamers, however, with little touches like a pair of pressure-sensitive shoulder buttons, a larger 4000mAh battery, 44W fast charging and a vapour chamber cooling system.
We've given the slight edge to the Mi 9 for its readier availability (it's predominantly focused at the Chinese market), classier design and more polished software. It just feels like a safer bet. But hardcore gamers might well want to track one of these left field choices down instead.
Google Pixel 3a
We often reserve this last slot for our out there alternative pick. So what's the decidedly mainstream Google Pixel 3a doing here instead of, say, the Vivo iQOO?
Quite simply, Google's latest phone can't get anywhere near the above phones for pure gaming performance, and it has a relatively small 5.6-inch display. That said, its mid-range Snapdragon 690 CPU is capable of running games at full whack, and the display is an OLED. Add in stereo speakers, a class-leading camera, and stock Android, and it becomes a lot more tempting.
But the key twist here is the fact that the Google Pixel 3a will be first in line for Google Stadia compatibility. When Google's gaming service launches, you'll be able to stream high-end PC games to the phone.