Top 5 best gaming phones (Spring 2017)

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Top 5 best gaming phones (Spring 2017)

Thinking of buying a new phone? Love playing games on that phone? Is money no object? Then we have a little helpful advice for you.

We at PG love our Nintendo Switches, our PS Vitas and our NES Minis. But our bread and butter is and always has been mobile games. After all, they're the most portable games of all.

So buying the right phone is massively important. It's largely dependent on budget, and we regularly cover the best entry-level and mid-range gaming phones around. But right now we're talking about the very best gaming phones on the market, irrespective of price.

We should get our usual disclaimer out of the way here. We've included both iOS and Android devices here, because people choose phones based on a lot more than just games. Price, design, and platform preference all play a part.

But we've always stuck to a pretty clear line that Apple's iOS is the best bet for mobile gaming, and that's always been primarily down to the quality of offering on the App Store rather than any hardware or OS preferences. In other words, it's all about the games. Okay? Okay.

iPhone 7 Plus

The iPhone 7 Plus isn't the newest or flashiest phone on this list. It doesn't have the best display, camera, or design - though it's not lacking in any of these respects.

But it remains by far the best gaming phone on the market for one simple reason: out of all the iPhones on the market, it's got the largest, brightest display and the most powerful processor.

As we hinted at in the intro, the App Store is still a much better source of games than the Google Play Store, and until that changes we'll continue to view iPhones as superior gaming devices.

Breaking it down, the iPhone 7 Plus gives you a great 5.5-inch 1080p display that can output a larger range of colours than usual. It also runs on Apple's A10 Fusion CPU, which eats high-end games for supper.

It's also got true left and right speakers when held in landscape, providing proper stereo sound even when you don't have your headphones to hand.

The iPhone 7 Plus is the best gaming smartphone around, and it'll almost certainly remain that way until the iPhone 8 arrives at the end of the year.

Want something smaller/cheaper? Get the iPhone 7!

Samsung Galaxy S8

If the Samsung Galaxy S8 had access to exactly the same games as the iPhone 7 Plus, it would be our top pick. As a stand-alone device, it's a stunner.

The curved-display design returns from last year's Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, further refined and fully absorbed into the range. However, this time that display takes up almost the whole of the front of the device. Even the traditional home button has been ditched in Samsung's bid to kill the bezel.

As a result you get a stunningly immersive (and surprisingly tall) 5.8-inch QHD Super AMOLED display that's the best of its kind in every way. It's way bigger, sharper, and more contrasty than the iPhone 7 Plus equivalent, that's for sure.

Indeed, it's so big that we don't even feel the need to recommend the even larger (and more expensive) Samsung Galaxy S8+ over it - though if you really want even more screen space, that'll give you 6.2-inches.

You're also getting the most powerful Android CPU on the market in the shape of Samsung's custom Exynos 8895, and a healthy 4GB of super-fast LPDDR4X RAM. This thing's a gaming beast.

Google Pixel XL

Google was one of the last Android handset makers to play its hand at the end of 2017, but the Pixel and Pixel XL were worth the wait. Until the Galaxy S8 arrived, the Pixel XL was comfortably the best Android gaming phone on the market - and many would argue it's still the best all-round phone available.

We've rated the Pixel XL below the Galaxy S8 simply because it has an inferior screen and processor, but it's hardly poor in these respects. Indeed, the Pixel XL's 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED display and Snapdragon 821 CPU is still more than up to the task of showing modern games at their best, and will be for years to come.

Besides this you get the most responsive Android experience available, thanks to the fact that Google got to tighten the joins between software and hardware like no other manufacturer (apart from Apple).

Also, the Pixel XL has finest camera on the market. Oh, and it's also got access to Google's Daydream VR ecosystem, via the Daydream View headset. Though that hasn't fully taken off as yet.

Want something smaller/cheaper? Get the Google Pixel!


Poor old LG. It announces an intriguing bezelless smartphone only to have its bigger, richer, more popular local rival trump it with an even prettier bezelless smartphone.

Let's get this out of the way: as a pure gaming device, the LG G6 doesn't match up to the Samsung Galaxy S8. Its 5.7-inch QHD LCD display isn't as good (what is?), and its Snapdragon 821 is a little disappointing for being a late-2016 component in an early 2017 phone.

But let's not be silly here - the LG G6 is one of the most capable phones currently on the market. It's lost the dodgy modular concept of the LG G5, and it also has a very interesting dual-lens camera for some iPhone 7 Plus-like varied shots.

If the Galaxy S8's curved screen or distinctive Samsung software doesn't float your boat, you could do worse than the G6. And games are going to look great on that huge display.

OnePlus 3T

We featured the OnePlus 3T in our sub-£400 recommendation, but it's such a capable phone that we're going to include it here in our money-no-object piece too.

Price aside, you're getting a phone with the same Snapdragon 821 CPU as the Pixel XL and LG G6 - but supported by 6GB of RAM. Which is overkill, but it bodes well for the future of the phone as a gaming device.

Okay, so the 5.5-inch 1080p display isn't as sharp as its Android rivals, but it's plenty sharp enough for all but mobile VR gaming. And let's be honest here, who actually plays mobile VR games?

The OnePlus 3T ticks all of the flagship boxes - it's fast, all-metal, has a decent camera, a huge battery, and a slick UI. And all for a two thirds of the price of its competitors.

One warning though: the OnePlus 5 is just around the corner.