7 things you need to consider when buying an Android gaming phone

Smartphones can do almost anything, including games. This has led to the birth of gaming-focused phones from brands like Asus with their ROG series, Lenovo’s Legion series, and Xiaomi’s Black Shark series. But those aren’t the only devices capable of gaming. If you’re looking for a gaming Android phone, you have a wide variety of options.

Let’s take a look at the main features you need when buying an Android phone for mobile gaming.

1. Processor

The first thing to check is the processor. This is an essential consideration as it determines the performance of the device. When it comes to the processor, the faster the better.

While it’s tempting to consider only high-end processors like Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 8 series or MediaTek’s Dimensity 9000 line, mid-range processors like the Snapdragon 6 and 7 series and Dimensity 500 series are also very efficient.

When researching a processor, a quick check is the size of the transistors. These are measured in nanometers (nm), like 5nm, 7nm, etc. The smaller the transistors, the more silicon makers can fit into a chip. This can lead to increased performance and reduced battery consumption.

Considering the power-hungry nature of gaming, you’d want a processor that’s as power-efficient as possible.


2. Cooling

When CPUs are under a heavy workload, they need an effective cooling mechanism to ensure that the device does not overheat. In general, smartphones have improved so much in cooling thanks to advancements in semiconductors.

With that in mind, mid-range phones and flagship phones can handle heavy workloads for an extended period of time without getting too hot. Modern devices have efficient cooling, not just those marketed as gaming phones. However, gaming-focused phones tend to offer more efficient solutions.

Along with the internal cooling mechanisms, the Asus ROG Phone 5 Ultimate, for example, offers an additional external AeroActive Cooler 5 clip-on cooling fan. According to the company, this clip-on fan can reduce CPU temperatures by up to 59 °F.

Having such is a plus if you are planning a career in mobile gaming, but it is not a must. Such add-ons are rare to find, but you can buy generic third-party clip-on fans for extra cooling if your device doesn’t have them.

3. Display

For gaming, you need the best screen. OLED or AMOLED is the best you can get; they offer true blacks, higher brightness, wide color gamut and high contrast ratios. However, the IPS LCD screen is still impressive. 1080p is good enough, but if you need more pixels for clarity, phones with 1440p panels are available.

Apart from display technology, refresh rates are just as important. 90Hz or 120Hz is fine, but the law of diminishing returns applies for anything above that. It’s not worth spending more on a device with a 144Hz refresh rate display just for fun.

Thankfully, display refresh rate isn’t much of an issue in 2022 and beyond. It’s all thanks to the trickle down effect that has seen companies add 90Hz and 120Hz refresh rate displays to cheaper devices. This effect has been a game-changer, and that’s why you no longer need to spend a lot of money to get one of the best smartphones available to enjoy smooth scrolling.

However, if you want an LTPO display that dynamically adjusts the refresh rate, you’ll definitely have to dig deeper into your pockets. If you don’t know what LTPO is, we’ve got you covered.

4. Memory and storage

At least 128 GB of internal storage should suffice for the built-in storage. 64GB is less useful unless you play multiple games at any given time. Smartphone games and modern games, in general, are gaining momentum with each update. Installation and configuration alone can take up to 1 GB.

Therefore, you need as much space as possible. 128GB is a sweet spot, but you should go with 256GB if possible. And how much RAM do you need on a smartphone to play? 6 GB is a good starting point. If you can get 8GB or more, go for it.

5. Convenient use

Consumer smartphones have made a name for themselves for cutting off bezels as much as possible. However, for the best gaming experience, it is beneficial to have a slightly wide bezel, as it gives you enough room to hold your device horizontally.

This helps you avoid accidental contact which can be very disruptive. Therefore, you should look for a device that is comfortable to hold horizontally for long periods of time. For a hands-on experience, you should check online reviews.

6. Hardware and software optimized for gaming

One of the reasons smartphone games suck is because the touchscreen controls are weak. Luckily, some smartphone companies that make dedicated gaming phones are finally adding shoulder buttons. Examples include the POCO F4 GT and Xiaomi’s Black Shark 4 series.

Shoulder buttons may not offer a similar experience to a dedicated controller, but these nifty additions are much less common and only available on dedicated gaming phones.

Another handy addition is a game mode, which is available on many devices. Gaming mode on a smartphone speeds up your device and reduces distractions while you play.

7. Support battery and fast charging

The game consumes a lot of battery power. With that in mind, you need a device with good battery capacity. A battery of 4500 mAh or more is preferable. It will provide you with enough juice to play games without worrying about the battery percentage.

Another essential is support for fast charging, which has become a common feature on smartphones. Fast charging support ensures that you don’t have to wait too long for your device to reach enough levels to resume your game. The phone should support at least 18W fast charging, but many devices can charge much faster than that.

Pick the Right Phone for Gaming

Mobile gaming is growing because of ease of access, so it’s no wonder some companies have a range of devices dedicated to it. However, Android gaming phones aren’t common and tend to be very expensive, and you shouldn’t blame yourself for not being able to buy one.

A regular phone with the right mix of specs and features can do the job just as well. Consider processor, cooling system, display, memory, storage, hands-on experience, and gaming-optimized software if you want a phone for gaming. Gaming-optimized hardware is a handy but not essential addition.

You can optimize your device for gaming by purchasing additional accessories later, such as clip-on cooling fans and Bluetooth controllers. Hopefully, these tips should point you in the right direction in your quest to find a phone suitable for gaming.

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