Should you buy a gaming phone?
It’s 2021, and if you play a lot of games on your smartphone, you might be wondering if a mainstream flagship smartphone will do very well – or if a gaming phone is made for you.
In truth, the best phones you can buy aren’t too much different from the best gaming phones. Both will come with the best specs, big batteries, and great displays. For everyday use, not to mention casual gaming, you won’t go wrong either.
But let’s take a look at the real differences between the two categories – how much better it is to play on a good gaming phone, and what you’ll be giving up by not picking up a more mainstream handset.
What’s so great about a gaming phone?
Gaming phones are not uniform in their features, with unique advantages and advantages that differ from model to model. Overall, they improve the mobile gaming experience – to varying degrees, of course.
These benefits include both hardware and software functionality. There are a few things that are common to most of them, including powerful specs with top-tier chipsets (at the moment the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 is the best silicon) and expansive RAM (8GB at least, although the Asus ROG 5 Ultimate goes up to 18GB).
Gaming phones also typically have large batteries around, and possibly beyond, 5,000mAh that allow gamers to stay in the game for hours on end while still having enough capacity to last until the end of the game. the day. More often than not, gaming phones also have 3.5mm headphone jacks, a feature rarely seen on mainstream flagship phones.
What about the game phone software?
Gaming phones also generally have software that facilitates the gaming experience. These are often referred to as “game modes” which have a mixture of automatic and manual features. The former include increasing performance or streamlining power consumption so that the battery does not overheat, while the latter include toggle settings to block calls, texts, and other notifications during a match.
Of course, there are consumer phones that have their own game modes, like the recent OnePlus 9 or Sony Xperia 1 III, but they usually have much more limited options and settings than gaming phones.
Some gaming phones have very elaborate game modes – the Asus ROG 5 and its predecessors have the Asus’ Armory Crate ‘software which collects your games in a library and allows you to tweak your performance settings, as well as the overlay’ Game Genie ‘. can swipe in the middle of the game to play around with the settings and change the shoulder AirTrigger mappings (more details below).
The ROG 5 also features “X Mode,” which prioritizes performance when powered on – by default, this is done by physically pinching the sides of the handset.
Game phone hardware: power supply built into the device and peripherals
One of the biggest advantages of gaming phones is the hardware: the Asus ROG 5 has two touch-sensitive buttons on the top and bottom of the right side, so rotating the phone in landscape mode puts them just below the index of a player.
They function like “shoulder” buttons on traditional gamepads, which gamers can map to different functions in games, providing better control and freeing up screen space that would be covered by the thumbs. Additional tactile buttons are somewhat prevalent in gaming phones, also appearing on the Nubia Red Magic 6 and its predecessors.
The flashiest perks of gaming phones are the peripherals. Many have their own bespoke accessories to fit the phone – for example, the ROG 5’s Kunai 3 gamepad fits the controller halves on either side, Nintendo Switch-style, that slip into a case that fits only. to this phone.
ROG 5 also has a dedicated charging port halfway down the left side of the phone that its attachments can click into, like the AeroActive Cooler 5 fan. (External fans are probably the most common attachment. )
Does having an external fan noticeably cool your phone? We’ve never seen a phone overheat enough from gaming to see a slowdown, although that may not be the case in warmer environments. Either way, the fans make your phone cooler and therefore more comfortable to hold – and in the case of the AeroActive Cooler 5, add physical buttons underneath.
External controllers are obviously more beneficial – while not as precise as Nintendo’s Joy Cons, they add more precision than touch controls.
Gaming phones also have some surprisingly subtle internal design benefits that enhance gaming. The Asus ROG 5’s battery is split in half for faster charging as well as keeping battery cells cool and out of the way. from where the player’s fingers will likely rest on the back of the phone. The ROG 5 also has multiple cellular and 5G antennas spread evenly around the phone, so no matter how you hold it (including sideways while gaming) you should still be receiving the signal. Likewise, several microphones are placed around the phone to hear you speak.
What are you missing out on when choosing a gaming phone?
Going for a consumer phone has several advantages – or, in other words, gaming phones have several disadvantages. They often have mediocre cameras, both in terms of lens variety and software for image processing and photo modes. They generally have lower availability and are typically not sold by carriers, making it more difficult in markets like the United States where consumers buy plans to pay in monthly installments.
Android gaming phones may not receive software updates as frequently or as long as consumer phones, and there are no specific iOS gaming phones.
Consumer phones are really great for playing games, and consumers who don’t intend to gamble competitively or aspire to electronic games on mobile don’t need to worry. ‘they opt for non-gaming phones. Damn, we explain that clearly on our best gaming phones page, which lists the best mainstream flagship phones that you can still get a good gaming experience while using them.
There are also accessories that work great on non-gaming phones, especially Nintendo Switch type controllers like the Jawbone only for iOS. If you really wanted to, there’s probably an external fan or some other game-specific accessory to try. The rest of you can connect your Xbox Series X and PS5 (or Xbox One and PS4) controllers to their phones via Bluetooth to play games, and even purchase a clip accessory to attach to their gamepad while playing.
There are good reasons to choose gaming phones and there are good reasons to stick with normal non-gaming phones. Pick the one that works best for you and fits your budget, which is a far more important consideration than insisting on the phone with the best gaming assist software.