Best Mobile Phones for Games

Congratulations. Now, whether you’re accepting this congratulatory opener because you’ve finally decided to move into the high-end smartphone market, or whether you were already at this substantially deep end of AMOLED screens, ridiculous resolution, and mediocre battery life is entirely up to you; I’m just here to pit the titular phones against each other in a battle to the death, or more accurately, to the evaluation of their gaming performance. No actual death required. So, will the Galaxy S4 give us the silky smooth performance needed for the serious gamer? I can’t even pretend that the iPhone 5S might come out on top here (sorry, Apple), but maybe Sony has a chance instead? Life’s good with LG but is gaming great on the G2? Even Nokia might contest just how good life is with an LG as opposed to a beasty Lumia 1020. You can’t listen to these phones, though; they will lie to you. Instead, listen to me as I evaluate each phone’s performance by their own merits and failures.

Infinity Blade III...Real Racing 3...N.O.V.A.

best mobile phones for games

Ok, so you’ve got a mobile phone. Perhaps a pat on the back is in order here since you can now at very least make texts and calls when you are anywhere but inside your house. Well done: you’ve caught up to where most people were in 2003. But what about the times when calling and texting simply isn’t enough? I’m not talking about email here; what if you have that itch to play a shootemup or 3D game and your out and about?  Having a monster of a phone handy when your computer isn't a stones throw away is always a great option. There’s no point looking at your Motorola Razr to do the job: that thing will fold into more pieces than it is supposed to at the hint of a windy day. Oh no, my friend, if you’re serious about mobile gaming, then you need one of the big contenders of modern-day mobile time wasting. The Samsung Galaxy S4: a powerful and sexy beast, but the leader of them all? The iPhone 5S, Sony Xperia Z, LG G2, Nokia Lumia and Google Nexus 5 (the latest contender) may have something to say about that, and none of them are going down without a fight. In words. Organised by me. Below.

You Must Be At Least This High To Enter

Before beginning, I feel it necessary to let you in on a few requirements that you should be looking for as a minimum when picking the phone that will let you avoid life’s responsibilities by playing some high-end games on it.

  • Screen Size: Don’t even look at a phone if it has less than 3.5 inches of total span across the screen. In terms of gaming, less is definitely not more: it’s less. More is more, and even more is well, even better. Aim for 4-5 inches if you can muster up the scratch.
  • RAM : Not only will you regret your choice if you choose a phone with RAM less than 1GB in size, but your slow, stuttering game playing at 2FPS (gamers should know what this means) will literally laugh the phone back into your pocket if you try and run it on anything less than this, though more is again preferable.
  • Processer: Single-core isn’t going to cut it, I’m afraid, and dual-core will probably just allow you to get by. It’s quad-core if you want to be hardcore, I’m afraid.

Now, without further ado about nothing in particular, here are some brief breakdowns of each phone’s gaming prowess.

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4

One of the very few instances where big actually is beautiful

Now, I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes or anything – actually, I want to step on faces here because I’ve some open and honest evaluating to do – but it’s quite clear that Android is going to dominate the gaming phone market, and the Samsung Galaxy S4 is clearly one of the obvious choices in this gaming showdown. Here are the specs:

  • Processor: 1.9 GHz quad-core.  Beastly
  • RAM: 2 GB. Triumphant.
  • Screen: 4.99 Inches. Resolution of 1920 x 1080. Monstrous.

I’m no fan of technological determinism, but there is absolutely no way that the Galaxy S4 by the mighty Samsung wasn’t going to be swimming close to the surface of success here. These industry-leading specs make it a fantastic choice for gamers, and its 2 Ghz of ram is more than enough to satisfy even the most outlandish demands of any gaming apps available today.

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iPhone 5S

iPhone 5S

One smooth, glass-clad block of pretentiousness please (but my god it’s got the power).

We all know that the iPhone 5S had to be in here somewhere, though really only out of fairness because no one really expects Apple’s overpriced block of minimalist pretentiousness to perform well against the beasts of the Android market. Do they? Well, I wouldn’t be so sure, particularly in light of the recently-release 5S...

  • Processor: Apple A7 Dual-core 64-bit, likely 1.3 GHz.  Commendable (on paper).
  • RAM: 1 GB LPDDR3. Scraping By (in theory, anyhow).
  • Screen: 4 Inches. Resolution of 1136 x 640. Disappointing

Now, I know Android users like to be hard on the Apple crowd, but I’m an iPhone user and, well, I’m here to say that said crowd deserves said hard treatment. After all, iPhones have never been able to compete in any real way with Samsung devices in terms of raw gaming power. 1.3 Ghz is fine for running iOS 7, but it can’t handle high-end games can it? Wrong. In spite of its seemingly inferior specs on paper, the 5S actually outperformed the S4 in benchmark tests (evidence here) and is therefore actually quite a smart choice for gamers, if you can put up with iOS, the smaller screen, and the pretentious smugness of the average Apple phone user.

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Sony Xperia Z

Sony Xperia Z

If there was an award ceremony for best underwater gaming phone, this one would undoubtedly make waves. Puns.

I’ll be honest: I’ve not got all that much experience with the Xperia, not having owned a Sony phone for a good six to eight years now, but this time away from the electronics giant has been packed full of innovation and has led to the mighty Xperia Z. While it doesn’t have the market share of Apple or the notoriety of Samsung, Sony’s Xperia Z is a phone that packs some serious gaming hardware, allowing it to stand shoulder to shoulder with the S4 in terms of the ability to play some taxing games in a smooth, seamless fashion.

  • Processor: 1.5 GHz quad-core. Meaty.
  • RAM: 2GB. Healthy.
  • Screen: 5 inches at 1080 x 1920 pixels. Formidable.

As one of the first smarthphones to exhibit a serious case of full HD 1080p display, the Xperia Z isn’t a choice of phone that you should make lightly. This is a seriously powerful device that will cope with most of what you throw at it, though some of the more demanding games will make the phone choke momentarily. That said, not many games are of the ridiculously demanding nature of Real Racer 3, so don’t expect slowdowns to be a regular thing with this phone: it’s simply too powerful for that.

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LG G2

LG G2

Oh to be an LG phone in this day and age. I mean, I’m pretty sure that I still find the company laughable for ever releasing a phone such as the original LG Chocolate and I’m still trying to make my friends forge how laughable I am for owning the LG Prada (in spite of the fact that I am male), so why would I choose the LG to be my weapon of choice in this game of phones? Well, read the specs and realise why I’m grabbing a knife and fork with which to eat my words.

  • Processor:  Quad-core 2.26 GHz - Holy Mother of Processing Speed.
  • RAM: 2 GB - Punishing.  
  • Screen: 5.2 inches at 1080 x 1920 - Generous.

Having read over the specs and eaten my words about the ridiculousness of some older LG models it is clear that this phone has a staggering capacity for gaming.

Compare LG G2 Offers

 Don’t forget the fact that whilst many iOS games are released on Android, you won’t find many example of games not being produced for iOS in favour of purely Android-based release. Its on-paper and in-practice monster-specs mean that this device will rip through graphics-intensive games such as Asphalt 7, Riptide, Dead Space, Real Racer 3, and Modern Combat 4. The quad-core processor simply points and laughs at the likes of the HTC One and most other smartphones, making it one of the top contenders for the best gaming phone on the market. 

Nokia Lumia 1020

Nokia Lumia 1020

My my, what a big lens you have

One of the very few cases where last truly doesn’t mean least is when it comes to the Nokia Lumia 1020’s potential for gaming performance. One must look past the fact that this is a windows phone and cast eyes upon the reasonably powerful hardware it has under the hood.

  • Processor:  Dual-core 1.5GHz, Adreno 225 GPU - Teamwork
  • RAM: 2 GB – Optimal.
  • Screen: 4.5 inches at 769 x 1280, ~332ppi – Vibrant

Ok, so it’s got a smaller screen than most (yet still trumps the iPhone’s weak offering), and its processor isn’t Quad-core like the LG G2 but it can still handle some fairly taxing games. I wouldn’t feel comfortable trying to play higher-end games like Real Racing 3 on this device however since I become acutely outraged at even the slightest hint of lag and the 1.5 GHz processor just can’t quite measure up to the dizzying heights of the LG G2’s quad-core beast or Samsung’s ferocious 1.9 GHz of processing power, even when standing on its tippy-toes. Sure it’s got a great camera that clocks up an unreasonably immense 42 megapixels, but we’re talking about gaming here, not amateur hipster photography. 

Compare Nokia Lumia 1020 Offers

Google Nexus 5

Google Nexus 5

The newest contender into the smart phone arena and just in time to shake things up when the LG G2 was getting too cosy at the top. The GN5 is an impecabbly priced phone with some mean looking specs, it's here to give the LG G2, SG 4 and iPhone 5s and serious wake up call in terms of pricing!

The GN5 offers virtually the same performance power as the other big guns but is priced far lower meaning it's definately worth some consideration whether you choose to buy it straight out or get it on contract.

Compare Google Nexus 5 Offers

Side By Side

  • SG 4
  • 1900 MHz Quad Core processor
  • 2GB Ram
  • 5.0 inch display
  • 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution
  • Supreme
  • iPhone 5S
  • A7 Dual Core processor
  • 1GB Ram
  • 4 inch display
  • 640 x 1136 pixel resolution
  • Diminutive
  • Sony Xperia Z
  • 1500 MHz Quad Core processor
  • 2GB Ram
  • 5 inch display
  • 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution
  • Almost
  • LG G2
  • 2260 MHz Quad Core processor
  • 2GB Ram
  • 5.2 inch display
  • 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution
  • Domineering
  • Lumia 1020
  • 1500 MHz Dual Core processor
  • 2GB Ram
  • 4.5 inch display
  • 768 x 1280 pixel resolution
  • Potential
  • Google Nexus 5
  • 2300 MHz Quad Core processor
  • 2GB Ram
  • 5 inch display
  • 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution
  • Champion

A Phone For Your Sins (aka Aphonement)

If we have learned anything from the colossal gap between iPhone 5S’s seemingly pathetic credentials and ridiculously elite performance in practice, it is that numbers don’t often tell the whole story (in terms of performance, anyhow), so what to do with this diverse set of top-of-the-range phones of varying gaming usefulness? Well, it pains me to say it but the iPhone is somewhere at the top here due to its incredible performance on benchmark tests, though it cannot be placed in the winner’s chair because of its screen, which in terms of manliness and therefore size is somewhere around Justin Bieber level, with roughly equal amounts of testosterone as well (non-existent if you look at the evidence). The 5S is powerful but because one must take into account the size of the screen as well as how annoying the average user of the phone is, the iPhone 5S cannot take the top spot.

I’d have to give the number one trophy to brilliance in mobile gaming to the LG G2 followed extremely closely by the Google Nexus 5, forgiving some lesser models in the company’s past because of, well, have you seen the specs for this phone? Coupled with the 5.2 inch screen and the lag-free performance on the most testing of games, the LG G2 edges out its competitors, but the competition is closer this year than it ever has been. The Galaxy S4 and the Sony Xperia Z are both as impressive as each other in terms of the potential to bring you a lag-free gaming session, though the S4 takes the edge slightly with its superior processing speed.

If stunning photography were a synonym for gaming, then the Nokia Lumia 1020 would burn its competitors to the ground with its biblically-epic 42 megapixel camera, but sadly, it doesn’t quite get there in terms of gaming power, suffering a little because of its inferior hardware underneat the pretty exterior.

So there you have it: the main phones of this year evaluated in moderate detail through a set of criteria that measures just how great of a gaming experience you will have with them. Enjoy our review or not, you’re going to acknowledge its existence because you are reading these words right now, aren’t you? Damn right, now go and purchase an LG G2 or if your feeling in a bit of a cash strapped mood consider the Nexus 5 instead, otherwise I’ll have to assume that you simply aren’t as serious about your mobile gaming as I thought you were. 

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