Best Phones for Xbox Game Pass (xCloud) for Android Android Central 2020
Android now has a whole new gaming scene, thanks to cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. We here at Android Central are very excited, and we're sure that you are, too. We've already covered the best Game Pass games and the best controllers, but you'll also want a phone that can get the job done. For that, we recommend the OnePlus 8, a veritable powerhouse with a fantastic display and long battery life to handle your cloud gaming sessions.
- Best Overall: OnePlus 8
- Best Battery Life: Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
- Best Value: Google Pixel 4a
- Best Software: Google Pixel 4 XL
- Best Features: Nubia RedMagic 5G
- Best Display: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Best Overall: OnePlus 8
OnePlus regularly features in our lists of best Android phones and that's for very good reasons. This year, OnePlus pulled out all the stops and went full-force with its newest flagship, the OnePlus 8. While it's a great gaming phone in its own right when we're talking Android games, it's also the best device we can think of to get the most out of Xbox cloud gaming.
So why not the 8 Pro? We felt that despite the 8 Pro being an amazing piece of tech it's a bit overkill for what Xbox cloud gaming offers. Since the work isn't being done on the phone itself, you don't need the most power you can get, so why not save some money in the process?
Even so, you're getting a very powerful phone with the OnePlus 8. It still has a huge and gorgeous display so that you can enjoy nice graphics. The 90Hz refresh rate isn't the highest out there, but it'll let games run smoothly. The 4,300mAh battery will last you for quite a long time, letting you game longer before having to find a charger. When you do need to charge, you have OnePlus' ludicrous Warp Charge to top off quickly. But you need to be able to use the phone outside of cloud gaming, too, and OxygenOS is still our favorite rendition of Android outside of Google's vision.
While the OnePlus 8 family lacks a headphone jack, you can invest in some low-latency Bluetooth audio, like the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Earbuds. Otherwise, it's hard to find flaws with the OnePlus 8 when it comes to cloud gaming performance.
- Big, gorgeous 90Hz display
- Smooth software experience
- Extremely fast charging for quick top-offs
- Dedicated Fnatic gaming mode
- Large, long-lasting battery
- No headphone jack
- Lacks wireless charging
The ultimate Xbox cloud gaming machine
This is our pick for the best Xbox Game Pass phone due to its impressive spec sheet, including a great display.
Best Battery Life: Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
Samsung came out swinging early in 2020 with the S20 launch. We saw three models, and the big daddy of the bunch (literally and figuratively) was the Galaxy S20 Ultra. It's a humdinger of a phone and though it has faults in areas like camera performance, we're not so concerned about those for our purposes here. No, the reason to choose the S20 Ultra from this list of phones is for the big battery.
Coming in at a whopping 5,000mAh, the S20 Ultra can carry you along for hours of gaming, whether you're playing local games or streaming them via Xbox cloud gaming. It's a powerful phone, too, representing some of the best that 2020 phones have to offer.
The biggest downside to the S20 Ultra, besides its eye-watering outrageous price, is its physical size. It's chonky, as they say, and it might be too cumbersome for some, especially those with smaller hands. Considering its mass, I would be a bit nervous hooking it up to a controller clip, but that's just me. But with that size comes one of the best displays possible, so there's that.
- Huge 5,000mAh battery
- Gorgeous display
- Powerful performance
- Very big and bulky
- Quite expensive
- No headphone jack
Best Battery Life
Big battery for long gaming sessions
If you want a phone that will last a long time, the S20 Ultra is the best one for the job.
Best Value: Google Pixel 4a
Google's Pixel 4a landed on the scene among ridiculously expensive flagship phones with a splash. It followed up from the excellent Pixel 3a and nailed the basics: a great camera, a good display, and good battery life. Thanks to Google's software magic, it also runs very smoothly, despite only having a 60Hz refresh rate.
For Xbox cloud gaming, this is the phone to buy if you're on a budget. While the display is (relatively) small, it's quite serviceable. It also has excellent software for when you're not gaming and it will be supported well into 2023, which is more than some phones on this list can say.
Some may not like the fact that it comes in one size and one color, but that's another cost-saving measure from Google to keep this price oh-so-sweet. It also lacks wireless charging, which isn't that big of a deal to some people. So while this little guy may not win many races, it sure will let you play all those Game Pass games on the cheap.
- Superb quality for its price
- Supported through 2023
- Headphone jack
- Clean software experience
- No wireless charging
- Only 60Hz refresh rate
- One size, one color
The best value. Period
The Pixel 4a may not be the best gaming machine, but it will work great for Xbox Game Pass.
Best Software: Google Pixel 4 XL
Google's 2019 flagship was both exciting and disappointing. While the Pixel 4 and its larger brother continued the trend of incredible camera performance, they both suffered from disappointing battery life. But the Pixel 4 XL is still a good phone, even if it does leave you with some battery anxiety at day's end.
For Xbox cloud gaming, though, we suggest you game near a charger or power bank. The 90Hz display is nice, even with the unsightly forehead that's reserved for the Soli radar and face unlock systems. But this being a Pixel, you can expect the phone to be supported through October 2022.
However, the Pixel 5 is imminent, so while we quite like the Pixel 4 XL now, even with its faults, it's not a good purchase unless you happen to find a great deal. That being said, if you have one, rest assured that it's a good phone for Game Pass.
- Excellent 90Hz display
- Wireless charging
- Great haptics
- Supported through October 2022
- Smooth software experience
- Weak battery life
- Large forehead
- No headphone jack
- Successor imminent
Clean software experience with years of support
Google's Pixel 4 XL wasn't a booming success, but it's still a good phone for cloud gaming purposes.
Best Features: Nubia RedMagic 5G
When talking about the best gaming phones, the ZTE-owned Nubia came out swinging with the RedMagic 5G. Except for a few things like camera performance, this phone ticks all of the boxes on paper. It boasts an impressive feature set, including a 144Hz AMOLED display. And here we were excited about 90Hz and 120Hz screens.
It also packs in a robust liquid cooling system that keeps the phone from running hot. There are trigger buttons for better game control, a big 4,500mAh battery (with 55W quick charging), and a spec sheet that's up there with our favorite flagships. It's an impressive phone at a very tempting price.
Where it might slide for some of you is in the aggressive gamer design and the relatively poor camera performance. Both of these things matter outside of Xbox cloud gaming, so bear that in mind when approaching this phone. But if gaming is your top priority, both via Game Pass and locally with native Android games, this phone is at the top of the list.
- Insane 144Hz refresh rate
- Robust cooling system
- Big battery
- Ultra-fast charging
- Headphone jack
- Aggressive gamer design not for everyone
- Mediocre cameras
Ticking most of the boxes
If you want a phone that's all-in on gaming, then check out the RedMagic 5G with its big battery and 144Hz display.
Best Display: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Samsung's Galaxy Note series has always pushed the envelope on what's possible with a smartphone. It pioneered the big display, introduced a useful stylus that is still unmatched in the Android space, and packed in some of the most beautiful screens you will ever see on a phone. This year with the Note 20 Ultra, Samsung stopped at nothing to create a powerhouse.
This display is the best on the market and you'll see what I mean as soon as you see it in person. It's huge, edge-to-edge, and sports a 120Hz refresh rate. The battery life is also incredible and will last you through long cloud gaming sessions. Beyond just its gaming potential, the Note 20 Ultra also features some excellent quality of life additions. It has excellent real-world performance, great cameras, and a very useful S Pen stylus.
The Note 20 Ultra, like its Galaxy S cousin, isn't a small device. It's big, bulky, and noticeably heavy. But the worst thing for most people is the price tag. This phone is exceedingly expensive and while you get a lot for your money, you're paying a lot for it all. Again, it takes after the S20 Ultra in this regard.
- Big, beautiful 120Hz display
- Excellent battery life
- Comes with S Pen
- Useful day-to-day features
- Exceedingly expensive
- Big and bulky
- No headphone jack
The best display you can buy
The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is Samsung's ultimate smartphone for 2020, but you'll pay a pretty penny for it.
If you want the best phone for cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, then the OnePlus 8 is the way to go. Not only is it a great value, but it's a powerful device with an excellent screen and good battery life, perfect for those Game Pass games that you'll be playing. When it comes to our purposes here, the 8 is the better option than the 8 Pro unless you want wireless charging.
Other phones will have lighter software, bigger batteries, better displays, or be a whole lot cheaper, but OnePlus nailed it with the 8 and deserves commendation. This phone gets nearly everything right with its impressive spec sheet, superb real-world performance, and pretty looks. It does all of this for a fair price, especially when compared to others on this list.
Outside of gaming, the OnePlus 8 is also just a good and fun phone to use in day-to-day life and it won't let you down. We know there's a lot more to a gaming phone than just its raw performance; you have to be able to use it for other things, too. That's why the OnePlus 8 is our pick for the best phone for Xbox cloud gaming.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Jordan Palmer Jordan has been an Android enthusiast since the G1. He started writing about Google's mobile OS in 2016 and hasn't looked back. He focuses mostly on mobile gaming content for Android Central and loves finding new gems in the Play Store. You can find and chat with him on Twitter: @jccpalmer.
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