Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S9

When considering the best phone for gamers, it comes down to three considerations: performance, display, and battery life. The Galaxy S9 check all of those boxes as it soundly bumps its predecessor from the top spot on this list. Maintaining a nearly identical form factor from the Galaxy S8, it's the subtle improvements to the display and performance that makes the S9 tops for gamers. As Andrew Martonik points out in his comparison between the Galaxy S8 and S9, whether you get an S9 with the Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9 chipset, both processors are more frugal with power for normal tasks, so even though Samsung hasn't increased the battery size on this year's flagship you should notice the improved battery performance.

Beyond the top-end specs, you get great hardware features like frontfacing speakers, a headphone jack, a microSD card slot, waterproofing, and support for wireless charging.

Coupled with the fixed placement of the fingerprint scanner, a totally revamped camera setup, and Samsung's superior Gaming Mode for blocking notifications and integrated screen record features and it's clear that the Galaxy S9 and S9+ can't be beat early into 2018.

Bottom line: Samsung continues to refine it's top flagship to make the performance slightly faster and the display slightly brighter for an all-around better experience for mobile gamers.

One more thing: If you don't mind adding some extra size for a bigger battery, the Galaxy S9+ is right for you.

Why the Samsung Galaxy S9 is the best

In a lot of ways, the Galaxy S9 offered only subtle improvements over last year's S8. But in terms of gaming, that extra bit of performance means everything when you're playing a resource-heavy game like PUBG Mobile and Fortnite.

Both Game Launcher and Game Tools are back. Samsung has done a great job of implementing these very handy tools to create the most seamless mobile gaming experience on the phone. Game Tools especially, which has been built into the navigation bar and appears any time you load up a game. It includes the same features for turning off distracting notifications while also including important new features for addressing the curved edges of the screen and temporarily turning off the "invisible" home button so you don't accidentally press it during gameplay. If you're the type that likes to stream as you game, you'll love the built-in screen recorder tools.

And of course, there's the Samsung Gear VR for exploring VR experiences which are going to be great with the gorgeous Super AMOLED display. There's a ton of great games available already and mobile VR might just be the most exciting space for innovation.

Simply put, if you're a gamer in the market for a brand-new phone in 2018, your best bet is the Galaxy S9.


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Best for smoothness

Razer Phone

Razer burst onto the Android scene in 2017 with its first smartphone that was designed for the gamer on the go.

Razer went all out on the specs for this phone and it's a beast, with a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 835 chipset, a whopping 8GB of RAM, a huge 4,000mAh battery, and a 5.7-inch display that supports a refresh rate of up to 120Hz — capable of producing the most buttery-smooth frame rate you've seen on a phone. It's also got front-facing speakers that sound amazing and 64GB of on-board storage along with a dedicated microSD slot.

It all sounds so promising — so why the heck isn't the phone designed for gamers at the top of our list? Well, as great as the Razer Phone is for gaming (and it's pretty great), it still falls short in terms of features you'd expect from a $700 phone in 2018. The camera performance is average at best, there's no waterproofing, and to top it all off it's got no headphone jack. In spite of all the features that make it so great for mobile gaming, the Razer Phone just can't stack up against Samsung's ultra-refined Galaxy S lineup — But here's hoping Razer keeps refining the design because they're on the right track.

Bottom line: In designing a phone for gamers, Razer seemed to lose focus on other aspects of a well-rounded mobile experience. And there still aren't enough games optimized to take advantage of that 120Hz.

One more thing: That massive battery is one of the largest you'll find in an Android phone and should ensure your gaming sessions are never cut short by a low battery warning.

Best value

Samsung Galaxy S8

With the Galaxy S9 taking the top spot on this list, the still-fantastic Galaxy S8 still remains a great device for gamers to consider. Whether you go with the Galaxy S8 or the slightly larger S8+, you'll be getting an outstanding device that can handle pretty much any game you throw at it and at a great

It features a brilliant AMOLED display capable of scaling up to QHD+ resolution — that's 2960 x 1440. Depending on your region, the Galaxy S8 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or Samsung Exynos 8895 processor with a beefy 3,000 mAh battery tucked into the phone's thin frame. It combines beautiful design with raw processing power to create a phone that delivers all the gaming action you can handle with nary a hiccup in gameplay.

On top of just being a fantastic phone with top-tier specs and a brilliant display, Samsung has done a great job of revamping the Game Tools first introduced on the S7. If you're serious about mobile gaming and can afford the upgrade, the Galaxy S8 or S8+ is a quality investment to make.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S8 is still a great phone for gamers in 2018, and expect deals to emerge as the year rolls on.

One more thing: Make sure to turn on the setting that stretches the game to fill the Galaxy S8's unique aspect ratio.

Best for accessories

Moto Z2 Play

The latest in Motorola's modular lineup, the Moto Z2 Play features a slightly smaller battery than its predecessor at 3000 mAh, paired with a Snapdragon 626 processor and 4GB of RAM.

But the real advantage to the Moto Z2 Play are the Moto Mods. Battery life still not enough? Take advantage of the Moto Z2 Play's modular design and slap on the Incipio offGRID Power Pack and add an extra 2,260 mAh battery to your phone, along with charging efficiency and the added ability to wirelessly charge both the pack and your phone.

One Moto Mod that's specific for gamers is the GamePad Mod which lets you trade touch screen controls for physical joysticks and buttons

Bottom line: Starting at around $499, the Moto Z2 Play is a pretty great phone that's only made better with the right Moto Mods.

One more thing: Other awesome Moto Mods available for the Moto Z2 Play include a JBL Soundboost 2 speaker, Hassleblad True Zoom camera mod and the Moto InstaShare Projector.

Conclusion

For the best Android gaming experience, it's really hard to beat the polished experience that the Galaxy S9 brings to the table. It's got all the top-end specs you need to play any game in the Google Play Store at the highest settings, and that's not going to change anytime soon. The Razer Phone is no slouch, either, but it's Razer's first foray into the smartphone world and it shows. If battery life is your biggest concern, the Moto Z Play is your best bet, especially with an optional Moto Mod to expand that battery life further. If you're after top performance at a value price, check out the still-great Galaxy S8.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S9

When considering the best phone for gamers, it comes down to three considerations: performance, display, and battery life. The Galaxy S9 check all of those boxes as it soundly bumps its predecessor from the top spot on this list. Maintaining a nearly identical form factor from the Galaxy S8, it's the subtle improvements to the display and performance that makes the S9 tops for gamers. As Andrew Martonik points out in his comparison between the Galaxy S8 and S9, whether you get an S9 with the Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9 chipset, both processors are more frugal with power for normal tasks, so even though Samsung hasn't increased the battery size on this year's flagship you should notice the improved battery performance.

Beyond the top-end specs, you get great hardware features like frontfacing speakers, a headphone jack, a microSD card slot, waterproofing, and support for wireless charging.

Coupled with the fixed placement of the fingerprint scanner, a totally revamped camera setup, and Samsung's superior Gaming Mode for blocking notifications and integrated screen record features and it's clear that the Galaxy S9 and S9+ can't be beat early into 2018.

Bottom line: Samsung continues to refine it's top flagship to make the performance slightly faster and the display slightly brighter for an all-around better experience for mobile gamers.

One more thing: If you don't mind adding some extra size for a bigger battery, the Galaxy S9+ is right for you.

Update April 5: The Galaxy S9 has stolen the top spot on our list!

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