PUBG Mobile is a graphics-intensive game that demands a powerful phone. If you want the best results and more Chicken Dinners, you're going to need a phone for that truly stands out from the pack, and in 2021 that's the OnePlus 9 Pro. Not only is it a great phone packed with the latest internals and a 120Hz QHD+ AMOLED display, but you also get the best software on Android right now.
Best overall: OnePlus 9 Pro
OnePlus 9 Pro
A truly incredible gaming phone
PUBG Mobile has been developed to run pretty well on old and new phones alike, but you'll need a phone with admirable specs to run it at the highest graphics settings. The OnePlus 9 Pro fits the bill, with 8GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 888 chipset, which both deliver enough memory and processing power for great gaming performance.
OxygenOS continues to deliver a simple and speedy software experience that allows for customization, including the gaming mode, which offers fine controls for avoiding distractions while gaming. You can limit notifications to alarms and calls or set custom notifications for displaying messages while you game.
You also get a 120Hz QHD+ AMOLED panel, making it a delight to play games on the phone. That means everything will look silky smooth to your eye, whether you're blasting your way to glory in PUBG Mobile or scrolling through Instagram. OnePlus offers stereo sound as well, with a secondary speaker tucked away above the display. Additionally, there's 65W wired charging, 50W wireless charging, IP68 dust and water resistance. For what you end up paying, you're getting a lot for your money.
Best value: Samsung Galaxy S21
Samsung Galaxy S21
Everything you need and nothing you don't
Big names like Samsung have fallen into the habit of launching not one, not two, but three flagship models each year. The Samsung Galaxy S21 is this year's base flagship, and it's rather fetching in terms of looks as well as internals. If you want a big beautiful display but don't have Galaxy S21 Ultra kind of money, the Galaxy S21 will run PUBG just fine.
On the inside, the Galaxy S21 is very similar to the Galaxy S21 Ultra with some key differences. It has the same Snapdragon 888 SoC and a smaller but identical 6.2-inch 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED 2X display. The two top-of-the-line phones from Samsung also share a lack of expandable storage and headphone jack. The Galaxy S21 has 8GB of RAM just like the S21 Ultra's base model and 128GB or 256GB storage variants.
The Galaxy S21 sports a smaller 4,000mAh battery but you also get 15W wireless and 4.5W reverse wireless charging and IP68 dust and water resistance. With the Samsung Galaxy S21, Samsung didn't include anything over the top but you won't feel like anything is missing. PUBG plays beautifully well thanks to the phone's stellar performance and gorgeous 120Hz display. Yes, the cameras are a significant downgrade from the S21 Ultra, but the Galaxy S21 is still the best value buy on this list.
Best all-purpose: ASUS ROG Phone 5
ASUS ROG Phone 5
All the extras you need
The ASUS ROG Phone wasn't the first gaming smartphone to hit the market, but it did deliver a number of compelling features that helped it stand out from the pack. For the follow up, ASUS stepped up the specs with the Snapdragon 888, RAM options from 8-16GB, and 128GB / 256GB of internal storage. That's plenty of power and storage to get the best performance playing PUBG Mobile — and anything else you do with your phone.
You'll also be able to play longer thanks to the massive 6,000mAh battery. Things will look incredibly smooth on the 6.78-inch AMOLED display, which has an improved and incredible 144Hz refresh rate. ASUS built two USB Type-C ports into the phone, with one on the side so it doesn't get in the way when you charge and play at the same time.
One of the best returning features, aside from the 3.5mm headphone jack, is the AirTrigger controls. This feature give mobile gamers customizable capacitive shoulder buttons on the edge of the phone that can be mapped to areas of the screen. ASUS has reduced the latency and lowered the actuation force, meaning the AirTriggers will respond faster to the touch in the heat of the battle.
All in all, the new ASUS ROG Phone 5 is as future-proof a gaming phone as you'll find. If the raw power and AirTriggers doesn't help you get more Chicken Dinners in PUBG Mobile, then it isn't the phone that's the problem.
Best for less: Nubia Red Magic 6
Nubia Red Magic 6
The latest features money can buy
Nubia isn't a name you would've come across a lot, but the Red Magic 6 is one of the best gaming phones you can get for under $600. The phone is packed with the latest hardware, including a 6.8-inch AMOLED panel with an unbelievable 165Hz refresh rate.
The screen sets the Red Magic 6 apart from other devices on this list, and you also get global 5G connectivity thanks to the Snapdragon 888 chipset. There's a dedicated gaming mode that ensures your games aren't throttled, and you get 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage on the base model.
The phone also has an aggressive design that's aimed at gamers, and you get shoulder-mounted air triggers that let you assign in-game actions. There's a 64MP camera at the back, and under the hood, you get a 5,050mAh battery with 66W fast charging. There really isn't anything missing here on the hardware front, and when you consider the number of features on offer for under $600, the Red Magic 6 is a fantastic choice for gamers.
Best display: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
All the upgrades you care about
There's a lot of things that make the Galaxy S21 Ultra an easy recommendation for gamers, but we're going to focus on the display. Samsung continues to lead the pack with a beautiful and massive 6.8-inch QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display that offers the best brightness and color clarity available. The best part about this Samsung flagship, however, is that it packs a 120Hz display so everything will run smoothly.
It's also running the latest Snapdragon 888 chipset and offers 12GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage on the base model. All of that, along with a 5,000mAh battery and Samsung's Game Booster software, means you're going to get obscene performance while gaming on this phone.
Samsung has been including these gaming-centric software enhancements for years. They disable the navigation buttons so you don't accidentally exit out of the game in the middle of a match, and give you quick access to screen recording and other tools while you're playing PUGB Mobile. Samsung has ditched the headphone jack, but this shouldn't be a dealbreaker given industry trends.
Best for international gamers: Lenovo Legion Duel 2
Lenovo Legion Duel 2
Great if you can get your hands on it
Lenovo launched the Legion Duel 2, also known as the Legion 2 Pro, in international markets in April 2021. None of the Legion phones have made it to the U.S. but fortunately, you can always get the global version shipped to you. The Legion Duel 2 sports a unique design with RGB lights on the back and rear cameras situated in the center.
Visuals aside, this phone also delivers serious specs for gamers. The Lenovo Legion Duel 2 features a gorgeous 6.92-inch 144Hz AMOLED panel that is unmarred by any notch or cutout thanks to the unusual side-mounted front camera that pops out of the phone. This means you can take in every little detail while you game without a distracting camera lens.
Powering this beast of a phone is the latest and greatest Snapdragon 855 chipset and 8GB/128GB memory specifications on the base model. You can get higher RAM variants of the Legion Duel 2, with the top-of-the-line option offering a whopping 18GB of RAM. Lenovo incorporated four ultrasonic shoulder triggers on the top of the phone and two capacitative touch buttons with Dual HaptiX feedback on the back. These six customizable gaming buttons are called an 'Octa-Trigger' setup and they deliver an experience similar to console controllers.
There's also a large 5,500mAh battery paired with 65W fast charging to keep your phone juiced up and ready for action. The Lenovo Legion Duel 2 may be missing the headphone jack, but apart from that, it's an excellent all-around device for long hours of PUBG Mobile sessions.
Best for iOS: iPhone 13 Pro Max
iPhone 13 Pro Max
The biggest and best iPhone to date
Even though this is Android Central, we know that not everyone who plays PUBG Mobile is down with the green droid. In fact, there are millions of iPhone users who play PUBG Mobile, making it one of the most popular free-to-play games for both Android and iOS.
The iPhone 13 Pro Max stands out as the best gaming iPhone because it delivers all-day battery life, runs on Apple's latest A15 Bionic chipset, and has 6.7-inch display with a 120hz refresh rate and increased brightness over its predecessor. Those are the biggest factors for you because you definitely want a big and bright display to better see your enemies and battery life that won't leave you scrambling for your charging accessories in the middle of a match.
PUBG Mobile and any other app should run nice and smooth thanks to Apple's focus on software optimizations. However, one tip we can give to iOS gamers is to avoid downloading the latest iOS betas since those can occasionally cause issues with games like PUBG Mobile.
The lack of a headphone jack might be an issue but there's always the Lightning-to-3.5mm dongle, which lets you use your favorite pair of wired headphones. Otherwise, your AirPods or other Bluetooth headphones will serve you just as well here.
Why you can trust Android Central Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
The wild popularity of PUBG Mobile has proven that there is indeed demand for a smartphone designed with gamers in mind. The core specs you'll want are a great display, long-lasting battery life, and enough RAM to keep things running smoothly — and you can find that on any of the phones on our list.
But what sets the OnePlus 9 Pro apart from other devices on this list is the combination of features and the overall software experience. All phones on this list deliver incredible performance and pack high-end hardware, but when it comes to software, OxygenOS has a huge leg up over the rest of the industry.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Namerah Saud Fatmi is a freelance writer for Android Central. She has a passion for all things tech & gaming and has been an honorary Goodreads librarian since 2011. When she isn't writing, she can be found chasing stray cats and dogs in the streets of Dhaka or slaying dragons in the land of Skyrim. You can reach her on her Twitter handle @NamerahS.
Marc Lagace is the Apps and Games Editor at Android Central. He's been a gamer for most of his life and actually took a university course on Video Game Theory — which he aced! You can reach out to him on Twitter @spacelagace.
Harish Jonnalagadda is the Regional Editor of Android Central. A reformed hardware modder, he now spends his time writing about India's burgeoning phone market. Previously, he used to ponder the meaning of life at IBM. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.
Get the Android Central Newsletter
Instant access to breaking news, the hottest reviews, great deals and helpful tips.
Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.