The cellular phone is a constant companion to the vast majority of people in the United States (and indeed, around the world) in their day to day lives. It is a device that we carry with us nearly constantly. People who have misplaced or lost theirs, or whose phones are not properly functioning, have been recorded as having responses that verge on ‘panic attack’ when they realize that their mobile portal for connectivity to everyone they know is not something that they can utilize. The point that I am making here is that cellular phones, particularly today’s smartphones, are a serious business. One of the most common uses these days for those phones is entertainment, and that basically means either you are going to be streaming video or playing games. Indeed, the smartphone video game market has seen an explosion in growth of late. In the last few years, it has gone from being something that was filled with games that require almost no processing power (things like ‘Snake’ and Tetris) to games that you could get on actual console systems, and we’ve even seen game companies that produce modern games get in on the action (Square Enix, for example, has been porting many of their Final Fantasy games over to the cellular market).
For that reason, the gaming phones that are being reviewed will be Android OS and iOS phones. That being said, before we get started with the in-depth examination of the available options, let’s take a look at a table that will give a nice overview of what the phones we’ll be reviewing have to offer, and a quick look at which will be the best smartphones for gaming.
|Name||Chipset||Screen Size (Measured on the Diagonal) and Resolution||Battery Life (Internet Use)||Factory Default Operating System||Amazon URL|
|Apple iPhone 7 Plus||A10 Fusion Chip||5.5 Inch LED Retina HD Display, 1920x1080||13 Hrs||iOS 10|
|Samsung Galaxy S7||Exynos 8890||5.1 Inch AMOLED 2560x1440 Quad HD||11 Hrs||Android 6.0|
|Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge||Snapdragon 820||5.5 Inch AMOLED 2560x1440 Quad HD||13 Hrs||Android 6.0|
|Nexus 6P||Snapdragon 810||5.7 Inch AMOLED 2560x1440||12 Hrs||Android 6.0|
|HTC 10||Snapdragon 820||5.1 Inch Super LCD 5 2560x1440||12 Hrs||Android 6.0.1|
|LG V20||Snapdragon 820||5.7 Inch Quad HD 1440x2560||12 Hrs||Android 7.0|
|Google Pixel XL||Snapdragon 821||5.5 Inch WQHD AMOLED 2560x1440||12 Hrs||Android 7.1|
More and more people are turning to their cell phones for entertainment with each passing day. It’s gotten to the point where many people are doing the majority, or at least the plurality of their gaming, on their cell phone. Because of this, the mobile market has been changing to be able to better run games, and as you can see above, this has led to some breakthroughs in the kind of power that you can get out of them. It was often joked, back in the 90s when the cell phone was being shrunk down from the size of the initial brick phones, that it would continue to shrink until such time as people figured out how to watch films on them. This is the obvious result of the evolution of technology for entertainment purposes being put into a mobile device.
Now that you have a good overview of what the phone’s we’re going to be looking at will do for you, and what they have to offer, let’s take a good in-depth look at the phones, beginning with the Apple offering.
Apple iPhone 7 Plus – The Status Symbol
Apple has managed, in the last two decades, to transform itself from a company that was seconds away from bankruptcy to a company that is well known the world over. Their products went from poor imitations of products by better-established companies to being considered top of the line, and people regularly pay top dollar for these devices.
The iPhone, in particular, started a real revolution in the world of smartphones. Yes, the BlackBerry was out before the iPhone, but it was the iPhone that turned the world on to the idea that your phone could do more than make calls and send text messages. The Apple iPhone became a real cultural phenomenon, not just in the United States, but around the world. People line up from America to China to Thailand to Qatar when the new iPhone is released, and they are willing to pay almost any price for the new line of iPhones.
The latest run is the iPhone 7 series, but we’re going to look at the iPhone 7 Plus, which is the higher end variant released. With the same look and shape of the last few iPhones, the iPhone 7 Plus sports the 5.5 inch Retina HD display that they’ve been using of late. The chipset is the A10 Fusion, which clocks in at a max rate of 2.34 GHz. Incidentally, the A10 Fusion is also the GPU for the phone, with a 6-core GPU built into it.
The battery isn’t anything special, and as with so many phones today, it cannot be removed (common for iPhones past). iOS 10 isn’t a huge change from any former iOS, either. It allows you about 13 hours of battery life for continuous internet use. The phone is well put together is the point I’m trying to make here.
One of the big reasons that Apple is such a great gaming platform is the iTunes App Store. This is a great system for getting games, and it has most of the best mobiles games, allowing you to play everything from Candy Crush (if that’s your thing) to the more serious gaming adventure, Final Fantasy VII. Almost any game that you could think of will be available on iOS, except for games that are Android only. The iPhone 7 Plus is powerful enough to play literally any game that is on the App Store right now, and it will allow you to game to your heart’s content.
Samsung Galaxy S7 – The Standard Model
The Samsung Galaxy S7 is the latest in a long line of Samsung phones to grace the market. Much the way that Nintendo and Sega had a long-running competition for the dollars of the gamer back in the days of Super Nintendo vs. Sega Genesis, the Samsung Galaxy and the Apple iPhone have been competing for the dollar of the mobile gamer. And it’s quite difficult to say who is winning, to be honest.
When the Galaxy S7 hit the scene, it had a very powerful processor. Indeed, its Exynos 8890 was one of the top cellular processors in every benchmark run, coming in second or third in almost every metric tested. While this has since been outdone by other phones, the Galaxy S7 remains a phone that is capable of playing most games and doing so successfully, and they tend to be less expensive than Apple products when you are buying a comparably large hard drive.
The Galaxy S7 has access to the Google Play store, through which it can add apps and games. This store, as with anything that Google does, is well made, and kept up to date. You can get everything on here, from the Square Enix games being re-released as a port to the mobile market (buy Final Fantasy VI. It is one of the greatest games that has ever been made), to the ever-so-popular Pokemon Go, and even to things that are a bit more adult in content, like Fallout Shelters, the game that was released as a teaser to the Fallout 4 release. The Galaxy S7 can play all of these with ease, and without eating up the battery more than is to be expected, or crashing.
The phone is also able to survive water, allegedly, for short periods of time. I wouldn’t test this, personally, but if you’re going to be gaming a lot on the go, you’re eventually going to get your phone wet. Water spills, rain happens, and phones get dropped in puddles. Having a little bit of protection goes a long way.
The great thing about this phone is the improved resolution of the screen, as well as the fact that the battery will be able to keep you powering through 11 hours of internet browsing. Be sure that you check this phone out before choosing a phone for your cellular phone and gaming needs.
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – The Best Around
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and the Samsung Galaxy S7 have very similar names, and yes, they’re very similar in design. They’re from the same series of phone that brought us the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 (although, thankfully, neither the Galaxy S7 nor Galaxy S7 edge has any sort of issues with the battery causing fires and/or explosions) , but they are a little bit differently, both internally and externally. The main point I’m making is that this is one of the best gaming phones Android is run on.
The internal differences are simple, beginning with the different chipset that they have. The Snapdragon 820 is a more powerful chip than the Galaxy S7 has, and it shows. The battery is a little bit bigger and lasts a bit longer than the battery on the standard Galaxy S7. The display is the same trusty AMOLED display, but it is about a half inch larger when measured at the diagonal.
But the real change here is the shape of the phone. The Galaxy S7 Edge has a wraparound screen. If you look at your phone, you will see a very clear line where the phone ends and the frame begins. If you look at the S7 Edge, you will see no such thing. The screen proper wraps around the left and right side of the phone, which means more screen, while still retaining the sharper image than the iPhone offers, with the 2560×1440 resolution provided.
This is definitely the phone that you want to go with for your gaming needs of the current generation Samsung Galaxy line, and more than that, if you’re looking for a great phone, you need look no further.
Nexus 6P – The Budget Option
Google got into the phone and tablet game years back with the Nexus, which, especially in tablet form, was literally designed to be a gaming tablet. Believe it or not, the original Nexus tablets were so obviously designed for the gaming public that they were sold in, among other places, GameStop.
When they made the Nexus 6P, it’s not likely that they made it be an outright gaming phone (to be fair, I can’t recall any phone being made entirely around the idea since the failure of the Nokia N-Gage years ago), but rather a multipurpose and affordable (comparatively) phone that could be used for gaming. When it comes to the best gaming phones 2016 and 2015 have to offer, you probably notice that we’re leaning pretty android heavy. This is because when you’re looking for a gaming phone, unless you have a lot of knowledge of what you’re doing, you’re going to find that your options are to use something that is iOS or Android OS. As with so many decently priced options, you will find that the Nexus 6P is run off of the Android OS. And as the image up above shows, you get to use the Google Play Store app to find your games.
So what’s inside that makes the gaming experience good? Well, to begin with, it has a 5.7 inch AMOLED screen, which is a great start toward getting some great graphics up and running and getting a nice resolution to render them in. It also houses almost the same chipset (Snapdragon 810 instead of the Galaxy S7 Edge’s 820) that the Galaxy S7 Edge does, which means it is easily capable of running most games you’ll find on the App Store with ease. Best of all, you get all this at a fairly reasonable price, so if you don’t really need a ‘name brand’ phone (not to malign Google as a brand for producing electronics), this will do everything you want from a gaming phone. It’s one of the best android gaming phones 2015 had to offer, and it still holds up well.
HTC 10 – The Audio Monster
HTC has been on the ball lately, from making a decent few phones for Android gaming to working with Steam (owned by Valve, the guys who brought us Half-Life and the Team Fortress and Portal series) to create the HTC Vive, which is their offering for the Virtual Reality gaming world. Their commercials for their phones even show that they are on the rise, what with being able to afford to use stars like Robert Downey Jr. (aka Ironman, Sherlock Holmes from the Guy Ritchie films, and much more) and all. Their HTC 10 does not disappoint and is a great Android gaming system.
Utilizing the Snapdragon 820 (I’m starting to see a pattern here) chipset, it has the power to back it up. As I’ve said elsewhere, this chipset will run pretty much anything that you can find on the Google Play Store right now. Its screen is a bit of a stand out (well, it’s different), eschewing the AMOLED screens and instead of going with a 5.1 inch Super LCD 5 screen, with the same resolution (2560×1440). It gets around 12 hours of internet browsing life out of a battery on full charge, which is nothing to sneeze at.
Where it really breaks away from the competition, though, is the sound. It uses a Boom Audio system, which allows the music and sound from your gaming to sound so much crisper. Trust me, if you use it, you will notice a huge difference. Honestly, if you’re the kind of person who is likely to listen to a lot of music as well as using your phone for gaming, or if you’re a film buff, this is the phone for you.
LG V20 – The Old Guard
Alongside names like Nokia and Motorola, VG was one of the first entrants into the world of cell phones when the market took off. Of course, this was back in the day when AT&T Wireless was called Cingular and was represented by an orange man-shaped object, so the times have changed. Of late, they’ve struggled to find their niche in the market, but in the last few years, their quality has gone up. The LG V20 is a good phone for any use, whether you fancy yourself a photographer or are looking to spend some time gaming. LG smartphones have begun to look up, and they have managed to make one of the best smartphones 2016 is offering, indeed, crafting some of the best cell phones just in general.
It uses, of course, the Snapdragon 820 chipset, which means it’ll play most anything on the App Store. It is also Android OS based, so you’ll be able to access a wide variety of games. The screen is 5.7 inches when measured on the diagonal, which gives you plenty of screen to play with, and it is an IPS LCD touchscreen, with a resolution of 2560×1440 and a pixel density of 513 PPI. This is a good screen, in other words.
It runs for about 12 hours of continuous web browsing, and that means that it will have enough power to get you through a flight with no problems (unless you’re going overseas or something). It also means you can get into a game without the battery dying on you.
If you’re looking for a cell phone that comes from a company with a long history in electronics, look no further than the LG V20. It’s a great android gaming system for anyone, beginner or not.
Google Pixel XL – The Rich New Kid On The Block
Google is a large and powerful (if creepy) company and one that has been in the tablet and phone game before. That being the case, it’s hard to understand what went wrong with their phone.
It’s not that the phone won’t run games and applications with ease. It has the Snapdragon 821 (a slight step up from the 820) chipset. It isn’t that the phone is bad at all, per se, sporting a 5.5-inch WQHD AMOLED screen with 534 ppi pixel density and a resolution of 2560×1440. It’s not that there is anything wrong with Android 7.1 or the size of the battery.
The phone is good. It works. It has access to the Google Play Store and its library of games. The problem is that the phone feels almost like a direct knock-off of the iPhone. Google is a massive company with a lot of employees that have been behind a lot of innovation in the technology and the internet, and I think that they could’ve done better than what they did with their first outing for the Google phone. And hopefully, with their next offering, they do a bit better and bring some innovation to the table.
Best Gaming Phone Buyer’s Guide
Every two years or so, most people switch out their phones. When you decide to finally go out and do so, you’ll be faced with a lot of options, many of which you don’t quite understand. Before you buy that new phone of yours, here are just a few things that you may want to consider:
iOS VS Android: Which Is Better?
This is a fight that has gone on forever. People will say that the iOS (and Macs in general) are less likely to suffer from virus, and they’ll say that Android OS’s are much easier to customize and open to more programs and applications than you can get from just iTunes. Really, iOS and Macs are just as vulnerable as Android or Windows OS’s are, they just weren’t targeted by hackers because they were so rarely used, but the times are changing and as the platforms become more popular, meaning they’ll be more targeted. And while Android OS is easy to customize and to work with, the vast majority of people won’t ever be doing anything like that. At this point, the only real difference is what the app store will have access to, and in general, the Google Play Store wins out against the iTunes store when it comes to games.
What Is The Difference Between Screens?
Of all these companies, Samsung is the only one that actually creates its own screens for phones. In fact, they sold screens to Apple for quite some time (and may still do so). The difference between LCD and LED screens is not all that noticeable. LCD refers to liquid crystal displays, and LED refers to light emitting diodes. The real difference is that LEDs tend to last longer, and LCDs can be a little bit sharper. Honestly, they’re both advanced enough that neither is a bad screen option.
How Great Is The Difference In CPUs?
Most of these phones use the Snapdragon 820 from Qualcomm. The difference between the Snapdragon 820 and 821 is negligible. Obviously, they’re a step up from the Snapdragon 810, though. The A10 is a bit more powerful than the Snapdragon 820, but you pay a price for it. Realistically, though, you needn’t worry that much about the chipset; if you’re buying a decently priced cell phone made in the last fiscal year, it’ll probably be able to run most of the games you have access to. Game companies don’t want to limit their customer base by making games that can only be run by the very top of the line phone out today because most people don’t own that phone, and that means that they lose out on customers.
Hopefully, this article has helped you to make a more informed decision about what smartphone you’ll be buying for your gaming needs, whatever those may be. Most of these phones have access to the best games available at this point, so that shouldn’t be a worry.
If you’re looking for the phone with the best sound, that award goes to the HTC 10. It’s Boom Sound Audio easily surpasses the rest of the contenders.
If you’re looking for the phone that keeps money in your pocket while still letting you game to your heart’s content, then take a look at the Nexus 6P.
And, finally, if you are looking for the best phone for your gaming smartphones 2016 produced needs, the answer is the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. It’s the best value for your dollar, with access to the most recent games.
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