The world of mobile gaming is continually evolving, serving up more and more exciting phones every year. When choosing the best mobile gaming handset, you need a high-quality screen with an equally high refresh rate, a powerful chip to handle the demands of modern mobile games, and a large battery to keep you gaming for longer.

Discover the best gaming phones you can buy in 2023 with our expert guide. We’ve pulled together handsets that offer the highest levels of performance, helping you find the ideal phone for your gaming needs.

Alongside the devices below, you can also browse a wide variety of gaming smartphones in our contract and SIM-free collections.

Our best gaming phone choice

iPhone 15 Pro Max

• Weight: 221g
• Dimensions: 159.9 x 76.7 x 8.25mm
• OS: iOS 17
• Screen size: 6.7” Super Retina XDR OLED
• Resolution: 2796 x 1290 pixels
• CPU: A17 Pro
• RAM: 8GB
• Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB
• Battery: 4422 mAh
• Rear camera: 48MP (wide) + 12MP (ultra-wide) + 12MP (telephoto)
• Front camera: 12MP

Apple take the 2023 gaming crown with the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Our choice as the best phone of 2023 is more powerful than ever, and even makes console-level gaming possible on mobile thanks to its A17 Pro chipset. This isn’t just a good phone for gaming: it’s one of the very best.

iPhone 15 Pro Max A17 Pro Chipset

There’s no understating how powerful the A17 Pro chip is when it comes to gaming. Demanding games like Resident Evil Village look superb, made possible by hardware-accelerated ray tracing to simulate light far more realistically. The 19 billion transistor count in this bit of silicon means the iPhone 15 Pro Max processes tasks faster, and its additional GPU core significantly reduces lag; vital when the action heats up.

Its phenomenal 6.7” OLED display has a silky-smooth 120Hz refresh rate and Super Retina XDR technology. With these features in its arsenal, the iPhone 15 Pro Max showcases rich detail and vibrant colours to provide best-in-class mobile gaming graphics.

Being slightly smaller than the iPhone 14 Pro Max, this generation features more contoured edges to its titanium frame, making it lighter, easier to grip, and a pleasure to hold for those long gaming sessions. Despite the smaller form factor, the 15 Pro Max contains a high-capacity 4422 mAh battery under the hood, boasting around 29 hours of video playback. Whilst yes, you will find phones with larger battery capacities than this, the 15 Pro Max benefits from its impressively optimised CPU, smartly applying power where needed, so that little battery life is wasted.

Gaming on iPhone 15 Pro Max

You might be thinking “does the iPhone 15 Pro Max have enough space for all my games?” With storage options up to 1TB, you can be sure that you’ll have ample space for that next release, without having to worry about deleting your favourite games, videos or apps.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is a gaming workhorse that can handle anything you throw at it. With access to Apple Arcade games, as well as its console-level capabilities, this is a must-have device for those wanting the very best gaming experience when on-the-go.

Our best phone for gaming on Android

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

• Weight: 234g
• Dimensions: 163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9mm
• OS: Android 13 w/ One UI 5.1
• Screen size: 6.8” AMOLED
• Resolution: 1440 x 3088
• CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
• RAM: 8GB / 12GB
• Storage: 256GB / 512GB / 1TB
• Battery: 5000 mAh
• Rear camera: 200MP (wide) + 12MP (ultra-wide) + 10MP (telephoto with 3x optical zoom) + 10MP (telephoto with 10x optical zoom)
• Front camera: 12MP

Samsung have a legacy of making fantastic phones with powerful chips, large batteries and gorgeous displays. 2023 was no different, with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra serving as one of the best gaming phones you can buy.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra with S-Pen

Front and centre is its beautiful 6.8” AMOLED display, combined with an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate. The colour accuracy and detail on this screen is something to behold; everything from the textures on objects to particle effects are impressively rendered. Being an OLED display, the S23 Ultra’s excellent colour levels are supported by true-to-life contrasts, ensuring that shadows and bright areas in games look as realistic as possible.

We mentioned this device’s adaptive refresh rate, which plays an essential role in establishing the Galaxy S23 Ultra as a top Android gaming phone. The maximum refresh rate of 120Hz on its own is a winner, but the adaptive nature of this refresh rate is the icing on the cake. With it, the display will dynamically adjust the phone’s refresh rate depending on the content you’re watching; if you’re gaming, it’ll be boosted to 120Hz, and when watching a video, it can drop to around 60-90Hz. By using a refresh rate that is best suited to the content being displayed, the Galaxy S23 Ultra can save battery power and be used for longer.

Gaming display on Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

This fantastic display technology would mean little if performance couldn’t match it; thankfully, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is more than up to the task. Graphically demanding games like Call of Duty Mobile and Diablo Immortal are lent a consistently smooth thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. This chipset works brilliantly alongside the S23 Ultra’s AMOLED display to reduce stutter and ensure you’re fully immersed in the action.

If you’re an Android user looking for the very best gaming performance, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra should be top of your list.

Our best mid-range gaming phone

Google Pixel 8

• Weight: 187g
• Dimensions: 150.5 x 70.8 x 8.9mm
• OS: Android 14
• Screen size: 6.2” OLED w/ 120Hz refresh rate
• Resolution: 1080 x 2400
• CPU: Google Tensor G3
• RAM: 8GB
• Storage: 128GB / 256GB
• Battery: 4575 mAh
• Rear camera: 50MP + 12MP ultra-wide
• Front camera: 10.5MP

If you’re not after the best of the best in gaming performance, but still want a capable phone that can run mobile games well, the Google Pixel 8 is our top mid-range choice.

Google Pixel 8 Tensor G3 Processor

Google’s handset gets the nod here thanks to its potent combination of performance and display technology. We came away very impressed by the Pixel 8’s Tensor G3 processor, which blitzes through action-heavy and smaller puzzle games with ease. This is in large part because of improvements to the Tensor chipset’s machine learning algorithms, enabling the Pixel 8 to smartly distribute processing power when needed. 8GB RAM is also available to help ease the load on the CPU, keeping performance smooth and stable.

Google Pixel 8 Display

Another key part of the Pixel 8’s gaming chops is its beautiful display. The 6.2” OLED screen comes with all the bells and whistles that technology brings, including HDR support and a high refresh rate (120Hz on the Pixel 8). As highlighted in our full review, what stands out most on the Pixel 8 is its impressive brightness levels, driven by the phone’s Actua display. A peak brightness of 2000 nits means you can game inside and outside while being able to see every detail.

Our best budget gaming phone

Apple iPhone SE 3rd Gen

• Weight: 144g
• Dimensions: 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3
• OS: iOS 17
• Screen size: 4.7” Retina HD
• Resolution: 750 x 1334
• CPU: A15 Bionic
• RAM: 4GB
• Storage: 64GB / 128GB / 256B
• Battery: 2018 mAh
• Rear camera: 12MP
• Front camera: 7MP

When gaming on a budget, the iPhone SE 3rd Gen remains a tried-and-tested handset, offering plenty of performance power and features to enjoy gaming from the palm of your hand.

iPhone SE 3rd Gen Display

Despite the SE 3rd Gen’s lower price point to emphasise its affordability, this is no average gaming device. Within its small frame lies some impressive tech that packs a punch, such as the 4.7” Retina HD screen and 60Hz refresh rate. Being able to run games this smoothly on a smaller, pocket-friendly handset is mightily impressive.

iPhone SE 3rd Gen gaming display

Powering the SE 3rd Gen is the A15 Bionic chip, a processor which continues to pull its weight in the gaming department. It’s certainly no A17 Bionic like you’d find in the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, yet considering the SE 3rd Gen was designed as an entry-level handset, the A15 Bionic should not be underestimated.

If you or someone you know is looking for a cheaper gaming phone, the iPhone SE 3rd Gen is a top option. With hundreds of games available on the App Store and Apple Arcade, too, this is a budget-friendly gaming phone that won’t let you down.

Our best foldable gaming phone

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

• Weight: 253g
• Dimensions: 154.9 x 129.9 x 6.1
• OS: Android 14
• Screen size: 7.6” (unfolded) / 6.2” (folded)
• Resolution: 1812 x 2176 (unfolded) / 904 x 2316 (folded)
• CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
• RAM: 12GB
• Storage: 256GB / 512GB
• Battery: 4400 mAh
• Rear camera: 50MP wide-angle + 12MP ultra-wide+ 10MP telephoto
• Front camera: 10MP

If you’re seeking a gaming phone that’s a little bit different, consider the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5. Its foldable form factor offers a unique mobile gaming experience, bridging the gap between a traditional smartphone and a tablet.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 device folded and unfolded

The Z Fold 5 is a chunky device at first glance, but fear not: it’s far lighter than it may seem. At 253g, it’s one of the more lightweight foldable phones on the market, so you rarely feel distracted by the size of the handset. A larger weight could have significantly impacted immersion when gaming, hence our praise for what Samsung achieved with the Z Fold 5’s design.

When opening up this phone to game, we were dazzled by what was shown. The unfolded 7.6” 120Hz display looks superb, every pixel bursting with detail thanks to the AMOLED screen technology underneath. Fold the phone into its standard form and you’re again treated to an AMOLED display, this time a 6.2” beauty. Because the camera notch is hidden by pixels, the screens on the Z Fold 5 are edge-to-edge, giving you a fully cinematic viewing experience.

This phone’s fast performance is courtesy of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 ‘for Galaxy’ processor. Making light work of many visually demanding games thrown at it, we were very impressed by how well the Z Fold 5 performed when gaming, maintaining consistently high frame rates. 12GB RAM supports the CPU and helps it run to its full potential during the most intense action sequences.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Gaming Display

It takes a lot of juice to power screens of this quality, and so Samsung opted to equip the Z Fold 5 with a 4400 mAh battery. This unit provided more than enough battery life to see the Z Fold 5 through heavier gaming sessions, making it hugely reliable when travelling around.

That concludes our rundown of the best gaming phones from 2023. What is a gaming device though without some excellent games to play on them; take a look at our guides to the top Android and iOS games you can play today.