Mobile gaming has come on leaps and bounds since the turn of the century. We’ve gone from the black and white dot-matrix fun of Snake to the immersive high-definition battle royales available to play on modern handsets.
The gap between gaming on a smartphone and gaming on a PC or console has been shrinking over the last decade, with a growing number of titles now able to offer cross-platform play that lets mobile gamers compete against their PC/console-playing buddies.
With the different types of gaming looking so similar, it is understandable that those thinking about playing games on a smartphone may be wondering whether they need to get a dedicated gaming phone or one with a powerful specification to be able to enjoy the latest releases.
However, the mobile gaming world is a little different to computers. Therefore, the best smartphone for gaming isn’t necessarily the biggest and most powerful.
The Phone You Already Have
It is very likely that the smartphone you already own can play most games, provided you bought it within the last five years or so. You may not necessarily get to take advantage of the best graphics and loading will take a little longer, but it should still run most titles.
This is because the majority of games are designed to be compatible with as wide a range of devices as possible. For example, Angry Birds 2 requires Android 5.0 or higher. This version of the operating system, named “Lollipop”, was released in June 2014 – more than seven years ago.
Even advanced features, such as “live dealer” modes in mobile casino apps, are capable of running on hardware that is several years old. Live dealer modes work just like any other version of a casino game, but use technology to enhance the playing environment. This means that the mechanics for games like live dealer blackjack remain the same as they are in other versions, with each player trying to make a hand of 21 (or as close to it as possible). The only difference is that the live dealer games use a live video stream of a human dealer to create a more social experience that lets the player interact both with the dealer and other users.
Since you can almost certainly enjoy all of these playing experiences without upgrading your smartphone, it is worth at least trying them out on your existing phone before you splash out on a new one.
A Flagship Phone
Flagship smartphones are the ones that attract all the news headlines when they’re released. Think Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Pixel, and Samsung’s Galaxy S range; these handsets can cost anywhere between $750 and $1,500.
When you buy a flagship phone today, you can be confident that you’re going to get a great gaming experience regardless of which apps you download from your app store.
If you’re playing something like Call of Duty: Mobile, you’ll be able to turn up the graphics settings to the max without worrying about lag. Buying one of these phones will give you one of the best mobile gaming experiences available on the market, but it comes at a high price.
A Mid-Range Phone
Just a few years ago, mid-range phones were a huge step down in terms of the experience you got when compared to a flagship handset. The cameras produced poorer quality photos, the processors were slower, and the screens had lower resolutions.
Today, the difference isn’t as noticeable for most users, as many mid-range devices from popular brands like OnePlus contain impressive hardware. The recently-released OnePlus Nord 2 5G contains an octa-core CPU capable of clock speeds of up to 2.6 GHz, up to 12 GB of memory, and a 90 Hz HDR10+ display.
That puts mid-range devices on a similar level to a flagship from a year or two ago, but without the big price tag.
If you’re used to playing titles like Call of Duty on a PC, you’re probably used to having to focus heavily on your machine’s hardware to make sure it’s compatible. For smartphones, things are much easier.
If you’re considering taking up mobile gaming but are unsure whether you needed to get a special phone for it, the answer is almost certainly no. It is likely that the device in your hand right now is already capable of playing all the games you want and, if it’s not, you don’t need to break the bank buying one that is up to the task.