With the rise of gaming-specific phones, I’ve always wondered if gaming phones actually have benefits that make them worth the high price tag, or if they still require additional tweaks before they become the new norm.
Are Gaming Phones Worth It? (Short Answer)
Gaming phones are for you if you want higher refresh rates, more RAM, a sustainable GPU & CPU performance, and more. Gaming phones essentially contain maxed out components, however, most of us, even for mobile gaming, don’t require these high-end components, making it highly excessive in most use cases.
Note: This article discusses gaming phones in general, meaning that the exact specifications of each gaming phone will vary, therefore, it’s best to verify the information of the gaming phone you’re looking at, using a tool such as GSMArena, which has specification sheets for just about every smartphone.
Benefits Of A Gaming Phone
Benefit 1) Smoother Experience – Higher Refresh Rates
Gaming phones have a higher refresh rate than the majority of phones. Refresh rates refer to the number of times the phone screen refreshes per second. Typical phone screens have a 60Hz refresh rate, meaning that the screen refreshes 60 times per second. On the other hand, the refresh rates on most gaming-specific phones go up to 120Hz.
60Hz is more than enough for the majority of mobile games, in fact, there are only a handful of games that are capable of going up to 120Hz. (Here is the full list on Androidauthority.)
But in those games, you’ll certainly be able to feel the experience being more smooth. As an example, computer monitors range from 60Hz to 240 Hz, and most computer gamers prefer higher refresh rates, some even saying that it gives them a competitive advantage.
While that may be true for computer games, mobile games run and function just fine on 60Hz screens, and you really won’t be getting much from having a higher refresh rate on mobile games – maybe a few milliseconds of an advantage.
Benefit 2) More Vibrant & Detailed Viewing Experience – HDR Viewing Capabilities
Besides refresh rates, most gaming-specific phones support HDR.
HDR stands for High-dynamic-range, and in short, allows for HDR-compatible viewing devices to get as close as possible to the original image/frame, by making the screen brighter and richer in color.
However, not all mobile games support HDR. But, you will be able to watch Netflix, and other content with HDR if HDR is supported, and you’ll be able to gain a better, more immersive viewing experience in comparison to other phones without HDR. (Keep in mind that the Razer Phone 2 isn’t as bright, so although it is HDR-compatible, the screen won’t be as vibrant as other gaming phones such as the ROG Phone 2.)
Benefit 3) More RAM
RAM (Random Access Memory) on your phone is a place to hold temporary data. 3-6 GB of RAM is more than enough for a mobile phone, even when playing mobile games. An example of a game that takes up some of the highest amounts of RAM would be PUBG mobile, which takes up about 1.5 GB of RAM.
With about 3 GB of RAM, you might face problems trying to run multiple mobile applications at one time. For example, on smartphones, there is a feature to allow you to store app instances on the recent apps page, which allows you to re-open apps to the exact frame you left it at. This feature utilizes RAM, hence, with about 3 GB of RAM, your phone might only be able to hold 2-4 apps and will kick out apps to free up RAM if you open too many applications.
However, with about 6 GB, you’ll have more than enough, and won’t encounter any issues, even when opening multiple apps at once. And at 8 GB, you’ll have enough to future-proof yourself.
Smartphones these days have an average of about 6 GB of RAM.
Gaming phones typically utilize 8-12 GB of RAM, which in my eyes, and many others, is a complete waste of money, as having such a high RAM count doesn’t lead to a better user experience in any way.
(It is also important to note that for some gaming phones you will be able to select the amount of RAM needed, but the selection is typically 8 GB or 12 GB, both of which are excessive for a phone.)
This means that you’re essentially paying for a feature that you’ll never utilize or one that will take years before it can actually come into use.
Benefit 4) Sustainable CPU & GPU Performance
According to a test done by GSMArena, it shows that even when the thermals within the phone rise, the performance of the CPU and GPU in gaming phones maintain, and outperform other non-gaming-specific phones.
This shows us that the performance on most gaming phones won’t have a noticeable dip even after long periods of stress, perfect if you enjoy longer playtimes.
Something to note is that this test only covered the Xiaomi Black Shark 2, and the Nubia Red Magic 3, hence, the performance of other gaming-specific phones might differ.
Then again, not all non-gaming-specific phones severely underperform after being stressed, therefore, it’s best to check out the benchmarks of the phone you’re looking at, if you seek to play for longer periods.
5) Other Benefits Of Having A Gaming Phone
The average battery capacity for modern smartphones are about 3,500-4,000 mAh. On the majority of gaming phones, the battery capacity goes up to 6,000 mAh (depending on the model), this means that the battery capacity on these gaming phones are about double the average, which is a huge plus for a gaming phone considering that gaming consumes and requires more battery.
In other words, a battery capacity of 5,000 mAh can last you a minimum of a full day, and 6,000 mAh would certainly mean at least 1 and a half days.
Gaming phones also boast about audio features such as 7.1 channel surround sound, dual front-facing speakers, 24-bit Hi-Res Audio, and many more.
In some cases this might be true, however, if you aren’t using high-end headphones that can take advantage of it, there probably won’t be a noticeable difference.
And as for the speakers on gaming phones, there will definately be a difference, but the speakers on most smartphones today are good enough even for watching movies and playing games.
At the end of the day, you really don’t need all these audio features.
The benefits listed above are from research done for gaming phones in general and will differ from phone to phone.
Who Should Buy A Gaming Phone?
Honestly, no one should buy a gaming phone. Hear me out. Gaming phones perform better, have higher refresh rates, and some even have a longer battery life, but the fact of the matter is, you don’t need the majority of these features.
For example, 12-8 GB of RAM simply isn’t needed for mobile gaming, furthermore, even some PC games don’t require 12 GB of RAM, it is simply excessive (at least for now).
And as for refresh rates, mobile games aren’t equipped to take advantage of higher refresh rates, while there is a list of games that do, the majority of mobile games don’t have support for it. And higher refresh rates are only going to give you a slight, few milliseconds of an advantage.
That said, if you’re a competitive mobile gamer, and require the highest of refresh rates, the largest battery capacity possible, and all the RAM you can get, then maybe I can see getting a gaming phone as a worthy investment.
Gaming-specific phones are essentially phones that have fully maxed out components.
Besides that, if you really prefer the additional features that gaming-specific phones have to offer, then, by all means, go for it!
Or, if you decided not to shell out the extra money, and rather save it, a budget phone I recommend getting would be the Moto G7 on Amazon, it is a highly capable phone, and is certainly worth every penny. While if you prefer iOS, I recommend the iPhone SE.
If you’re interested in finding out how long the average lifespan of a phone is, I recommend checking out my article here, where I showcase examples of how long each phone lasts (according to their brand), and outline the common mistakes you do on the daily that shortens your phone’s lifespan.
How Much Do Gaming Phones Cost?
On Average, Gaming Phones Cost USD $600-$800.
Here is a table of the current prices for gaming-specific phones:
|ROG Phone 2
|Xiaomi Black Shark 3
|Xiaomi Black Shark 3 Pro
|Nubia Red Magic 3
|Nubia Red Magic 5G
|Razer Phone 2
(Only Available Used)
In summary, gaming phones have rather excessive components that most of us won’t get to utilize, and really don’t need, even for mobile gaming. Nonetheless, if you see it as a worthy investment, and don’t mind the extra price, go for it!