The best Samsung phones for gaming

Samsung phones are good at pretty much everything. This includes gaming, since most Samsung devices come with powerful processors and generous servings of RAM and offer dazzlingly vivid — and large — displays, which are perfect for playing the latest games. However, if you’re a serious gamer, you might want to know which are the best Samsung phones for gaming. That’s why we’ve gone ahead and put the cream of the crop together for you in this article.

This list covers the best Samsung phone for gaming overall, as well as runners-up and options in other price brackets. Also, check out our article on the best Samsung phones if you’d like more info on some of the phones covered in this article (as well as other devices).

If you’d like to see a wider selection, also check out our best Android phones article, or check out our list of the best gaming phones from any brand.

samsung galaxy s22 ultra

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Best overall Samsung phone for gaming

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samsung galaxy s22

Samsung Galaxy S22

Best Samsung phone for gaming under $800

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samsung galaxy s21 fe

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Best Samsung phone for gaming under $700

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samsung galaxy a53 5g

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

Best Samsung phone for gaming under $500

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samsung galaxy a51

Samsung Galaxy A51

Best Samsung phone for gaming under $350

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samsung galaxy s22 ultra note interview nick porter in white hand

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Best overall Samsung phone for gaming

Pros

  • S Pen is convenient and highly accurate
  • Versatile camera takes great photos
  • The latest processor for power
  • Long software support
  • Beautiful high refresh rate screen

Cons

  • Not very fast battery charging
  • Large and heavy

Why you should buy this: You get a stunning 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED screen, up to 12GB of RAM, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip (Exynos 2200 outside the U.S.), an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate, and the ability to stream Xbox games.

Who it’s for: Anyone who wants the very best gaming experience available on a Samsung phone.

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra:

This phone packs the specs and then some. Starting off with its 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED screen with a resolution of 3088 x 1440 pixels (the same as the Note 20 Ultra before it), it also supports HDR10+ and an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate. This means every game — even the most demanding titles — will look crisp, vibrant, and smooth, with reduced lag.

Pick up the phone in the U.S. and you get Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor (the Exynos 2200 in the rest of the world) and up to 12GB of RAM. Qualcomm’s latest chip can handle whatever you throw at it without slowdown issues, from the latest games to multitasking.

With up to 1TB of internal storage, there’s plenty of room for downloading games and apps, though there’s no microSD card slot here. You also get a huge 5,000mAh battery to see you through a full day of gaming, plus 45W fast charging, though there’s no charger in the box.

When it comes to special features, you can use Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass to stream console games over 5G or Wi-Fi on the S22 Ultra. You also get the new-and-improved S Pen stylus, which can be used with some games, boasting reduced latency of 2.8ms. Then there’s Samsung’s Game Booster function, which monitors your usage, available memory, device temperature, and other metrics, optimizing settings to boost efficiency and battery life.

The S22 Ultra is no slouch on the non-gaming features front either, with a powerful quad-lens camera, including a 108-megapixel main sensor, a 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto with 3x optical zoom, and 10MP telephoto periscope with 10x optical zoom. You can also record video at up to UHD 8K resolution at 24 frames per second.

True, the S22 Ultra is a behemoth of a phone, so it’s not designed for one-handed use. However, you’re getting the latest smartphone processor, a beefy battery, and a stunning 6.8-inch screen, so the trade-offs are worth it. Did we mention you also get Samsung’s impressive update promise, with four years of operating system updates and five years of security updates?

This isn’t a cheap phone by any means, though right now you can get the 256GB model from Samsung for the same price as the 128GB at $1,200, rising to $1,600 for the 1TB version.

samsung galaxy s22 ultra

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Best overall Samsung phone for gaming

the samsung galaxy s22+ sitting on a shelf with knicknacks.

Digital Trends / Andy Zahn

Samsung Galaxy S22

Best Samsung phone for gaming under $800

Pros

  • Samsung offering free upgrade to 256GB right now
  • Powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (or Exynos 2200) processor
  • 8GB RAM

Cons

  • Tiny 3,700mAh battery
  • Slightly smaller screen than its predecessor

Why you should buy this: It’s gorgeous, packs the latest processor, and you get a free upgrade to 256GB of storage from Samsung right now.

Who it’s for: Anyone who wants an excellent gaming experience and flagship specs without breaking the bank.

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy S22:

The Galaxy S22 has a smaller display than the S22 Ultra, bt packs a punch in the specs department, making it an excellent choice for gamers. Under the hood, you get the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip (or Exynos 2200) with 8GB of RAM, more than enough to play the most demanding games. True, you’re not getting the 12GB of RAM onboard the S22 Ultra, but you shouldn’t notice the difference here.

The 6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED display has a 2340 x 1080 pixel resolution and offers the same adaptive 120Hz refresh rate as the S22 Ultra, with a 240Hz touch sampling rate plus support for HDR10+, so any games you play will look amazing.

Where the S22 stumbles slightly is battery life. There’s only a 3,700mAh battery on board, which isn’t great news for gamers, though the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and adaptive refresh rate should help to maximize battery efficiency. You only get 25W fast charging here too, compared to the 45W on offer with the S22 Ultra, though you’ll still be back up and gaming fairly quickly. There’s 128GB or 256GB of onboard storage and, again, no microSD card slot, so you may need to delete some games to install new ones, particularly if you’re playing the latest games.

Gaming aside, the Galaxy S22 is a great phone. The cameras are impressive, even if they seem identical to the S21, there’s support for 5G, and you get Android 12 with OneUI 4.1 out of the box, plus Samsung’s unrivaled four years of OS updates and five years of security updates. You can pick up the 256GB model from Samsung right now for $800.

samsung galaxy s22

Samsung Galaxy S22

Best Samsung phone for gaming under $800

samsung galaxy s21 fe 5g review hero image

Adam Doud/Digital Trends

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Best Samsung phone for gaming under $700

Pros

  • Powerful specifications
  • Solid cameras
  • Impressive 120Hz display
  • Priced well for a flagship

Cons

  • Touchscreen issues
  • Battery just OK
  • Too much competition at its price point

Why you should buy this: Despite its lackluster, strangely timed launch, the S21 FE is still an excellent buy, packed with specs to keep gamers happy.

Who it’s for: Budget-conscious gamers who demand the latest specs.

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE:

The S21 FE (Fan Edition) launched at a strange moment in time, shortly before the S22 series landed, so it flew under the radar for the most part. But take a closer look — there’s plenty to recommend when it comes to this phone, despite the fact that it’s incredibly similar to its predecessor, which was one of last year’s best Android smartphones of the year.

You get the core specs of the S21 series but at a more palatable price — great news for those looking for a gaming smartphone that won’t break the budget. Under the hood, there’s the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 (or the Exynos 2100 outside the U.S.), with up to 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of onboard storage (again, no microSD card slot here). True, it’s not the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, but for a sub-$700 phone, it’s the best processor around. The latest, most graphically demanding games should run with ease, and you get Samsung’s four years of OS updates too, future-proofing your purchase.

The S21 FE’s 6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED display is slightly smaller than its predecessor’s but still perfect for gaming, with a 2,340 x 1,080 pixel resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, and 240Hz touch sampling rate in Gaming Mode. Games like Genshin Impact and Call of Duty: Mobile look great on the S21 FE’s screen — perhaps not quite as jaw-dropping as on the S22 Ultra, but still excellent for the price.

Samsung rounds out the package with a 4,500mAh battery, enough to see you through a pretty heavy day of gaming, with 25W fast charging to get you juiced back up quickly.

As you’d expect for the price, there are some points the S21 FE falls down on, like its cameras, which are pretty similar to its predecessor, and its plastic rather than glass rear panel. These aren’t deal breakers, though, and don’t stop it from being an excellent gaming phone for under $700.

samsung galaxy s21 fe

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Best Samsung phone for gaming under $700

samsung galaxy a53 5g screen while held.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

Best Samsung phone for gaming under $500

Pros

  • 5nm processor for better performance and battery efficiency
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • MicroSD card slot to expand storage
  • Beefy 5,000mAh battery

Cons

  • Not quite as snappy as some high-end flagships
  • Cameras are nothing to write home about

Why you should buy this: It’s an excellent mid-ranger with a beefy battery, capable processor, and Samsung’s flagship update promise (four years of OS updates, five years of security updates).

Who it’s for: Anybody looking to save money who also wants a capable gaming phone.

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G:

This chunky little mid-ranger is surprisingly light at just 189 grams, with a 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display and 120Hz refresh rate promising bright, vivid colors and excellent responsiveness. Look further and you’ll spot the Exynos 1280 chip, with 6GB of RAM plus 128GB or 256GB of onboard storage, although unlike the other options on our list, you helpfully get a microSD card slot here too. Samsung allows you to allocate up to 6GB of your storage space as virtual RAM too, great for multitasking or gaming.

Speaking of gaming, the chip here is made using a 5nm process, something Samsung reserved for its flagship S series phones until a few years ago, so efficiency and performance are excellent. The processor is capable of multitasking and playing the latest, most demanding Android games, though you may notice some frame rate drops when playing games like Genshin Impact.

The A53 5G also packs a beefy 5,000mAh battery, the same as the S22 Ultra, with 25W fast charging. Gaming aside, the cameras are good, though nothing out of the ordinary, with 64MP main, 12MP wide-angle, 5MP macro, and 5MP depth lenses.

This is the first A-series phone to get Samsung’s flagship update promise, with four years of OS updates and five years of security updates. When you consider the battery, storage (with microSD card slot), and 5nm chip, you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck here, with the A53 5G also packing 5G for future-proofing.

samsung galaxy a53 5g

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

Best Samsung phone for gaming under $500

samsung galaxy a51 review 2

Samsung Galaxy A51

Best Samsung phone for gaming under $350

Pros

  • Modern design
  • Excellent display
  • Good photos with enough light
  • Good battery life
  • A headphone jack

Cons

  • Lackluster performance
  • Slower fingerprint sensor
  • Won’t receive OS updates quickly

Why you should buy this: Despite its low price, this phone offers a very pretty display, a capable processor, and day-long battery life.

Who it’s for: Anyone who wants a good gaming experience on a budget.

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy A51:

It may underperform compared to the other devices on this list, but the Galaxy A51 remains the best Samsung phone for gaming under $300. Its headline feature is its delightful 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display, which furnishes a high-def resolution of 2340 x 1080 pixels. If that weren’t enough, it also harnesses 4GB of RAM (upgradeable to 6GB or 8GB) and Samsung’s own Exynos 9611 processor, which is slower than recent Qualcomm chips but can handle many of the latest games without any lag or slowdown.

There’s also 128GB of internal memory, as well as a microSD card slot, which lets you expand its own storage to 512GB. The 4,000mAh battery is good enough to see you through some extensive gaming sessions, although it may not quite last a full day if you spend most of it gaming. It comes with a 15W charger, which is decent enough but won’t refill the phone as fast as the 25W or 45W chargers you get with pricier models.

samsung galaxy a51

Samsung Galaxy A51

Best Samsung phone for gaming under $350

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Exynos processor is best for gaming?

In the United States, the vast majority of new Samsung phones ship with a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip. These rank as some of the fastest processors you can possibly find in any kind of smartphone, making them great for gaming. However, outside of the U.S., most Samsung phones actually use an Exynos processor. Conversely, more budget Samsung phones also ship with an Exynos processor in the States.

Exynos chips are manufactured in-house by Samsung, and while they aren’t quite as speedy as Snapdragons, the higher-end Exynos units do a good job of powering phones. When it comes to gaming, you generally want to aim for a phone with the latest Exynos processor, which at the moment happens to be the Exynos 2200.

This particular chip is carried by the S22 series outside of the United States, and the main reason why it’s the fastest is that it uses transistors with a width of 5nm (nanometers), as opposed to 7nm or larger. This means that it can pack more transistors than other chips, which in turn means it can perform computations more quickly.

In other words, when looking for phones, always try to pick a device with a chip that has the smallest transistor size (all else being equal). In the future, we’ll eventually witness a jump from 5nm to 3nm, and so on.

How do I choose a phone for gaming?

There are two main features to look for when shopping for a gaming phone. First, you want good performance. This means looking for a high-powered processor with a small transistor size (see above), and it also means looking for a higher RAM count. Together, these two features improve the ability of a phone to process data and run games.

Second, you also ideally want a good display. Right now, the best phones use either an AMOLED or OLED display. They also carry a high resolution, with “high” currently indicating anything from 2400 x 1080 pixels to 3200 x 1440 pixels. It’s also a big plus if a phone — as with many recent Samsungs — supports a high refresh rate, either 90Hz or (preferably) 120Hz.

These are the two main features to look out for, but a good gaming phone should also provide a few other things. A big, long-lasting battery is always worth having, for example, particularly if you’re playing games outside. This means something in the region of 4,000mAh to 5,000mAh, although this can vary from one device and manufacturer to another.

Another thing to look out for is internal memory. Nowadays, gamers probably need 128GB of internal storage as a minimum, although 64GB is acceptable if a phone contains a microSD card slot. This is something likely to change in the future as games become more demanding of storage space.

If you’d like to learn how to get the best out of your smartphone, check out our article on how to optimize your Android smartphone for gaming.

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