Traditionally if you were looking at a budget smartphone for gaming, it would be nearly impossible to find a good match. Then came brands like OnePlus, which shook the market with their signature flagship killers, packing high-end specs in an affordable phone.
Today many more companies like Xiaomi and Realme are striving to provide phones with the best performance at the lowest possible price, forcing premium brands like Apple and Samsung to build good gaming capable phones at lower price points as well. Therefore, if you’re wondering what the best smartphones for gaming on a budget are, we have compiled a comprehensive list of the 12 best budget gaming phones.
1Google Pixel 4a
OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 5.81-inch | Resolution: 2340×1080 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | CPU: Snapdragon 730G | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 128 GB | Battery: 3,140mAh | Rear camera: 12.2MP | Front camera: 8MP | Weight: 143g| Dimensions: 144 x 69.4 x 8.2 mm
Google’s budget Pixel, the Pixel 4a, though not aimed at gamers, can manage most smartphone games without a hassle. The Snapdragon 730G, though optimized for gaming with a better graphics processor, will not perform as well as modern flagship processors like the Snapdragon 865 and will fall back by a bit. The 6 GB of RAM also seems to be the bare minimum for a smooth experience and fast loading times.
The FHD OLED display is a welcome sight, especially at this price point, but lacks high refresh rate technology, which again is not optimal, will still give a better viewing experience. The UFS 2.1 storage will not be as fast as flagships with the faster UFS 3.0 but should do you fine for the most part.
The Pixel 4a has a decent battery life and will easily carry you through your day on light use and allow you to game for a few hours. The 18W fast-charging should also top you up in no time. The lightweight build of the smartphone should also let you play for long hours without risking fatigue. Also, the included 3.5mm headphone jack will let you enjoy lag-free audio.
Stock Android on Pixels is one of the best software experiences out there with a snappy and clean experience, and the fast software updates and long-term support make it even better. The 4a shines with an excellent camera system, which nets you one of the best smartphone photos in this price range. The Pixel 4a could do as a gaming smartphone, but we would not be sure of its performance over time. But with smartphones like the OnePlus Nord unavailable in the US, few choices are available at this price, while providing the same software experience.
2Samsung Galaxy A51
OS: Android 10 (One UI 2) | Screen size: 6.5-inch | Resolution: 2400 x 1080 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | CPU: Exynos 9611 | RAM: 4/6/8GB | Storage: 64/128GB | Battery: 4,000mAh | Rear camera: 48MP+12MP+5MP+5MP | Front camera: 32MP | Weight: 172g | Dimensions: 158.5 x 73.6 x 7.9 mm
With Samsung finally making the A-series lineup officially for sale in the US, the A51 initially aimed towards the mid-range segment has seen a significant cut in price, making it one of the best budget options around, notably if you are looking for a gaming device that does much more.
The Exynos 9611 will perform comparably to the Snapdragon 730 chipset handling games pretty well at high settings. The beautiful 6.5-inch AMOLED display provides one of the best viewing experiences in this price segment as always expected from Samsung and even manages to mimic the hole-punch screen from their flagships.
As for the battery, the 4000 mAh cell will easily last you more than a day with minimal use, considering the lower-powered chip and screen. As for the charger, the 15W spec seems a little low for 2020 standards, falling behind the competition.
The 4GB of RAM on the base system might make your operating system feel quite laggy and make your games load longer, but will not affect the gaming performance. The expandable SD card slot should allow for extra storage if needed down the road. The A51 comes with One UI 2 installed, which will give you a decent overall experience.
The A51 is an excellent choice for gamers looking at the sub-$300 price tag for a phone with a great display and a good software experience with the only downsides to the A51 are the lower RAM and the slightly slower Exynos processor. The Redmi Note 9 Pro is a viable option for those who prefer gaming performance, whereas the A51 proves to be an option for those who prefer the viewing experience.
3Apple iPhone SE
OS: iOS 13 | Screen size: 4.7-inch | Resolution: 1334×750 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | CPU: Apple A13 Bionic | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 64/128/256GB | Battery: 1,821mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 12MP | Weight: 148g | Dimensions: 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm
Apple recently launched the latest addition to its lineup, the iPhone SE 2020, a significant upgrade from the last one released in 2016. The $399 price point is most surprising considering the price tag of current iPhones. It comes in the body of the iPhone 8, meaning that it hosts a tiny 4.7-inch screen. For reference, the S20 Ultra packs a massive 6.9-inch display, so this phone has a small footprint compared to today’s standards.
But on the inside lies the A13 Bionic, the same chip powering Apple’s high-end iPhone 11 family, which makes sure to beat every other smartphone on this list in raw performance. The 3 GB of RAM will most certainly handle multitasking and games well, considering the various optimizations Apple has put in place. The iPhone SE will easily handle any latest gaming title, providing excellent gameplay, although the display can significantly hinder the experience.
The measly 1,821 mAh battery is a disappointment, but considering the small form factor, it makes sense. Unfortunately, for gaming, it will prove insufficient due to the power draw of the powerful internals but should last you for a day on light use. The 18W fast charging can juice up your battery by half in just 30 minutes, while wireless charging is terrific at this price.
The iPhone SE is also very light, coming in at a mere 148g, which with the small form factor, makes for a compact package, especially if you do not prefer the large screen phones commonplace today. The phone runs iOS 13, which is incredibly intuitive and minimalistic, lacking any specific features for gaming, and the integration with the Apple ecosystem is also a bonus.
The iPhone SE 2020 aims to provide the premium iPhone experience at a budget. If your primary purpose with this device is gaming, then the small screen and battery might be potential deal-breakers. But, if you have to get an iPhone to get into the Apple ecosystem, then this will be the only choice for a gaming smartphone that will fit the bill.
4Samsung Galaxy S10e
OS: Android 10 (One UI 2) | Screen size: 5.8-inch | Resolution: 2280 x 1080 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | CPU: Snapdragon 855 (USA/China), Exynos 9820 | RAM: 6/8GB | Storage: 128/256GB | Battery: 3,100mAh | Rear camera: 12MP+16MP| Front camera: 10MP | Weight: 150g | Dimensions: 142.2 x 69.9 x 7.9 mm
The Galaxy S10e was a toned-down version of the Galaxy S10 series from last year. Although it is a year old, the smartphone still holds up to the performance, especially games, compared to the other offerings on this list.
The Snapdragon 855 is a powerful SoC and still is one of the top-performing processors among smartphones and should play the latest mobile game titles with relative ease. The international variant of the smartphone features an Exynos 9820, which is not as efficient or powerful as the Snapdragon variant, and you should avoid it if possible. The 5.8-inch AMOLED panel, though not featuring a higher resolution, nor a higher refresh rate, still provides a vivid viewing experience.
The 6 GB RAM on the lower end variant is fine for most users but might fall short over the long run, considering the software is quite memory-intensive. The UFS 2.1 storage will also not be as fast at loading apps and games as the current flagships but is well worth the smartphone’s reduced cost. An expandable SD card slot for that extra storage is a bonus if you tend to use a bit of extra space.
The 3,100 mAh battery is enough for a day’s smartphone use, running regular tasks, and a few heavy-use sessions like gaming. The 15W fast charging and wireless charging support should let you top up the battery in a short time, although competitors do have better options available. A headphone jack’s inclusion is a welcome sign for gamers who prefer to play with lag-free audio over wired headsets.
One UI 2 running Android 10 is excellent as ever, though you will have used up a year of software upgrades by now. The Android 10 skin has many features and even features an app store for downloading games like Fortnite, unavailable on the Play Store.
The S10e is a viable option for those looking for a premium smartphone with an excellent design, screen, and build-quality while still being powerful enough to play the latest titles. Granted, you will not enjoy the fast refresh rates of other options, but you must weigh the pros and cons before making your decisions.
OS: Android 10 (Oxygen OS 10) | Screen size: 6.41-inch | Resolution: 2340×1080 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | CPU: Snapdragon 845 | RAM: 6/8GB | Storage: 128/256GB | Battery: 3,700mAh | Rear camera: 16MP+20MP | Front camera: 16MP | Weight: 185g | Dimensions: 157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm
The OnePlus 6T is one of the last true flagship killer phones released by OnePlus in the US market and, although released in 2018, it still manages to hold its own against other phones on this list in terms of gaming performance. After seeing a significant price drop to $349, the 6T most certainly provides the best value for a budget phone.
The Snapdragon 845 inside will still manage to compete with the current processors found in this price segment, considering it was the flagship processor at launch. Gameplay will be smooth with the current titles like PUBG Mobile and others playing considerably well. The onboard RAM of 6 GB on the base model is also sufficient for all workloads.
The 6.41-inch AMOLED display will provide a great viewing experience with inky blacks and vibrant colors though it will not manage to push a refresh rate above the standard 60Hz found on most smartphones at this price. The 3,700 mAh battery will easily last through a day of regular use and allow for a comfortable time of gaming before running out. The included 20W Dash Charger will top your battery in a pinch if you need a quick charge.
The 128 GB of storage on the base model is rare for a smartphone at this price and is an excellent option considering the lack of and SD card slot. Also, the lack of a headphone jack is unfortunate, but the included dongle and excellent Bluetooth connectivity make up for the removal.
The OnePlus 6T’s software Oxygen OS 10 is one of the best Android skins out there and even includes features to improve the gaming performance by enhancing the network connectivity and RAM resources. It also feels smooth and responsive without any bloat or spammy advertisements, making up for the best experience.
The OnePlus 6T is a solid recommendation, especially for what it provides for the price. A premium build quality, excellent software, powerful hardware, and a fantastic display is a rare sight at this price range. You may want to act quickly because, at this price, the last of the OnePlus 6T stocks will soon disappear.
6Samsung Galaxy A71
OS: Android 10 (One UI 2) | Screen size: 6.7-inch | Resolution: 2400 x 1080 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | CPU: Snapdragon 730 | RAM: 6/8GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 4,500mAh | Rear camera: 64MP+12MP+5MP+5MP | Front camera: 32MP | Weight: 179g | Dimensions: 163.6 x 76 x 7.7 mm
Samsung’s first contender, the Galaxy A71, was initially launched for the mid-range segment, but after a significant price, cut finds itself in the budget territory now retailing at $364. You get the Snapdragon 730 that can comfortably handle the latest gaming titles, with high settings coupled with either 6 or 8 GB of RAM enabling for a snappy experience.
The brilliant 6.7-inch AMOLED display is sure to surprise with inky blacks and vivid colors making it one of the best at this price range. The screen will not go up to higher refresh rates, which might not give you the fast experience of higher-end flagships. The hole punch camera cutout follows the trend of Samsung’s high-end flagship lineup.
The battery on this phone is incredible, considering the 4,500 mAh capacity will easily last you through your day under a typical use case, and games, especially demanding on the battery, will last for a considerable amount of time before giving up on you. The 25W fast charger included in the box will also charge up your battery pretty quickly.
As for storage, the A71 comes with 128 GB on both models. There is also the option for added expandability via the SD card slot. The phone also includes a 3.5mm audio jack enabling the use of wired earphones and headphones without the need for a dongle.
One UI2 is one of the better Android skins out there. There is still a small amount of minimal bloat, but it should not affect your gaming performance. It also serves well for productivity-oriented and multitasking workloads.
The Galaxy A71 comes packed with plenty of features and is a good option if you are in the market for a capable gaming smartphone. The plastic build quality might make it feel a little cheap but allows it to deliver at this price. We recommend this smartphone if a reliable battery and a great display are essential to you for gaming.
7Xiaomi Mi 9T
OS: Android 10 (MiUI 11) | Screen size: 6.39- inch | Resolution: 2340 x 1080 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | CPU: Snapdragon 730 | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 64/128GB | Battery: 4,000mAh | Rear camera: 48MP+8MP+13MP | Front camera: 20MP | Weight: 191g | Dimensions: 156.7 x 74.3 x 8.8 mm
The Xiaomi Mi 9T is an excellent, well-rounded smartphone that also happens to be one of the best options for gaming at a budget. With the Snapdragon 730 inside, games like PUBG Mobile and Fortnite will run smoothly at high settings, being on par with the Snapdragon 855 from last year making it an excellent choice for gaming at this price point.
The brilliant AMOLED panel will provide a vivid viewing experience, although, a refresh rate of 60Hz won’t give you the smoothness of the 90 or 120Hz screens present on the latest flagships. The motorized selfie camera enables an all-screen smartphone with no cutout or notch hindering your view.
The 4,000 mAh battery is a respectable capacity for heavy use like gaming and will comfortably take you through your day with regular use. If you need a quick charge, the included 18W charger will top up your battery quite fast.
The 64 GB on the base model is on the lower end of the spectrum for a smartphone in 2020. Consider upgrading to 128 GB for an extra $50, as the phone does not come with an expandable SD card slot as modern games tend to take up a lot of storage space. Both models come with 6GB of RAM, sufficient for multitasking and other activities.
The inclusion of a headphone jack is a feature absent in many smartphones today. You can connect your favorite audio accessories without needing Bluetooth or a dongle providing a cheaper and better listening experience.
MIUI 11 that comes installed in the smartphone does contain a variety of unnecessary apps, but now Xiaomi lets you remove them, freeing up storage and RAM. The experience will not be on par with OnePlus or Samsung, but will not hinder your gaming experience.
Coming in at $275 for the 64 GB and $320 for the 128GB model, the Mi 9T is an excellent all-round gaming option with an all-screen build, fast processor, and excellent build quality. We recommend this smartphone if you are comfortable with the Xiaomi environment and need a gaming smartphone that brings more than just performance to the table.
8Redmi Note 9 Pro
OS: Android 10 (MiUI 11) | Screen size: 6.67- inch | Resolution: 2400 x 1080 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | CPU: Snapdragon 720G | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 64/128GB | Battery: 5,020mAh | Rear camera: 64MP+8MP+5MP+2MP | Front camera: 20MP | Weight: 209g | Dimensions: 165.8 x 76.7 x 8.8 mm
The Redmi Note 9 Pro by Xiaomi aims to deliver a strong performance at a budget price tag. The Snapdragon 720G on the inside will undoubtedly perform well in games due to the Snapdragon 720G on the inside. The 720G is one of the fastest processors on this list, even managing to outperform the 730 and 730G in raw performance.
The 6.67-inch IPS LCD will not provide the best viewing experience as an OLED panel but helps keep the price down, and the absence of a faster refresh rate is a bummer as you will not be able to experience the smoothness it brings to games.
The 5,020 mAh battery is well beyond the typical capacities in most phones and allows it to last for more than a day with regular use and several hours for gaming, making it great if you value long gaming sessions. The 18W fast charger will prove to be slow for such a capacity and will take quite a while to top it up to a full charge.
The 64 GB of storage on the base model will prove to be the wrong choice for gaming, considering the 4GB of RAM paired with it. The 128 GB model will be the best choice for most gamers and still manages to fall in the sweet spot for price-to-performance.
The standard 3.5mm headphone jack is an excellent addition for gamers wanting to use their audio accessories without a dongle or while charging. As for software, MIUI 11, it is not the best, considering the high amount of bloatware pre-installed, though it will not affect gaming performance.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro is one of the best value smartphones available for gaming at a budget for the performance, battery capacity, and excellent build quality. The only shortfalls of the phone lie in the screen quality and poor software, but for $250 for the 128 GB model, what more could you ask.
OS: Android 10 (Realme UI) | Screen size: 6.4-inch | Resolution: 2340 x 1080 | Refresh rate: 60 Hz | CPU: Snapdragon 712 | RAM: 4/6/8GB | Storage: 64/128GB | Battery: 4,000mAh | Rear camera: 64MP+8MP+2MP+2MP | Front camera: 16MP | Weight: 183g | Dimensions: 158.7 x 75.2 x 8.6 mm
Another smartphone aiming to capture the lower budget space, the Realme XT, seeks to provide a premium experience at this price. With a Snapdragon 712 inside, the Realme XT will suffer from a small performance decrease from the Snapdragon 730 and 720G, present in most phones on the list, and games will still manage to perform well at high settings with minimal lag.
The 6.4-inch AMOLED display is an excellent addition at this price and offers a superior viewing experience with a considerable amount of brightness, although it won’t have a high refresh rate for smooth gaming.
The model for sale in the US comes with 128 GB of onboard storage with an option for adding an SD card via the provided slot. The 8 GB of RAM is excellent for multitasking and will ensure the quick loading of games.
The phone comes included with a 3.5mm audio jack for easy use with your wired audio earphones or headphones. The phone runs Color OS, a skin of Android 10 with a slew of unwanted apps that can be uninstalled but hamper the software experience without affecting performance too much.
The Realme XT is an excellent choice for a well-designed smartphone for gaming with a decent processor, beautiful screen, and a large memory for a price tag of around $300. We recommend this smartphone if you are willing to sacrifice a little bit of performance to get the added features for the price.
10Redmi Note 8 Pro
OS: Android 10 (MIUI 11) | Screen size: 6.53-inch | Resolution: 2340 x 1080 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | CPU: Mediatek Helio G90T| RAM: 6/8GB | Storage: 64/128/256GB | Battery: 4,500mAh | Rear camera: 64MP+8MP+2MP+2MP | Front camera: 20MP | Weight: 200g | Dimensions: 159.2 x 75.1 x 8.9 mm
With the introduction of the newer Redmi Note 9 Series, the Note 8 Pro has experienced a significant drop in price, bringing it around the $200 price range allowing for an affordable gaming option on a low budget. With a Mediatek Helio G90T inside, the Note 8 Pro manages to pull off a decent amount of performance, pulling ahead of the Snapdragon 730 in raw power with a trade-off for efficiency.
The IPS LCD will not make for the inky blacks and vibrant colors of the AMOLED panels nor offer the fastest gaming experience through a high refresh rate but should provide the essentials, considering the low price. It does manage to support HDR, though for better highlights and shadows in games.
The 4500 mAh battery should last you through your day with low screen brightness and minimal cellular use and allow for a sufficient amount of gaming before losing charge. The included 18W charger should allow for charging your battery up quickly. The headphone jack should also allow for connectivity of wired audio equipment without the need for a dongle.
The Redmi Note 8 Pro comes with the updated MIUI 11 based on Android 10 and includes its share of excessive duplicate and unnecessary apps. It does ruin the experience but will be manageable for playing most of the gaming titles.
As for storage, the base model comes with 64 GB of onboard storage with an SD card slot for expandability and is a suitable choice. But for less than $20, the upgrade to 128 GB is an excellent option if you can afford it.
We highly recommend the Redmi Note 8 Pro if you are looking at a budget of about $200 and need a smartphone that can handle demanding gaming titles while still providing the basics with the screen and software being the only compromises towards an otherwise excellent budget gaming smartphone.
OS: Android 10 (TCL UI)| Screen size: 5.8-inch | Resolution: 2340x 1080 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | CPU: Snapdragon 665 |RAM: 6/8GB | Storage: 64/128GB | Battery: 4,000mAh | Rear camera: 48MP+8MP+2MP+2MP| Front camera: 16MP | Weight: 180g | Dimensions: 162.2 x 75.6 x 8.4 mm
The TCL 10L is the manufacture’s debut into the smartphone market under the brand name. With such a low price tag, the smartphone still manages to surprise in areas like the screen and performance, one which manufacturers typically overlook, making it a viable option for the money.
The processor included in the TCL 10L is the Snapdragon 665, a processor that can run resource-intense applications like games, though not at the highest quality with a minimal amount of lag and stutter. The 6 GB of RAM is also the least you can get by these days and should be sufficient to enjoy a smooth experience. The 5.8-inch panel, although being IPS and not supporting a high refresh rate, is one of the best screens out there, even managing to beat many OLED panels in the viewing quality.
The UFS 2.1 storage is a pretty slow speed for today’s smartphone, and apps and games can take longer to load, but you should experience cut corners at such a price tag. The inclusion of a 3.5mm audio jack is excellent for gamers looking to connect their audio peripherals for a lag-free experience.
The 4,000 mAh battery is respectable considering the lower-powered chipset, and the lack of power-hungry components common to other phones on the list should let you get a full day on a single charge. The 18W fast charger comes in the box and is pretty much the standard offering on most smartphones.
The TCL UI bundled with the phone is a light skin of Android 10, with a custom launcher being the only main difference. The software will not be as optimized as other companies like Samsung and Apple but should improve via updates. The $250 price of the TCL 10L is truly remarkable for the amount of value it brings in a budget smartphone considering the integrated SoC and excellent display. If your budget falls within its price range, it is a pretty good buy.
12Motorola Moto G Power
OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 6.4-inch | Resolution: 2300x 1080 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | CPU: Snapdragon 665 |RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: 5,000mAh | Rear camera: 16MP+8MP+2MP| Front camera: 16MP | Weight: 199g | Dimensions: 159.9 x 75.8 x 9.6 mm
If you’re the type of smartphone gamer on a budget that prefers a long battery life and decent performance, the Moto G Power is your answer. With a Snapdragon 665 on the inside, performance should be average, with intensive games like the latest FPS titles being able to run smoothly on low graphical settings. The screen isn’t much to look at, and the IPS technology employed lacks the deep contrasts and vivid colors of an OLED panel.
The 4GB of RAM is a bottleneck, though, and can bug you in tasks such as app switching and more. The eMMC 5.1 storage speed is also pretty substandard and can significantly impact your app and games’ loading times. A dedicated microSD slot should let you use expandable storage if you happen to run out on the lower end version.
Perhaps the most crucial feature of this phone is the massive 5,000 mAh battery, which should easily last you a couple of days with its low power consumption, thanks to the low-end components. The included 10-watt charger, though, will take a large amount of time to charge your battery, causing you to spend more time tethered to the wall during charging.
Motorola’s software is a vanilla Android experience with added features like gestures that will make specific tasks like switching on the flashlight much more straightforward. However, software updates are a mixed bag. Suppose you are confident of using the 5,000 mAh battery to its full potential and willing to wait for it to charge. In that case, the Moto G Power is an excellent option for a budget gaming smartphone; however, if you want a better screen, more memory, and faster storage, it’s best to stick with the other options on the list.
What makes a great budget gaming phone?
CPU and Ram
With the increasing competitiveness, budget smartphones are seeing an improvement in areas like performance. The Snapdragon 700 series of processors present in most of these smartphones and a sufficient amount of RAM is capable of playing the latest games at high framerates.
Also, some of the phones employ the use of faster 90 or 120 Hz refresh rate screens when paired with fast processors, are sure to make for a smooth and enjoyable gaming experience. Screen features like HDR and high brightness improve viewing in both gaming and content consumption. However, these features will be hard to find in budget gaming phones.
A large battery will allow for long gaming sessions, and more importantly, fast charging compatibility is a great bonus, saving you much time. Higher refresh rate screens and more powerful processors are sure to drain the battery quickly.
Games tend to take a large amount of storage space, and phones with an expandable storage option are great in case you run out of space, and the choice of UFS 3.0 or 2.1 storage will allow for fast transfers and quick loading times, so consider those factors before purchasing.
There you have it, these are the best budget gaming phone currently on the market. We have made sure to include a wide range of options so that you may choose the right gaming phone for your mobile needs and budget. We hope that you found this article helpful and informative.