Nowadays, smartphones come with high-resolution and color-rich screens, and they have plenty of processing power. As a result, the Google Play Store and App Store are swelling up with a wide range of high-quality games. However, not all smartphones are ideal for gaming, especially those in the budget category. That is why in this article we’re going to help you discover the best budget gaming phones that will give you an enjoyable gaming experience.
You don’t need to buy a premium smartphone to play games. Many manufacturers like Xiaomi and Redmi have released a variety of devices that deliver a lot of performance for a low price. This forced even the big players like Apple and Samsung to release powerful budget-friendly smartphones like the iPhone SE and Galaxy A71. Read on to find out which budget gaming phone is best for you.
1. Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro
The Redmi Note 11 Pro is a great budget gaming phone with all the necessary elements for immersive mobile gaming.
SpecificationsOS: Android 11 (MIUI 13) | Screen size: 6.67-inch | Resolution: 2400 x 1080 | Display type: Super AMOLED | Refresh rate: 120Hz | CPU: Snapdragon 695 | RAM: 6/8GB | Storage: 64/128GB | Battery: 5,000mAh | Rear camera: 108MP+8MP+2MP+2MP | Front camera: 16MP | Weight: 202g | Dimensions: 164.2 x 76.1 x 8.1 mm
- Premium design for the price
- Good energy efficiency
- 67W charging
- Android 11 out-of-the-box
- Camera downgrade
The Redmi Note 11 Pro carries the general appeal of any Redmi Note series: serious design with a very competitive cost-to-performance ratio to boot. That being said, it also has its unique forte, as well as a few negative or positive factors that might influence your decision to ultimately purchase one.
First, of course, is its build and screen. It definitely feels just as premium as its predecessor, though somewhat less stylish with that flat matte back. Its AMOLED panel makes color punchy as usual and adds smoother access feel to it thanks to its 120Hz refresh rate.
Its Snapdragon 695 sits in the middle of the road when it comes to overall performance, but it can at least do its job well in games. Tweaking is required, of course, though no significant setting sacrifices are necessary. This brings the general visual fidelity detail of modern triple-A gaming more than acceptable for regular use.
The Redmi Note 11 Pro brings back the beloved 108MP camera of the Note 10 Pro. Improvement-wise, nothing really changed. In fact, it’s a bit of a step back, as it now only supports FHD instead of full 4K recording. Other complementary features and options, as well as the overall quality of the images (when compared at the same resolution), still mostly remain the same.
Battery life is as you would expect from a modern phone. All of its performance specs are supported for at least a day’s work, or around 40% of that for pure gaming sessions. 67W charging feels very nice, since it is included by default, providing a full charge from empty to almost 100% in between your half-hour gaming breaks.
The Redmi Note 11 Pro offers more or less the same excellent performance as the Note 10 Pro, in a package that is suitable for the competition of its generation. You can’t expect maxed settings at demanding titles, of course, but it can mostly crunch through any game with the correct setting.
2. Xiaomi Poco X4 Pro 5G
The Xiaomi Poco X4 Pro 5G offers all the specs, features, and performance you could want from a budget gaming phone.
SpecificationsOS: Android 11 (MIUI 13) | Screen size: 6.67-inch | Resolution: 2400 x 1080 | Display type: AMOLED | Refresh rate: 120Hz | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G | RAM: 6/8GB | Storage: 64/128/256GB | Battery: 5,000mAh | Rear camera: 108MP+64MP+8MP+2MP | Front camera: 16MP | Weight: 205g | Dimensions: 164.2 x 76.1 x 8.1 mm
- Flagship-esque visuals and screen
- Multi-function pro camera (for the price)
- Updated thickness
- Android 11 out-of-the-box (again)
- No OS updates in sight
The Poco X4 Pro 5G doesn’t have the same unique functional direction as most Poco phones do. In fact, the odd combination of components seems almost as if it is meant to be designed as a Redmi Note 11 Pro clone of sorts. And it shows, with performance and technical specifications that feel almost the same.
First, is the screen. While not “super” by any means, its AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate running MIUI 13 definitely feels the same as its Redmi counterpart. Camera specs are also the same, and using the same apps for it, features and options also stay largely similar.
Battery life is also the same, with about 35% to 40% remaining after a single workday. And since both products follow the same accessory streamlining, it also supports the very same 67W basic charging that it is included with. Yes, even the charging speeds are similar.
It even uses the same Snapdragon 695 CPU! This means that gaming performance is also almost the same: a balance of settings to play all games possible with respectable frame rates. Good for a budget gaming phone, but still doesn’t keep it away from the Redmi comparison.
What’s clearly different at least, is the visual design. It has a very solid shiny finish, with its camera section edging out at its back at its dedicated section. While this feels nice to touch and handle, it can get a bit annoying as a fingerprint magnet, so handle with care if not using a protective case.
The Poco X4 Pro 5G is well… once again an alternative for the Redmi Note 11 Pro. Get it if you the Redmi Note 11 Pro is not available, or if you want a differently designed yet just as capable cheap gaming phone.
3. Samsung Galaxy A52
The Samsung Galaxy A52 is a very good budget gaming phone with ample specs and performance all be it with a slightly smaller battery.
SpecificationsOS: Android 11/12 (One UI 4.0) | Screen size: 6.5-inch | Resolution: 2400 x 1080 | Display type: Super AMOLED | Refresh rate: 90Hz | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G | RAM: 4/6/8GB | Storage: 64/128/256GB | Battery: 4,500mAh | Rear camera: 64MP+12MP+5MP+5MP | Front camera: 32MP | Weight: 189g | Dimensions: 159.9 x 75.1 x 8.4 mm
- Good gaming performance for the price
- Very usable in bright daylight
- Rich camera features for the price
- Fast charging is negligible
- Middling battery life
Samsung has not exactly created the perfect combination of hardware for its more budget-oriented mobile products in recent years. But at least with the Galaxy A52, we finally have budget gaming phone that competes not just in performance, but also in pricing when compared with the likes of Xiaomi and OnePlus.
Spearheading its best features is the screen. Its Super AMOLED display is backed up with a high level of brightness that it can still be used even during peak sunlight. 90Hz sounds quite inferior, but it still creates the same smoother feeling of access and browsing as would any typical higher refresh rate screen.
The Snapdragon 720G is definitely a step up from other typical mid-range phone CPUs. Still not competitive at the high-end level (maxed settings with respectable frame rates). But, at least it can crunch a few frame rates higher or slightly tune better settings for the same modern triple-A games like CoD or PUBG.
Camera is quite outstanding for the limitations it apparently should have. For example, 64MP sounds basic, but with combined digital and optical zoom functions, details still remain crisp and clear. And yes, the Galaxy A52 supports OIS!
As a bonus, you even get the obligatory IP68 waterproofing for Galaxy phones. Certainly not the convenient feature that you could easily find with its direct competitors.
Overall, the Galaxy A52 is a wonderful contender that shows that Samsung still understands what it means to have a competitive mid-range phone in this day and age. It has the right combination of “good-enough” components wrapped in a nice price package, sprinkled with a few bonus premium add-ons that only phones of the Samsung Galaxy line can exclusively enjoy (at such a price!).
4. OnePlus Nord N20 5G
The Nord N20 5G is highly recommended for users who want a clean and snappy mobile experience, on top of nice gaming performance on the cheap.
SpecificationsOS: Android 11 (OxygenOS 11) | Screen size: 6.43-inch | Resolution: 2400 x 1080 | Display type: AMOLED | Refresh rate: 60Hz | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 4,500mAh | Rear camera: 64MP+2MP+2MP | Front camera: 16MP | Weight: 173g | Dimensions: 159.9 x 73.2 x 7.5 mm
- Astounding price-to-performance ratio
- Excellent battery life
- Sleek and compact
- Basic screen refresh rate
- Basic camera specs and features
OnePlus has been one of the pioneers leading the furious charge to bring formerly premium features down to the more affordable mid-range. And that case remains the same with the Nord N20 5G.
The rough stony aesthetic of the Nord N20 5G really makes it unique among other phones here. Especially with those two large camera lenses surrounded with gold accents. It mesmerizes the eye right out of the gate. And the screen? Typical gorgeous AMOLED in its complete FHD glory. A bit sad that it is limited to 60Hz though.
To be fair, unless the required specs are really lenient, modern triple-A mobile games always just hover at around such refresh rates anyway, especially when dealing with mid-range models. So for this particular phone, you won’t have any trouble tweaking settings to get the most desirable frame rates for your favorite titles.
Camera specs and features are, super basic. Nothing to really write home about. Definitely enough to take everyday shots here and there, but nothing that could make it even a bit competitive compared to other phones in this list.
Battery life is very good. It can effectively outlast its competitors using the same chipset for a few more hours than normal. Might even go for a second day depending on how efficient your personal use case would be. Thanks to that 60Hz screen limitation we guess?
Without a doubt, the OnePlus Nord N20 5G carries the heart and soul of the OnePlus 10 Pro. Its cost-to-performance ratio remains amazing, with small optimizations here and there that make access and browsing feel even more responsive. Well… it did also inherit the same lackluster camera features as the former. But hey, something’s got to go if you push basic performance to the max without changing its expected cost.
5. Samsung Galaxy A32
The Galaxy A32 is a good budget phone for gamers that want key features, specs, and performance all at a very lower price.
SpecificationsOS: Android 11/12 (One UI 4.0) | Screen size: 6.4-inch | Resolution: 2400 x 1080 | Display type: Super AMOLED | Refresh rate: 90Hz | CPU: Mediatek Helio G80 | RAM: 4/6/8GB | Storage: 64/128GB | Battery: 5,000mAh | Rear camera: 64MP+8MP+5MP+5MP | Front camera: 20MP | Weight: 184g | Dimensions: 158.9 x 73.6 x 8.4 mm
- Very cheap
- Great battery life
- Rich camera features for the price
- At the very edge of the competition
If your budget really can’t stretch further, then the Samsung Galaxy A32 could still satisfy your gaming desires even without premium features.
The basic design of this phone continues to push Samsung’s direction of budget minimalism. No fancy patterns, no weird angles. Just a basic solid color, with all sensors sticking out of the body. For a bit of nostalgia (or horror, depending on the user), the Galaxy A32 even has a sizable amount of bezels around the display.
Its AMOLED screen is as good as any competitor on this list. 90Hz isn’t exactly going to be useful for any gaming application with its specs, but it does feel much better to browse and flip basic pages along with it.
The Mediatek Helio G80 is significantly inferior compared to the chipsets used by other entries on this list. This means that you need to sacrifice a lot of graphical settings to get acceptable frame rates for your modern mobile games. But, from a purely cost-to-performance perspective, this still checks out for those who really have a much tighter budget.
Camera is… actually not that bad. To be fair, it is still comparatively worse. But you are getting all of these apps, software, and hardware features at a cost significantly cheaper than anything we have offered. Battery life is also surprisingly good. It easily lasts two days of standard use, which equates to about almost a day of on and off gaming. We suppose may simply be due to the lower specs of its innards. If you have the budget, we highly recommend the other entries on this list. But for the “true” low-budget gaming phone alternative, the Galaxy A32 is just as good for the price that it offers. This phone is for users in need of something considerably cheaper than the Galaxy A52, without sacrificing too much in terms of base features, though probably not in terms of performance level.
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 processors are 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, which 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.