Best budget gaming phones

These phones deliver great gaming performance without breaking the bank.

Image via OnePlus

Mobile gaming continues to expand as titles like PUBG Mobile, Fortnite, and Among Us captivate millions of gamers. To serve this ever-growing base of mobile players, companies have begun to add a number of features to their smartphones that improve the mobile gaming experience.

A high refresh rate is the biggest feature that has become standard for gaming phones. Various companies have released smartphones featuring 90Hz, 120Hz, and even 144Hz refresh rate screens. These phones are equipped with powerful processors and battery life to support the gaming-ready displays, allowing for a superior experience overall.

If purchasing a gaming phone in 2021, buying a 5G enabled phone is a good idea. Newer 5G-enabled devices permit users to stream games to their phones with a low latency connection. While top-tier gaming phones are great, not everyone is looking to spend top dollar on a gaming phone.

Here is a list of some of the best budget gaming phones.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G

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The Galaxy S20 FE 5G phone is a powerhouse of a phone that costs significantly less than the rest of Samsung’s flagship S series. This phone comes equipped with a 120Hz FHD+ display, a 4,500 mAh battery, and 5G capability. Combining these features with a stellar camera and a durable design produces one of the most competent budget gaming phones on the market.

This phone comes with a 120Hz Super AMOLED display, which allows for a better gaming experience on the phone. While higher-end phones now boast 144Hz displays, the 120Hz display included on the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is still a big step up from standard 60Hz and 90Hz displays. This display also comes with full HDR support, scratch-resistant glass, and an ambient light sensor.

This phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 SM8250 system chip with an octa-core processor, an Adreno 650 GPU, 6GB of ram. These components work together to produce a powerful phone capable of running most games on the market at their full 120Hz potential.

The S20 FE also comes enabled with a 5G receiver. A faster internet connection can be helpful for gamers who are hoping to stream games to their phone via third party services like Stadia. It is also great for gamers who want to play online games using their data plan.

The large 4,500 mAh battery is more than enough to ensure that you can game for many hours with each charge. If you need to charge your phone, this phone is equipped with standard Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 and also has wireless charging capabilities.

This Galaxy 20 FE comes with a highly capable 32-megapixel front camera and a 12-megapixel back camera.

While this may not be Samsung’s flagship phone, it is a fully featured smartphone that can hang with some of the best phones on the market. It is the perfect phone for anyone looking to save a few bucks without sacrificing features.

Oneplus 8

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The OnePlus 8 phone was released in 2020 and comes fully equipped with all of the features that gamers are looking for in a phone. OnePlus is sometimes referred to as the flagship killer since it offers top tier phones at a much lower price than their competition. This phone lives up to that reputation. Despite its reasonable price tag, the OnePlus 8 comes with a respectable 90Hz gaming display, a solid Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor, and 5G compatibility.

The 90Hz AMOLED fluid display on the OnePlus 8 is gorgeous. It achieves 90Hz on all but the most demanding games, which makes playing games on this device a delight. In addition to its higher than average refresh rate, this HD+ display presents vivid colors and has HDR10+ support for the ideal viewing experience. Whether you are playing games or watching videos, this screen is ready to deliver marvelous visuals.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor is the same processor used in the Samsung S20 FE 5G phone. It delivers 25 percent more power than the previous generations of the OnePlus. The upgraded battery is a nice improvement since the 2019’s OnePlus 7T wasn’t able to deliver enough power to take advantage of the 90Hz display. With the extra boost, the OnePlus 8 has no issues running most games at its max refresh capacity.

The OnePlus 8 is 5G compatible and switches between 5G and non-5G networks automatically to save your battery life and give you the best online experience.

This phone comes with a 4,300 mAh battery, which is good but not great. It is the weakest battery on this list. Despite being the weakest option, 4,300 mAh is still plenty to get you through a long play session before needing to charge your device.

The built-in speaker system supports 3D listening via Dolby Atmos. If you play without headphones, this feature should improve your directional audio senses in games like PUBG: Mobile or Fortnite.

On top of being a capable gaming phone, the OnePlus 8 has a 48-megapxiel camera, which is pretty decent for a budget phone. It comes in black, green, and pink. 

Motorola One 5G ACE

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The Motorola One 5G ACE is a 5G-enabled smartphone featuring a surprisingly powerful 5,000 mAh battery and a respectable 90Hz screen. Although this phone is not the most powerful option on the list, it is a solid option for a budget-friendly gaming phone.

The Motorola One 5G ACE features a 6.7-inch LCD display. It measures 6.7 inches across and is capable of up to a 90Hz refresh rate. The phone comes standard with an HD+ resolution and support for HDR10. While this LCD display is not the greatest screen on the market, it is more than capable of providing a compelling gaming experience.

This phone features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G 5G processor. This is a mid-level processor—one step down from the OnePlus 8 and the Samsung Galaxy 20 FE processors. It is enough to support 90Hz on most games, but the slower performance is noticeable.

This device is compatible with the Snapdragon Elite Gaming suite, a piece of software that helps integrate your Snapdragon graphics into mobile games to improve their graphical performance. This is a nice gaming focused feature. 

The Motorola One 5G ACE is compatible with 5G networks, which is great for a budget-friendly phone.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this phone is its battery life. The Motorola One 5G ACE comes with a massive 5,000 mAh battery, which is tied for the largest battery life of any phone featured on this list. Motorola boasts that this battery can last up to two full days of moderate usage without being charged. If you are gaming, then the battery won’t last quite that long, but you can be sure that it will last for quite a while.

If you are looking for a 5G-enabled gaming phone with a titan of a battery, this is a great phone to consider.

The OnePlus Nord N100

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The OnePlus Nord N100 is an exceedingly affordable phone created by OnePlus. While this phone does not boast the performance of the OnePlus 8 listed above, it is a great option for anyone on a tight budget, but still wants a phone capable of great gaming performance. This phone offers a huge 5,000 mAh battery and a 90Hz display.

This phone features a 720×1600 HD display. While that is a pretty small resolution for a gaming display, the OnePlus Nord makes up for that by offering a 90Hz refresh rate.

Essentially this phone offers you a tradeoff. You get a smaller resolution screen in exchange for a functioning 90Hz refresh rate. If the screen had been a higher resolution, this phone’s weaker processor would likely not be able to take advantage of the higher refresh rate for your games.

Speaking of processors, this phone runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 460. This is a lower level chip that benchmarks somewhere in the lower part of the pack. It is definitely not the ideal chip for mobile gaming, but in a phone this budget-friendly, you have to make sacrifices regarding performance. This phone also only features 4GB of ram, but so long as you aren’t running too many apps at once, this should be enough to run most modern games.

The other big sacrifice with this phone, beyond its low processing power, is that it only comes with 64GB of built-in storage. If you do pick up this phone, you will probably need to add more memory via the expandable memory slot. The Nord N100 supports up to 256GB of expandable space.

This phone is also not equipped with 5G like the other phones on this list, so keep that in mind.

The OnePlus Nord features a 5,000 mAh battery and fast charging. This is the same size battery as the Motorola One 5G ACE, but this phone costs half the price, making this huge battery an even more impressive feature. 

It comes with three cameras, which specialize in macro shots, portrait shots, and wide shots.

You can purchase a OnePlus Nord N100 in Blue, Grey, and Onyx. While this is certainly the weakest phone on the list, it is definitely worth its very affordable price.

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