Mobile gaming has come a long way from the days of playing Snake on your Nokia 3310. These days, with the right phone in your hand, there's no reason to compromise gaming quality for mobility.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7
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It sort of goes without saying that Samsung's launch of their newest flagship phone didn't go as planned. But battery issues aside, the Note 7 is hands down one of the best phones you can buy in 2016 — especially if you're a gamer.
Featuring a brilliant 5.7-inch AMOLED display powered by a Snapdragon 820 chipset and 4GB of RAM, the Note 7 will have your games looking great and running smooth as butter no matter how much of a resource hog they happen to be. With 64GB of on-board storage and a dedicated microSD slot you should easily be able to load up all your favorite games. And let's not forget the versatility of the S-Pen, which can totally change the way you play puzzle games. It takes a fantastic game like Brain It On! and makes it even greater by giving you the precise input you need to master every level.
On top of all the hardware features that make the Note 7 an outstanding device, Samsung's software has built-in features that make gaming a breeze on the Note 7. If you're a serious gamer, you'll definitely want to dive into the advanced settings and turn on the Game Launcher and Game Tools. They help to optimize the phone for gaming so you never feel bogged down or distracted from your game.
Bottom line: The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was seemingly designed to be a gamer's best friend, from the top-tier hardware to its convenient software tools for gaming.
Why the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is the best
Gamer mode is a real gamechanger.
As we already mentioned, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has all physical components required to handle pretty much any game you toss at it. It delivers exactly what you'd expect from a top-of-the-line flagship device in 2016.
But what really separates the Note 7 from the rest of the pack is Samsung's two gaming features: Game Launcher and Game Tools.
Game Launcher compiles all the games on your phone into one place, allowing you to keep your home screen uncluttered while still having all your favorite games just a tap away. Admittedly it's nothing too earth-shattering, but it does include options for optimizing battery life and turning off distracting alerts during your game.
But the real hero is Game Tools, a discreet floating icon that pops up every time you launch a game. A quick tap of the Game Tools icon pops up with a host of important settings to improve your gaming session. Getting annoyed by all your notifications? You can quickly toggle a do not disturb mode that blocks all alerts for as long as you're in the game. Sick of accidentally touching the Back or Recent keys and being taken out of your game? You get a quick option to disable the Recent and Back keys. You're also able to use the menu to minimize the game, which keeps a floating icon on your screen so you can quickly check your messages or other notifications while your game stays running in the background.
If you're the type that likes to stream as you game, you get built-in screen recorder tools, which even allow you to use the front-facing camera and record commentary as you play, so you can share your favorite moments like a pro.
Whether or not these tools are enticing for you or not, the fact that Samsung has included them in their latest software (they're also available on the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge) shows their commitment to creating the best phones for Android gaming.
Best for battery life
Moto Z Play
See at Motorola
We've also dealt with the battery drain of extended gaming sessions when you're gaming on the go. There's nothing worse than getting all caught up in the heat of the action, only to have a low battery warning ruin things. If you suffer from battery anxiety when gaming off charger, the Moto Z Play Droid is the perfect device to alleviate that stress.
The latest in Motorola's modular lineup, the Moto Z Play comes with a massive 3,510 mAh battery that's optimized by a more efficient processor and a lower-resolution display. Granted this your display won't get quite as bright as other UHD displays, but the color calibration and viewing angles remain great. You'll definitely enjoy the outstanding extended battery life you'll get in exchange. When it's time to top up, you'll be able to give your phone up to 9 hours of charge in just 15 minutes with Motorola's TurboPower wall charger.
Still not enough power? Take advantage of the Moto Z Play's modular design and slap on the Incipio offGRID Power Pack and add an extra 2,260 mAh battery to your phone, along with charging efficiency and the added ability to wirelessly charge both the pack and your phone.
All this battery life business would be pointless if the Moto Z Play was a pain to use, but fortunately that's not the case. As AC's Daniel Bader wrote in his Moto Z Play preview , if you're a fan of the Motorola's past offerings — including their handy gesture and voice controls — you'll be happy to know they're all present in the Moto Z Play:
For anyone who has used a Motorola phone over the past three years, the software experience is a known quantity. [...] I like it because it's fast and fluid all the time, even with 3GB of RAM and a low-cost processor, and has truly useful add-ons that improve my life.
Bottom line: Starting at just over $400, the Moto Z Play is the perfect companion for the mobile gamer with battery anxiety.
Best for touch responsiveness