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What to look for when buying a smartphone for gaming

by James Musoba
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Gone are the days when mobile phones came bundled with games like Tetris and Snake. Mobile games seem to get more technologically advanced by the day, and some creations even rival PC and console offerings.

To get the most out of these games, you’ll need a smartphone that can cope.

Screen resolution

A big concern, the screen resolution dictates how good games will look, how detailed the graphics are and (to an extent) how smoothly they run. Top of the range smartphones nowadays come with AMOLED, which is the industry leader. These displays feature pixels that can be turned on/off, which results in better color contrasts, deeper blacks and a more “lively” appearance. Whether you’re playing console ports, taking on the slots in an online casino or trying out the crop of the App store, AMOLED will give you the best experience.

Battery life

Games drain battery. That applies to any and all of them, but the more graphics heavy, the faster the drain. This should be your number one concern when you’re looking for a gaming phone. Pay attention to how long the battery lasts, but also how long it takes to charge. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through a game only to have to charge for an extended period of time before you can get back to the action. Also, check that your phone comes with battery saving settings (the option to turn off background app refreshes, for example) to make power management easier.

Internal cooling

Gaming puts big demands on your phone, which in turn generates heat. The hotter your phone gets, the slower it will run, as well as doing long-term damage. Components, circuitry and even the screen suffer when the phone gets hot. If you plan to game intensively, then you’ll need some kind of internal cooling system. Some phones use cooling gel to remedy the problem, others opt for a fan, which usually results in a higher price tag.

Audio jack

Bluetooth speakers are rapidly becoming the norm, but for gamers they have one fundamental drawback: lag. A sound that’s transmitted via Bluetooth will never truly be in time with the action, and if your signal falters, then so does the sound. This can break immersion and, for some players at least, it’s enough to ruin the gaming experience. Headphone jacks are hard to find nowadays, but they’re still available on some phones.

Refresh rate

This is an area of interest primarily to gamers and very rarely to more casual users. Needless to say, mobile games require a higher refresh rate than most other applications. Refresh rate is simply the number of times a screen renders per minute and the standard rate is 60Hz. That’s not enough for high action games though, and it’s possible to go as high as 90Hz or even 120Hz. A higher refresh rate does make the phone more expensive, but it makes intense racing or shooting games run much smoother.

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