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Last Updated : Aug 13, 2019 08:25 PM IST | Source:

Gaming smartphones vs flagship handsets: What's the difference?

Gaming smartphones are almost indistinguishable from flagship handsets on both the hardware and software front.

Carlsen Martin

2019 has been a great year for gaming smartphones, with sales figures going through the roof. One of the main reasons behind the rise of gaming phones is the growth of the mobile gaming industry. Mobile versions of popular PC and console games like PUBG, Fortnite and Call of Duty have amassed millions of players across the globe. Take, for example, PUBG Mobile, which has more players than the PC version of the game in India.

Gaming smartphones are almost indistinguishable from flagship handsets on both the hardware and software front. Which begs the question, “what’s the difference between the two?”



Although initial prices of gaming handsets – from brands like Razer and Asus – were set at the same level as premium phones, that trend has changed dramatically with the rise of the Chinese players. The gaming smartphones of today are priced in the same bracket as flagship killers.


Gaming smartphones share similar hardware as regular flagship phones. In some cases, premium handsets often measure up to or even surpass gaming phones in benchmarks.  However, most smartphone manufacturers tune their phones to excel at benchmark tests. Most flagship devices will significantly throttle CPU and GPU performance if your gaming session runs for more than 30 minutes. In the case of gaming devices, the meticulous cooling systems are designed to ensure throttling is down to a minimum.

Gaming phones have also set new standards in display technology. While Razer introduced the world’s first 120Hz LCD on a smartphone, Asus carried the trend forward with the first 120Hz AMOLED panel.


This has always been a major point of contention for gaming smartphones. Camera performance has always been lacking as compared to premium devices. Photography and videography results on gaming smartphones will barely be able to keep up with that of the previous generation of premium devices. What does this mean – Camera performance on a 2019 gaming smartphone doesn't match that of a 2018 flagship.


While gaming handsets have often used Android skins plagued with bloatware, that trend seems to be coming to an end this year. The ROG Phone 2 is the perfect example of this changing trend, allowing users to switch between a dedicated gaming OS and stock Android.


The biggest deciding factor between a gaming and premium smartphone is price. With gaming smartphones coming in at 20K to 30K less than a flagship handset, the only question that one can think of is “how much does camera matter”. The recently launched ROG Phone 2 does pretty well in the camera department, similar on the lines of the OnePlus 7 or Redmi K20 Pro.

To conclude –

  • Gaming smartphones are an excellent option if you are a passionate mobile gamer.

  • A premium handset is ideal for people with an excellent eye for detail.

  • A flagship killer in the sub-40K price range gives you an excellent balance between a gaming and premium smartphone.

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First Published on Aug 13, 2019 08:25 pm
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