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Top 5 best gaming phones for less than £400 (Summer 2018)

Mid-priced, but definitely not mediocre
Product: Hardware Group Test | Publisher: Steel Media Ltd | Format: Android, iPhone
There are those who demand the latest flagship phones, and those who stick to a strict sub-£200 budget.

A large proportion of people, though, tend to float around in the middle. Who want many of the features and benefits of a flagship phone, but without the eye-watering price tag.

That's particularly true if you're into your mobile games. We've run through some great budget smartphone picks, but the truth is that you won't see games running at their very best on such handsets.

But that doesn't mean you have to go with one of our money-no-object picks to get a full fat experience. Here a five gaming phones that will cost you less than £400 to buy.

#1 Xiaomi Mi Mix 2

Here's a great-value mid-range smartphone from China. Like the Honor and the Nokia below, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 offers 2017 flagship phone specs for less than £400.

As with the Nokia 8, this phone's Snapdragon 835 CPU that will handle anything you throw at it - especially with a whopping 6GB of RAM.

You also get an eye-catching 5.99-inch edge-to-edge Full HD display. This screen literally runs right up to the top and sides of the device, without the use of a notch. The trade-off is a slighty chunky chin, but it's a small price to pay.

Xiaomi's MIUI Android skin is another case of a manufacturer that thinks it knows better than Google, but in this case it's at least reasonably polished. It's a bit more iOS than Android, but it's a tidy enough facsimile nonetheless.

#2 Huawei Mate 10 Pro

Huawei turns out a lot of high quality smartphones these days, whether through its own brand or its Honor sub-brand (more on which later).

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro represents a beautiful sweet spot off great specs and a low, low price.

You get a really punchy Kirin 970 CPU and 6GB of RAM, which will run your games really well. You also get a bit, bold 6-inch OLED display with HDR support, so you games and media will look great.

Talking of games and media, you'll be able to download and store tons of both thanks to 128GB of storage. A decent Leica-branded dual-camera rounds out the package.

Down sides? Well, there's Huawei's ugly EMUI skin, which is never ideal. But it's fluid and intuitive enough, so you shouldn't write off such a bargainous phone for that.

Oh, and there's no 3.5mm headphone jack, which rather sucks. Better invest in those wireless headphones you've been promising yourself - maybe with the money you'll save buying this rather than an iPhone.

#3 Nokia 8

Is Nokia back, then? It's a commonly asked question that can be answered in two rather contradictory ways: they never went away, and no not really.

Nokia gave up its smartphone business after making a series of poor choices some years back, but the company itself continued going strong. Now it's licensed its brand out to a hardware company called HMD, which is based right opposite the Finnish giant and run by former Nokia executives.

The Nokia 8 was the first Nokia flagship of this new era, and it's a very solid phone indeed. Its Snapdragon 835 CPU is very 2017, but will still eat modern games for breakfast.

While its display isn't of the modern 18:9 variety, it is very good and extremely sharp. You typically only get QHD resolutions in top-end Android phones, but that's precisely what's on offer here.

You also get a nigh-on stock version of the Android OS, which should never be overlooked as a key feature, as well as brilliant battery life.

#4 Honor View 10

Honor is the name of Huawei's online-focused sub-brand, which tends to focus on offering great specs for the money. The Honor View 10 is no exception.

For £400 you get a very strong performer with an excellent camera, stacks of storage (128GB) and a fine 5.99-inch Full HD+ 18:9 display.

On the performance front, the Honor View 10 is extremely speedy thanks to its Kirin 970 CPU. That's not the most mainstream of processors, but it's undoubtedly a very strong performer that will handle modern games very well indeed.

Yes, it's very much like the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, but the latter's beautiful AMOLED display and huge battery wins it a position higher up this list.

The main downside here (as with the Huawei Mate 10 Pro) is the presence of Huawei's EMUI overlay, which spoils the underlying Android OS somewhat. But you can learn to live with it, and the Google Play Store offers plenty of alternative launchers.

#5 iPhone 6S

There's so much to recommend against buying an iPhone 6S as your next phone, which is why we're putting it at the bottom of our list. It's almost three years old, and when Apple's next flagship is released it will no longer be offered by Apple itself.

Even if you were to buy it through Apple now, it would cost your more than £400. You'd have to go through other online retailers to bring it in under that price.

Its hardware now looks rather tiddly and out of date next to the big, bright things found elsewhere on this list. What's more, the iPhone 6S is right on the precipice of developer support when it comes to the most advanced 3D games.

So why include it at all? Because, as we continue to say, the App Store is a better place to source games than the Google Play Store. There are simply more of the things (decent ones at least), and they tend to launch on iOS first.

As a means to play the very best mobile games for less than £400, then, we couldn't really not include the iPhone 6S - even if it's hardly future-proof.


Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy 9 July 2018
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