March 2021 has been pretty crazy for releasing new gaming phones. A new iteration of the well reviewed ASUS ROG phone and Black Shark phones both came out in March, alongside the Nubia Red Magic and the Lenovo Legion Duel Phone 2 coming out in April. These will be all of 2021's big hitting gaming phones released in the space of a few weeks.
|ASUS ROG Phone 5
|1080 x 2448 px
|Android 11 ZEN UI
|Xiaomi Black Shark 4 Pro
|1080 x 2400 px
|Android 11 Joy UI
|Razer Phone 2
|1440 x 2560 px
|Lenovo Legion Duel 2
|1080 x 2460 px
|Nubia Red Magic 6 5G
|1440 x 2340 px
|Android 10 with RedMagic 3.0
For completely overpowered, ultra impression-making gaming device, it has all the big numbers: Snapdragon 888, 2 x 3000mAh batteries, 144hz display and 512GB UFS3.1, and the 18GB RAM.
It definitely has gamer phone aesthetic, sharp lines, text over the back, and even an extra screen on the back that's customisable.
Certain settings allow for battery longevity to be prioritised, including a new bypass charging system that means when you are plugged in, it bypasses the batteries entirely to save charge cycles.
Besides that, it has the return of the headphone jack! Have you ever seen it before? Asus brought it back and put in an Audio Wizard.
The gaming modes, shoulder buttons and two extra back buttons should give gamers extra customisation, but for £1200 ASUS ROG Phone 5 may price out even the most serious mobile gamers.
The previous Black Shark devices have been all about that gamer aesthetic. However, for those that want the incognito gaming look, then the Black Shark 4 Pro will deliver.
There's no denying the Razer controller is really good, and the touch triggers of the ASUS work to an extent, but the magnetic physical pop up triggers of the Black Shark 4 Pro make us question why every gaming phone doesn't have them.
Of course, it's as powerful as any of the other devices in this list with the Snapdragon 888 be expected. If you were to go with the vanilla model, it has the cheaper Snapdragon 870. Xiaomi have gone big with their antennae all over chassis, perhaps due to user feedback, but they help to prevent any signal drops from sweaty gaming hands.
You'll be able to get the Black Shark 4 Pro for around £500, which feels like a steal once again, compared to the more expensive gaming devices. What you are compromising on is the Joy UI 12.5 operating system and the cameras could of course be a lot better. But pound for pound, this is a great phone for mobile gaming.
The Razer Phone 2 is still a very competitive phone. Sure, it has a two year old processor and a lower refresh rate by today's standards, but because the Razer was already pushing the boundaries back in 2018, we'll close our eyes on these specs. Moreover, you can pick up a refurbished or second hand unit for less these days. Even better if you can get it alongside the highly lauded Razer Raiju bluetooth controller that really ups the experience.
We gushed over the Razer Phone in our Best Gaming Phones 2019 so if you want to read more in depth about it there, then go ahead.
The Lenovo has been released in April 2021 and really has really gone all out for the gaming aesthetic with specialised design choices that make the phone stand out as a real contender for best phone for gamers. A pop up camera under the power button the long edge of the phone makes it perfect for live streaming whilst gaming. Of course it has the high specs 90w turbo charging that can be charged through dual charging ports to charge the dual battery.
The "dual/duel" theme is continued with dual cooling fans, one intake and one exhaust that will be tested in full to see how this will affect cooling. Eight completely customisable triggers should provide in game advantage but look questionably close to each other to guarantee accuracy
Apart from some questionable durability concerns, the Lenovo has the right look, the right specs and the right idea for gamers looking for their next gaming phone.
For around £509, the Red Magic is again another device priced well below the premium Samsung and Apple flagships' prices, but it has the same top of the range chipset, a slightly improved 165Hz screen and 120W charging.
Tencent have stakes in many of the top game companies, including Riot Games, Epic Games, Ubisoft, Activision Blizzard and more so you can expect some collaboration there to release optimised games and settings for some of the world's most popular MMO games.
If money is no object then obviously the ROG Phone 5 is the only choice to make. If you are normal and money is a factor, then look no further than the Black Shark 4 Pro. It has by far the best features of the lot with the mechanical shoulder buttons, high specs and a great level of optimisations for half the price of the ROG Phone 5, plus the latest Android version out of the box. This perfect package makes the Black Shark 4 Pro number one choice for 2021 (until the Lenovo Legion Duel 2 gets fully released in a couple weeks time).
Update 13/04/2021 - The Lenovo Phone Duel has been released and we have updated the details above, in summary, it is competitive in price and performance to the ROG phone, however it doesn't outperform the quality of the ROG and the value of the Black Shark, so we stand by our original verdict.
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