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Today's best smart phones are gaming powerhouses. Mobile phones once played second fiddle to handheld consoles like the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS, but these days the power of high-end smart phones is racing ahead, with many of them packing multi-core processors and graphics chips, oodles of memory and huge, high-resolution screens.

Some of the biggest gaming titles were birthed on mobile phones, too. Rovio's smash-hit Angry Birds series is a classic example, having generated over £100m in revenue in 2011 alone.

The truth, though, is that you don't necessarily have to have a very expensive handset with more cores than a nuclear reactor in order to enjoy games on the bus. There are plenty of brilliant puzzlers or 2D arcade games that run perfectly fine on cheap, single-core phones. That said, if you like your action in 3D and moving at silky-smooth frame rates, you'll need a much higher-end handset.

Processor, GPU and RAM
When it comes to 3D games on phones it's not just the processor that's important. The type of graphics processing unit (GPU) built in to the processor has a massive influence on the number of frames per second games will run at.

Memory is important too, as usually the more RAM available, the faster games will run. This is because it allows data to be fed faster to the processor and GPU. However, the phones with the fastest processors generally have the beefiest GPUs and most RAM, so choosing a phone for 3D gaming isn't really that difficult.

Apple's iPhone 5, for example, has a dual-core 1.3GHz processor with a PowerVR graphics unit that runs even really demanding games at high frame rates. Sony's Xperia Z Android handset has an even meatier quad-core 1.5GHz processor with an Adreno 320 graphics unit for lightning-fast gaming performance.


A quality display
There's no point pushing all those pixels around if you can't see them clearly. As mobile games use onscreen controls, a larger display is generally better. On phones with smaller screens your fingers and thumbs can take up a lot of precious onscreen real-estate, obscuring some of the action.


Displays with higher resolutions, such as the retina screen on the iPhone 5 or the huge 5-inch 1080p screen found on the Xperia Z, are ideal as they can show off the crisp 3D in-game visuals at their best.


Battery stamina
You should also look for a phone with long battery life, as playing 3D games usually maxes out both the processor and graphics unit with the result that they draw more power. You can tell this because mobiles generally become warmer to the touch when they're running 3D games. As a result, a phone with longer battery life will let you enjoy a good gaming stint without leaving you worrying that you're going to have nothing left to call your other half and ask them what you need to pick up from the supermarket on the way home.


Games library
If you want the largest possible library of games, you really need to opt for either an iOS or Android-based phone. Other platforms like Windows Phone and BlackBerry offer a decent number of good games, but they just can't compete with the vast library of quality titles available for iOS and Android.

Sony Xperia Z

Sony's best smartphone yet, the Xperia Z has smashing 5-inch full-HD display with 443 ppi (compared to the iPhone 5's 324ppi) , superior 13-Megapixel camera ,chic styling and and all round excellent performance that makes the waterproof smartphone with NFC and 4G LTE one the best Android handsets to buy.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2

The second coming of the screen that feels like a tablet, the Note 2 brandishes a larger 5.5-inch 1280x720 AMOLED display and comes with a more intuitive and accurate S-Pen. It's got a great 8-Megapixel rear-facing camera with 1080p shooting capability, and with a 1.6GHz quadcore processor and 2GB of RAM can handle the Note 2's impressive multitasking prowess.

HTC One Mini

Taking the HTC One we all know and love, and shrinking it down to a slightly more pocket friendly size, while keeping most of its great features intact should prove a winner. The One Mini packs a 4.3 inch 720p display – slightly smaller than its 4.7 inch older brother – with an impressive PPI of 341. Under the bonnet there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM and 16 GB for storing all your files. The unique ‘ultrapixel’ camera seen on the One is sticking around, for awesome low light shots, however both NFC and the IR blaster have been cut.

Huawei Ascend P6

Huawei has managed to cram a good amount of tech into this sleek and slim device, which measures just over 6mm in width. Inside the aluminium alloy frame is a quad-core processor, so multi-tasking should be stutter free and there’s an 8 megapixel snapper on the back. In terms of screen real-estate, you’re looking at a 4.7 inch display, covered in the super durable Gorilla Glass with a very respectable 312 ppi. Another bonus is that it’s running the very latest version of Android, Jelly Bean 4.2.2; however it is skinned with Huawei’s Emotion UI 1.6 interface so no vanilla Android here.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

As they did with the Galaxy S3 before it, Samsung has taken their uber popular S4 and put it on diet. The outcome, the Galaxy S4 Mini, keeps the same design as the regular model, yet cuts the screen down from 5 inches to a more manageable 4.3 inches. However in the slimming process, the resolution was lowered to a fairly disappointing 960 x 540 and the number of cores was cut from 4 to 2. There’s a Snapdragon 400 processor running at 1.7 GHz so not all is lost. Under the plastic shell you’ll find NFC, 8GB of storage, though this can be increased through a MicroSD and on the rear their’s an 8 mega-pixel snapper.

HTC One & Samsung Galaxy S4: Google Play Editions

If your favourite flavour of Android is stock 4.2.2, yet you still want the latest hardware from HTC and Samsung, then Google has you covered. Both these devices are exactly the same as their skinned counterparts, just sans TouchWiz and HTC Sense cluttering up the Android experience. Expect prompt updates for both devices, similar to Google’s Nexus Programme, as an added incentive.

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