PUBG Mobile is a global game played on a global stage. The popularity of smartphones across the planet means virtually anyone can get in on the action with a decent handset made in the last five years. Emulators like Tencent’s official Gameloop opens things up to an even wider audience, but where the game is most popular, smartphones reign supreme.
Despite the scale of its massive maps and player count, it doesn’t take a flagship device to drop into Erangel, Miramar, or wherever you prefer to fight. For those on a budget who need rock solid stability, here’s a list of the top five budget smartphones to up your PUBG Mobile game.
iPhone SE – The console equivalent of smartphones
We’re going to kick things off with a very obvious choice — the 2020 successor to the first budget iPhone. There’s a lot of pure fact putting the iPhone SE on this list. It’s powerful, it’s cheap, and it has a chin. You want a chin.
It might not have the looks of most modern smartphones today, but by reusing the iPhone 8 chassis, the top and bottom bezels return, allowing PUBG Mobile gamers to breathe a sigh of relief knowing their palms aren’t about to fold over the screen and let off a warning shot.
The main reason the new iPhone SE sits on this list is its price to performance. Apple’s own silicone means a closed system that’s easy for app developers to optimize for. There’s a reason the iPad Pro is considered a god tier PUBG Mobile machine. Framerates are rock solid with this device thanks to it housing the same A13 chip found in the drastically more expensive iPhone 11.
For $400 you get the insides of a phone 3x its price and the rock solid gaming performance that comes with Apple’s own hardware. If you don’t mind entering Cupertino’s ecosystem, you really can’t go wrong with the iPhone SE.
ROG Phone II – The one for the GAMERS
With all its wacky addons that reviewers rarely get a chance to try out, the ROG Phone line always seemed like a proof of concept nobody would ever actually want to buy. But with news of a third iteration landing very soon, there’s clearly a market for these edgy devices, so the ROG Phone II sits on this list.
Coming in close to that £400 price bracket we consider acceptable for a phone to be used primarily for gaming, the ROG Phone II is a great value proposition given its stellar benchmarking performance. It released close to a year ago now with Snapdragon’s supped-up 855 chipset, meaning it’s already dwarfed by the 9-series chips available in this year’s flagships.
A quick look at Antutu’s benchmarks shows it sits in 7th place even today, with the staggeringly expensive Galaxy S20 handsets just above it. That’s all you need to know to understand this beast’s prowess. Air triggers and a 120Hz display makes it all the more important as a PUBG Mobile player’s weapon of choice. That said, the super high refresh rate display can’t be used by PUBG Mobile. That’s reserved for the 9-series chips. It’s an issue we touched on with our Red Magic 3 review.
Red Magic 5G – The one with the fan
Speaking of the Red Magic 3, the phone with a fan got a fourth revision. Embracing the 5G change thanks to the Snapdragon 865 chipset, we’ve essentially skipped a number to end up with the Red Magic 5G.
The phone itself looks quite a bit different from its predecessor, but given how out there its design was already, you’ll be hard pressed to really notice the change. Given recent smartphone trends its wide 1080p display isn’t exactly going to burn your retinas with clarity, but given you’ll want to run at lower graphics options for a smoother competitive experience regardless of phone, its lower resolution helps you hit that while keeping costs low.
The prime selling point of the Red Magic 5G is the returning programmable triggers and “superior” cooling. We found the internal fan made no discernable difference the last time around, and that probably hasn’t changed, but the triggers give a distinct competitive advantage those to who struggle with PUBG Mobile’s touch controls. Its old and rarely used 90Hz panel has been upgraded all the way to 144Hz, too.
Given its rocking a chipset that can handle it, expect that refresh rate bump to be the main selling point once PUBG Mobile is updated to support higher refresh rates. The 300Hz polling rate of the touch screen would usually make for quicker responses to your taps, but at 144Hz it just becomes a necessity to stop things from feeling downright laggy.
PocoPhone F1 – The one that went viral
2017’s market shakeup, the PocoPhone F1, still earns a place on this list of 2020 devices. The reason? Its successor wasn’t the kind of upgrade the world was hoping for. Landing way down at 37th place on the Antutu benchmark these days doesn’t scream quality, but its GPU performance is dramatically higher than the Huawei and Honor phones that sit above before Samsung’s S10 lineup starts to edge it out on both fronts.
The reason it falls behind is due to its older processor. While that is something you’ll feel in PUBG Mobile with its wide open world, cranking down the visuals to their usual lowest (which you should be doing on any phone) will sort this out no problem.
Is it the strongest phone in this lineup right now? No. And given it was recently discontinued, it’s fairly hard to find on store shelves. But its age and past popularity should make finding a pre-owned handset for cheap a very good option for those on a shoe-string budget. The closest we’ve gotten to its original value proposition recently is the Realme X2.
OnePlus 7T – The old budget brand
Once the price to performance king, recent OnePlus devices have begun to climb in price. It’s natural economics, after all. The OnePlus 7T can be had for a similar price to the other handsets on this list and boasts many of the same benefits.
It’s powerful Snapdragon 855+ chipset houses the important Adreno 640 GPU that will power your PUBG Mobile adventures. It doesn’t have the massive battery “gaming” phones like those from Nubia or Asus, but its popular Warp Charge 30T feature can rejoice it in no time at all.
The biggest selling point of OnePlus devices lies in its Oxygen OS Android skin. Unlike most other phones, it’s as close to a stock Android experience as you’ll find on non-first-party Google devices. That means less bloatware potentially bogging down performance where it matters.
It’s the kind of decision that typically leads to the extended shelf life of OnePlus devices, which should keep it a promising value proposition for years to come. It’s not the most powerful phone on this list, but there’s a good chance it’ll serve you well for the next three or five years.