Best Smartphones

Best of 2021: Favorite gaming smartphones

A little something for every type of mobile gamer



It’s that time of the year again, ladies and gentlemen! As the year 2021 comes to a close, we’d like to look back at some of the best gaming smartphones out there. Granted, of course, that at this point in time, anything can be a gaming smartphone. For these ten smartphones, they shine in their own way as they bring a different kind of power to the table.

In no particular order, here are the ten best gaming smartphones for 2021! For this year, however, we’d like to break them down into three main categories to suit everyone’s interests.

Hardcore favorites suitable for the best

ASUS ROG Phone 5

Gaming Smartphones

To kick things off, the ASUS ROG Phone 5 is an obvious inclusion on this list especially for the hardcore gamers out there. From inside-out, this device just screams “gaming power” however you want to use it. For those who are unaware, the ROG Phone 5 sports ridiculous hardware inside, a high refresh rate display, great cameras, and a rather flashy design factor.

What makes this phone a cut above the rest, as well would be the peripherals you can use with it to maximize your gameplay. Apart from the Air Triggers, there’s the Aero Active Cooler 5 to keep the heat in check. Also, this phone also supports most ROG peripherals like gaming mice if you want to elevate your gameplay! The ROG Phone 5 provides a full hardcore gamer package in your pocket!

Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2

Legion Phone Duel 2

Another banger addition to this list is the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2, which shines in its own little way. Much like the previous entry, this gaming smartphone packs a punch in terms of gaming performance for the competitive ones. Although, it doesn’t necessarily come with the same set of freebies; what you see is what you get!

With this gaming smartphone, however, it comes with some incredible features to take your creativity to the next level. Apart from just playing the games, with the 44MP pop-up front camera, it gives you a way to stream your gameplay on your preferred platform with a facecam! Of course, the streaming functionality is built into the system so this phone makes gaming and streaming a lot easier.

Xiaomi Black Shark 4

Black Shark 4

If you needed a third option for your hardcore gaming needs, the Xiaomi Black Shark 4 is another great option for a gaming smartphone. Like the first two options, Xiaomi’s dedicated gaming smartphone is no slouch in delivering the performance a competitive gamer will need. Packed with a powerful processor, a high refresh rate display, and great RAM and storage options, it’s as straightforward as it could be when it comes to a true gaming smartphone.

Unlike the other two options above, the Black Shark 4 comes at a rather affordable price point for the hardware it wields. You could make an argument that it’s the more bang-for-your-buck option without sacrificing much in its features and performance. If you’re on a rather tight budget for the holidays, this is a viable option for a mobile gaming machine!

Dedicated for the semi-casual, semi-competitive

As it suggests, the next batch of smartphones put gaming on the spotlight more than the other features it comes with. These devices, in many ways, bring the gaming power to everyone, whether you play to compete or just to have fun. Let’s dive into the phones that made the cut:

realme narzo 30A

Gaming Smartphones

This year, realme continued to build on their dedicated lineup of budget gaming smartphones, the narzo. Earlier this year, they launched the second entry into the lineup in the realme narzo 30A designed for any type of mobile gamer out there. While it comes with features suitable for any use case, it truly shines in its capability to play any game with ease.

Of course, the 4GB RAM it brings will bring more question marks on competitive gaming performance. However, with a few tweaks, even mobile Esports titles will work on this phone with ease. Along with a huge battery, it gives you a ton of juice to continue playing for hours on end. Oh, did we mention that this won’t hurt your wallet, at all?


Gaming Smartphones

Normally, you don’t associate OPPO with gaming smartphones, but the OPPO A94 managed to be a game changer (pun intended, obviously). On paper, it doesn’t seem quite like the gaming machine as the other options but it packs a punch on the gaming front. Of course, like most options in this category, it comes with a huge, fast-charging battery for longer play hours.

Of course, OPPO’s core as a camera smartphone is not lost in its gaming-centric machine. Its quad camera setup along with a 32MP selfie camera allows you to take great photos and videos during your downtime. It’s quite the all-rounder in that regard, that even semi-casual and semi-competitive players will get a kick out of it.

realme 8

Gaming Smartphones

While touted more as another all-around smartphone, the realme 8 focuses more on how well you could game with it on top of everything else. With a powerful processor and up to 8GB of RAM, you’d expect nothing less than great in terms of gaming performance — especially when playing competitive titles. If you’re more on the casual side, this device serves its purpose incredibly well, and then some.

When you’re not playing full-time (either casually or competitively), every other feature of the phone shines with it. From the big battery to the great quad-camera at the rear, it’s the ideal device for the more all-around type of gamer out there. Also, like other realme devices, this phone comes at a rather affordable price point. 

Infinix HOT 11S

Infinix HOT 11S

Infinix emerged from the shadows as one of the new players in the field, and they came into the light with a bang. To not be left behind in the fray, they enter into the mobile gaming space, as well; their weapon of choice: the Infinix HOT 11S. On the outside, it does look like a gaming device you can brag to your buddies. Inside, it’s a beast in its own right.

Much like its contemporaries, the Infinix HOT 11S sports a rather similar makeup internally. With this, it brings much needed gaming power that both casual and competitive players will enjoy with prolonged use. Outside of the gaming-centric features, it’s also a great smartphone to use when you’re just taking a break from the grind.

Smartphones you can play games on because, why not?

For the third and final category, we’ve included some smartphones here that surely deliver on the gaming front of things. However, these are smartphones that don’t necessarily focus on the gaming aspect too much. Still, if you want to experience all the good things in a smartphone, these ones are worth considering:

vivo V21 5G

gaming vivo

Much like OPPO, vivo wasn’t a smartphone brand that you would think of when it came to gaming smartphones. However, that doesn’t particularly mean that you can’t game on them, and the vivo V21 5G has something to say about that. Consider this phone as more of both a gaming and photography device, with a little bit of flash in there.

The hardware in this device is no slouch with handling most tasks you throw at it, whether for productivity or gaming. Of course, this also comes with a rather large, fast-charging battery to assist in handling all those tasks simultaneously. Along with some powerful cameras and 5G connectivity, it’s a jack-of-all-trades machine that isn’t limited to gaming at its core.

realme GT Master Edition

realme GT Master Edition

Glad to find another mobile game I can somewhat enjoy

At first, the realme GT Master Edition would have been better in the earlier category since realme has put gaming at its forefront. However, this device is different in the sense that, well, it’s not just a smartphone that was gamer-first, everything-second. Instead, it opts to let every little use case shine and be a master in its own right, and the hardware backs it up quite well.

Whether you’re watching gameplay or creating the gameplay yourself, this phone will do it all for you. Even on the gaming front, you still have a high refresh rate display to take advantage of, if you’re keen on elevating your gameplay. Plus, it comes with a great set of cameras that deliver great image quality when it’s all said and done. It’s a device that’s so good at everything that using it for gaming alone is selling it short.

Redmi Note 10S

While it isn’t as remotely powerful as the other options, the Redmi Note 10S is a great option if you’re in need of an all-around performer for both productivity and gaming. Across the board, it’s a great midrange option for anyone looking for a new smartphone, moreso if you need one to play mobile games on. Of course, it also comes with a big battery to satisfy your long-term usage.

What made this phone a viable option for gaming is MIUI’s Game Turbo to help you achieve competitive-level performance. In essence, this allows you to finetune specific games to play close to 60 FPS, which is the preferred way for most people. At a rather budget-friendly price, this device gives you everything you’d want in an all-around smartphone.

Best Smartphones

2022 GadgetMatch Approved Smartphones

Smartphones that deserve the GadgetMatch Seal of Approval



GadgetMatch Approved

Admittedly, we haven’t reviewed all of the greatest and latest smartphones this 2022. That said, fifteen (15) of those smartphones were able to make the cut — particularly those with GadgetMatch’s Seal of Approval.

Reviewed by different members of the team with varying preferences and personalities, smartphones in this list weren’t limited to the premium line as it also tackles the budget and midrange segment.

This list is in descending order from most recently published.

iQOO 11

iQOO 11 5G

“The iQOO 11 5G is one of those phones that’s easy to recommend to just about anyone. It’s a borderline flagship smartphone. It looks sleek, it performs like a champ, and it captures photos you can be proud of sharing. Personally, I’m ready to crown this as the upper midrange king, usurping the OnePlus 10T for that title.” — Rodneil

READ MORE: iQOO 11 5G review: Better where it matters

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4

“The Galaxy Z Flip4 is a pure refinement of what was already a great piece of hardware. Being able to pack a lot of punch in such a compact and precisely-crafted piece of engineering marvel makes this phone stand out from the crowd.” — Vincenz

READ MORE: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 Review: 3 months of love and commitment

HONOR Magic4 Pro

“No doubt, the HONOR Magic4 Pro is one among 2022’s best all-rounder smartphones around. It offers the quintessential triple set of rear cameras that other “flagships” fail to deliver.” — Vincenz

“The HONOR Magic4 Pro and its accompanying devices are just tiny steps forward in what is an early phase to complete independence. As they are now, these are devices worthy of your attention.” — Rodneil


HONOR Magic4 Pro: My Best Concert Companion

GadgetSnaps: HONOR Magic4 Pro in Boracay

Bringing Back HONOR with Magic

realme 10

realme 10

“The realme 10 is solid. It’s certainly a 10 given the price to performance ratio. You’re getting a package that may not be stacked, but is undeniably solid. The realme 10 is a head turner, a good performer, and a decent moment capturer. It’ll take care of your needs with no problems whatsoever.”

READ MORE: realme 10 review: It’s a 10!


“For its price point, the new smartphone is a worthy purchase if you’re looking to game on a budget. And that’s without the additional frills you’re enjoying.” — Luigi

READ MORE: POCO M5 review: No need to break the bank


“The iQOO 9T provided more than what was expected in this price range: a flagship-grade mobile processor, fast and vibrant display, loud-enough stereo speakers, modest battery, fast AF charging, and even a decent set of cameras that other phone brands refuse to supply in their gaming smartphones.” — Vincenz

READ MORE: iQOO 9T review: The ultimate gaming phone killer?


“MVP voting will continue to be contentious, especially in the world of mid-range smartphones. At the end of the day, you just need a candidate you won’t regret voting for. The POCO X4 GT is that kind of candidate, a smartphone you’d be very happy to be choose as your GadgetMatch from day one.” — Karlo

READ MORE: POCO X4 GT Review: Midrange MVP?!

OnePlus 10T

Starting at $649 it’s in a unique position because it offers top notch specs and backs it up with a well thought out design and great features. The OnePlus 10T is very competitive.” — Michael Josh

WATCH HERE: OnePlus 10T Review: Lots to love, nothing to hate

READ MORE: OnePlus 10T 5G: 5 Best Things

Google Pixel 6a

Just like the phones that came before it the Pixel 6a still remains one of the best devices for folks who want an affordable Android smartphone. And it’s especially true this time around thanks to its high-end Tensor Chip from Google and more premium-looking design. Apart from that you’re also getting Pixel exclusive Android features, 3 years of guaranteed Android updates and 5 years of security updates.” — Michael Josh

WATCH HERE: Google Pixel 6a Review: Best Android for Less?

vivo X80 Pro

“The updates on the X80 Pro aren’t flashy or gimmicky, but solid improvements across the board. And alongside the likes of Samsung and Google, I can confidently say that vivo is another major player in the Android space. And the X80 Pro deserves even more attention.” — Michael Josh

WATCH HERE: vivo X80 Pro Unboxing and Review: Totally Underrated

Samsung Galaxy S22+

“The Galaxy S22+ is a smooth amalgamation of many other standout phones. It has the breathtaking display of Samsung phones, an overall footprint that feels like an iPhone 12/13 Pro Max, cameras that rival those that partner with notable camera brands, and much, much more. All of that comes in this package that looks and feels well-built on a phone that is easily an all-rounder performer.” — Rodneil

READ MORE: Samsung Galaxy S22+ review: Love at first touch

realme 9 Pro+

“The creative options brought by the Street Mode, the detail the Sony IMX766 sensor captures and stellar night shots it can produce, the realme 9 Pro+ proves that you don’t need fancy equipment to take good photos. For the most part, this phone is a decent daily driver. But when talking about photography, the realme 9 Pro+ can surely unleash the photographer in you.” — Andre

READ MORE: realme 9 Pro+: Your next street photography buddy

realme 9 Pro

realme 9 pro

“If it still isn’t obvious, the realme 9 Pro is a great catch. It brings some flagship-level features in the midranger segment.

It also has outstanding cameras along with photography modes that lets you create visual content that you can straight up use on your social media feed. You can’t go wrong with its ultra smooth display, highly competent processor with 5G connectivity and sufficient battery life. Even more-so if you’re into photography or content creation.” — Apple

READ MORE: realme 9 Pro: A midrange camera powerhouse  

Redmi Note 11

Redmi Note 11

“The Redmi Note 11 is a champ. At its price range, you’d be hard pressed to find anything better. It performs a tier higher than what it’s pricing suggests. It might just be the best under PhP 10,000 (around US$ 200) phone you can buy today.” — Rodneil

READ MORE: Redmi Note 11 review: Budget king at its best

Huawei P50 Pro

“If you’re that eager to own a smartphone with a superior set of cameras, astounding display and speakers, slim and lightweight design, flagship-grade performance with an efficient battery life, the P50 Pro is no doubt the best option for you. For now, the Huawei P50 Pro has one of (if not the) best cameras in a smartphone today.” — Vincenz

READ MORE: Huawei P50 Pro review: 5 topnotch cameras, 5 drawbacks

SEE ALSO: 2022 GadgetMatch Approved Devices

Continue Reading

Best Smartphones

Best budget smartphones of 2022

Bare minimum at its finest



Flagships may have ruled the smartphone chain this year but these budget smartphones stole the limelight one way or another. 

So we have this set of the best budget smartphones at GadgetMatch priced PhP 12,999 and below this year. We’ve raised the price range a bit higher due to inflation but we still guarantee that these are phones that won’t hurt your pocket and can still give you what you want and need. 

Here’s the new price guide:

  • Budget — around US$230/PhP 12,999 and lower
  • Lower Midrange — around US$450/PhP 24,999 and lower
  • Upper Midrange — around US$ 720/PhP 39,999 and lower
  • Premium — around US$ 750/PhP 40,000 and higher

Without further ado, sharing here the best budget smartphones in no particular order. 

Infinix Hot 20S

Known for offering great phones below PhP 10,000, Infinix does it again and this time with the Infinix Hot 20S (PhP 7,999/ US$ 139). This budget phone is a knockout for being one of the most affordable phones to offer a 120Hz display combined with powerful hardware that makes it a choice that’s solid for budget gaming. 

realme 10 

realme 10

The realme 10’s name is apt as it deserves a 10 given the price to performance ratio (PhP 12,999/ around US$ 235). Its design, especially the Clash White variant, is a definite head turner. You can even add that it’s a good performer sporting one of the top budget gaming chipsets and its 50MP camera captures great photos. This phone can really provide what you need and more. 

READ: realme 10 review: It’s a 10!

Redmi Note 11 

Redmi Note 11

It’s still surprising how much value for your money the Redmi Note 11 (PhP 9,999/ around US$ 180) has to offer. A very well rounded phone with a decent chipset, 90Hz AMOLED display, stereo speakers, 33W fast charging and even an ultrawide camera. It’s a budget phone which does more than just the basics.

READ: Redmi Note 11 review: Budget at its best

Wiko 10 

Wiko takes a spot with one of the biggest phones in this list with the Wiko 10 (PhP 7,399/ around US$ 135). This phone is set to take media consumption to greater heights with its big screen. There’s also plenty of room to store your downloaded series with its large storage capacity. Add its great battery performance to its strengths and this phone becomes a serious candidate for people on a budget or those looking for a secondary phone.

READ: WIKO 10 review: A competent new challenger

Narzo 50 5G 

Another competing phone at the top-end of this budget range is the Narzo 50 5G (PhP 12,999/ around US$ 235) . A phone that will make you think twice if you even need to spend more on a more expensive smartphone. This has everything you’re probably gonna need including and most especially, 5G connectivity. Enjoy movies with dual speakers, take decent photos or get your game on with a high refresh rate display, this phone will get you through it all.

vivo Y16 

vivo Y16

Just when you thought a budget smartphone couldn’t look premium, the vivo Y16 (PhP 8,999/ around US$ 163) came along. You’ll surely be dazzled by its Drizzling Gold variant that shines and changes its hues when hit by light perfectly. It also has a decent battery, hardware that can get the essentials done and large storage to store games and snapshots for the memories. 

READ: vivo Y16 review: The basics turned classy

Tecno Camon 19 

Most budget smartphones don’t really offer much when it comes to camera capabilities. The Tecno CAMON 19 (PhP 9,890/ around US$ 179) is one of the few camera focused phones in this price bracket. It’s not the most powerful in this segment, but admittedly, 64MP on a budget is pretty enticing. If getting the best snaps on a budget is your main concern, this might just be what you’re looking for.

Continue Reading

Best Smartphones

Best premium smartphones of 2022

A lot of familiar faces



Another year has come and gone. As with every year, the smartphone world has birthed a wide palette of winners. Naturally, every brand put their best foot forward in the flagship department. While this year’s releases features a lot of familiar faces, all the updates make for an impressive lineup that kept teasing valuable money from our pockets all year round. Now, as the year finally comes to a screeching halt, let’s go through the best premium smartphones released in 2022.

Also, to reflect the less than favorable state of the economy today, we’ve adjusted the best smartphones list according to the pricing and performance of smartphones today:

  • Budget — around US$230/PhP 12,999 and lower
  • Lower Midrange — around US$450/PhP 24,999 and lower
  • Upper Midrange — around US$ 720/PhP 39,999 and lower
  • Premium — around US$ 750/PhP 40,000 and higher

Honorable Mention: Xiaomi MIX Fold 2

But first, let’s see who just missed making the list. 

While the foldable segment is slowly building up beyond the usual suspects, it is still a notch away from becoming completely competitive. Still, more alternatives is always a good thing. Outside of Samsung, Xiaomi created the worthiest competitor for the foldable market. 

Simply put, the Xiaomi MIX Fold 2 is a powerhouse packed with the best specs of the year, while sporting one of thinnest form factors for its category. Unfortunately, the difficulty of getting the device outside of China keeps the MIX Fold 2 from completely upending Samsung’s dominance in the arena.

Honorable Mention: Huawei Mate 50 Pro

Mate 50 Pro Singapore

As for the slab phone market, one brand to look out for is Huawei. Coming off a rough couple of years, the Chinese smartphone brand is on a redemption arc to build itself back to the top of the food chain. While the P50 Pro has already turned our heads from last year to this year, the Mate 50 Pro is even more impressive.

Right off the bat, the new flagship has the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, already a huge plus for Huawei users. Armed with Ultra Aperture XMAGE camera and a remarkable design, there’s a lot to love from this phone.

WATCH: Get Google Apps on your Huawei Mate 50 Pro

vivo X80 Pro

Though vivo’s flagship won’t exactly turn heads, the X80 is a well-rounded package that most users can sink their teeth into. Waving the banner for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, the smartphone features a capable quad rear camera setup and a sizable 4700mAh battery.

In terms of price, the vivo X80 Pro hovers around the starting echelons of the flagship range. It will set you back by PhP 59,999, but it’s a decent price for a flagship these days.

WATCH: vivo X80 Pro Unboxing and Review

Xiaomi 12 Pro

Xiaomi 12 Pro

Technically, the Xiaomi 12 Pro debuted in the final days of 2021. However, everyone got their hands on it at the beginning of this year. Plus, given its slate of hardware, Xiaomi’s new flagship is a truly 2022 smartphone. 

Besides the design, there isn’t a lot to differentiate the Xiaomi 12 Pro from the vivo X80 Pro. One difference, though, is trading a periscope lens for a triple 50-megapixel rear camera. The former also features Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, a must-have for today’s smartphones. 

Additionally, the Xiaomi 12 Pro carries a much cheaper price tag, selling for PhP 48,999. The price puts it closer to upper midrange and, more importantly, below the vivo X80 Pro.

READ: Xiaomi 12 Pro review: Flagship in almost every aspect

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

The Galaxy Note series is dead. After a storied history, Samsung finally put the nail on the coffin of the famous (or infamous) phablet lineup. However, it will continue to live on through the Galaxy S22 Ultra, armed especially with the S Pen.

Together with a boxy frame and a stylus, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is a reincarnation. As its own device, the flagship is just packed. On display, it sports up to 240Hz sampling rate for games. On memory and storage, it goes up to 12GB of RAM and 1TB of internal storage. Finally, its rear camera setup features a 108-megapixel shooter. It has everything.

WATCH: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Hands-on: Note reborn!

Google Pixel 7 Pro

Make no mistake: The Google Pixel 7 Pro is just an upgrade of last year’s acclaimed Pixel 6 series. It’s quite an upgrade, though. The flagship features the sequel to Google’s Tensor chipset, an in-house processor designed to give the Pixel series its oomph. 

Off the bat, the premium flagship features a more premium design. It’s both classy and unique. With the processor’s machine learning capabilities, the Pixel 7 Pro puts cameras to the forefront. It has a wave of AI-supported software features to create stunning photos. 

Starting off at US$ 899, the Pixel 7 Pro once again proves itself as the Android flagship. Even if you already have the Pixel 6 series, the Pixel 7 series is just as tempting.

WATCH: Google Pixel 7 Pro Unboxing and First 24 Hours

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4

Besides Xiaomi’s honorable mention, Samsung is the only brand with two entries on the list. Given how the brand has two different ecosystems right now, the Galaxy Z Flip4 deserves it. Once again, the South Korean brand boasts its dominance in the foldable realm with an impressive outing.

Despite the thinner frame, the foldable phone still crams in the new Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, 8GB of RAM, and 512 GB of internal storage. While the Galaxy Z Fold4 might grant you more power, the Galaxy Z Flip4 is now an icon, thanks to its numerous appearances in pop culture. 

It starts at US$ 999.99.

READ: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 Review: 3 months of love and commitment

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

We can’t say we’re surprised. Apple hit the ball out of the park with the iPhone 14 series. Finally shedding off the controversial camera notch design, the new flagship series introduced a new pill-shaped camera island, tucking away notifications in a dynamic style.

As for specs, the iPhone 14 Pro Max features the A16 Bionic chipset, an in-house processor that’s reportedly 40 percent faster than its competitors. Once again focusing on content creation, the premium flagship has a quad pixel camera capable of shooting brilliant photos and videos, overtaking its other siblings in the series. Plus, the entire series has a satellite-supported SOS feature, shooting off emergency messages even without coverage.

Of course, the iPhone 14 Pro Max costs quite a pretty penny, starting off at PhP 77,990. However, it’s the best flagship package you can get this year. 

WATCH: iPhone 14 Pro Max vs 13 Pro Max vs S22 Ultra: Camera Shootout

Continue Reading