Today’s smartphones are dynamic and powerful enough that users can get just about whatever they want from them. From basic communication, to organization and schedule-keeping, to entertainment, creativity, and so much more, these phones can pretty much do it all. As alluded to in a prior look at choosing smartphone features though, gaming is a particularly popular mobile activity.
Backing up this assertion, mobile gaming statistics from this past summer indicate that this particular gaming industry is now worth $180.3 billion. Furthermore, we know that roughly 21% of all Android apps and 25% of iOS apps downloaded are games. In short, gaming has become one of the activities people use their phones for most.
This is largely thanks to the fact that there are more mobile gaming apps with each passing day, and the sheer volume inevitably gives rise to better and better games. It is also at least partly due to the fact that the phones themselves have grown progressively more capable of showcasing the quality of well-made games. Devices like the iPhone 13 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus are phenomenal for gaming at this point, and alternatives such as the OnePlus 10 Pro and Assu ROG Phone 6 Pro are made specifically with gaming prowess in mind.
As wonderful as hardware options like these are for modern mobile gaming though, it’s also important for users to know what games will get the most out of their phones. There are plenty to choose from, and the truth is we see beautiful and impressive new apps in this category released all the time. For starters though, the following games will be stunning on a high-quality mobile device:
The Sailor’s Dream
We’ll begin with an unorthodox game that, in some respects, isn’t a game at all. Rather, The Sailor’s Dream is something of a playable narrative –– a point-and-click storybook about exploring a surreal island in the middle of the ocean. What this app may lack in traditional gameplay mechanics however, it makes up in stunning audio and visual quality. The art is at once fantastical and ultra-realistic, and an original soundtrack by Jonathan Eng lulls you into a pleasant trance as you play. And with a high-end modern gaming phone in particular, The Sailor’s Dream is truly a journey.
Sky: Children of the Light
This is another game that’s almost difficult to describe. It is basically a free-wheeling adventure in which you are invited to travel through the various realms within a spectacularly beautiful former kingdom, interacting with other players as you go. There are plenty of little things to do along the way, but the joy is in the exploration. One review of the game described its collective settings as “a world in the clouds,” which you can soar through as you please by way of a smooth and satisfying flight mechanic. Indeed, it is these factors that make Sky: Children of the Light a delight to play, and the better your device the more the pure quality of the game will shine.
There are a lot of great racing video games out there. Some, like the Mario Kart franchise, take a cartoonish approach and thrive on creative gameplay, whimsical levels, and popular characters. Others, like Forza Horizon, opt for ultra-realistic approaches. Somewhere in the middle, however, is Horizon Chase –– a beautifully designed racing experience that, despite being available on multiple platforms, is ideal for mobile devices. Inspired by old-school racing games, the game uses cars and settings reminiscent of real life, but presented in a decidedly arcade-like fashion. The result is a bright, fun game that pops off of a high-end mobile screen in a way that brings the action to life.
Texas Hold’em Poker Pokerist
As with racing games, there are ton of poker apps, sites, and even PC games out there. When you’re looking for games that will show off a good gaming phone’s display and capabilities though, Texas Hold’em Poker Pokerist is the pick. As stated in a recent look at some of the best poker apps, Pokerist has “some of the best graphics of any free poker app,” which is one reason it’s gaining traction. The look of the game is simple, it’s true, but those excellent graphics lead to a sharp, smooth, and appealing experience worlds away from the cluttered, chaotic vibe you get from most apps in this category. On a great gaming phone especially, this is as good-looking and enjoyable a poker game as you’ll find.
Zen Garden Mahjong
If you don’t fancy yourself a poker player but you’d like a similar tabletop gaming experience, Zen Garden Mahjong is another excellent choice. This app takes the classic, tile-based game of Mahjong –– which is vaguely similar to both poker and solitaire in some respects –– and turns it into an exercise in relaxation. You’ll need to learn the fundamentals of Mahjong if you’re not familiar with the game, but once you know how to play, you’ll be able to do so in a dreamy, 3D, “zen”-like environment that simply pops off of a high-quality phone screen. And rest assured, you don’t need to be an expert to get started! At its core, Mahjong is about identifying pairs of matching tiles. So long as you can do this, you’ll begin to learn the finer points of the game.
Finally, there’s INKS –– an arcade pinball game that’s been described as a beautiful piece of interactive art in reviews. Plenty of mobile games are designed such that they have satisfying visuals on top of engaging gameplay. But in INKS, the satisfying visuals are the gameplay. Your task is simply to control the flippers as you would in any arcade pinball game. As you do so, the ball collides with stashes of colored ink, which is then splashed and dragged across an otherwise-blank background. Through this fundamental concept, each level you play becomes a unique work of art. Naturally, the results are all the more beautiful on phones with the best displays.
Try out these games and you’ll gain even greater appreciation for what your smartphone is capable of.