5 Best Phones for xCloud in 2021 – A Complete Guide

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Best phone for xCloud

Ever since the platform was announced in 2018 at the E3 I was super hyped about it. The reason is pretty simple. I just love gaming, especially on my beast PC and the Xbox. Don’t get me wrong. I do play games on my phone too, but I always felt they pale in comparison to what PC or Game Consoles can deliver. The idea of being able to play a PC-quality game on any mobile device just gives me chills. So I taught it would be interesting to take a look at which are the best phones for xCloud.

So the concept of xCloud is pretty simple. You have a game that is running in the cloud, meaning that it is running on some remote server and the data is being streamed to your phone. Your feedback, which are the controls you are pressing are being sent back to server. This way you can control the game. This is all happening very fast in real time as for any game it is crucial that the delay is minimal.

Doing this takes a processing load off your phone and puts it on to a server, meaning that all the heavy lifting is done by the server. Your phone needs to process similar amount of data as if you would be watching a Youtube video for example. This is why it is possible to play PC-quality games on your phone.

The beauty of this is that you don’t necessarily need the latest flagship to be able to run certain games, but you can play them on budget phones too because main processing is not happening on your phone. Still, the phone should have a decent size screen and be overall very responsive. If there is something I hate is small screens and a laggy gaming experience if you know what I mean 😅. Anyway, let’s take a look at which are some of the best phones I recommend for a smooth and enjoyable xCloud experience.

If you want to read a full detailed review of our recommended phone for xCloud click here. Or if you are more interested in our top budget pick we got you covered here.

DID YOU KNOW: The xCloud does support touchscreen controls and Microsoft is experimenting to bring the experience beyond just emulating a controller. However, at the moment, the most comfortable way to enjoy your games is still a Bluetooth controller.

NOTE: Below you can find a comparison table and a detailed description of the best phones for xCloud.


BUDGET RECOMMENDED
Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC Samsung Galaxy S10+ Samsung Galaxy S21 5G Apple iPhone 12 Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC

Samsung Galaxy S10+

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

Apple iPhone 12

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
Display 6.67 inches 6.4 inches 6.2 inches 6.1 inches 6.8 inches
Chipset Snapdragon 732G Exynos 9820 or Snapdragon 855 * Exynos 2100 or Snapdragon 888 * Apple A14 Bionic Exynos 2100 or Snapdragon 888 *
GPU Adreno 618 Mali-G76 or Adreno 640 * Mali-G78 or Adreno 660 * Apple GPU Mali-G78 or Adreno 660 *
RAM 6 or 8 GB 8 or 12 GB 8 GB 4 GB 12 or 16 GB
Battery 5160 mAh, non-removable 4100 mAh, non-removable 4000 mAh, non-removable 2815 mAh, non-removable 5000 mAh, non-removable
Buy on Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Amazon

* International and US hardware.


OVERALL RATING

We evaluated the phones based on several key factors that are important to get a smooth gaming experience. The most important being CPU and GPU performance and RAM capacity. Of course, we have to consider also the battery as it determines how long you will be able to play your favorite game without recharging. And we must not forget the display as you don’t want the game to just perform smoothly but look nice on the screen as well.

We tested and evaluated all mentioned features and compiled results to a single score number. Please note that the final score does not take the price into the account. So obviously the budget phones will not perform as well as the high-end flagship. But we make sure that all our recommended phones will give you a great gaming experience.



What are the best phones for xCloud?

XIAOMI Poco X3 NFC – Top Budget Phone for xCloud

One of the best phone for xcloud
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY GAMING FEATURES

CPU RAM BATTERY
Snapdragon 732G 6 or 8 GB 5160 mAh

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC is a good mid-range phone that brings a lot of trendy features. It comes with a quad-camera setup, a high refresh rate screen, and a great chipset. Battery life is very good and the phone truly delivers what it promises. Another big plus is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on these features. Poco X3 NFC comes at a very affordable price. That’s why we decided to put it on our list of best phones for xCloud.

The phone runs on a good Snapdragon 732G chipset. It offers some of the best performance in its class. It has a very good CPU and a high-quality GPU, which is Adreno 618. The phone can outperform almost all other mid-rangers. In fact, 732G was actually optimized for gaming. This means that the graphics card is higher clocked and that also supports high resolutions. Anyway, the gaming experience is great and games run very smoothly on this phone. There are also no problems with overheating. You will most likely find a version with 6 GB of RAM, although there is a possibility of finding one with 8 GB. Anyhow, 6 GB of RAM is more than enough for just about any use. It is actually a sweet spot for an average user, but it will work fine for advanced uses too. This phone can come with 64 or 128 GB of internal storage built-in. So pay attention to this if storage is important to you. However, in either case, it is expendable. So if you feel like you need more space for photos and other stuff you just upgrade it a little.

If you are interested in more details about the phone you can read more by clicking here.

WHAT WE LIKED
  • Many people argue that you get a lot of the phone for the price. We agree
  • We really like 120 Hz 6.67 inch screen. It is bright, large and perfect for watching videos, playing games or browsing the web
  • The powerful mid-range chip will allow you to play graphic intense games smoothly
  • Large battery and a 33W charger is a dream combination
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • There is no wireless charging
LEARN MORE OR CHECK PRICE

SAMSUNG Galaxy S10+

One of the best phone for xcloud
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY GAMING FEATURES

CPU RAM BATTERY
Snapdragon 855 8 or 12 GB 4100 mAh

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Samsung Galaxy S10+ is a more premium version of the regular S10. This phone is bigger and carries some new additions. However, most of the features, especially design, remain the same. The phone is a bit older and is definitely not the newest flagship out there, but it can still perform really well and can carry out many difficult tasks. Therefore, we decided to put this phone on the list of the best phones for xCloud.

Regarding chipset and GPU units we have to say that they are exactly the same as on less premium version S10. In that terms, you don’t get anything new. The phone is equipped with Snapdragon 855 or alternatively Exynos 9820. They are paired with Adreno 640 or Mali-G76 MP12 graphic processing unit, however that depends on the chipset you get. Both combinations are very good as they feature high end components that make this phone very good for running all sorts of games and other difficult tasks. As for the RAM, Galaxy S10+ has 8 GB of RAM, which is also the same as on the regular version of S10 phone.

If you are interested in more details about the phone you can read more by clicking here.

WHAT WE LIKED
  • Performance is excellent thanks to Snapdragon 855 and lots of RAM. This phone will handle any task you throw at it.
  • Dual selfie camera improves depth sensing and gives better results when taking selfies
  • Eventhough the battery is not the biggest on the market the phone will last surprisingly good. Even if you are gaming or watching videos.
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • If you are not an advanced user, you might not benefit from this version and should probably stick to regular S10, otherwise you are just overpaying for your phone.
LEARN MORE OR CHECK PRICE

SAMSUNG Galaxy S21

One of the best phone for xcloud
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY GAMING FEATURES

CPU RAM BATTERY
Snapdragon 888 8 GB 4000 mAh

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Samsung Galaxy S21 is a state-of-the-art phone and it is one of the brand’s top achievements. It has a sleek, new design and it is very attractive. The phone is slightly smaller than its predecessor – the model S20. However, smaller sizes and lighter weights can sometimes be an advantage. S21 is very capable and works really well, making it appropriate for inexperienced and sophisticated users. It’s a nice choice if you are looking for a high-end and compact phone. Therefore, we list it as one of the best phones for xCloud.  

Samsung Galaxy S21 works on Snapdragon 888 processor and is paired with Adreno 660 graphic card. Alternatively, it can be powered by Exynos 2100 processor. In that case, it is equipped with Mali-G78 MP14 graphic card. What type of processor and GPU you get really depends on where you live. However, you should know that Snapdragon 888 usually performs better than Exynos 2100 and consumes less power as well. Galaxy S21 has 8 GB RAM, which is sort of a sweet spot for most users. The phone can perform various tasks and run a variety of games. However, games should not be too demanding. Still, S21 can be used as a gaming phone, but you should keep in mind that some overheating can occur if you are running very demanding games. 

If you are interested in more details about the phone you can read more by clicking here.

WHAT WE LIKED
  • Super fast and responsive performance thanks to Snapdragon 888
  • Easy to hold and place into pockets
  • Battery is really good and supports 25W fast charging
  • 8 GB RAM will handle your everyday tasks without a problem
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • No external SD card slot. Depending on your style of usage 128 GB of internal storage may not be enough so in that case you should go for 256 GB version
LEARN MORE OR CHECK PRICE

APPLE iPhone 12

One of the best phone for xcloud
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY GAMING FEATURES

CPU RAM GPU
Apple A14 Bionic 4 GB Apple GPU

REMARK: It may seem like 4 GB of RAM is pretty low for the phone at this price. But keep in mind that Apple phones always had lower hardware specs. The key difference is that their software is so well optimized to their specific hardware. So any app or game that is officially supported by the device will run extremely smoothly.

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Apple iPhone 12 brings quite a few changes over last year’s model. It is a high-end device, so don’t expect it to come cheap. Price aside, you get a lot of premium features that other phones are missing. There has been a significant improvement in the field of security, especially face recognition. The phone also comes with a very good chipset and GPU for the best experience. It is also very user-friendly, so you will have no problem adjusting to iOS, even if you never owned an Apple phone before. The quality of this phone speaks for itself, therefore we decided to list it as the best phone for xCloud.

Apple iPhone 12 has some awesome hardware. The phone is powered by Apple A14 Bionic chipset, which is built on a 5nm processor. This is a definite improvement over the previous chipset. A14 Bionic has better graphics rendering speed and has overall better CPU performance. Additionally, it is paired with Apple GPU with 4-core graphics. The games run flawlessly on this phone. Everything works smoothly as you would expect. To be honest, this is one of the fasters phone out there at the moment. So if gaming is your thing, then this phone is a way to go. In terms of RAM, the Apple iPhone 12 only comes with 4 GB of RAM. This will not pose a problem to most of people. It is a sufficient amount of RAM for basically any use. The phone can run all of the apps, execute various tasks and even run games. 4GB should be enough for most of the games, at least the basic ones. For more demanding games with high requirements, you can look into new Apple iPhone 12 Pro, which comes with 6 GB of RAM. As far as storage goes, you can get a version with 64, 128 or 256 GB of internal storage. This is completely up to you. You just need to ask yourself how much storage you need.

If you are interested in more details about the phone you can read more by clicking here.

WHAT WE LIKED
  • As any Apple product it is very responsive and the user experience is just amazing
  • Sizewise it hits the sweet spot for people with smaller to medium hands
  • Great camera setup
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • A bit shorter battery life due to 2815 mAh battery. But it supports fast charging and recharges 50% of its capacity in just 30 min
LEARN MORE OR CHECK PRICE

One of the best phone for xcloud
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY GAMING FEATURES

CPU RAM BATTERY
Snapdragon 888 12 or 16 GB 5000 mAh

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the brand’s showpiece and has some amazing new features. It is an upgrade from the regular S21 model, which is actually a cheaper version of this phone. The S21 Ultra is one of the best phones ever to be introduced to the market. This is a high-end and well-performing device that you would be proud to own. It is definitely one of the best phones for xCloud.

In terms of processor and GPU, there really haven’t been any changes. Galaxy S21 Ultra is powered by the same processor as regular Galaxy S21 and is equipped with same graphic cards. To be more exact, the phone can be powered either by Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100. As always it depends on where you live, or the country where you bought your phone. The graphic processing unit or GPU that is incorporated in the phone is either Adreno 660, which comes with Snapdragon 888 processor, or Mali-G78 MP14, which comes with Exynos 2100. You should know that Snapdragon 888 usually performs better and is favored by users. Speaking of gaming, this phone is more than capable of running any game out there. However, you may experience some overheating after a while, but other than that everything works perfectly. S21 Ultra also has more RAM than regular S21, so games and other tasks will run smoother. S21 Ultra has 12 GB of RAM, which is enough to run any game. However, if you are serious about your gaming then we suggest you look for something with 16 GB of RAM. For more details click here.

WHAT WE LIKED
  • Super fast and responsive performance thanks to Snapdragon 888
  • Great display that is perfect for gaming and everyday use
  • Amazing 5000 mAh battery with 25 W charging capabilities, wireless charging and wireless reverse charging
  • Lots of RAM that will allow any game to run smooth
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • Because it is a Samsung product it comes with some preinstalled Samsung ‘bloatware’
LEARN MORE OR CHECK PRICE

Additional hardware information

CPU

The processor is the central processing unit in an electronic system such as a smartphone. The alternative and common English designation is CPU (Central Processing Unit). A processor is used to control various processes in the system. It handles task management and the distribution of data between individual units. The gigahertz value of a processor indicates its performance. It denotes the clock frequency with which the processing unit executes processes.

A cell phone processor works analogously to the CPU of a computer or controller in an electrical device. It processes individual instructions and program sections sequentially or simultaneously. At the same time, it manages data processing in the cell phone, for example during copy operations from the internal memory to a memory card or another device. The processor can consist of one or more computing cores that form the heart of an electronic system. In a smartphone, the CPU is responsible for the following tasks, among others:

  • Execution of installed applications
  • Controlling graphical displays via the graphics card
  • Establishing connections such as WLAN or UMTS
  • Processing user data

In simple words, the more powerful your CPU is, the better the game will run.

GPU

The GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is a dedicated graphics processor in mobile devices. Its main task is to support the smartphone processor (CPU) in displaying 3D data. Including image processing, games, animations, VR applications, and augmented reality. A strong GPU affects the performance of the entire device and can also significantly improve energy efficiency. Therefore the battery capacity is exhausted more slowly.

With the constantly increasing specifications of mobile devices, especially due to ever higher display and camera resolutions, the role of the GPU is becoming more and more important. Accordingly, improved models are constantly entering the market. In system-on-a-chip (SoC) designs, the GPU is lasered into a chip together with the main processor and other components (multimedia processor, LTE modem, signal processor).

RAM

As soon as you execute a program, the associated data is stored in RAM. This means that programs load faster and are still available, even if you have already closed them. When you open an app, it loads all data into RAM the first time you start it. If you now close the app and start it again, the loading process takes less time. The data remains in the RAM as long as the device is supplied with power. If you turn off your smartphone or computer, all data stored in RAM is lost and has to be reloaded when you restart your apps and programs. Don’t worry, the draining of the memory does not affect any data that is in the main memory. So pictures, videos, and co. are still safe even after the power is turned off.

How long the app data remains in the RAM of your phone depends on how much it is available and how much of it other apps are using it. But the more you have it the better. And this is true also if you want to achieve the best gaming experience.

DISPLAY

The display is the most obvious component of a smartphone. It is the showcase for all content and the surface through which you interact with the device. The screen turns the built-in components inside out: It shows whether a smartphone works with a strong or weak chipset via smooth or jerky animations. It lets you judge the quality of the camera. And of course, it shows all the data and apps that are in the device’s memory.

Currently, two panel types are mainly found in smartphones: IPS LCD and OLED. In LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) technology, the individual pixels consist of liquid crystals that, in combination with a polarization filter, display a certain color depending on their orientation. In an IPS panel (In-Plain-Switching), the crystals are constructed in such a way that the display is particularly viewing angle stable. The flat backlight is crucial for the LC display.

The main advantage of OLEDs over IPS is the lower energy consumption. Especially with dark content, even illumination, and high contrast. One disadvantage is that the LEDs lose their luminosity to some degrees due to uneven use. This can result in a burn-in effect. Since the display substrate for the OLED matrix is often made of flexible plastic the phones can also have curved displays. OLED displays are being used more and more, especially in high-end phones.

BATTERY

The battery capacity of your phone does in principle tell you how long it will last before you need to recharge it. The bigger the battery the longer it should last. But it depends also on the power consumption which is in direct correlation with the hardware that is included in the phone, and the battery management algorithms that try to reduce the consumption and preserve the battery as much as possible. Except for the battery capacity, these values are never written in the specification of the phone as they are irrelevant for an average user.

The reason is that the biggest factor to how long your phone will last on one charge is how much you use it and how. For example the screen is one of the biggest energy consumers. So if you are using your phone a lot the battery will get drained quicker, obviously. Heavy multitasking and gaming are also energy demanding.

But nowadays many phones support fast charging, wireless charging etc. So you can charge your phone very quickly and you are good to go.

Best phone for xCloud – CONCLUSION

Choosing a phone that will give you great gaming experience is a lot like choosing a gaming computer. You need to first look at the official hardware requirements for the game you are interested in. If you want to get the best experience the phone should meet at least recommended requirements. But actually when it comes to smartphones you should aim even higher.

It is well known that smartphones tend to get a little “slower” over time. Additionally, mobile games usually get updated more frequently. So to be on the safe side a good rule of thumb is to pick a phone that has at least one grade better components than recommended.

Any phone from our list will give you the best gaming experience. So if you stay within our selection of the best phones for xCloud you are good and ready to go. Have fun gaming.

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