Smartphones today are basically handheld gaming consoles. You can play the most graphic-intensive games even on a recently launched budget phone. However, phones still have many shortcomings and limitations that you need to work around to get the best experience.
Dependence on battery, limited storage, and overheating are just some of the limitations that can impact your gaming experience. Thankfully, Android phones have many customization options that can enhance your experience according to your needs.
Whether you want optimum performance, the best visuals, or longer play time before needing a charge, check out the below tips and tweaks that will surely enhance your gaming experience on your Android phone.
Note: Since Android UI and features are different from manufacturer to manufacturer, the features I’ll talk about below may have different names, locations, or even not be available at all on some phones. If you are having trouble finding the feature, searching online using your phone’s model name will help.
Switch to Performance Mode
You might think only the battery-saver mode decreases the performance, but your phone, by default, runs at lower performance. Yes, phones run on Balanced mode, which ensures stable performance and high battery timing.
If you want to get the best performance, you should enable Performance mode; at least before gaming. Just go to Settings and open the Battery options. You should see an option to switch from Balanced to Performance.
This will impact overall phone battery timing even when you are not gaming, so I’ll recommend you disable it when you are done playing.
Use Game Mode
The game mode is available on most newer Android phones (Android 12+), and it’s a great all-in-one feature to get the best gaming experience. However, what it offers can be different depending on your device and might even have a different name, like Game Turbo or Game Booster.
Some of the possible benefits of Game Mode include a performance boost by allocating system resources to the game, auto-adjusting game graphics based on a preset, disabling background network and app activity, disabling notifications, recording gameplay, and displaying current hardware stats.
I know most people would prefer to just turn on the game from the app drawer, but playing them using the Game Mode is a much better overall experience. Just make sure you customize the available options according to your needs.
Change Phone Resolution
Phone resolution decides the number of pixels shown on the screen at a time. The higher the resolution, the more resources your phone needs to display them. If you decrease the phone resolution, it may not look as good as before, but it will free up a good amount of system resources to boost the game performance.
On most higher-end phones, you can go to Display > Screen Resolution to switch between HD, FHD, Standard, etc. However, if your phone doesn’t have this option, then you can also adjust it in the Developer options.
If Developer options aren’t enabled on your phone, go to About phone and tap 7 times on the Build number option. This will enable and show the Developer options at the end of the Settings.
In the Developer options, scroll down to the Smallest width option under the Drawing section. Its value is in DIP, so you’ll have to experiment a bit to find what seems comfortable for you to use the phone. Just decrease the DIP by 20 from the current value to start experimenting.
Use 5GHz WiFi
For Android multiplayer games, a stable internet connection with low ping is necessary. Unfortunately, mobile data commonly face instability and introduce additional delay. Now using a WiFi connection usually solves the instability issue, but it still introduces delay anywhere from 40-100ms.
Since a wired connection isn’t a practical option for phones, your best bet is to connect to WiFi using the 5GHz channel. For this, your phone and router must have 5GHz support, which most newer devices do.
When connecting to the supported router, it will show two separate connections, one for 2.4GHz and one for 5GHz. Choose 5GHz, and you’ll get the fastest connection with the lowest latency. If it’s not enabled by default, you’ll have to enable it from the router settings.
Do keep in mind that 5GHz has the downside of a bad connectivity range, especially if the router is in a different room. For best results, you’ll have to play the game while near the router, and with no obstacles in between.
Play Offline Games Without the Internet
If you are playing a game that could be played offline, it might be better to play it without the internet. Most of them still access the internet to exchange data, such as for syncing or showing ads.
Using data is one thing, but many games slow down the phone with extra UI elements. Some of the ad-bait games also show ads every 30 seconds, even when there are in-game purchases or incentives to watch ads.
Most of these nagging and bad monetization practices can easily be fixed by just disabling the internet before playing those games. If you are concerned about syncing progress, just do it once in a while.
Enable/Disable 4x MSAA
Multisample Anti-Aliasing (MSAA) is a graphics option usually found in a game’s settings. It basically smooths out the jagged edges in games to make them look smooth. Although the improved results are noticeable, it’s also very heavy on the GPU.
On Android, there is a Developer option that can force 4x MSAA in OpenGL ES 2.0 apps, which many Android games use, including Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Asphalt 8, etc. You should enable or disable this option depending on whether you want better visuals or performance.
To adjust this option, open the Developer options and enable/disable the Force 4x MSAA option under the Hardware Accelerated Rendering section.
Have Enough Storage Space
Low storage isn’t too much of an issue on flash storage that phones use since there aren’t any moving parts. However, even flash storage can face slowdowns when it’s almost full. Below are some low storage issues that could lead to slow in-game performance and crashes:
- Apps/games will have trouble storing temporary data while working which could lead to crashes.
- Multi-tasking could be an issue even if your RAM can handle it, as the Android system still continually exchanges data between RAM and storage.
- Updating games can become a problem since it downloads new data.
- Although not too noticeable, flash memory can still have trouble navigating through large amounts of data which will cause slow game loading and phone navigation.
- Since building the app cache will be a problem, it will keep games slow as new data is downloaded each time you play.
The rule of thumb is to always have 30% of total internal storage free to be used by apps and system functions. When the storage is 80% filled, you’ll start noticing minor issues, and it will only get worse when you fill it up further.
Thankfully, there are many ways to free up storage on an Android phone. In most cases, you won’t even have to delete personal data. In case there is too much important data, you can always move it to an SD card or cloud storage.
Limit Background Processes
The Developer options have another nice option that lets you limit the number of background processes that can run at a time. You can increase the count so you can multitask while gaming easily, or you can decrease/remove it to free up more resources for the game.
These background process limits directly impact the apps currently open, not the background processes like updates or sync, etc. For example, if you set the limit to 1 process only, then you can only open two apps at a time; one in the foreground and one in the background. Opening more will close the initially opened app and free up resources.
To set the limit, open up Developer options and move to the Background process limit option in the APPS section. Here Standard limit should be selected, which is the limit decided by the phone manufacturer. You can choose up to 4 processes running at a time and even select no background processes at all.
Use a Game Booster App
You can get help from a third-party app to boost game performance or visuals to get the best experience. There are many apps for this purpose, but I found Game Booster 4x Faster to be the most effective.
It works like a game launcher and applies enhancements when you launch the game through it. There is an AI Analysis feature that claims to optimize the games using AI. There is also an Ultra Boost option that offers the best visuals, but it requires a premium upgrade. Thankfully, you can temporarily unlock it by watching an ad as well.
For compatible games, the app can also force graphics effects like HDR, higher FPS, different resolutions, and graphics quality.
From my experience, I did notice fewer stutters and stable FPS on a game that my phone has trouble running. However, the game also took a bit longer to load, I guess it’s because it clears RAM and cache as well.
I’ll also recommend you try GearUP Game Booster if you are looking for better connectivity rather than performance.
General Tips to Improve Gameplay
There are many tiny adjustments and rules you can follow that can enhance your overall gaming experience. They may not noticeably impact your experience like the above methods, but combined, they can improve an overall gaming experience.
I am listing them below. Just follow the ones that complement your specific gaming needs.
- Avoid using live wallpapers and widgets since they require more system resources.
- Adjust screen brightness: Decreasing it will save battery, and increasing it will help you see better in games where it’s important to quickly see small details, like FPS games.
- Disable haptic feedback (vibrations) in supported games since it consumes too much battery.
- Avoid playing while your phone is on charge since it will generate more heat.
- Playing games on low battery will affect performance as the phone automatically goes into power-saving mode.
- Keep your phone up-to-date as these updates introduce performance enhancements and fix bugs that could impact performance and stability.
- Most games have in-game graphics settings that you can adjust to make the game run more smoothly or with better visuals. Make sure you visit the graphics settings in the game.
- Don’t continuously play games on the phone as it has its limit and can easily overheat and get damaged over time. Give it a break after 1-3 hours of gameplay.
I am sure following the above methods will enhance your gaming experience, whether you are looking for better performance or stunning visuals. On top of these changes, you can also try getting hardware accessories that could improve your gaming, such as cooling pads or a controller.
Speaking of controllers, why not check out our list of the best Android games with controller support?