Best phones for Xbox Cloud Gaming (xCloud) 2022

Surface Duo gaming
(Image credit: Windows Central)

Xbox Game Pass gives you access to dozens of cloud-streaming titles, available on both tablets and phones. So, what are the best phones to buy for it? The service is only available on Android natively as of writing, although iPhone users can experience the fun too via xbox.com/play (opens in new tab). Sadly the web experience isn't particularly great, given Apple's anti-competitive designs to stifle competition on its platform, but it's still adequate if you have no other choice. 

For those who do want an optimal experience, Android phones are your absolute best bet. 

Right now, our pick for "best" phone for Xbox Cloud Gaming goes to the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G, balancing power, affordability, and features. However, there are also some great alternatives to consider, too.

Galaxy A53 5G

(Image credit: Android Central)

Samsung A53 5G

Balancing price and performance

Reasons to buy

+
120Hz AMOLED screen
+
Performant hardware
+
Solid camera
+
Great all-day battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
No Wi-Fi 6 support
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Not great for any local gaming you want to do

Samsung recently surprised everyone with their new Galaxy A53 5G handset, which boasts a truly impressive price-to-performance ratio, clocking in at around $450 or less if you can get a good deal.

Samsung's mid-range "Galaxy A" series is increasingly growing in relevance owing to that affordable focus, and while this handset isn't particularly great for any local gaming, supremely powerful local hardware certainly isn't necessary to get the most out of Xbox Cloud Gaming. 

Thanks to its comparatively lower-end chipset, the Galaxy A53 5G boasts some truly impressive all-day battery life, owing to its beefy 5000mAh battery. The camera bump is also on the smaller side, making this phone a better fit for many of the great Xbox Cloud Gaming gamepad clips out there. Despite its smaller camera module, it still takes decent photos owing to its 64-megapixel sensor. 

While this phone misses out on Wi-Fi 6, as long as you can get a decent Wi-Fi 5GHz signal it should be more than enough bandwidth to run Xbox cloud games to an acceptable level. A vibrant 6.5-inch AMOLED display can be limited down to 60Hz as well, to give you even more battery life while cloud gaming. 

If all you're looking for is a dedicated handset specifically for Xbox Cloud Gaming, this one is very tough to beat right now. 

Samsung Galaxy A32 5G

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Samsung Galaxy A32 5G

The most affordable cloud gaming option

Reasons to buy

+
Crazy low price
+
Solid battery life
+
Decent size screen

Reasons to avoid

-
No water resistance
-
Middling phone performance
-
No Wi-Fi 6

If you're someone looking for something utterly basic for the purposes of saving money at the expense of everything else, this is arguably your best option. 

It ticks all the most important boxes, with decent all-day battery life at 5000mAh, 5G support for those times you're without Wi-Fi, and a large display ideal for 16:9 Xbox games. The display maxes out at 720p which doesn't make it great for watching videos, but it's adequate for Xbox Cloud Gaming, which often falls back to 720p resolution to save bandwidth anyway. 

Where the phone falls over is general performance, which is generally subpar across the board. You won't be playing any local games on this, but it's performant enough for cloud gaming with the Xbox Game Pass app. The camera bump is also small enough that it won't interfere with mobile gaming clips, even if the teardrop cut out for the selfie cam is a bit of an eyesore while gaming. 

(Image credit: Android Central)

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

A serious phone with a serious price

Reasons to buy

+
Durable phone with water resistance 
+
Big and beautiful 6.8-inch display
+
Monster performance
+
Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi 6E 

Reasons to avoid

-
Rather expensive
-
Average battery life

If you're looking for a phone that showcases the best of what Android has to offer, you have to consider the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. This is a phone that boasts truly monstrous performance specs, with an impressive display and Galaxy Note-like inking support. 

What makes this a great phone for cloud gaming is its display. 6.8 inches is a great size for games that are designed for TV, and while I typically prefer a tablet myself, if you want something that can fit in your pocket, this might be your best bet. This is also one of the most performant phones for local gaming too, with Snapdragon 8 processing and heaps of RAM across its price tiers.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra also has some solid future-proofing for cloud gaming too. 5G is standard, but also with Wi-Fi 6E for future router upgrades, and Bluetooth 5.2 for better performance on future mobile game controllers. 

The only real downside on this phone is the battery life. Bigger, higher resolution screen and more powerful chips takes a toll on this phone's battery life, but you should be good for Nintendo Switch-like gaming sessions on the go regardless with anywhere up to six hours in 60Hz display mode. 

Surface Duo 2

(Image credit: Windows Central)

Microsoft Surface Duo 2

A unique option

Reasons to buy

+
Unique folding experience with touch gamepad
+
Gorgeous hardware in an impressively slim device
+
A decent display with capable specs

Reasons to avoid

-
Fairly high price
-
Average overall phone experience

Thanks to a deluge of price drops and updates, the Surface Duo 2 might actually be a contender in the Xbox Game Pass space now, for a single good reason: foldability!

The Surface Duo 2 had a ton of problems at launch. The software wasn't particularly great, the camera isn't the best for its price range, and the battery life could be better. Where the Duo 2 shines, however, is in its unique form factor. Two fully reversible displays make up the Surface Duo 2, and thanks to a unique feature for owners, Xbox Game Pass cloud players can turn it into a Nintendo 3DS-like experience with a touch gamepad, right on the lower screen.

This is awesome for several reasons. Number one, you don't need to carry around an additional controller. Two, the touch controls don't obscure the actual game with their overlays. And three, the display also lets you put it into an upright tent mode, ideal for connecting a controller if you want more tactility.

The main downside is the price. It's still a pretty expensive boi, despite several price drops in the U.S. and other territories. However, after a large range of software updates, the Duo 2 has actually become a truly capable phone. There's just something a bit magical about this option. If you fancy yourself a bit of an early adopter, you could consider this one instead of the more tried-and-tested options above.

Bottom line

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The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is our best all-rounder, when it comes to balancing power, price, and features. With a large screen, great battery life, and a truly impressive price point, it's really hard to recommend anything else if you're looking purely for something for Xbox Cloud Gaming and other platforms. 

Another phone I'd recommend taking a look at is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3. While I didn't list it here owing to its absolutely insane $2,000 price, it's still a very great option for cloud gaming, thanks to its large fold-out display. If you absolutely cannot stand Android, you can always check out the latest iPhones as well, although they cannot run Xbox Game Pass natively, owing to Apple's anti-competitive business practices. 

Do consider the Surface Duo 2 as well, despite its flaws. If you can get one secondhand or cheaply, it provides a unique experience thanks to its doubled-up display, giving you an experience unlike anything else out there right now.