How to Play Steam Games on Your Phone [iPhone and Android]

Dejan Cvetnarevic
Dejan Cvetnarevic

Updated · Oct 28, 2022

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Have you ever wondered how to play Steam games on your phone as you wanted to bring your gaming library on the road with you?

Thanks to Valve’s Steam Link app, playing steam games on the phone is now an excellent option if you are away from your PC.

Keep on reading to find out more!

Can You Play Steam Games on Your Phone?

Mobile gamers have been steadily rising in recent years, but the games available through the Android and Apple app stores are often inferior to their PC counterparts.

For that reason, the more serious phone gamers are always looking for a way to play their Steam games on mobile for a better gaming experience on the go.

Thankfully, you can access your Steam games via your phone using Steam Link.

Make sure you beef up your Steam library during Steam's sale events so you can play some of the biggest titles of 2022 on your phone at a discounted price.

Steam Link was initially launched as a hardware box in 2015 but was later replaced by a much cheaper and more flexible multi-platform app.

In its current form, Steam Link is a software solution for streaming your Steam library from your main PC to other devices, including TVs, laptops, and, yes, mobile phones.

The app sends the video and audio from your host computer to your mobile device before sending back the control input and multiplayer voice via the same route in real time.

Nowadays, you can install Steam Link for free on all major platforms, including:

    • Desktop: Windows, macOS, and Linux
    • Mobile: iOS and Android
    • TV: Android TV, Apple TV, and Samsung Smart TV
    • Raspberry Pi 3, 3+, and 4

Regardless of the platform to which you are streaming, your games will run more or less the same since your primary gaming machine does the heavy lifting.

Note: Steam Link also supports Remote Play Together—a function that allows you to invite your friends to your streamed game lobby as long as they have the app.

The app was designed to offer exceptional support and flexibility when it comes to playing Steam games on your phone, and you only need a few things to establish the link:

  • A host machine running Steam on a supported OS version,
  • A client device that can output at 720p or 1080p resolution,
  • Network connectivity (local or internet),
  • A compatible input device if you dislike using touch controls.

The factors outlined above will determine your gaming experience. For instance, with a sufficiently powerful host computer, a wired network, and a client device that can output high resolutions, you can get lag-free sessions at 4K and 60 FPS.

In any case, Steam Link’s Remote Play technology uses real-time video encoding over a low-latency network protocol that will typically deliver a 1080p 60 FPS image.

How to Play Steam Games on iPhone

If you got everything you need and want to play your Steam games on a phone or device running iOS, simply follow these steps:

  1. Start Steam on your main PC (the host machine); 
  2. Pair or connect a controller to your iPhone or iPad (if using any);
  3. a) Steam controller, any MFi controller, or a mouse and keyboard.
  4. Install and log into the Steam Link app on your iPhone or iPad;
  5. Wait for Steam Link to scan for and find your computer;
  6. Tap on the computer and wait for the connection to establish;

3 Install and log into the Steam Link app on your iPhone;

  1. Wait for Steam Link to scan for and find your PC;
  2. Click on ‘Start Playing’ and wait for a PIN to be generated;
  3. Enter the PIN into the pop-up window in your PC’s Steam client;
  4. Wait for the Big Picture Mode to start on the host and the client device;
  5. Browse your library, find a game you want to play, and press ‘Play’;
  6. Enjoy your favorite PC games anywhere in the house or on the road!

Note: The images shown on your main PC and your phone will be identical, so you can turn off your computer monitor to save electricity.

How to Play Steam Games on Android

The process to use Steam on an Android phone is identical to the one above after you look for and install Steam Link through the Google Play Store.

But, can you play Steam games on mobile without a PC? 

The answer is ‘yes’ with a good cloud gaming provider that offers your favorite games, as you can just stream them to your phone from remote data centers.

By default, when you stream Steam to your phone, you might get an inferior experience compared to what you enjoy on your PC. Thankfully, you can adjust your settings and follow a few tips and tricks to make your gaming sessions as entertaining as possible.

You can find several options within the mobile app that will directly impact the video quality when playing Steam games on your phone, the most important of which include:

  • Video—choose between ‘fast’ for lower resolution streams, ‘beautiful’ for best quality image, or ‘balance’ for a well-balanced streaming quality;
  • Audio—disable your audio to save on streaming bandwidth;
  • Microphone—same as the above;
  • Bandwidth Limit—adjust to be similar to or lower than your internet speed;
  • Framerate Limit—should not exceed your phone’s refresh limit;
  • Resolution Limit—should be equal to or lower than your phone resolution limit.

Note: The desktop app has additional settings under the ‘Remote Play’ tab of the ‘Settings’ menu that you can use to find the perfect balance between quality and performance.

2. Lower Your In-Game Graphics Settings

If you have a slower network and/or a less powerful host and client hardware, you can improve the speed and quality of your stream by lowering your in-game graphics settings. That way, Steam Link will use less bandwidth and accelerate the encoding process.

The graphics features that use the most bandwidth include the game’s resolution, max framerate, any syncing technology (VSync), and advanced rendering techniques.

Check our detailed guide on VSync to learn what it is and whether or not to use it.

3. Upgrade Your Network

Since you are streaming a media file in real time when playing Steam games on mobile, your stream quality will depend on your network’s bandwidth and stability.

To ensure your network speed does not bottleneck your stream, you should upgrade your network to Wi-Fi 6, as it offers better bandwidth and encoding than its precursor.

Moreover, Wi-Fi 6 comes with up to 75% less latency since it handles large amounts of traffic from several wireless devices more efficiently. So even if your family or roommates are using the same home wireless network, you will barely feel a performance impact.

Additionally, you can also check out our list of the best ways to improve your Wi-Fi speed.

However, if you are connecting to Steam Link from a remote location, your home upload speed and the remote connection download speed should be up for the challenge.

For the best streaming quality in such cases, look for a symmetrical internet connection of at least 50/50 Mbps for your host PC and a phone plan with sufficient download speeds.

4. Get Better Hardware

The video streamed to your client device is often of a lesser quality than the original since it’s compressed due to bandwidth considerations. Therefore, getting a top-tier PC is not the most important factor since you will still have to lower your graphics settings.

That said, you will need a sufficiently powerful machine to render the game and stream it at the same time, and any mid-tier modern system will do a good job of that.

The RTX and some GTX models of Nvidia graphics cards have a dedicated video encoder(NVENC) which makes them suitable for this task.

Wrapping Up

Gaming on Android and iOS is finally possible thanks to Steam Link and its Remote Play technology, and now that you know how to play steam games on your phone, all you need is a good controller, a fast enough network for a quality stream, and a couch to relax onto.

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Dejan Cvetnarevic

Dejan Cvetnarevic

Dejan is a techie at heart who always dreamed of turning his fascination with gaming into a career. He finds working for TechJury a perfect opportunity to express his views of all kinds of different software. Being an avid reader, particularly of fantasy and sci-fi, Dejan pursued a degree in English Language and Literature. When not at his computer, he’s watching sports or playing tabletop games.

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