Picture this. You’ve just had a long, exhausting day at work and the only thing that has been on your mind is getting home to put in a bunch of laps at the Nordschleife.
Upon walking through the front door and slumping on the sofa, however, the energy required to jump into the sim rig and set it all up is too much to even consider. How do you get a racing fix that doesn’t require so much effort? Mobile racing games, of course.
There are too many titles to consider when browsing mobile application stores, so we’ve curated a list of 12 racing games you should check out.
All of our choices are free-to-play and available on both iOS and Android operating systems, and no doubt there are many other titles you may know of which should be considered for this video.
Let us know down in the comments below about what you’re currently playing, and if you like any of our recommendations.
Starting off with a game inspired by a well-known racing game franchise, Assoluto Racing is the closest experience you can get to Gran Turismo on your phone.
Not only does it have a wide variety of cars to drive and tracks to race on, but it also contains a driving school with disciplines similar to the License Tests on Sony’s title.
The handling characteristics are surprisingly decent, as you’re able to use assists like ABS, Traction Control and Steering Assist, and you can choose your preferred control scheme; such as tilt controls, wheel controls or button presses. Alongside the usual racing and rally series, you also have a drift series to participate in, which contains a score target rather than a timed lap target.
Even if the available circuits aren’t laser scanned, they are surprisingly detailed and accurate considering the hardware. At the time of writing, Assoluto is also the only mobile game that features the entirety of the Nordschleife to race on, so this may be a bonus for all you Nürburgring addicts.
Pixel Car Racer
Pixel Car Racer is one for all of you drag racing enthusiasts out there. Set in the luscious backdrop of Japan, tasks are simple to grasp but hard to master, as being fast requires some knowledge of transmission tuning.
Buy a brand-new car, earn money through drag races at Tsukuba, and buy upgrades to smash world records. Many parts of the car are customisable, down to the engine pistons themselves, body kits, turbochargers, nitrous, and even the most important part of any drag racing car out there, brakes.
Ok, maybe not the last one.
After placing some expensive parts on your car, the rate of acceleration gets faster, the sounds are accurate and your reaction times need to be quick to beat your opponents. The transmission will also need adjusting to crunch those seconds down, so if you’re experienced with these fiddly numbers you’ll already be way ahead of the pack.
Once you’re happy with the speed of your car, you can take part in three different tournaments that differ in their required classes and prize money. Win the finals, make bank, splash it out on your car, rinse and repeat. Pixel Car Racer is a nice game to pick up and play for a few minutes without needing a lot of your time to progress through.
Top Trumps meets time trial racing, that’s the description of this game in six words. Top Drives contains a gigantic car list that puts every other racing game to shame, with over 2000 licensed vehicles to choose from and collect.
The aim of the game is simple. You’re given a bunch of races that contain varying disciplines and it’s your job to choose which car should be selected for each one. Every car you have is represented by a card and contains different statistics, such as top speed, handling score, tyres, weight, drive traction and many more.
These races are hugely varied, as they may require lapping a karting track; competing in a hill climb; doing a 0-100mph sprint or navigating through tight mountain hairpins. Each can also contain varying track and weather conditions such as rain, snow, asphalt, or sand.
This game doesn’t require racing knowledge, but knowing which car to choose for the right track is key here. After choosing a lineup of cars for the races ahead, you can either manually pick which car should race where, or you can rely on the game’s recommended system that highlights the perfect match on the car for the current race.
Once your choices have been made, the races take place and the fastest car in each race is allocated points. Beat the opponent by a couple of seconds and you’re rewarded with 50 points. But beat them by minutes and you’re rewarded with even more.
After each race has finished, the scores are tallied up and the winner is declared, with prizes handed out ranging from currency that can open car packs, to cars themselves. It’s remarkably simple to play and doesn’t require a lot of car knowledge to get started.
Motorsport Manager 2
The Motorsport Manager series is approaching its 10-year anniversary, and we highly recommend giving its second title a go. You take the role as Team Principal and control every aspect of the team and car.
Unlike Frontier Developments’ F1 Manager, which focuses solely on the Formula One World Championship, you start out in the European Racing Series in Tier 3, progress into Tier 2 with the Asia-Pacific Super Cup, and eventually into Tier 1 with the World Motorsport Championship.
In between races, all aspects of the team are under your management, allowing you to choose where the development budget goes; control the firing and hiring engineers or drivers; allocate sponsors; build new car parts and much more.
When it comes to the race weekend however, there is little you can do to influence what’s on track, but you play a supportive role in directing your drivers on setups, pit stops and strategy. You can instruct your drivers to push aggressively by using more fuel and tyres or play the long game by conserving fuel and tyres.
The tracks are also accurate with the setup assessments, as a circuit containing multiple straights suit a car with a low cornering speed and a top speed focused gear ratio, and the opposite is true when it comes to circuits with more turns than an episode of The Good Place. A great substitute on your phone if you’re waiting for the next iteration in the F1 Manager series.
Horizon Chase was released to mobile platforms in 2015 and later came to PC and Consoles four years later as an enhanced version. The old retro arcade game influence behind the title is clear, as the incredibly basic mechanics, colourful graphics and nostalgic soundtrack come together to deliver a wonderful experience.
The aim is simple, come first in the race and collect blue tokens while starting from the back of the pack. Trying to overtake the opposition is not an easy job, however, as any collision with a vehicle or scenery can lead to many lost positions, especially when you rear-end an opponent and lose all your speed.
Time your boost well, keep on top of your fuel and pass safely, that’s all the advice you need for reaching the podium. Make sure to also check out our review of the Senna Forever DLC in this title, as it’s a great tribute to the late legend.
And if you love this game and have an apple arcade subscription, why not try Horizon Chase 2?
Mario Kart Tour
There is an exceptionally low chance that you haven’t heard about Mario Kart throughout your life, and the mobile iteration matches the quality of the rest of the series. Mario Kart Tour features everything from the previous outings, but contains an array of new tracks, a different control style and – disappointingly – a micro-transaction system.
Regardless, you can still happily play without needing to pay a single penny, as the available items in the shop are characters, vehicles, and cosmetics, all of which are earnable through playing the game.
When it comes to gameplay, everything is similar asides from the controls. Your kart automatically accelerates while you control the steering through either the gyro or button presses.
The controls themselves are rather fiddly to begin with and does need some time to get used to, but this is aided by an arrow in front of your vehicle. There are cups to complete, daily challenges to join in with and multiplayer races to jump into and play. Good fun to be had on this, as it literally is Mario Kart in your pocket.
Data Wing offers an incredibly challenging experience throughout its retro-futuristic computerised landscape. The story mode is simple; you guide a triangle-shaped spaceship through a minimalistic layout by using left and right buttons while trying to complete the track in a set amount of time.
It is very tricky to control the ship as it glides within each circuit, but the way forward is by drifting close to the walls, as they act as a propellor for your ship. This method requires some time to master, but the speed you gain from these risky manoeuvres becomes incredibly satisfying.
Completing each level unlocks dialogue by an AI character known as Mother, as they slowly unravel the storyline around the world of Data Wing. Once you get past the fiddly controls and master the technique, the experience provides a great atmosphere throughout its neon-based graphics and vaporwave soundtrack.
There’s not much more to say about this game other than give it a try, as the story mode only has around two hours of gameplay. Well worth your time.
Tofu Drifter literally does what it says on the tin: deliver Tofu and drift. This title can arguably not be classed as a racing game considering there are no time limits or opponents to race, but a simple to control drifting game is always welcome.
You operate a Tofu production facility with the ability for upgrades and it is your job to deliver these packages to customers in the middle of nowhere along extensive winding roads. Drift along said roads to earn money and points, prevent your car from crashing to not damage the food and yeet these packages to the customers upon arrival.
The aim here is to gain high scores by delivering packages, collecting coins or stars, and earning long chains of drifts. Use the score to improve your facility, either by upgrading its production speed, storage area, garage capabilities or job opportunities.
There are a multitude of cars to unlock, each containing an array of statistics, with a variety of roads to travel down; including country, snow, or dangerous trails, with and without traffic. It’s a fun little pick-up-and-play game with a lot of charm.
Real Racing 3
Real Racing 3 contains a gigantic array of licensed cars and tracks to race on, arguably the most in any mobile racing game. You can race in huge series such as F1, Formula E, IMSA, the World Endurance Championship and more, while driving on well-known tracks such as Spa-Francorchamps, Mount Panorama, Daytona International Speedway and the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit.
Each series contains different disciplines to compete in, where trophies can be earned to unlock further races and money that can be used to unlock more cars.
While its lineup is impressive, it could be argued the racing itself does not match this quality. There are a lot of options to choose from in terms of your preferred control method; like gyro steering, buttons, or a wheel, all of which contain varying steering sensitivity, with braking, steering and traction assists.
The cars themselves are tricky to control, as it seems to force the car into a drift if you’re steering is too tight and the braking assists do more harm than good. Regardless, the sheer number of things to do in this title is monumental and the developers deserve bonus points for creating a platform containing multiplayer racing on real tracks in real cars all on your phone.
As for all of you rally enthusiasts out there, CarX Rally provides the perfect scratch to that itch. The variety of cars is what you’d expect from a regular rally game, consisting of low-powered front-wheel drive examples to start your career, to rear-wheel drive beasts and modern-day all-wheel drive machines, all of which can be upgraded and tweaked to your liking.
There are licenses to earn, championships, challenges and special stages to race upon, and the tracks themselves are well-made with colourful scenery decorating the surrounding landscape.
Car handling also feels quite realistic, as a RWD car feels harder to control a FWD, and small bumps when going off-track can send your car into a barrel roll.
After resetting onto the stage, your car does show damage and may end up with a loss in performance, or even its headlights, making driving in the dark particularly precipitous. Car servicing can be done at any point outside of a race, but this comes with the annoying cost of a time limit.
The biggest negative about the game is its co-driver, as the calls are confusing when compared to other rally titles. Corners that can be called as flat lefts or rights are called as 7, 8 or 9’s and junctions are named as crossings represented by an X symbol. Additionally, square corners don’t exist and the call timings can be irregular.
Still though, the negatives do not detract from the realistic mobile rally experience this game has to offer.
Hill Climb Racing 2
The first Hill Climb Racing game has been around for over 10 years now, but it’s the sequel that has made the biggest impact in the series. The races are simple, take a vehicle of your choice and compete throughout a multitude of environments against opponents.
Win races and you earn coins which can be spent on upgrades or unlocking more vehicles. There isn’t one car that does every track well however, so having a few upgraded cars in your arsenal that have advantages on each track is key here.
The different vehicles to choose from are vastly different from each other. The Formula car comes with the fastest speed but has a long wheelbase and small tyres, alongside an incredibly expensive price tag, whereas the Super Diesel is the perfect cheap option for tracks that require tonnes of manoeuvrability but falls behind when it comes to those environments that require speed.
If we had to pick one car as an all-rounder favourite however, we would go with the Rotator, as it’s able to drive upside down and protects the avatar from death by colliding with the scenery. But if you would rather drive alone, there is the adventure mode which is all about survival.
The aim is to keep your car going for as long as possible while picking up fuel cans along the way, as the track gets progressively windier and harder to navigate through. A great pick-up and play game for those with limited time.
Jet Car Stunts 2
The last game on this list is Jet Car Stunts 2. With a multitude of levels to tackle and cars to drive, this arcade time-trial racer is one for those looking for a challenge. Its tight tracks and fast-natured control method is incredibly difficult to get used to, but it becomes rewarding after enough time spent in the game.
The controls on offer are gyro based, which is unfortunate news for those phones that lack the feature. The cars have phenomenal cornering speed and require small adjustments to maintain traction.
Tilting your phone left or right steers the car while tilting your phone up and down adjusts its pitch. Combine pitch with afterburner thrust and you’re able to fly across the map and through obstacles while in the air. It’s a very tricky experience to get right but incredibly fun once a few hours are spent getting used to its controls.
There we have it, 12 free racing games available to play on your mobile phone. Please let us know down in the comments section below if there are any others you would’ve liked to see on this list, or if there are any games we’ve recommended that now have a special place on your phone.