Last updated on January 22, 2024

Mobile Garrison - Illustration by Cliff Childs

Mobile Garrison | Illustration by Cliff Childs

We might be a bit late to the party, but MTG Arena has finally arrived in the mobile scene. Woo! Rejoice! It’s finally time to have Arena at the tip of our fingertips literally all the time. You thought you were addicted to the gigantic trading card game before? Think again. It’s only going to get worse from here.

That’s getting a bit ahead of ourselves, though. Arena was released for early access on January 28, 2021. There was a bit of a catch, though: it was only for Android devices. And only certain Android devices, on top of that.

Wizards has expanded a bit since the original announcements and release, and they’re planning to expand MTGA mobile throughout 2021. There’s lots going on here and lots to talk about, so let’s just get right into it.

How We Got Here: A Brief History of MTG Arena on Android

Historian of Zhalfir - Illustration by Denman Rooke

Historian of Zhalfir | Illustration by Denman Rooke

All right, so Arena players have been clamoring for MTGA to expand into the mobile market for quite some time. We’ve touched on it before, but players have been wondering about a mobile release since before Wizards announced their release for Mac OS. That was back in June 2020, and it isn’t even where this story starts.

As far back as 2018, Reddit threads popped up discussing the possibility of Arena moving over to mobile devices. Questions would continue about half a year after that, and then again in June 2019. Nobody got any answers until a 2019 earnings call with Brian Goldner, the Hasbro Chairman and CEO, revealed that they were planning on release Arena to mobile in 2020. They obviously missed the mark a bit, but it was the first bit of official news the community had heard on the matter.

Then, during the NY Toy Fair in February 2020, we got our first piece of real, concrete information: Wizards’ President and CEO hammered in on their intention to launch Arena on mobile in 2020. There weren’t really any details, but we did get some nice screenshots of the potential interface and what it would look like.

Arena’s April 2020 State of the Game mentioned mobile as an “in concept” project with a handful of details, but basically confirmed that we wouldn’t get anything more until fall of 2020. They did reconfirm their intention to release it that year, though. We finally got some good stuff with Kaldheim’s event, and then Wizards confirmed the early release at the beginning of January.

That was… a lot. This has been a long time coming, but we’re finally here. At least for some of us. Arena was only available for some Android devices that met the “planned Android recommended specs,” but an iOS version was paired with the full release on March 25, 2021.

What We Have: MTG Arena on the Google Play Store

Weaver of Currents - Illustration by Winona Nelson

Weaver of Currents | Illustration by Winona Nelson

Like I’ve mentioned a couple times, the early access version of Android’s MTG Arena was released on January 28. There were… a lot of issues, to put it mildly. Some people had trouble finding and downloading the app, while other players couldn’t log in or just generally experienced plenty of bugs and glitches as they tried to play, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

There have been some changes between the early access and the full release, which happened on March 25. Increased overall performance, a higher FPS, a wider range of aspect ratios, greater connection stability, and a ton of bug fixes were just some of Wizards’ mentioned improvements.

How to Get Arena on the Google Play Store

This is still progress. At least we finally have Arena on mobile, for both Android and iOS devices. If you still haven’t gotten it yet, go on and take a look.

MTG Arena listing on the Google Play Store

Isn't it… beautiful?

Supported Devices

The supported devices have been greatly expanded since the early access. Obviously there’s the iOS release, but you’re also able to get both Android and iOS versions on your tablet as well as your phone.

Here’s a quick list of known supported devices, and I’m going to steal Wizards’ little disclaimer along with it:

  • Asus ROG Phone 3
  • Asus ROG Phone II
  • Google Pixel 3
  • Google Pixel 2
  • Honor Play 4
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro
  • Huawei Mate 30 Pro 4G
  • Huawei Mate 30 Pro 5G
  • Huawei P20 Pro
  • Huawei P30 Pro
  • LG G7 ThinQ
  • Motorola One 5G
  • OnePlus 6T
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
  • OnePlus 8
  • Oppo Reno 3 Vitality
  • Oppo Reno 3 5G
  • Realme v3
  • Redmi 10X Pro 5G
  • Redmi K30 5G Racing
  • Samsung Galaxy A71 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9
  • Samsung Galaxy S10
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+ 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy S9
  • Sony Xperia XZ2
  • Sony Xperia XZ3
  • Vivo Y70s
  • Xiaomi Redmi K30 Ultra

Important Note: Due to the wide variety and variability of mobile devices, we are unable to provide a comprehensive list of supported devices. Below is a sample list of known supported devices, assuming standard configuration. Please refer to your phone's software and system information when checking for compatibility.

Recommended Specs

If you want to double check if your phone or tablet would be able to run Arena’s app, here’s the recommended specs:

  • Android Version: 6.0 (Marshmallow) or newer
  • RAM: 4GB or more
  • Graphics API: OpenGL ES 3.0
  • Texture Compression: ETC2
  • Recommended Chipsets:
    • Kirin 960
    • Snapdragon 835
    • Exynos 8895

So What's the Android Experience Really Like?

MTGA mobile app - welcome page

The app honestly looks pretty good. When it’s working, that is. It’s not super well optimized. I had a lot of problems getting through games when I first started playing, and the first game I tried with Sparky when I booted it up again to get some more screenshots crashed on turn 2. So I guess I’m glad it was just a bot match, but that still isn’t great. It was also stuttering, slow, and laggy before it finally died.

MTGA mobile app - empty match

To be fair, I’ve managed to play plenty of games without these issues. The problem is that the crashing definitely happens more often than it does on the desktop version, and you’re going to lose games because of it. Whether you time out because the app froze and you can’t do anything or the whole thing just straight up closes and you basically concede the match, it’s not a fun time.

MTGA mobile app - turn 2 match

The UI is pretty good, though. It’s easy to navigate. Sometimes it’s hard to get a look at the cards in your hand and if you have issues with visual cues like I do, it’s going to be something of a learning curve and you’ll be confused quite a bit until you get the hang of it. You might want to play some matches with Sparky until you’ve got it down.

MTGA mobile app - daily quests

The bigger problem is that things do glitch. Like, a lot. Entirely too much. Half the time when I go back to the Home page, my daily and weekly wins are just not there. They’ve disappeared into the multiverse somewhere, off to become planeswalkers themselves maybe. My “All Play Modes” option has spontaneously turned itself off a few times, leaving me wondering where all the events have run off to.

MTGA mobile app - zoomed card

When it works, though, it looks good. I have to admit that they did a good job of preserving the pretty look you get in MTG Arena on the mobile version. Obviously there aren’t quite as many nice-to-look-at graphic shenanigans, but there’s just enough flair to feel like the same game as MTG Arena.

The Real Showdown: Mobile vs. Desktop

Some corners obviously have to be trimmed in order to fit Arena into a mobile app. I already mentioned that some of the extravagant graphics were cut down, but what other differences are there other than just the aesthetics? Aside from bugs and glitches that shoot things off into oblivion, not that much.

According to Wizards’ FAQ for Arena mobile, “everything currently available in MTG Arena (is available on MTG Arena mobile).. including all the current cards, sets, formats, events, the Mastery system, direct challenge, deck building, daily deals, and more!” They’ve also got cross-platform support between PC, Mac, and mobile. But that’s just their publicity speaking. What about what doesn’t work?

The big thing is that you’re not able to redeem codes through the mobile app. Seems like it would really easy and simple, and yet it’s not a thing. You’re also not able to edit your decks in landscape mode. If you make purchases in the store, you’re making it through the Google Play Store instead of directly with Arena, so make sure you’ve got your payment methods set up properly.

And that’s basically it. Like I said, most things are available to you on the app. You might run into issues with things disappearing or not working properly, but they’re definitely there. It’s just that sometimes they’re not. That’ll get fixed eventually, so this is definitely a good foundation for Arena’s foray into the mobile market.

Some quick things to keep in mind aside from straight differences:

  • You can only be logged in to one platform at a time. If you log in to the app on your phone, you’ll be logged out of the desktop platform and vice-versa.
  • You’ll need to download over 2 gigs of data the first time you download the app.
  • Don’t use the app to participate in Magic eSports. The Digital Magic Tournament Rules specifically state that you’ll be responsible for any disconnects or issues, so you won’t be able to get refunds or extra chances if you try to play on mobile and it crashes or freezes on you.

Let’s Speculate About the Future

Quiet Speculation - Illustration by John Avon

Quiet Speculation | Illustration by John Avon

Time for a bit of speculation! This is always fun. When will Arena mobile be available on more devices? What other devices could it be released on? What kind of improvements will we see on the app, and what new features might be added in the future? I’ll lay off the bugs and issues for just a bit and focus on what other things we might see come out of MTG Arena mobile.

Wizards has managed to cover most devices in their initial launch. Like I mentioned earlier when we went over the supported devices and recommended specs, there’s a huge variety when it comes to mobile devices, so Wizards can’t possibly give us a full list of compatible devices. Which also means that a pretty big chunk of unnamed Android phones, tablets, etc. can support the MTG Arena app.

I don’t think that we’re going to get a wider variety of supported devices or a less demanding set of specs, at least not anytime soon. There’s plenty of stuff that needs to be fixed in the app and I think Wizards is going to focus on that for the time being.

So, I wouldn’t hold out hope for any extra device support if you’re not able to use the app right now. It probably won’t happen and, if it does, I don’t think it’ll happen for a while.

The Community’s Response to MTG Arena on Android

Mage-Ring Responder - Illustration by Adam Paquette

Mage-Ring Responder | Illustration by Adam Paquette

Time outs, confusion regarding the layout and interface, crashing, errors, and more complaints are somewhat common. Just take a look at how many r/MagicArena’s threads complaining about issues there are.

I’ve already harped on the app quite a bit, though. Let’s take a look at some common reviews and trends that pop up over and over again, shall we?

Yes, okay, it’s glitchy. From parts of the UI disappearing to the game just straight up freezing, you’re more likely to run into some kind of glitch than not. Some of them are just kind of annoying, while others are very much app-breaking or will cause you to lose a match.

The mobile experience is still new, so there’s plenty of time for things to get better. What we do have is still pretty good and it’s pretty seamless a decent chunk of the time.

If you take a look at the reviews on Google Play, it’s mostly positive. There’s plenty of 5-star reviews with a much smaller mix of 1- and 2-star reviews. Some of the 1-star reviews are also complaining about things that have more to do with how MTG Arena is set up in and of itself than the app. The most common comment is that the app definitely needs work but is promising and could be great with some improvement, which I agree with.

The app is kind of a mess right now, which is disappointing considering how long it took us to get it. But now we have it, and it’s still playable and can be improved. The biggest issue is the space it takes up on your phone. The initial patch is huge, and every subsequent patch is just going to eat up more and more space.

Before we move on to wrapping all this up, let’s hear a quick word from the Draftsim head man, Dan Troha:

I think they did an amazing job overall implementing mobile on the first pass. The app is intuitive to use, it really feels like MTGA and real Magic, and they manage to handle complex board states really well. I wouldn't use it to play in a tournament or do serious practice, but otherwise you really now can engage with Magic in a more relaxed and casual way.

My biggest complaints are the drafting (can't send to sideboard) and deckbuilding, plus how finicky it is sometimes to play cards from your hand.

Wrap Up

Nightmarish End - Illustration by Willian Murai

Nightmarish End | Illustration by Willian Murai

With all of that, my contribution to this discussion has come to an end. I hope Wizards continues to fix the problems with the mobile version of Arena and maybe expand to more devices. The app definitely requires some heavy lifting from your device, so I’m not super hopeful that we’ll ever see it truly expand to older or less “advanced” phones. Even if they can hack it in theory, it’s more about the device’s long-term ability to handle it.

What are your thoughts on all of this? Are you hopeful that we’ll get some actual fixes for the app, or do you think we’re just going to have to learn to work around the bugs and crashes? Let me know in the comments down there! You can also head over to our discord if you wanna chat over some more complicated stuff with the community.

I’d be remiss to have talked about MTG Arena this whole time and not bring up Arena Tutor. It might be purely for the desktop version right now, but maybe we’ll expand into the mobile market eventually? Who knows! Certainly not me.

That’s about all the promo I can take, though. Thanks for hanging out with me through this adventure, hopefully you learned something interesting. I can’t say I learned anything new about Wizards or their products, but it was definitely a ride.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and we’ll see you in the next one!

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  • Avatar
    Constance June 13, 2021 3:45 pm

    I’d love to be a beta tester

  • Avatar
    Chet ryder June 15, 2021 7:28 pm

    If you need someone to test a version more android friendly id love to test it. I so want to play with my friends its the perfect mobile game. I mean perfect. It looks so fluid if its as smooth as it appears i imagine its the best mobile game type available.

  • Avatar
    Keith Sauer September 28, 2021 8:58 pm

    Is the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G smartphone supported? It’s NOT on the list, but if the Samsung Galaxy 20 Ultra is, then I would THINK that an even more powerful phone could run the MTG Arena mobile app — but can anyone out there CONFIRM that it works on the S21 Ultra 5G?

    • Avatar
      Dan Troha September 29, 2021 8:57 am

      If you try it, let us know! It’s hard to keep all future hardware versions updated of every single Android phone, so it’s very likely that something more powerful will work.

  • Avatar
    Simon November 9, 2021 10:47 am

    Why is it not compatible with Xiaomi mi 10t lite ?

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