There are lots of people out there that enjoy the simple pleasures of mobile games. Whether it’s a quick arcade-style experience (like Angry Birds or Pac-Man), or something with a greater sense of depth (such as the multiplayer friendly hits Call of Duty and Among Us), there’s literally something for everyone.
That said, there is some debate as to which iPhone is really best for gaming. Some people prefer to default to the latest model – the iPhone 13 – for such an argument, thanks to its updated technology. But there are other factors to consider, especially for those that can’t really afford to pick one up.
In this post, we’ll explore the factors that come into play when it comes to picking up the right iPhone for the job, as well as some alternative options available for those that don’t want to download a gaggle of apps. Convenience certainly goes a long way here – and offers up some tremendous gaming experiences you might not expect from a mobile device.
- The Technical Side of Things
- Cheaper Devices Don’t Mean Your Out of Luck
- What Kind of Controls Do You Want To Use?
- Cloud Gaming Services Add Bang For Your Buck
- General Recommendations
Most of the time, games have no trouble running on iPhones. In fact, universally accepted titles like Angry Birds and Pac-Man can still run easily on older models without breaking a sweat. The newer games, however…that’s a different story.
For example, Genshin Impact, a beautiful 3D adventure featuring heroes venturing into a fantasy world, has requirements on the App Store front. It needs devices that are currently running on iOS 9.0, including iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
The good news is that newer devices in Apple’s line-up have gone well past this, so the game should run fine on them. Older models, however, may have an issue. The iPad 2 model (released wayyyyy back in 2011), for example, still has iOS 9. But it may have trouble running newer games like Call of Duty Mobile.
Technology has come a long way over the years, as has mobile gaming. It’s become more advanced with 3D adventures that, in some cases, match up with what we’ve seen on game consoles and PC.
It really depends on what kind of gaming you’re into. If you prefer older titles, you should have no problem playing with an older iOS-based model – even the “thick” Apple iPhones can access a large number of classic games. However, if you’re after the newer games, you might want to leave the iPad 2 behind and go for something more high-powered.
We know that Apple’s iPad 13 and newest iPad Pro aren’t exactly the cheapest models out there. We’re talking just about a thousand dollars in price (depending on the model), and that’s a steep price to pay when you’re just looking for something that can handle the latest Angry Birds.
It’s here that older devices can actually be useful. A number of companies out there (including us) sell refurbished iPhones and iPads for an affordable price. And they’re still highly respectable, good running portable devices that should cover your needs.
But here’s what’s interesting – older devices can actually run some games that the newer ones can’t. That’s due to the fact that some games aren’t updated to run on the new iOS system. As a result, you might need to whip out that iPhone 4 in order to enjoy a round of Marvel’s X-Men (arcade) and Namco Museum. It’s up to the developers to update their games accordingly; and if they don’t, they won’t run on the newest iPhone or iPad.
Not to mention the rise of cloud services, which we’ll get to later. Though it varies in performance with older models, iPhones and iPads can connect easily with these services. This opens up gaming choice even further, without the need for next-gen technology.
So, no, if you go with an older device, it’s not the end of the world. There are some game experiences that you’ll miss, but you’ll still have a bounty to choose from overall. (That is, if your model connects to the App Store – we’re hearing the very first iPhone and iPad can’t really cut it anymore.)
If there’s one thing a lot of players have learned to accept enjoying mobile games, it’s touch screen controls. Most games have adapted to these as of late, with touch-screen functionality working in various ways. Call of Duty Mobile, for example, enables movement and other actions with a few presses of the screen.
It can get complicated with higher-end games, such as Genshin Impact, forcing the player to adapt to how it’s set up. But, fortunately, there’s a way to connect a gamepad to your iPad or iPhone devices. These could be a PlayStation controller, an Xbox controller (which works really well), an Apple gamepad or a variety of other wireless devices. They connect easily via Bluetooth, so you’ll want to make sure it’s turned on.
Controllers can provide a world of difference to some gamers, as there’s just no way to play certain games properly with a touch-screen. (Capcom’s Street Fighter IV comes to mind, forcing players to perform strange functions to execute special moves.) And, fortunately, they have just as much effectiveness working on some older devices (yours may vary) as they do new ones.
Obviously, it’s up to the player what type of control they want to use. If they’re happy with simple touch controls, that’s fine. Some games, like The Pinball Arcade and Angry Birds, even thrive because of this set-up. But others require something a little deeper, especially if they’re playing a truly involved first-person shooter.
As we stated, though, most iPhone and iPad models adapt easily to a controller due to Bluetooth connectivity. You’ll want to check your model type to be sure, but this shouldn’t get in the way of enjoying some games. Just keep in mind that newer end technology will help certain ones run better, though.
If you’ve got a newer iPad or iPhone device, you can really take cloud gaming a long way. It’s a service in which you can enjoy games without the need to install them (though in some cases that’s optional). All you need is a good wireless connection and you can enjoy a variety of games.
With these services, however, you’ll need to keep a couple of things in mind. First off, the newer the device, the better. Xbox Cloud Gaming, a service launched by Microsoft as part of its Game Pass Ultimate, seems custom built for new devices. It requires iOS 12 for its app to run, but it offers a wealth of playable next-gen titles. These include Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5 and over a hundred others. It’s a truly “ultimate” way to enjoy gaming on your device – though, trust us, you’ll want to get a controller for it. It runs $15 a month, and keep in mind this is across all devices, including Xbox consoles.
For those that prefer something a little more casual, there’s Apple Arcade. Launched last year, Apple’s indie-friendly service runs $5 a month and requires iOS 13, so older devices won’t play it. However, those that subscribe will find a number of neat little titles to enjoy. These include Sega’s Sonic Racing, NBA 2K22 Arcade Edition and over 50 others. The titles change frequently each month, so there’s always something new to enjoy.
When it comes to cloud gaming, the newer devices are the best way to go. Not only will they easily accept the services, but they’ll provide hundreds of games to enjoy each month. Again, you will require an online connection (though Apple Arcade does allow game downloads for offline play). But if you have that (and, again, a controller), you’ll find plenty of game experiences here.
In the end, it really comes down to what kind of gaming machine you want. Do you want something that feeds those hardcore desires to nuke alien enemies from orbit? Or are you content on simply conquering a retro-style adventure?
For those that prefer older games, there’s nothing wrong with a “classic” iPhone or iPad. Sure, they look bulky compared to newer devices, and some might even wonder why you haven’t upgraded. But not only are they serviceable for enjoying some classic favorites, but it’s also the only way to access older App Store games – provided they’re still accessible. (Your device may vary.)
However, if it’s a high-end, next-gen gaming experience you’re looking for, it’s time to upgrade. Newer devices are the way to go here. Not only do they have the technology to handle high-end titles, but you can also access cloud services. These really open up the potential of your device, all without hogging your precious hard drive space. You just need to make sure you’re prepared with a good controller and an even better Wi-Fi connection.
For example, here are some of the tech specs for a couple of newer generation iPhones when it comes to gaming.
- 6.1‑inch (diagonal) all-screen LCD Multi-Touch display with IPS technology
- 1792‑by‑828‑pixel resolution at 326 ppi
- A13 Bionic chip
- 6-core CPU with 2 performance and 4 efficiency cores
- 4-core GPU
- 8-core Neural Engine
While the iPhone 11 may no longer be “the new kid on the block” as it were, its processing chip still makes it pretty ideal for running 3D games at a decent speed. We checked out a session of Call of Duty Mobile with it recently and barely found any hiccups to speak of.
- 5.4-inch (diagonal) all-screen OLED display
- 2340-by-1080-pixel resolution at 476 ppi
- A15 Bionic chip
- New 6‑core CPU with 2 performance and 4 efficiency cores
- New 4‑core GPU
- New 16‑core Neural Engine
While these may look similar, you’ll notice that the iPhone 13 has a much stronger (but smaller) display, along with improved Bionic chip and Neural Engine. This, in turn, allows for better performance with certain games – hence why the device is such a hot seller these days.
That comes a long way from the old iPhone 5, which ran on a PowerVR based GPU and a 1.3 GHz dual core 32-bit ARMv7-A “Swift” set. That sounds like technical jargon, but it shows just how much the iPhone model has evolved – and how older phones can’t really handle new games that well. (Angry Birds, though? Totally fine!)
Once you’ve figured out what type of games you want to play, you can get your device and enjoy your favorites for hours on end. And if you need help finding something that’s a little more in your price range, check out our refurbished store! We offer guaranteed devices for a fraction of the price, so you can buy more energy drinks and game well into the night!
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