Is A New iPhone A Must Have Gaming Device?

Is A New iPhone A Must Have Gaming Device?

So the iPhone 6 was announced today, alongside its big brother the iPhone 6 Plus. Both nice looking phones, but as someone who plays video games, or as someone who loves touch screen gaming, is it really necessary for us to upgrade to the latest model?

At this stage in the game, I’m not too sure. People who play video games tend to be early adopters of all new technology, but I’m not convinced that I need to move to the latest and greatest mobile phone in order to keep up to date with the cutting edge of mobile gaming.

It’s a strange situation because — I’d argue — the opposite is true when it comes to consoles, or even upgrading PCs. True upgrades in that department tend to be true generational shifts. Neglect to buy a PS4 or an Xbox One in the next few years and you will miss out on a number of must play video game experiences. I don’t think the same will ring true if you stick with your iPhone 5 or Nexus 4.

Why is that? There are a few factors at play here. I’d argue the primary reason is the rapid iteration of mobile phone technology. Almost every year on the dot Apple release a brand new phone. It took us almost a decade to shift from the Xbox 360 to the Xbox One. Can you imagine we’d done the same thing with video games? We’d literally be moving from flip-phones to an iPhone 5S. That thought is terrifying. Imagine making that leap with nothing inbetween? How could our brains even comprehend that technological leap.

Point being: consoles move in grand leaps, mobile phones move in increments. The games that will be made available on the iPhone 6 will most likely be playable, in some shape or form, on an iPhone 4 possibly. Of course there will be exceptions, particularly with high end games.

But for the most part, in gaming terms, I’m not really feeling the pressure to upgrade — and I’m rocking an iPhone 4S.

Because I’m starting to get the sense that the truly interesting mobile games are very rarely technological showcases. They are games that play clever tricks with controls, games that adapt the touch screen in innovative ways. Real Racing is great — truly incredible — but can it match the tactile pleasures of a game like Duet or Ziggurat? Games that were born and bred for touchscreen devices, as opposed to being an attempt to transfer an experience that works better elsewhere to touchscreen devices. If you’re the kind of person that wants to sit on the cutting edge of what video games are capable of, it’s those games that you want to be playing on a mobile device. The kind of games that don’t demand the latest and greatest technology.

It’s a generalisation — of course. And it is possible that mobile gaming will push forward with games that both innovate and push the envelope from a technological standpoint. But even if those games do exist, do you really want to be playing them on a small screen? Don’t you want to be playing those games on a tablet device? Maybe that’s the solution here: tablet for mobile gaming, mobile phone for functionality.

Maybe mobile gaming has outgrown mobile phones?


  • I made the leap from a 2002 candybar phone to a 2012 smartphone last year. It wasn’t that bad 😛

    • bahaha! I have a few friends who inexplicably still have old Nokias, the jump to a 2014 iPhone must be like discovering fire.

      • Not really. I can still make calls and still send messages just like I did before (albeit a bit slower – buttons are way better to use than touchscreens) except now if I’m out and about I can take a picture or recording of something if I need to.

        • If you have an Android phone, the stock keyboard has swipe typing built in. If you are using an iPhone that will get iOS8 you can also add a real keyboard. It’s so much faster than physical buttons.

          • I’ve tried Swype, I gave it a good few weeks before ditching it. Even slower on that than regular qwerty.

            T9 4eva.

          • If it’s slower than qwerty you’re doing it wrong. How can a gesture be slower than lifting and dropping your finger on multiple keys.

            TBH I’ve never used Swype though, I find the stock keyb fine.

          • The same way a person using two fingers on a keyboard will be faster than a person using one? Plus having my finger always on the screen means that the surface is constantly obscured, so I can’t see where it is I’m supposed to stop and change direction, and being a smooth flat surface I can’t go by feel either.

    • I made the leap this year, discarding my old Sony Ericsson for a new Samsung. Have to say, I’m using it for gaming more than phone calls and texts.

      At the same time, I kinda miss the old phone. Four or five day uptime without charging. FM radio. Small form that easily slips into your pocket. Buttons that you feel when you press them. Near indestructible body.

      Nah, I’m not going back. Smart is awesome.

  • Its an iphone.. id rather spend that money on a PS4 and a Xbone for the price the new iphone is going for.

  • For a certain type of gaming, I’d say yes. the kind of games i can play in quick bursts on a commute or waiting to meet a friend or sitting in a waiting room. But definitely not for something that benefits from controller feedback. No FPSs, or anything that requires you to manually navigate through a 3D world.

    • Or 2D world most of the time. Platforms do not mix well with phones. As you said, controller feedback is key

  • First things first… a new iPhone is definitely not a ‘must have’ for anything let alone gaming…

    Personally If I did want to waste over a grand on a device for gaming and it had to be portable I would buy a 3DS and pocket the savings or if it has to be a phone – those new Xperia’s (Z3?) with remoteplay to PS4 are more enticing.

    iOS gaming can be done better on an iPad or equally as good on the iPod without the need for an iPhone.

  • Did they announce a majority of the games on the PS vita and 3DS coming to the iPhone or something? Cause until that happens, then no

    • That seems to only be in terms of PC gaming. And measures “core” by how much time is spent gaming a week. Also this bit:

      Just FYI, In order to qualify as a core gamer for the survey, respondents had to currently play Action/Adventure, Fighting, Flight, Massively Multi-Player (MMO), Racing, Real Time Strategy, Role-Playing, Shooter, or Sport games on a PC/Mac.Platformers get no love.

      • They must of missed the platformers, but generally speaking they nailed the ‘core’ games vs the ‘casual’ games pretty well, Call of Duty is a core game, candy crush is a not

      • Yep sure is. Been enjoying that on my Galaxy S4 for about a year now I think? The standard i6 is 1,344 x 750 pixels. Their super i6 is 1,920 x 1080 pixels. NFC is interesting, or it was a few years ago when the Nexus did it. Infact, nearly EVERYTHING but the cpu in the iPhone 6 was awesome a few years ago when the Nexus 4 did it.

        Infact, they just created the Nexus 4. Well done Apple. Well done.

          • Have you used a Nexus or in fact any Android device lately? They do what they do pretty damn well.

            And that’s coming from a Moto G owner O_O

          • Yeah I work for a dev, we produce games on both iOS and droid. The high end droid devices are great, the hardware is just as good as apple, the problem is the general mess of the OS and development tools. In my opinion they will never sort it out until the software and hardware are treated as one, by one entity. I’m hoping sly dog Microsoft can come back with that strategy. Google is great at making innovative ideas and technical prowess, its not good at producing consumer products.

          • Except that Apple typically uses Samsung screens and Samsung ALWAYS saves the best for themselves such as the exo CPU and their screen.

            The difference between doing things first and doing them not as well the second time remains elusive to your kind.

          • Depends on your definitions of what doing something well is. Throwing ‘better’ or more hardware into a device doesn’t automatically make it a better experience.

  • I disagree with the premise; no-one is gonna buy a new phone to play games (maybe if you’re buying one for your kids?). That’s not why people buy phones; mobile gaming is incidental to smart phone usage.

    • People buy phones to play Ingress a fair bit. Best thing about upgrading mine was I could use it for Ingress instead of my N7. Lots of apple people bought a cheap but capable android device just to play.

  • I’m still getting a Note 4 because I lile shiny. I do miss old games on mobiles though. I got a Nokia N91 specifically because you could play Doom RPG on it and then loved the Metal Gear Solid mobile game on NGage. Annoyed as hell you can’t find those games anywhere now, and even if you could, wpuld they translate well to a touchscreen?

  • You wont go very far with iphone 4s. Iphone 6 is where the mobile gaming will really take off. Mark my words.

    • “iPhone 5s is where mobile gaming will truly take off!”
      “iPhone 5 is where mobile gaming will truly take off!”
      “iPhone 4s is where mobile gaming will truly take off!”
      “iPhone 4 is where mobile gaming will truly take off!”

      Same line, recycled every year, just change out the number and add or take an S. See you next year.

      • Mobile gaming HAS taken off. The mark of having ‘taken off’ isn’t people that identify themselves as gamers approving of it because it offers the same experiences that they familiar with.

      • Have you read the specs of the iphone plus? And all the list of devs supporting iphone 6? It seems like they put a lot of focus on gaming.

        • Sure have. They were ok. Nothing great. Ive owned iphones and Ive owned android phones but Im not wowed by them any more. Fact is that the specs are subpar. Other phones were doing it two years ago in terms of the 6 and 1 year ago and better for the 6 plus. Apple used to innovate they really did. Umfortunately theyre now playing catchup while their spindoctors convince people theyre leading the race.

          • When developing a game for android devices is as profitable as developing the same game for iPhone, I’ll consider android caught up! (btw, I’d really love that to happen!)

          • Haven’t seen the SGS5 yet? Slightly older now, still has superior specs. Check it out something. Hell, even the Nexus 4 has the features and specs of the iPhone 6 short of the cpu lol.

            Hell, most of your 12 month old HTC’s such as the One are still kicking its arse. Again, since Jobs turned his toes up, it’s been all about pumping out the mediocre hardware at maximum price.

          • But this is build with gaming in mind and its easy to develop games for. I dont remember any other iphone or any other android release with this much emhasis on game developing.

          • And this was a claim made every single time a smart phone comes out be it iphone or android or windows phone. Its a *really* tired claim.

  • Meh, I’ll never use my galaxy s4 (or upgrades) for gaming… not into touch screens. I don’t begrudge others if thats how they want to spend their time, but I don’t have a commute (my work is under 10 mins drive away) to use for gaming. I would spend that time listening to podcasts and/or reading game websites instead.

  • My phone is for calling people, receiving orders from my wife and writing stupid comments on Kotaku forums.

    My Xbone and PS4 are for gaming.

  • I use my mobile for music, YouTube and to read this website – for goodness sake please fix those Big Question articles!!!

  • No. iPhones have become the CoD of phones. Rinse. Repeat. Profit. I’d rather have DS3 controller with my Note 3 than get get this. Recently just changed to the Note after having an iPhone 5 and I won’t be getting any iPhone in the future

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