In these days when Apple is the protagonist of current technology, some media headlines have reported how The iPhone 15 Pro is “the best game console” according to Apple. Of course a company defends its products and Apple would never say “the iPhone 15 Pro is a nice console, although certainly nothing like the Switch”, but that attribution is not exactly the case.
The phrase in question comes from an interview by IGN with Tim Millet, Jeremy Sandmel and Kaiann Drance, directors and VPs of Apple. Right at the end, Jeremy says “I think they say the best game console is the one you have with you”, to which Kaiann adds “yeah, that’s the new trend”, and Jeremy ends with “it’s going to be the best game console “.
Nuances aside, we have tested what this new iPhone 15 Pro can offer to put itself at a certain level of the consoles.
Less ambitious games in the absence of AAA
In our case, we have tested with the iPhone 15 Pro Max. The ‘Max’ tag means that it has a larger screen for when we want to play directly with it, but nothing more. Pro and Pro Max share a chip and connector, which is the key to this matter.
The—forced—jump from Lightning to USB-C allows us to connect the iPhone to a monitor or television, making it easier to send the image. USB-C supports faster transfer speeds on Pro models than previous iPhones with Lightning. And also, unlike with Lightning and the MFi program, there are no restrictions for this connector: We can connect practically any peripheral.
The addition of this connector and the A17 Pro chip, built in 3 nanometers, with a redesigned 6-core GPU, AV1 codec and hardware-accelerated ray tracing, have taken gaming on the iPhone one step further. Although there are issues to be resolved.
First of all, we have tried connecting the iPhone via an HDMI/USB-C cable to a television. And here come the first differences: the experience is much better than doing it via AirPlay, even using a recent generation Apple TV 4K. It’s a reminder that wireless is very convenient, but nothing as reliable as wired.
Through AirPlay we see constant small stops, with the sensation of playing in fits and starts. You can play like that, of course, but always with a little frustration in the background. With the cable, fluidity is total.
Asphalt 9. You can see the iPhone in the lower left corner. Image: Xataka.
What have we played? To various titles, from Asphalt 9 to GRID Autosport to INSIDE. But this is something that already existed: the arrival of USB-C makes it easier to play them fluidly on an external screen. If Apple is dropping the concept of the iPhone as a console, it is for another reason.
With the arrival of the 15 Pro, Apple announced the future launch of AAA games such as Resident Evil 4 Remake, Death Stranding or Assassin’s Creed Mirage. Not cut versions, but the titles directly brought to the iPhone (only 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max, mind you). Some will also incorporate ray tracing. That’s when things get really interesting.
The controller used was one for Xbox Series X|S. iOS also pairs with those of PlayStation 4 and 5, or with third-party controllers such as Razer, Backbone and company.
In our case, the disappointment has come when trying to play titles that incomprehensibly do not support external controls. Like eFootball 2024, a much less viable game without a controller. It’s supposed to arrive in winter. We will see.
The eFootball 2024’s graphics aren’t comparable to a current-gen console, but they might be enough for certain types of players. It does not yet support compatibility with external controls, so the capture is directly on the iPhone. Image: Xataka.
More detail about the eFootbal 2024 graphics. Image: Xataka.
Other details also suggest that it is up to the developers to adapt the games to this experience. For example, hiding the bottom bar that anticipates the application closing gesture. Or with adapting screen resolution, game resolution and frame rate for the exact screen the iPhone is connected to.
INSIDE. Image: Xataka.
We also depend on having chosen the correct cable. With support in terms of resolution, refresh rate and HDR. Not everyone will give us the best experience.
Then there are other factors such as heat dissipation. At this point perhaps it would be ideal for us to see, from Apple or – more likely – from third parties, the appearance of docks designed to play in this way: that allow the iPhone to be placed in an appropriate position, give order to the furniture on which it rests. , and above all, include a cooling system, especially if we are heading towards more and more AAA games reaching the Pro models.
The iPhone, especially limiting it to the Pro family, is taking steps to be more than just a support for casual games in waiting rooms, or for more developed and complex games that can be handled with touch controls.
Apple tried something similar when it launched the 4th generation Apple TV in 2015, also orienting it as a family console, successor to the Wii. He did not succeed, among other reasons, due to an absurd restriction that condemned him from the beginning: it required developers that their games could be played not only with an external controller, but also with the Siri Remote, which has many benefits but is a good video game controller is not among them.
It was the consequence of making a half-hearted bet, conservatively, putting the universality of the game before giving developers enough room so that they could focus on good console-style games that needed a controller to be played. because they have a depth that made it impossible for the Siri Remote to be the ceiling.
If Apple is able to make a real bet now, it has many more opportunities to become more relevant in the video game industry. Hardly anyone is going to get rid of their Xbox or PlayStation to play only with their iPhone connected to the TV and an external controller. But if AAA proposals and the correct support continue to arrive, it can be a great complement. And in the long term, even something more.
Not only for intensive gamers, but so that households that do not have a console because they do not aim so high do see it appropriate to get one or two controllers and take advantage of their iPhone for certain games.
This first proposal is quite convincing, especially considering that we have literally tested it on the launch day of the iPhone Pro, with everything to come. If more studios are betting on iOS for their AAA and are serious about adapting the game to controls and external screens, why not.
And above all, if Apple allows the external controller to be a requirement, such as having an iPhone 15 Pro and not any other. For inside the home we have options like those from Sony and Microsoft. Outside, those from Backbone that recreate them.
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Featured image | Xataka.