In Part 1, we explored the games and Apple’s new API itself. Now, we’ll explore the tools of the trade. As I said in my post a few months back, it doesn’t really matter how good the games are on iOS if the control experience is subpar. While the touchscreen is great for Candy Crush or Angry Birds, trying to play a console-style game quite frankly sucks. With these new game controllers, you get the whole console experience from your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. Enough of the introduction, let’s move on to the controllers. There’s a mix of standard and extended, Bluetooth and Lightning.
When it comes to iOS gaming, your best bet is going to be one of the Lightning-connected devices. At this stage, the controller landscape is also heavily weighted towards those devices with 4-inch screens. That means the iPhone 5S, 5C, or 5th generation iPod Touch. The now-discontinued iPhone 5 also works since it shares case dimensions with the 5S and its chipset with the 5C. Apple’s A7, which has a custom 64-bit ARMv8 CPU and PowerVR series 6 “Rogue” graphics, is going to be by far and away your best option. That being said, the 5-series SGX543 in the A5 of the iPod, and A6 of the 5 and 5C is no slouch either. The difference between the two being that the A5 has 2 graphics cores while the A6 has 3. Whatever device you choose, I heavily stress going with at least 32GB of storage with a preference towards 64GB. The highest end games will top out between 1-3GB and 16GB of storage isn’t going to cut it.
Moga Ace Power
PowerA’s Moga Ace Power was the second to last controller to be announced but is the first to ship. If you’ve used an Xbox controller this will be a very familiar Xbox-like experience since it uses the extended version of the API That’ll give you the full complement of a D-pad, left and right analog sticks (left stick is above the D-pad), 4 action buttons and 4 shoulder buttons. The shoulder buttons are in the PlayStation-type configuration with the L2/R2 buttons being buttons rather than triggers.
The Ace Power is a slider design. It retracts small for storage and expands for your device when you want to play it. The design isn’t universal, it’s designed specially for the iPhone 5, 5S, 5C, and 5th generation iPod Touch. This is because the case uses Lightning for both power and the interface. Yes, that’s right, this isn’t Bluetooth, it’s physically connected. That also means you couldn’t use it with an iPad without a phone in it. The lightning also includes audio pass through for the case’s headphone jack. The controller itself has a 1800mAh battery. It can power both itself and your iPhone/iPod Touch for extended gaming.
Logitech Series PowerShell
Logitech’s PowerShell is very similar to the Moga Ace Power in terms of form factor, save the fact that it’s a one-piece design That’s not a big surprise given Apple’s strict standards for MFI. The big difference is that it’s a standard API controller. Which means you get the D-pad, the the 4 action buttons, and a pair of L1/R1 trigger buttons. It’s also Lightning connected and features a 1500mAh. Logitech also contended that you can leave your iPhone in the case, as it’s both small and fully functional with your iPhone.
Zagg iFrogz Caliber Advantage
The Caliber Advantage for for the iPhone should sound rather familiar. They announced it during CES last year. Since then, iOS 7 happened. The controller was originally designed for a third party game API, but was retooled to work with iOS 7’s MFI support. Compared to the rest of them, this might be the most portable of the group. Its a slider case where the controller halves slide out and contract to a fairly normal case when you’re not playing. It also uses the full extended API in this compact package. Though the trigger buttons are in an usual configuration of right next to each other instead of front to back. It’s a bluetooth design and does not provide power to your iPhone or iPod Touch. Unlike the lightning connected models, the Caliber Advantage can pivot in either landscape for console style game or a more iDevice oriented portrait mode.
The iFrogz Caliber Advantage does not have a firm release date as of now nor do we have pricing information. We’ll update this page as more information is available.
The first case announce after the new Apple gaming API was the GameCase from ClamCase. This is the first gaming entry for the company, who to this point, has exclusively built premium Keyboard cases for iPads. It is also the most mysterious of the cases announced so far. We haven’t really heard much about this case since the September Announcement, but here’s what we do know. The case should come in both iPad and iPhone versions. The design shown is of the iPad variant and as far as we know, this is the only gaming controller designed for the iPad. It’s bluetooth connected and has its own battery. The case itself uses the extended API and the controls are on moulded grips on the outside of the iPad. This should make the experience very comfortable. Hopefully the iPhone version is of a similar design.
As with the Caliber Advantage, pricing and release information is not yet available.
This will not be the last you hear from Geek Beat on this subject. This will serve as a landing page for our future reviews of the controllers above. So keep your eyes glued to GeekBeat.TV. Until then, we want to hear from you. What is your favorite iOS game? If you’re an Android user, do you use bluetooth controllers for your gaming or the Nvidia Shield?
Please keep it civil and constructive though. None of the childish “platform X sucks because I’m a fan of Y” stuff please. If you haven’t read Part 1, you can find that here.