6 Accessories to Improve Your iPhone Gaming Experience
The iPhone is rapidly becoming a prominent gaming device of choice, but touchscreen controls aren’t always optimal. Whether you’re operating a casual social game or immersing yourself in Sim City, there are drawbacks to using your iPhone for extended gameplay sessions — fast-draining battery life and sub-par audio notwithstanding, sometimes it’s just hard to operate the game.
If you’re seriously into smartphone gaming, then you have the opportunity to boost your gameplay experience with a little help from some handy third-party accessories. The best part, of course, is that most of these items can be used across multiple mobile platforms and even as standalone products to enjoy on their own.
What’s your favorite smartphone-enhancing game product? Let us know in the comments.
1. iCade 8-Bitty
If you long for the days of the original NES or Atari, and feel like your retro games are missing that extra analog magic that doesn’t quite translate with a touch screen, than an online order and 4 AAA batteries are all that’s separating you from the iCade 8-Bitty, a retro controller for your smartphone.
With dimensions that harken back to the original NES controller (except with the clutch placement of four buttons), the 8-Bitty connects via bluetooth to your mobile device and works with any app that supports the controller. As of now, the main draw is Atari Greatest Hits, an app for iPad that allows users to play more than 100 classic Atari games. But, if you’re the adventurous sort with a jailbroken iPhone, the iCade also has MAME support, meaning that you can play a ported version of nearly any emulated game on your mobile phone — not too shabby.
Price: $29.99 at ThinkGeek
Devices: iPhone, iPad, Android
2. Zagg Caliber Advantage
If you’re glued to your smartphone games like a 4th grader rabidly playing Pokemon, then an investment in the forthcoming Zagg Caliber Advantage is definitely for you. The hardware frame of the Caliber Advantage operates both as a protective case for your iPhone and as a slick controller for all of your gaming needs.
From far away, the Zagg Caliber Advantage looks a little like a PS Vita, which shows how dedicated it is to mimicking a handheld console experience. Users simply pop open the case, flip the phone into landscape, and connect the controllers present on either side via bluetooth. The controller layout features both dual joysticks and a d-pad/button combination, which affords versatility across a wide array of iPhone games. Plus, the Caliber features a sweet lithium ion battery for recharging, ensuring the accessory doesn’t draw precious battery life from your smartphone.
Price: $69.99, coming soon at Zagg.com
Devices: iPhone 5 only
3. Apple TV
One of the biggest features of Apple’s sleeper hit, the Apple TV, is it’s ability to seamlessly bring Airplay to your television. That’s right: you can finally play all of those teensy mobile games on your big, beautiful television with no lagging and even some enhanced stereo. It’s an added bonus to the Apple TV’s well-rounded and interesting set of abilities — and it’s worth picking up if you love everything else about the device.
In addition to mirroring, some games (like MetalStorm: Wingman) have compatibility with the Apple TV, transforming your mobile device into a controller while also putting the game on the screen. It’s the closest you’ll get to a full-blown gaming experience with your iDevices, and it’s quite impressive. Throw in Apple TV’s healthy stack of quality entertainment outlets (Netflix and Hulu Plus, FTW), and you’ve got a smart investment that also dials up your gaming up to 11.
Price: $99.99 at Apple
Devices: iPhone and iPad
4. Fling Mini
If a slicker, more flexible (and less expensive) peripheral accessory is more your speed, then the Fling Mini is a good option that offers an enhanced play experience without all of the big commitments. Simply snap on the Mini’s suction cups onto your smartphone over the joysticks for any game, and feel the advantage a little extra grip will give you.
In addition to working with nearly any game with a built-in joystick on the screen, the Mini can also be effectively used with the Joypad Wireless controller — allowing you to team your iPhone up with your iPad to create your own mobile console and have a little extra control while playing. Connect your iPad to the aforementioned Apple TV, and you can create your own iDevice ad-hoc gaming network to use at your own leisure.
Price: $24.95 at Ten1Design
5. Jawbone Jambox
It’s no secret that the audio on a mobile game leaves much to be desired. When you play without headphones, it’s inevitable that the placement of your hands will warp the sounds or muffle it in such a way to make it annoying to finagle. How can you get into the game if you can’t hold it and listen to it well at the same time?
The easy solution, of course, is to send your audio to a new source, and it’s hard to not be drawn to the Jawbone Jambox. Stylish and remarkably tiny, this speaker packs a big boom that will certainly enhance the noise in your gaming experience. Simply connect your mobile device via bluetooth and enjoy listening to everything the game is telling you clearly and concisely. Plus, when you’re not using it for gaming, the Jambox makes a great airplay speaker — and chic home decor item — that’s sure to impress.
Price: $199.99 at Jawbone
Device: iPhone, iPad, and Android
6. Mophie Battery Packs
It’s a bummer when your device dies from too much gaming, and it’s a double bummer when it’s also your only way to contact the outside world. If you’re a power-hungry user or like to game on long trips, then it’s worth picking up one of Mophie’s many battery packs. Simply hook up your dying device to a battery via a USB port and charge to your heart’s content.
The battery, depending on your choice, can charge your phone up to nearly four times over, so you’ll never really have to charge again. The battery packs also display the charge capacity left right on the side, which is especially useful in high-travel situations. Not sure what battery pack is right for you? Make sure you you check the company’s compatibility chart before you buy.
Price: $55.95-$99.95 on Mophie
Devices: iPhone, iPad, and Android
Lauren Hockenson is a tech reporter and 8-bit enthusiast who dreams of being a wizard. She can be found on MyIGN at lhockenson or on Twitter at @lhockenson.