Sat. Apr 13th, 2024


AAA games have finally made their way to mobile without the use of streaming through the likes of the iPhone 15 Pro. Considering some serious drawbacks, though, playing AAA games on an iPhone may not even be worth your time or money. Here’s why.



How Did Resident Evil End up on iPhones?

Back in September, Apple unveiled the iPhone 15 Pro, a new model of their flagship phone that boasted a beefed-up camera and a slew of technical improvements including the Pro-Class GPU that reportedly offers the best gaming performance on an iPhone to date. To demonstrate its gaming capabilities, Apple subsequently revealed an official partnership with Capcom, announcing native ports for Resident Evil Village and the remake of Resident Evil 4 to the iPhone 15 Pro and other enabled Apple devices. While some games from AAA studios have appeared on mobile devices in the past, such as Rockstar’s mobile ports of several Grand Theft Auto games, this marked the first time high-budget new releases would be available on a mobile device without the use of streaming.

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The Good

The heavy focus on gaming for a good portion of Apple’s presentation was no accident, either, as the company later used the game’s reveal trailers, which showed gameplay using touch controls on the iPhone’s screen, as a way to show off the device’s technical capabilities. The games reportedly run well, with reviewers reporting that Capcom only made minor concessions to performance and graphical fidelity to port them. With the continued popularity of portable gaming on platforms like the Nintendo Switch and Valve’s handheld PC, the Steam Deck, translating that over to a mobile phone seems like a logical next step and on a surface level, the games function well.

Leon fights Krauser in a screenshot of the iPhone 15 Pro port of Resident Evil 4.

Leon fights Krauser in a screenshot of the iPhone 15 Pro port of Resident Evil 4.

The Bad

Despite consistent performance and a minimal loss of graphical fidelity for the two titles, many players have noted that running the games for an extended period of time severely drains the device’s battery, making portable gameplay often impractical. Additionally, previous claims that the phone has a tendency to overheat led to some users expressing worries on Reddit that the games could potentially overtax the hardware, which could lead to some bigger issues down the line.

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The initial reveal of the games’ control scheme—which used the iPhone’s touch screen with button overlays on top of the game screen—was also a massive point of contention for some users, according to a thread on Reddit. While you can customize the overlays according to your preferences, without an actual controller to connect, a good portion of the screen will always be covered by touch-screen indicators and your fingers for the entirety of the game. For titles requiring less precise reaction timing, such as mobile ports of RPGs like Final Fantasy, this may not cause any major issues, but for action-based titles such as the Resident Evil series, these controls could lead to incorrect button inputs and a lack of split-second responsiveness that gameplay often requires.

Leon walks through a devastated village in Resident Evil 4 on the iPhone 15 Pro with touch-screen control overlays appearing on-screen.

Leon walks through a devastated village in Resident Evil 4 on the iPhone 15 Pro with touch-screen control overlays appearing on-screen.

The Best Way to Play on Apple Devices

If you have an iPhone, the device fortunately supports the use of an external controller via Bluetooth connectivity. It allows you to connect a Bluetooth-enabled third-party controller, such as Sony’s PlayStation 5 Dualsense or the Xbox Elite Series 2 controller. Through the iPhone 15 Pro’s settings, you can find Bluetooth settings that will allow you to connect an external device, such as a controller. After selecting the option to find a new device, you can press and hold the power button on the Bluetooth-enabled controller of your choice and the iPhone should automatically detect it and connect, enabling it for use with games on the device.

Rear view of a phone mount on the Amazon Luna Controller
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

While the games can also run on Apple devices enabled with the company’s M1 chip or better, such as the newest models of the iPad Pro, even with a controller, you will be relegated to a small screen a fraction of the size of a full monitor or television. To play on a larger screen, you can cast your device’s screen to an Apple TV via a Wi-Fi connection which, when combined with a traditional Bluetooth-enabled console controller, approaches the same experience as playing on a home console like the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X.

But Who Is This For?

In other words, in order to play Resident Evil 4 or Village in a manner that is comparable to a home console experience via the iPhone 15 Pro, you must buy the phone itself, a third-party controller with Bluetooth capability, an Apple TV, and one of the games, all of which comes out to a minimum of nearly $1,300. Of course, there are reasons to purchase an iPhone aside from gaming, so for longtime Apple enthusiasts, the inclusion of AAA titles may be a welcome bonus in conjunction with the phone’s other myriad features. Even still, the many issues present when actually playing the games make them difficult to recommend.

Capcom and Apple’s joint effort to port these titles so seamlessly onto a mobile device is a show of technical innovation that lacks any real value to you as the average consumer, whether you’re playing the titles for the first time or just hoping to break into gaming. Anyone with enough disposable income to afford an iPhone could just as easily pick up a PlayStation or an Xbox and play not only both Resident Evil titles, but also a wide array of other games. Not to mention, with imprecise touch-screen controls and the requirement of a third-party controller to allow for more seamless gameplay, the ports lose out greatly on the appeal of portable gaming. This is especially the case since both titles are also available on the Steam Deck, which can cost less than half the price of a new iPhone 15 Pro.

Despite the issues, however, Apple has confirmed that more games are on the way to its newest phone, with titles like Assassin’s Creed Mirage and several others reportedly coming in 2024. Whether these new ports will improve the experience remains to be seen. In the meantime, Resident Evil 4 and Village are available now as a free demo on the iPhone 15 Pro or other M1 chip-enabled Apple devices. It’ll run you $60 to purchase the full game after completing the demo.



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By John P.

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