iPhones are rivalling games consoles, thanks to powerful chipsets such as the A17 Max in the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Mac, along with bright, high pixel density OLED displays capable of 120hz refresh rates.
The iPhone also offers a huge library of mobile games, with iOS often getting the newest premium games before Android does, and, thanks to Apple’s superior hardware and software integration, you can expect excellent performance even from every iPhone handset currently sold by Apple.
If you enjoy mobile gaming and want to know what the best iPhone for gaming is right now then we are here to help. We’ll run thought our recommendations of the best iPhones for gaming and then explain some of the main things to consider when choosing the one that matches your needs.
Which iPhone is best for gamers?
Wondering if the iPhone is any good for gaming? Do you need to get an iPhone 15 Pro Max or will an iPhone 15 be good for gaming? If you have a small budget will an iPhone 14, 13 or even an iPhone SE be good enough for gaming? Find out below.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro
This has all the power of the iPhone 15 Pro Max in a smaller form factor. While the 15 Pro lacks the 5x optical zoom of the camera, for gamers that won’t matter as much as it will to photographers. The other main factor to set these two phones apart is battery life (23 hours compared to 29 for the Max). This will no doubt be a significant factor for those who anticipate long gaming sessions.
Like the iPhone 15, the Pro has a screen that measures 6.1 inches, but the screen on the pro iPhones features ProMotion technology and a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, ideal for fast-moving games.
Inside the iPhone 15 Pro is the ultimate iPhone chip, the A17 Pro with a six-core CPU, six-core GPU, and 8GB RAM. The GPU is suitably powerful, offering hardware-accelerated ray tracing and mesh shading which should mean gamers will experience the kind of shadows and reflections usually seen on consoles.
These features make this phone a great gaming device.
Read our full Apple iPhone 15 Pro review
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max
The iPhone 15 Pro Max offers all of the features of the iPhone 15 Pro, with the benefit of a bigger screen and better battery life. These two additions may well make this the best iPhone for you, if you don’t think you will find it to large and unwieldy to hold.
It is the ultimate iPhone right now thanks to a superior camera to the iPhone 15 Pro (it offers a 5x optical zoom), but that will be more important to photographers than gamers. It’s also the most expensive iPhone and you might prefer to spend your money on more storage in a cheaper iPhone.
The 6.7-inch screen offers Pro Motion, which means it offers a variable refresh rate of up to 120Hz. It shares this with the iPhone 15 Pro (and the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max), but not the other iPhone 15 models. This will be a definite benefit for gaming.
Like the iPhone 15 Pro you’ll also find hardware-accelerated ray tracing and mesh shading for a console-like gaming experience.
Read our full Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max review
Apple iPhone 15
All iPhones will run iOS games well, so if you don’t have the budget for a Pro model the standard iPhone 15 will be sufficient. You might prefer to spend the cash on getting more storage rather than the more powerful chip – but do bear in mind that some of the most awaited games will not run on the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus (Apple announced that Resident Evil Village, Assassin’s Creed: Mirage and Death Stranding are coming – but they will only be available on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max (and some iPads).
The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus are powered by the A16 Bionic, which featured in the now-discontinued iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. It’s still a powerful chip and will be more than adequate for most games, just not the ones mentioned above. Speaking of the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, if you find these iPhones on sale at a discount then we do recommend buying them instead of the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus. The older handsets have the same processor but benefit from the ProMotion screens, which will give a better gaming experience.
One benefit of the iPhone 15 compared to the iPhone 14 and older is that it has a much smaller notch (albeit disguised as the Dynamic Island). This means that there is more screen than ever.
Apple iPhone 15 Plus
This handset is identical to the iPhone 15 in terms of specs, it just comes in a bigger package, which might be preferable to gamers who want a bit more screen real estate. It’s the same size screen as that of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, so if you want a large iPhone you don’t have to buy the most expensive model.
The main difference between the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus, other than screen size, is battery life, with the Plus offering 26 hours to the iPhone 15’s 20.
Read our full Apple iPhone 15 Plus review
Are iPhone 14 or iPhone 13 any good for gaming?
We’re lumping these two together because there isn’t a huge difference here. Both phones offer almost the same A15 Bionic processor (give or take a graphics core). Thanks to the additional graphics core in the iPhone 14 this might be a better purchase, but it costs more than the iPhone 13, so if you night be better off getting more storage with the older handset instead.
Why not read our Best Free iPhone Games round up and our 100 best iPhone and iPad games recommendations.
What games are available for iPhone?
There are millions of games on offer for iPhone and many of the premium games come to iOS before Android.
You can play games like Alto’s Odyssey, Among Us, Asphalt 9: Legends, Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty: Mobile, Clash of Clans, Diablo Immortal, Final Fantasy VII Ever Crisis, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Lego Starwars: TCS, Mario Kart Tour, Marvel Contest of Champions, Minecraft, Monument Valley 2, Pokémon Unite, Roblox, Tetris, and Tomb Raider Reloaded
Apple also has Apple Arcade, a gaming subscription service that features more than 200 games in various genres and styles. It costs $6.99/£6.66 a month and includes games like Beyond a Steel Sky, Crossy Road: Castle, Cut the Rope 3, Disney Melee Mania, Doctor Who: An Unlikely Heist, Football Manager 2023 Touch, Hello Kitty Island Adventure, Sonic Dream Team, and much more.
Not all games work on all device though. For example, Resident Evil Village is only compatible with iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max, along with a number of iPads. Assassin’s Creed: Mirage and Death Stranding are also coming to the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max only.
Gamers can play against friends in Split Screen, while Game Centre and SharePlay means you can play games with friends even when they aren’t nearby.
Other games are available via the Xbox Cloud Gaming service if you are a Game Pass Ultimate subscriber, but you will be streaming the game from their servers as Apple doesn’t allow users to access any other app store on the iPhone currently. This may change in the future if the EU Digital Markets Act forces Apple to open up app distribution to avenues other than the App Store. Should this happen then it may force Apple to allow sideloading of non-App Store apps onto the iPhone, thereby opening up the devices to even more games (and potentially malware).
For now though Android users do have access to games iPhone users don’t and they can also take advantage of emulator apps to play old console games.
If you are wondering how you can use a games controller with your iPhone we explain in separate articles:
What specs do I need for iPhone gaming?
The iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max have the most advanced iPhone chip right now: the A17 Pro. It’s a six-core CPU, six-core GPU with 8GB RAM (the most RAM Apple has ever included in an iPhone and a definite bonus for gamers).
The A17 Pro GPU is, according to Apple, 20% faster than the predecessor, it also includes hardware-accelerated ray tracing and mesh shading (just like the M3 chip in Macs). This should mean gamers will experience the kind of shadows and reflections usually only seen on consoles.
That’s the A17, what of the A16 Bionic that features inside the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus (and 2022’s iPhone 14 Pro/Max)? When it launched this chip was faster than the competition and it still holds up well as you can see from the benchmarks below. As a result, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus are still great iPhones for gaming, as long as you don’t mind that there are some games that aren’t supported by those handsets (namely, Resident Evil Village and Assassin’s Creed: Mirage and Death Stranding when they arrive).
The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 beat their predecessors, as you would expect, but how do they perform against other smartphones. Our colleagues at Tech Advisor have compared the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro with various Android handsets. As you can see from the benchmarks below, the iPhone 15 and 15 Pro are far ahead of the competition in the Geekbench 6 scores.
Best gaming phone: Benchmarks
How do the chips perform in Graphics benchmarks? Our Geekbench 6.2 Compute benchmarks (third tab) show how the iPhone 15 Pro Max compares to the previous generations.
In the GeekBench 6 GPU compute test, which measures using the GPU for general computation tasks rather than graphics rendering, we saw a performance jump very near the claimed 20 percent.
In the 3DMark Wild Life Extreme high-end graphics test, again, there’s about a 20 percent boost.
Another thing to look out for when choosing your iPhone is battery life, especially if you are likely to be playing for extended periods. A fast charge time is also beneficial. The longest battery life is the iPhone 15 Pro Max with up to 29 hours, the larger form factor conceals a bigger battery. Next up is the similarly large iPhone 15 Plus with 26 hours. The iPhone 15 Pro offers up to 23 hours while the iPhone 15 can manage up to 20 hours. These are Apple’s figures, and they aren’t specific to gaming, but it should give you an idea of what to expect. Fast charge should give you a 50% charge in 30 minutes if you are using a 20W charger (a 50% fast charge for the iPhone 15 Pro Max takes 5 minutes longer, but it’s a bigger battery after all).
You will also want to consider just how much storage you can get for your money. Games and games data take up space and you can’t add more storage to an iPhone later on. So get what you can afford. That may mean getting a less powerful (or smaller) iPhone so you can get double the storage.
Finally, pay attention to the quality of the screen. All the 15-series iPhones have high maximum brightness (up to 2,000 nits outdoors). For 2023 the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus gained this level of brightness—the limit is 1,200 nits peak brightness on the iPhone 14 and 13, and the second gen iPhone SE can only manage 625 nits brightness.
Source : Macworld