Apple is bringing console-level gaming to iPhone — but is it enough?

iPhone 15 Pro Max takes gaming to the next level — but is it enough?
(Image credit: Apple)

Last month I wrote about if the iPhone 15 could be the gaming phone we want and, to no one's surprise, I was pessimistic.

Well, Apple clapped back with the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max capable of running Resident Evil Village, Resident Evil 4, Death Stranding and Assassin’s Creed Mirage natively on their A17 Pro chips with ray tracing enabled. 

We don’t know all of the details yet, especially with the former three titles slated to launch later this year and Assassin’s Creed Mirage shooting for the first half of 2024. But I have thoughts, and I promise that they’re not all pessimistic.

A step forward

My biggest complaints in the previous article were — is the tech even there? — and — where are the games? — but Apple just poked holes in those arguments with the A17 Pro chip and Assassin’s Creed Mirage slated in its line up.

iPhone 15 Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

Now, Mirage is launching for consoles and PC on October 5, 2023, but getting a Q1-Q2 2024 release on the iPhone isn’t bad at all. We’ve seen similar release cycles from console-exclusive deals and ports from PC to consoles. I’ve said many times before that if Apple wants to take gaming seriously, it needs to have access to AAA games the day that they launch, not years later. Mirage isn’t a day one release, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Moving to the A17 Pro chip — I never imagined the day where modern AAA titles would natively run on a smartphone. We don’t know anything about the performance or the quality that we’re going to get, but the fact that Apple was able to do it is proof that something small can power modern gaming. It gives me hope for future smartphones and even handheld consoles like the Nintendo Switch 2, which is speculated to launch next year.

While there is light on the horizon, darkness creeps in as the sun sets.

A step not taken

Apple has taken a surprising step toward a viable future for gaming on its devices, but a step is not a mountain climbed. And believe me, there is a bloody mountain.

iPhone 15 Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple is pushing some relatively new AAA titles to the iPhone, but all we got for MacBooks was Death Stranding and Resident Evil Village? Apple might still show up with Assassin’s Creed Mirage for MacBooks, but nothing has been said as of yet.

We don’t know anything about what the performance will look like on the iPhone for the aforementioned games. We’ll get 30-fps at the very least, but at what resolution and what settings? What do you have to sacrifice in order to game on your smartphone? And, more importantly, how intuitive will the controls be? I love Xbox Cloud games as much as the next person, but the touch controls aren’t the best. Who knows what this’ll do to the battery life, too.

Then there’s timeliness. As I’ve said, waiting less than a year for the Mirage port isn’t too bad. However, day-one releases need to be the goal. And Apple can’t just cherry-pick games — it needs to invest in developers porting games to its devices. When enough games come over, more will naturally follow, but Apple can be a little stingy.

Apple is already putting itself at a disadvantage by not playing well with other companies like Xbox or Epic Games. Money can always buy back some good faith, but I don’t see Apple diving headfirst into shark-infested waters just yet. The company is likely waiting to see how many users will actually play AAA titles on iPhones.

Should you buy an iPhone 15 Pro Max?

No, especially not right now. The iPhone 15 doesn’t even have the aforementioned games available just yet. If you’re really desperate to play Assassin’s Creed Mirage on an iPhone, you’re still going to have to wait until 2024.

The iPhone 15 is a great step forward, but that’s all it is, a step. And keep in mind that this is only for the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, so you’d have to pay at least $999. Want to play games? Buy a console, not a phone. Or better yet, buy a cheap laptop and subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Cloud, which is only $10 per month. You’ll be gaming for several years before you make it up to the price that Apple is asking for its iPhones.

So, while I am surprised by Apple, I’m not that impressed, yet.

Rami Tabari

Rami Tabari is an Editor for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline attached to the latest Souls-like challenge.