iPhone 5 Review: A Gamer’s Perspective

After spending some time with the new iPhone 5 this weekend, it’s not hyperbole to state that this thing is a certified monster. From a design perspective, it’s impossible not to notice the decreased weight and slimmer profile of the new phone. The body redesign makes the also beautiful design of the 4S feel fat and stubby in comparison.

All the nerdy tech specs aside, the performance simply flies in all areas. Browsing web pages, taking photos, and launching apps all have an extra level of immediacy that didn’t exist before. There are many amazingly detailed reviews of the iPhone 5 around the web, but we’re going to take a gaming-centric look at how things will be different.

Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy

With the extra half-inch of screen real estate being added to the iPhone 5, we now have a true 16:9 ratio to game in. This means having a bigger and wider perspective, allowing for a greater level of immersion. Many developers are still scrambling to update their apps and games, and they certainly should. Games that are not updated have two big black borders on the top and bottom of the screen. To check things out, we play-tested Namco’s Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy, plus a few games from Gameloft: The Dark Knight Rises, Asphalt 7, and The Amazing Spider-Man.

The consistent thought we kept having while trying out these iPhone 5-optimized games was how effortlessly the games seemed to run. You can almost hear the iPhone 5 yawning from not being challenged enough. That A6 chip plays a big role in the snappier load times and smooth frame rates we experienced.

The Dark Knight Rises

We can’t be certain, but it feels like the games have just received a resolution boost instead of truly taking advantage of the extra screen space by showing more game world. Don’t get us wrong, gaming on a true 16:9 mobile display is awesome and a half, but the advantages of this innovation have yet to be fully realized.

The increased brightness of the iPhone 5 is also a notable change. The colors and graphics pop so much more on this higher-resolution Retina display. Even at half brightness, the view is unquestionably sharp. Another underestimated element of the iPhone 5 is the improved sound from both the built-in speaker and Apple’s new headphones. The highs swell a bit more and with the new Earpods, and you can feel some decent bass too. Playing Groove Coaster again felt really good with the Earpods.

Asphalt 7: Heat

We’re still waiting for the first real gaming product tuned to exploit this new hardware. That said, we’re sufficiently impressed with this new, evolutionary iPhone. We just have one question: Where’s Real Racing 3?