Mobile gaming has come a long way since the days of Doodle Jump and Mafia Wars While the graphics, multiplayer functionality, and overall presentation of mobile titles have seen an almost parity to its handheld and console counterparts, controls have pretty much stayed the same since the introduction of the App store back in 2008. Touch controls paired with smaller screens have always been a massive turn off to hardcore and casual gamers alike, and while some titles such as Asphalt 9 and Infinity Blade have figured out how to create a meaningful and fun experience, it's always been at the expense of comfortable controls. While I still prefer the comfort and tactility of an Xbox One controller or the precision of a mouse, mobile games simply don't have that luxury without needing a cumbersome setup that has minimal to no software support. So when Gamevice approached us with their controller that claims to deliver "console quality" controls to my iPhone, I figured it would be worth giving their controller an honest shot.
What is Gamevice?As you've already guessed by now, the Gamevice is a plug and play controller that can be used with both iOS and Android devices in an easy to use form factor that locks onto your device via its connection. Connecting the controller is as simple as plugging it into the bottom of your device via Lightning/USBC/MicroUSB, and unlike most phones, it also features a built-in headphone jack. The base iPhone model I tested has a pass-through connection for charging at a convenient location, which makes using this while plugged into power a relatively comfortable experience.
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Gamevice Build QualityUnlike most third-party controllers, the Gamevice feels surprisingly comfortable, and I would even argue that after an hour of gameplay my hands felt less cramped that they would on a Nintendo Switch. The build quality is great and after about a week of heavy use, the buttons are still responsive and clicky. The only real drawback I could find with the controls was that the thumbsticks don't click in, but I've yet to find a game that actually would use that, so it's not really that much of an issue.
The device feels great when locked into my iPhone XS, but be warned. If you have a thicker tempered glass screen protector, you will need to be careful when applying the controller to your device or else you'll crack the corner of the protector like I did.
When storing the Gamevice, the controllers back strip folds into itself and each half of the controller uses a magnet to collapse into a small clamshell about the size of a closed fist. This makes the idea of an external controller with my phone much more appealing, especially when traveling or just storing it in my bag during the day.
I performed a drop test with the Gamevice while folded, unfolded, and connected to my iPhone XS, and it held up surprisingly well. While I don't recommend this as a case replacement or anything, it is good to know that it won't shatter if you accidentally drop your phone, or in my case, walk off the side of a treadmill while using it.
Gamvice PerformanceIn-game, the Gamevice controls as expected but also makes more complicated mobile ports infinitely more tolerable and fun. I played quite a bit of Fortnite and Asphalt 9 over the past week and the difference between using the controller or the games' integrated touch controls is night and day. With the Gamevice connected to my iPhone, games like Fortnite and Minecraft went from mildly frustrating tap and swipe controls to a fully handheld experience that in some cases rivals the Nintendo Switch and Playstation Vita.
Unfortunately, not every major title has compatibility with Gamevice since it's up to the developer to allow external controller support. So if you're a big-time PUBG Mobile or Kingdom Hearts Union X player, you may need to wait for their respective developers to implement full support. In response to this, Gamevice has developed an app that aggregates every title by popularity, genre, price, and many more options as well as instructions on how a game will control with the Gamevice attached. While this app is really useful, I found it to be a bit clunky on my iPhone XS, which may just be a device by device issue since plenty of apps (Google) are still lacking when it comes to full-screen support.
Drawbacks?The Gamevice isn't a perfect product, but its build quality and performance definitely make up for its shortfalls. That being said, the fact that it's not totally compatible with a thicker screen protector is a major setback and sometimes the left controller would get loose due to the iPhone XS camera bump. While this didn't ruin the experience at all, it was a bit annoying at times when I would notice that the left and right controllers weren't totally aligned or that my screen protector was scratched on the top right edge after taking the unit off my phone. So if you're a perfectionist or the type who never takes their device out of its case, then you might want to make sure you're extra careful with this controller.
Is Gamevice Worth It?While it's not for everyone, if you want a relatively inexpensive control solution for mobile gaming that delivers on its promises, controls as intended, is comfortable, and just works as advertised, then Gamevice is definitely worth looking into.
A base level Gamevice for the iPhone was provided to TechRaptor by the manufacturer for review. You can view the Gamevice for all additional phone models at their website or try one out at an Apple store.
What are your thoughts on the Gamevice? Does mobile gaming seem more appealing with better controls? Would you ever use this over a switch/3DS/Vita? Let us know in the comments below!