For years, the performance of iPhones has ensured that even the most humble can still be a good companion for gamers. Combine that with great battery efficiency and a huge catalog of fantastic games (including some Apple Arcade exclusives), and the iPhone is arguably the best mobile gaming platform out there.
While any iPhone made in recent years will have no trouble playing even the most demanding mobile games, you don’t want to pay for power you won’t use or, conversely, save a little money only to discover that your favorite game isn’t. . not as smooth as you hoped. So to avoid these scenarios, here’s our guide to choosing the best iPhone for your gaming needs.
What type of gamer are you?
Before you head to the Apple Store with your credit card at the ready, it’s worth taking a moment to think about the kind of gamer you are, as this will greatly influence the iPhone you should to buy. Basically, there are three main types:
This is someone who likes to play the occasional game of quick-hit while waiting for the bus, picking up the kids, or maybe on your lunch break. The games are usually things like Candy Crush, Dots, Wordscapes or other simple games that you can pick up and play that will stop after a few minutes. Honestly, if you’re a casual gamer, your calculations when choosing an iPhone tend to focus on things like its cameras or size, not how well it can play AAA titles like Genshin Impact.
If you like playing some of the more demanding games, maybe PubG, Asphalt 9 or others with immersive graphics and faster gameplay, but still see it as a fun way to pass the time rather than something you want to master then you could be a fan.
Hardcore gamers, as the name suggests, are those who enjoy gaming and want to play the most graphically advanced 3D games, instant touch response of the screen, the smoothest renderings and enough space to use the controls with precision. You know who you are.
So once you know what kind of gamer you are, here are our recommendations for the iPhone you need.
And if you are wondering how to use a game controller with your iPhone, we explain it in separate articles:
Best iPhone for gamers
Best iPhone for casual gamers: Apple iPhone 13
Now it should be noted that for casual gaming any modern iPhone will do, but from the current catalog we think the iPhone 13 strikes the best balance between size, storage and price. You could go for the iPhone 12, but the base model only has 64 GB of storage space that can fill up if you download multiple games and take photos and videos. Once you bump the specs up to 128GB, you’re already approaching the price of the iPhone 13 with a faster processor and improved cameras, so we think this would hit the sweet spot. The iPhone 14 is another great choice, but you’re spending more money for features you may not need. What about the iPhone SE? Well, it can handle the processing, but the small screen might be a bit too small these days. Still, that’s another option.
Read our full Apple iPhone 13 review
Best iPhone for avid gamers: iPhone 14 Plus
When it comes to more demanding games, a bigger screen is one of the things that can help immensely. Trying to operate virtual controls on a small screen can be an incredibly frustrating experience. Fortunately, you no longer have to spend huge amounts of money on a Pro Max iPhone to get a good chunk of screen real estate, as Apple has reintroduced the Plus model to the standard iPhone range. With the new iPhone 14 Plus you get the same impressive specs of the iPhone 14, including the A15 Bionic processor from the iPhone 13 Pro range, improved cameras, longer battery life and a brighter screen, but the panel is also 6.7 inches instead of the 6.1-inch on its smaller sibling. Apple also claims the Plus’s battery lasts about six hours longer than the iPhone 14’s, which could be the difference between completing a game or rushing to find an outlet before losing your progress.
Best iPhone for hardcore gamers: iPhone 14 Pro Max
When only the best is good enough, whether it’s power, display or battery life, there’s only one choice: the iPhone 14 Pro Max. It comes with the most powerful processor in an iPhone – the A16 Bionic – a luscious 6.7-inch OLED display with super-smooth ProMotion delivering a 120Hz refresh rate. Then there’s that battery. Apple claims it can take 29 hours in video playback, admittedly games will cut that faster, but it’s three hours more than the iPhone 14 Plus and nine hours more than the iPhone 14. Yes, the prices will make you wince involved, especially if you need more storage than the 128GB on the base model, but you also get one of the best camera arrays available on a mobile device, plus the Dynamic Island, which feels a bit like a mini-game yourself. If you’re serious about gaming then the iPhone 14 Pro Max is arguably the ultimate gaming phone available right now.
Read our full iPhone 14 Pro Max review