Today, Apple announced the iPhone 5. Once again, it's thinner and more powerful than its predecessors. Mobile gaming just got that much better.
One of the biggest complaints about playing games on Apple's iPhones has been how cramped the screen feels. The iPhone 5's taller screen translates into more room in which to draw a gorgeous gameworld. Furthermore—and this is of paramount importance for gamers—there will be more space for touch-controls. Combined with the improved responsiveness of the new touchscreen, this latest hardware refresh means that the finicky imprecision plaguing iOS gaming could become a thing of the past.
Apple's new A6 chip should be good news for gamers, too, giving them more processing power for experiences that you used to only be able to find on hi-def displays. And, speaking of displays, the iPhone 5 screen comes closer to matching the 16x9 standard that gamers have come to expect, which will probably make the next wave of games feel as big and bold as they're used to.
The faster speeds of a LTE connection—dependent on carrier—could enable synchronous, real-time multiplayer on the iPhone. During a demo of EA's Real Racing 3, mention was made of a "time-shifted head to head" feature in Game Center. Combine that with the ability to play with people on Apple's desktop and laptop platforms and you have a pocketable device that's one step closer to matching yet another feature on game consoles.
Better speakers on the iPhone 5 can add to the immersion you get from a gaming experience. Heck, games like Bastion—where the music and the gravelly narration hold much of the appeal—depend on decent sound quality. So, the five magnet transducers in the handset's sound system will be welcomed by game designers and players, too.
However, consumers won't be getting a significant bump in memory storage with the iPhone 5. As more games approach Xbox 360-levels of quality in terms of graphics and other features, they'll take up more room on smartphones. Avengers Initiative is a console-quality iOS game. Not surprisingly, it's also a Hulk-sized piece of data that takes up a big chunk of memory. Games like Infinity Blade and others built on Epic's Unreal Engine can weigh in at more than 1 GB. While a $199 entry point for the new phone is great, it's a major bummer that you won't be getting more space for your cash, especially since memory has gotten so inexpensive.
Maybe you're not sold on using a phone as a dedicated gaming platform. That's okay. But, the new features and improved hardware in Apple's handhelds—along with the sheer number of people who will probably flock to buy them—will attract more game-makers, some of whom will deliver unique creations that will rival the creativity, challenge, and flat-out fun of their console and PC siblings. If those games exploit the best possibilities of the iPhone 5, Apple will be one step closer to having a device gamers could come to grudgingly respect.