What is more fun than being able to play around at work? Especially when video games are involved (and you are getting paid for it). Although we don’t normally get paid to test video games, we do get to creep over into that niche when the time comes for us to test some new hardware out that just so happens to involve those video games. It’s a win, and today’s win involves Gamevice’s controller for iOS and Android devices.
Their controllers are a hardwired (or in this scenario, docked) instead of wireless as they chose the best path to avoid latency. Smart right? Especially when the controller wraps around the phone or tablet just like most of the wireless options do. It’s not like you’re losing anything to go that route. So you might as well make the most out of it–and that seems to be what they are aiming for.
They have a number of controllers, each specializing in different device models. For example, the one we have been testing out is designed for iPhones within the 6 and 7 range (including the various S and Plus models). They also have a model for iPad Mini, the 9.7″ iPad, both the 10.5″ and the 12.9″ iPad Pro, and a few Android phones (Samsung Galaxy S8 lineup, as well as the S7 and S7 Edge). It’s obviously harder for them to aim for Android devices since the USB port location is all over the place on all the models. Between all the mode, the price ranges between $49.95 and and $99.95.
Although apparently the one we should have been given was the Samsung S8 model as the S8 Plus seems to be currently the popular model across the office, we thankfully do have some iPhone 6 models floating around to test with (and test, we did).
Since the iPhone has a standard location for their Lightning port, the model here covers (as mentioned) a number of iPhones, and it stretches and locks tight depending on which phone you insert. Regardless of the phone, they seem to have figured out how to make each one fit into the controller snug (kind of like most HDD/SDD dock solutions pull it off when it comes to various hard drive sizes).
The controller comes in a nice semi-hard shell case to keep it protected with, and folds up nicely to pack away inside and consume as little space as possible. Magnets hold the two halves to each other when stored everything feels decently durable.
Getting your phone inside is also easy and it locks to your phone as well so that there aren’t any accidents with things popping out anywhere. To unlock it from the phone (when finished with it), you simply slide the lock button on the side of the right controller up, and it will slide loose. It isn’t that hard to figure out in fact. That might be why it didn’t come with any instructions.
Now you ask, what games will actually work with it? TONS of games would be the answer. You can download their app “Gamevice Live” which has over 1,000 games to choose from, all of which function with the controller just fine. It basically brings everything out there into an easy to browse library instead of floating around the normal app market wondering if the next game you download will be compatible. The app even walks you through the controls of each game, with description and everything.
It doesn’t just stop there though. The controller is great for games, but can be used for a number of other tasks. You might have tried controlling a drone or similar device (like Sphero devices) using nothing but your phone. It is hard to stare up at the device (or at the ground) while your thumbs stumble around your screen blindly trying to touch the controls spread out on the screen. Since you can’t feel the texture of the controls, it is the same thing as typing on a touchscreen versus a physical keyboard–it’s not nearly as easy to do it while not looking at the screen. The same thing applies when controlling a drone or similar device. The Gamevice controller changes all of this as now you can physically feel the controller in your hands, allowing you to look away while you control the device. Now, you can go to town flying or driving the device all over the place with minimal mistakes.
So does it work? Quite well actually. We felt that it was quite similar to having a Nintendo Switch or PS Vita in your hands. It finally feels like you have a mobile gaming system using your smartphone. This is the missing piece that tears down that wall between your phone and those other mobile game systems. So yes, it works.
The price is a bit high, as a majority of the controllers are within the $79-$99 range. This might for now reflect heavily on R&D more than anything, so we might see the price come down as things grow for their company. Almost feels like you are buying into a small Gameboy device in addition to your already over-priced smartphone.
There is nothing else in the package besides the controller and the case it folds into. You don’t need anything else except maybe a small sheet that tells you to go download the Gamevice Live app. That way you are already in the know this is going to happen before you plug your phone into it to find out later.
We found the Gamevice to be an awesome addition to your phone or tablet that brings a whole new experience to gaming with your device. Like I mentioned, it is like having a Nintendo Switch or PS Vita in your hands. This is great because a lot of people can’t game on a touchscreen as well as some, and all of the above can benefit from this despite how good you think you are. This tears down the one barrier that limits mobile devices from really getting the most out of video games. It’s a little pricey at the moment, which holds the price back some. However, it is one of the most functional controllers we have used when gaming on a smartphone.
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*Average price is based on the time this article was published
Interview – Gamevice @ CES 2018:
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