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The rise of cloud gaming services means that phones and tablets have the potential to be prolific gaming devices. But a device like the iPad isn’t really comfortable to use with touch controls. Enter the gamevice for the iPad, a new console accessory from the company of the same name, which turns the tablet into a handheld gaming device.
Gamevice is an upgraded version of the company’s iPhone and Android accessories, slightly modified to work with non-Mini Lightning iPad models. It’s a plastic controller grip with a rubber back, which can be adjusted to fit a few different iPad models. The Gamevice has bumpers, triggers, analog sticks, and a button arrangement that’s comparable to an Xbox console. It comes with a charging port, but by itself it does not require charging. It also adds a headphone jack for the iPad.
Once attached, the Gamevice works with any iPad game with console support. This includes Apple Arcade games, as well as any game on cloud gaming services, such as Xbox Game Pass, GeForce Now, Google Stadia, etc. Since it’s a connected console, it doesn’t really suffer from input lag or latency issues. Gamevice is the same company that worked on the Razr Kish, so this is a similar product.
So is this worth buying for iPad owners? Do you stack up against similar portable devices, like the Switch and Steam Deck? Is there a point in comparing the two? Respectively, I say yes, somewhat, and yes – somewhat.
Absolute screen real estate
The purpose of the Gamevice is to turn the iPad into a bulky Switch-like console. This handheld device, when combined with several cloud games and streaming services, gives gamers the means to play and access to hundreds of games. That’s not a unique claim in this market – the Switch and Steam Deck are both portable devices that offer access to hundreds of games. But Gamevice stacks them both by virtue of what they are: an increase to an existing piece of hardware of more general utility.
The iPad’s biggest advantage is its massive screen. iPad models that work with the Gamevice have much larger screens than Steam Deck and Switch OLED — about 11 inches to 7 inches. Having a large screen on which to play games is very good and may spoil you. I played Ori & the Blind Forest on my iPad using the Gamevice, and everything looked as great as it would on my PC.
The disadvantage of having such a large screen is that the console installed on it must be of a similar size. And Gamevice is that for sure. It measures nearly 14 inches at its widest point, and the grip height is five inches and two inches at its thickest point. This makes the Gamevice a difficult device to store when not in use. It can be folded thanks to its rubberized back, but no amount of folding can make it any less bulky.
This also means that the iPad becomes much heavier. And because the weight is concentrated in the grip of the controller, this makes balancing difficult. Freeing the hand to reach for a glass of water is a quick way to drop the entire device on your lap, as I found out the hard way.
No matter its weight, the Gamevice is a comfortable and responsive console. I’ve never noticed any latency issues, and it worked just as you’d like in every game. The controls can be a little clumsy compared to a dedicated console – while playing Forza Horizon 5 I noticed I over-exaggerated at times, more than I did while playing on the X Series. But it still offers the same general utility as the regular controller.
Competition in the mobile market
Had the Gamevice appeared a couple of years ago, it might not have provided as much benefit as it did. But the advent of mobile game streaming means you can play much more than just mobile titles on the iPad. Whether it’s Game Pass or GeForce Now, the industry provides more options for users on mobile devices.
The Gamevice app, which users can install using their console, offers the option to collect a library of their favorite games in each service, to be more accessible. It’s a little simple, but it gets the job done. The device also works with any mobile game that supports consoles.
What makes the Gamevice particularly attractive is that the iPad has other uses besides just a gaming console. That’s why I’d say the comparisons to the Switch and Deck only work up to a point: The Gamevice lets the multi-tablet do double duty as a portable console just fine. The Switch and Steam Deck are portable consoles first, which also pull double duty as stationary consoles with all-purpose uses.
That’s why I say Gamevice is a great companion for the iPad owner who has access to these game libraries. It provides a convenient and sufficient way to play without input lag.
However, there is a caveat to this: if you already own an iPad and want to turn it into a gaming device, the Gamevice is a great addition from a mechanical perspective. But at $100 for a new model, the Gamevice is on the price side. Since Apple has expanded its Bluetooth technology to work with almost all consoles, there are countless cheaper options in both tablet accessories and wireless gamepads.
Let me put it another way: If you don’t already have an iPad, the cheapest (new) model will be around $330 at the time of writing. This, combined with the Gamevice’s price, puts the iPad + Gamevice in the same price range as the Steam Deck, and well above that of the Nintendo Switch. My point is that if you’re simply in the market for a portable gaming device, the iPad + Gamevice combo isn’t a particularly cost-effective option.
Who is this product for?
I think iPad owners who also like to be gamers might find the new Gamevice model attractive. What it lacks in smoothness or portability it makes up for in ergonomics and efficiency. And you get the most out of your iPad’s large screen.
It is not a substitute for other mobile devices in the market, as it does not offer the same types of games that it does. You won’t play your Steam library or your Nintendo games, for example. And if you have an iPad USB-C, you’re out of luck. So the Gamevice audience isn’t as wide as it should be.
But for those who have the required hardware, Gamevice is a good option, albeit a bit expensive, to bring some of the benefits of cloud gaming into your life.
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