Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

3 iPhone 15 Pro features that turn it into a great PS5 rival – and 1 caveat

Published Sep 24th, 2023 10:34AM EDT
PlayStation Portal handheld console accessory.
Image: Sony

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

The contraption in the image above isn’t ChatGPT responding to a prompt asking it to imagine a portable PS5. It’s the $199 PlayStation Portal that Sony wants you to buy so you can play PS5 games on the go. But the device only streams games from your console over your home Wi-Fi. It’s not a Switch or Steam Deck alternative that you can take with you when you leave home.

The iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max that Apple just launched could give the PS5 a run for its money. While the iPhone 15 Pro costs more than the PS5 and PlayStation Portal combined, it does have a few exciting upgrades that can turn the device into a full-fledged portable console. It also has one glaring problem that Apple has to fix.

The A17 Pro’s impressive power

I’ve talked extensively about the A17 Pro chip that powers the iPhone 15 Pros because this piece of hardware is genuinely exciting. The iPhone 15 Pro doesn’t just blow Android out of the water in benchmark tests. It also outscores M2 MacBook Air and Pro models, proving Apple’s still-uncontested superiority in the chip-making business.

The most impressive moment from Apple’s A17 Pro segment during the iPhone 15 event concerned gaming. The A17 Pro chip features a redesigned GPU that offers support for ray tracing on iPhone. Therefore, this is the most important iPhone 15 Pro component for turning the iPhone into a PS5 rival.

The A17 Pro uses both the 6-core GPU and the 16-core Neural Engine to deliver efficient processing for games.
The A17 Pro uses both the 6-core GPU and the 16-core Neural Engine to deliver efficient processing for games. Image source: Apple Inc.

I also pointed out that the upcoming M3 MacBooks will feature similar GPU upgrades. But the M3 will pack an even bigger punch when it comes to gaming because it can support even more GPU cores than the iPhone 15 Pro.

Gamers will highlight the obvious issues with the iPhone 15 Pro/Max as a PS5 alternative. The iPhones are more expensive; Apple doesn’t have enough AAA gaming titles in the App Store; and you have to play the game on a small 6.1-inch or 6.7-inch display. Even the PlayStation Portal has an 8-inch screen.

That’s where the iPhone 15 Pro’s second gaming-friendly feature comes in: USB-C.

You can play 4K games on iPhone 15 Pro

I explained earlier this week that the USB-C port on iPhone 15 models will deliver a bunch of exciting features. Like connecting your iPhone 15 Pro/Max console to an external display or TV via USB-C or HDMI.

That’s how you get support for 4K HDR video on the external screens. And that’s how you get to play 4K games on iPhones, even though no iPhone comes with a native 4K resolution.

iPhone 15's USB-C port.
iPhone 15’s USB-C port. Image source: Apple Inc.

Apple’s Senior Director of GPU Software Jeremy Sandmel confirmed the 4K gaming support to IGN:

As you probably know, there’s the display resolution and then there’s the gaming resolution, and then the frame rates, the game rendering. With technologies like MetalFX’s upscaling, we can sort of separate those two things.

The game can run at really high frame rates, get really great quality results, and then upscale whatever resolution the display, whether that’s the iPhone display, whether that’s an external display.

So yes, the iPhone can connect to these 4K displays, and it can drive them externally doing whatever you do on the phone, including gaming to these other displays. The resolution and frame rate are going to highly depend on what the game’s actually doing.

Wi-Fi 6E support

So now that we’ve established you can play 4K games on iPhone 15 Pro/Max hooked up to a monitor or TV, there’s another remaining problem, but one that Apple has already fixed: Controllers.

You can connect a variety of gaming controllers to various iPhones, not just the iPhone 15 Pro/Max. That means you can just use a regular controller, pair it with the iPhone 15 Pro/Max via Bluetooth, hook that iPhone to a large-screen display, and voila! You end up with a great portable console.

iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max features.
iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max features. Image source: Apple Inc.

Speaking of wireless connectivity, Wi-Fi 6E has nothing to do with the controller aspect of the iPhone 15 Pro/Max gaming platform. But it does something essential for gaming experiences. It brings faster Wi-Fi support to the new iPhone 15 Pro models. More importantly, Wi-Fi 6E also has a larger spectrum and lower latency than Wi-Fi 6.

You know what that’s good for? Well, fast online gaming, whether it’s multiplayer action or game streaming from other platforms.

The problem with Wi-Fi 6E is that you will need routers that deliver Wi-Fi 6E internet. And you need Wi-Fi 6E to be available in your market.

The only problem

With all that in mind, the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max just became one of the most powerful and portable consoles on the market. You can hook it up to displays and controllers to easily enjoy fast 4K local and streamed games, as well as multiplayer games.

The only issue here is that we need more game developers to bring their flagship titles to the App Store. Apple demoed a couple of titles during the iPhone 15 launch event last week. That’s hopefully just the start. Apple needs to do more to make gaming happen not just on iPhone 15 Pro but on all the devices powered by M1 and M2 chips.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

More Tech

Latest News