Apple wants you to play PC games on your iPhone — 3 reasons why that's a bad idea

iPhone 15 Pro Max gameplay
(Image credit: Future)

Apple recently announced that it was planning to make it even easier to port AAA PC games to iOS — meaning users could soon see some of the biggest names in gaming coming to their devices. In theory, this should be great, but its just not hitting me in the way it should. 

Now, on the surface this doesn't make sense, I'm an avid gamer with both Game Pass and PlayStation Plus, and the idea of having a handheld with me constantly should be enticing. However, I just can’t bring myself to be excited about playing PC games on my iPhone.

I took some time to think about why I had no interest in the idea, and I think I’ve come up with a few issues that really hold back the idea for me.

The screen is too small 

Backbone One (2nd Generation)

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

This is arguably one of the biggest issues I have with the concept. The basic iPhone screen is just too small to really engage with games the way that I normally do. Recently I tried using my Galaxy Z Fold 5 to stream games without a controller, and even with that super-size 7.5-inch display, it still wasn’t great.

This is especially true when playing games requiring lots of management or small details, which are easily missed on a smaller screen. For instance, if I want to play Total War: Warhammer 3, I need to quickly select units or buildings and read through reams of text to find the best option. This is really hard to do on a smaller screen. 

The final issue with smaller screens is that they ruin the immersion, at least in certain games. For instance, part of the fun of games like Resident Evil and, I imagine, the upcoming Silent Hill 2 remake, is the feeling of horror built by the visual and audio environment. This, at least for me, is something that I don't feel on smaller screens, and that is a big issue for trying to convince me to play on my phone.

Touch screen controls suck

iPhone 14

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However, I can hear the Nintendo Switch and Playstation Portal fans howling in the corner about some of the great games available on handheld smaller screens, which is a fair comparison. However, there is one major difference with those titles, their controllers aren't part of the screen.

If you play lots of games on your phone, and I have been known to play the odd Apple Arcade game, you’ll notice that most of them are designed so that the action takes place in the center of the screen with controls surrounding it. This means that the sides of the screen are not just covered in thumbs, they usually also have visual distractions of buttons and sticks. 

However, there is a way to avoid being overwhelmed by a constant influx of on-screen clutter, buying a phone controller. However, I just don’t have the money to spend a hundred pounds more to play some games. At that price, I may as well spend a bit more and buy a Nintendo Switch.

Multi-tasking is key 

Speaking of the issue with screens, do you know what you can do with a computer? Add another monitor to it. In theory, you could probably use that second monitor to make your game bigger, but the reality is that it allows you to multitask. So, for instance, I can have a game on one screen and then have Discord and maybe YouTube open while I play. 

This stems from having a short attention span and requiring the occasional background noise, or tips when I get lost in Elden Ring. However, this isn't possible on iPhones as many don’t have the RAM to run bigger games at the best of times. However, Apple is working on a fix for that with their new Game Mode which will minimize background apps to focus on running the game, although that'll make multitasking impossible.

Power and ports 

Resident Evil 4 on iPhone 15 Pro

(Image credit: Apple / Capcom)

There is a final issue I have, but it's one that I can’t currently comment on without first-hand experience. Simply put, how good will these ports be? 

There’s no getting past the fact that iPhones don’t have the greatest RAM, and tend to rely on the power of their chips to get by. For instance, the iPhone 15 Pro's A17 Pro chip is pretty powerful and the iPhone usually comes top in our fastest phone lists. However in gaming, RAM is more important for keeping all the level data ready to bring up in an instant. 

Most gaming phones you’ll see usually have a lot of RAM. For instance, the average iPhone has about 6GB, with 8GB being a rarity, which is starting to become an issue for them. Meanwhile, the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro has up to 24GB of RAM. The fact iPhones still fail to reach that high is an issue, and it might limit how much quality a developer can add to a port before it becomes a nightmare to run.

Overall, I know a lot of my dislike is based on personal reasons, and I want to be proven wrong as having a gaming console in my pocket would be great. If so, you best believe I'll be picking up one of the best phone controllers to help.

However, I have concerns about how this will be done. Although, now I wonder if this explains why Apple was so adamant about not allowing PC emulators on the App Store.

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Staff Writer

Josh is a staff writer for Tom's Guide and is based in the UK. He has worked for several publications but now works primarily on mobile phones. Outside of phones, he has a passion for video games, novels, and Warhammer.