Playing mobile games with touch-screen controls can be frustrating. More often than not, the on-screen buttons take up valuable display real estate that can hinder the overall gaming experience, especially on the iPhone's smaller, 4-inch display. Logitech hopes to eliminate this issue with its PowerShell Controller + Battery — a combination game controller and external battery for the iPhone 5, 5s and fifth-generation iPod Touch.
The 4.2-ounce Logitech PowerShell is among the first iPhone-focused gaming controllers to launch since iOS 7 rolled out in September. Unlike previous versions of Apple's mobile software, iOS 7 comes with support for gaming controllers — a feature that Android has supported for quite some time. The $99.99 Moga ACE Controller is the only other iOS-compatible competitor at the moment.
Logitech tells us that the iOS app store hosts 300 apps with support for hardware controllers, and that number is growing. These apps include "Lego Lord of the Rings," "Dead Trigger" and "Bastion," among others, as Pocket Gamer reports.
The $99.99 iPhone accessory houses your idevice through a cutout in the middle, and it essentially feels like snapping your phone into a case. That being said, the controller felt surprisingly secure. We turned the controller over so that its backside faced up with the phone inside, and the iPhone didn't budge from its holster.
The PowerShell features a directional pad on the left side of the phone and action buttons on the opposite side. Left and right bumpers can be found along the top of the case, as well, and a pause button sits just below the action buttons. Logitech has included cutouts for the volume buttons and camera, so you won't need to remove your phone to adjust sound or to snap photos.
The device is called the PowerShell Controller + Battery for a reason — a switch near the bottom allows you to use the PowerShell as a charger so that you don't drain your phone's battery. The case itself comes with its own 1500mAh battery so that it doesn't need to draw power from your iPhone or iPod Touch.
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During our time with the Logitech PowerShell, we noticed that gameplay felt fluid and responsive. We used the action buttons to create combinations in "Real Steel World Robot Boxing," and our character executed our commands seamlessly with no lag. The case was the same when we played the casual classic "Pac Man." It was much easier to zip around tight corners using directional buttons than onscreen controls. The PowerShell's buttons sported a smooth, glossy texture similar to that of the Xbox 360 controller's buttons, and the build quality didn't feel cheap.
Less joy without the stick
However, we were slightly disappointed with the PowerShell's lack of analog control sticks. Using direction buttons is fine for platformers, fighting games and casual gaming, but certain titles such as "Dead Trigger" would really benefit from controls that allow for panoramic viewing. Still, the PowerShell's minimalistic design makes it sleeker and less bulky than competitors such as the Moga ACE Controller. This means you can easily slip it into your bag, and it probably feels lighter than the Moga ACE while gaming.
Overall, the Logitech PowerShell offers a smooth gaming experience, an attractive design and is capable of charging your iPhone on the go. But for $99.99 we'd prefer a controller that includes analog sticks, too. The Logitech PowerShell Controller + Battery is available for preorder via Best Buy and the Apple Online Store beginning today, and Logitech says it will be available through additional retailers in early December.