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Apple on iPhone 15 Pro: 'The best game console is the one you have with you'

iPhone gaming enters a new generation

Apple wants gamers to know they are taking things seriously with iPhone 15 Pro in an interview covering game console competition, physical controllers, and 4K monitor support.

The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max run the A17 Pro, which includes hardware-accelerated ray tracing and a 6-core GPU. These features are expected to make these pro models powerful gaming machines.

Apple's Senior Director of GPU Software Jeremy Sandmel, VP of Platform Architecture Tim Millet, and VP of Worldwide iPhone Product Marketing Kaiann Drance spoke with IGN about the gaming push around iPhone 15 Pro and what it means for gamers. The interview focuses on the AAA titles coming to iPhone and what users can expect from them versus the console versions.

4K gaming on external monitors

USB 3.0 Type-C on iPhone 15 Pro enables new features like mirroring content at 4K HDR on an external display. The first question asks how this works with games like Resident Evil 4.

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

This means iPhone can run the games at high frame rates with great quality and upscale the output to fit the display's resolution. So, users can connect their iPhone 15 Pro to a 4K monitor and play games, but developers need to provide support for some functionality.

"The building blocks are there," said Millet. "We can enable applications to enable those experiences, and then the developer's job is, of course, to try to take those tools, piece them together and build an experience for you, the gamer, so that it all comes together. "

Balancing power and efficiency

The iPhone 15 Pro shouldn't overheat even when dealing with extreme gaming conditions like high-level graphics and frame rates. Developers have the tools to ensure they aren't going to "burn a hole through the back of the phone."

A17 Pro brings hardware ray tracing to mobile
A17 Pro brings hardware ray tracing to mobile

Tools like MetalFX help keep things like thermals under control thanks to the scalability of the software. But Millet explains how scaling is used all over the system, not just MetalFX.

"The display itself has a really amazing scaling technology built in," Millet continues. "The GPU can do scaling. So with features like ray tracing and mesh shading and this really advanced compute architecture, the developer has access to all of these algorithms to figure out what's the best balance of compute and quality and performance and frame rate and resolution."

An ecosystem of gaming

Apple Silicon processors built for Mac, iPad, and iPhone all share similar base technologies that could enable games to launch on multiple platforms. Like Resident Evil Village coming from Mac to iPhone, other games could go from iPhone to Mac.

"We don't want to speak for the developers here, we'll let them sort of talk to their plans, but I would say Capcom brought out Resident Evil Village last year for Mac and now for the phone this year," Sandmel elaborated. "And one of the things that fundamentally enabled that is this unification of the architecture of Apple Silicon and the iPhone Silicon and the iPad Silicon."

Game controllers and touch

One of the bigger limitations of AAA gaming on devices like an iPhone is the touchscreen. Apple has shifted from prioritizing touch controls in the past to enabling users to connect almost any Bluetooth controller to iPhone.

Touch controls are an option for AAA games
Touch controls are an option for AAA games

When it comes to AAA games requiring controllers, Drance says developers get to choose what works best for their games.

"Well, we're mostly allowing that to be both; one, user choice, but also developers in terms of what they view as the best game experience," said Drance on the topic. "Obviously, certain types of gameplay work fine and great with onscreen controllers. Some of them want an option so that you have the gameplay in an external controller, and as you probably saw yourself, we showcase the Backbone controller, it works with the iPhone 15 Pro and it's a great experience."

Taking on the console market

Tim Millet concludes the interview by suggesting Apple isn't trying to compete with consoles like Xbox or PlayStation. Any comparison made between iPhone's gaming initiative and consoles is meant to promote Apple's progress in the space, not a direct attempt to compete.

A mobile console experience
A mobile console experience

"It is like the everything you love and depend on, your device, your phototaking, your memory capturing, and now it's a powerhouse game console, but one that is in your pocket that you can take anywhere, game over different wireless networks, game on different titles, different ways that you get," Drance said about iPhone's evolution to become a gaming console. "I mean, it's remarkable how it all comes together."

Sandmel closes with a phrase normally applied to smartphone cameras but geared towards gaming. "I think they say the best game console is the one you have with you."

The interview goes into much more detail on these topics, so check it out in full on IGN.

AppleInsider will test the upcoming AAA games on the iPhone 15 Pro hardware in the coming weeks and report on the experience. Many of our staff play video games regularly, so this is a field we hope Apple may finally begin to take seriously.

Of course, veterans of both video games and Apple will know these stories have been spun before. Maybe this time, Apple will put some force behind AAA gaming experiences for its platforms.