We spent some time with the latest controller from Gamevice, which turns an iPad into a supremely comfortable portable gaming machine.
For years now, Gamevice has offered the convenience of gaming on the phone/tablet you already have on hand, without awkwardly mounting your device onto a standard controller. Better yet, by using a Lightning connector (or USB-C for Android devices), you’re able to prevent the usual input delay associated with Bluetooth and never need to charge the controller — just plug and go.
While Gamevice has been around for quite some time, the company’s ideas became far more mainstream following the release of the Razer co-branded “Kishi” controller, a favorite amongst Android fans. Today, Gamevice is relaunching their line of phone and tablet controllers, even re-releasing the Razer Kishi as the “Gamevice for Android.”
Coinciding with that launch, the company is reintroducing the Gamevice for iPad, now an Official Xbox Certified accessory like the rest of their controllers. As an extra bonus from Microsoft, each Gamevice comes bundled with a one-month subscription to Game Pass, giving you instant access to hundreds of streaming games.
To put the new Gamevice through its paces, I played through a big chunk of Psychonauts 2 via Game Pass Streaming on a 9th-gen iPad.
One thing that should be abundantly obvious upon looking at the new Gamevice for iPad is that it is huge, comically so. To be fair, it has to be, in order to mount onto a full-size tablet, but this goes beyond just accounting for the iPad’s size. The Gamevice extends two full inches on either side of your tablet.
With that extra space, though, comes a level of comfort I’ve not experienced before with this style of side-mounted controller. By all metrics, the Gamevice is the Cadillac of game controllers, focusing not on how to be compact, but on how to use the additional space to be luxurious and comfortable.
All of the face buttons (ABXY) are full size, as are the triggers, bumpers, and analog sticks. If you’ve used an Xbox controller recently, the Gamevice for iPad should feel right at home for you. And that’s for good reason; the Gamevice is an officially licensed Xbox controller, built for the benefit of Game Pass Streaming — though perfectly useful for other types of gaming. More on that in a bit.
My absolute favorite detail of the Gamevice for iPad is around the back, where each side has a divot perfectly placed to balance the controller and tablet on your middle fingers. One would expect holding a tablet and controller for an extended period of time would get tiring — a common complaint about the Nintendo Switch and the Steam Deck — but this extra bit of grip and comfort goes a long way.
Unfortunately, just like the metaphorical classic Cadillac, the extra size and comfort of the Gamevice for iPad make it less than portable. When you’re not gaming, there isn’t much you can do to nicely stow away the Gamevice. It’s two enormous controller halves, connected by a long piece of rubbery protective material.
You could put it back in the box, but I can’t imagine most people want to carry something about the size of a small cereal box around in their bag. You also wouldn’t want to simply stow your iPad with the Gamevice still attached, as you’re inviting potential strain on both the controller and your Lightning port.
Looking past the issue of toting the accessory itself, the Gamevice turns your iPad into a surprisingly compelling gaming handheld. On the underside of the right controller, there’s a Lightning port to keep your iPad charged as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack.
This latest model of the Gamevice for iPad is only built for the mid sized iPads of recent years. The short version is that if you have a very large iPad (over 10.5-inch) or a model that connects with USB-C instead of Lightning, you’re out of luck for now. Gamevice has told us that while their initial focus was on Lightning-equipped iPads, they have plans to support USB-C equipped models in the future.
Otherwise, if your iPad fits into the Gamevice, the gaming world is your oyster. Essentially any game on iOS that supports controller gameplay should be fully compatible with the controller. You can even play many of the latest AAA games through streaming services like Xbox Game Pass, Google Stadia, and Nvidia GeForce Now.
To get a feel for what apps and games are available to use with your controller, Gamevice has launched a new companion app. Gamevice Live serves as a hub for titles available in the cloud (Game Pass, Stadia, GeForce Now), Apple Arcade, and controller-ready games in the App Store. While useful in theory, the Gamevice Live app is not always up to date with each service’s libraries, with recent releases not appearing in a search. Also, the app can’t launch streaming games directly.
Should you buy the Gamevice for iPad?
Putting it all together, there’s never been a better time for a controller like the Gamevice for iPad. With the absolute wealth of AAA and indie games available through streaming services, the iPad you already have is perfectly ready to fill the role of a Steam Deck or Nintendo Switch in your life — and with a much better screen and battery life to boot!
The Gamevice for iPad is available now for $99 through the Gamevice website, and it will be launching onto Amazon in the coming days.
FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. more.
Check out 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news: