Gamevice review for iPhone and iPad: Simulated Nintendo Switch

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Gamevice makes controllers that clip onto a iPhone or iPad to turn them into portable game consoles, but their clunky design leaves room for improvement.

Gamevice was among the first companies to create dedicated controllers for mobile devices, and their approach was incredibly novel. Vise-style controllers grip either side of the iPhone or iPad and make them closer to a Sony PSP or Nintendo Switch.

The recent 2022 redesign updated the design language and functionality of the controllers, but they remain nearly identical to previous models. The iPhone controller will look familiar to anyone who has used a Razer Kishi controller because it was built with Gamevice as a partner.

The iPad controller is unique because it is one of the only “vice” controllers built for this size class. As it uses a Lightning port for the interface, it is only compatible with Apple iPad 10.2 inch and older devices like the 10.5-inch iPad Pro.

Gamevice controller design

Gamevice controllers are very similar despite the significant size difference. The iPad controller is a larger version of the iPhone controller, but the analog sticks are in different positions.

Gamevice for iPhone design

The Gamevice for iPhone wraps around the outer edges of an iPhone to grip the device. One side has a Lightning connector to interface with the iPhone, and the other has to be pulled sideways with some spring resistance.

Gamevice for iPhone attaches securely via Lightning port

The iPhone feels safe in the Gamevice controller, but devices smaller than the iPhone 13 Pro Max may need an adapter to ensure the device fits properly.

When the controller is not in use, it folds up into a small square shape and is secured by a snap-on panel. Unlike the spine one controller, the divider that holds the sides of the controller connected is a flimsy piece of rubber band.

Gamevice for iPhone folds into a compact shape for storage

Gamevice for iPhone folds into a compact shape for storage

The controller’s buttons, triggers, and joysticks are all well built and feel great in the hand. Again, this controller appears to be a re-skinned Razer Kishi, so fans of this controller will find this one identical in design and performance.

The joysticks sit diagonally to each other to mimic the Xbox controller style. However, the way you grip the controller is different to an Xbox controller as there are no grips, so you will find yourself adjusting your hand to properly reach the joystick.

Gamevice for iPad design

The first thing to notice about the Gamevice for iPad is its size. The large grips are huge compared to the iPhone controller or even standard controllers. One side of the Gamevice controller is almost the same size as a Sony Dualsense controller.

The Gamevice for iPad is huge to ensure a good grip of the device

The Gamevice for iPad is huge to ensure a good grip of the device

It seems the substantial size is a result of the device the controller connects to. The 10.2-inch iPad isn’t small at all, and the controller’s design requires a lot of surface area to grip for stable mounting.

When the iPad is mounted on the Gamevice controller, the weight and bulk increase considerably. That doesn’t make it unusable, but you’ll find that your hands and arms will run out long before the battery does.

Like the iPhone controller, the Gamevice for iPad uses an elastic band for the sides of the controller to grip the iPad. However, when the iPad is not in the controller, there is no way to effectively fold or store the controller.

The large strip does not fold, so the Gamevice for iPad cannot be stored easily

The large strip does not fold, so the Gamevice for iPad cannot be stored easily

The placement and style of the buttons are identical to the iPhone controller, but since there is more space, they are slightly larger. The joysticks are placed at the ends of the controller, directly in front of each other.

Using Gamevice controllers

The experience of using a Gamevice controller is identical regardless of the device used. Connect the controller via Lightning and the iPhone or iPad immediately recognizes the controller.

Gamevice has a launcher app that showcases available game streaming services, Apple Arcade titles, and App Store games. The launcher doesn’t seem to know what games are installed or available to the user, so it functions as a home directory rather than a useful game library.

Both controllers feature a Lightning port for direct charging and a headphone jack for wired audio.

Using Gamevice for iPhone

Switching from a stock controller to a game should be as easy as possible to eliminate friction. The Gamevice controller is a bit bulky at this point.

First, you will need to remove any case from your iPhone. If you’re using a smaller iPhone, the included size adapter will need to be available.

Next, you’ll need to unhook the strap mechanism from the controller and attach it to your iPhone. This is a strange mechanism since the switches need to be spread apart and not pinched.

Unfolding the Gamevice and attaching it to the iPhone is a bit fiddly

Unfolding the Gamevice and attaching it to the iPhone is a bit fiddly

Once the iPhone is securely mounted in the Gamevice controller, you are ready to play. But, since the launcher tool does not track the games installed on your device, you will need to navigate to your games folder and launch the game manually.

We wanted to rate this experience as it differs greatly from the similarly priced Backbone One controller. Although the Backbone can’t fold up that small for storage, the user simply inserts the phone, removes the controller and wraps around the phone, and you’re good to go.

Additionally, the Backbone Launcher opens from a dedicated button on the controller, and it remembers installed games.

The controller feels nice to hold even if it’s a bit thick. The buttons are responsive and the triggers move smoothly when pressed.

We’re not a fan of the right analog stick due to the awkward angle, but that may be down to personal preference more than poor design.

Since it’s a wired controller connection rather than a Bluetooth connection, there’s no hassle of lag or missed inputs. This is especially important when streaming games like on Xbox Game Cloud or Stadia.

We enjoyed the gaming experience with a controller directly connected to our device.

Using Gamevice for iPad

The iPad controller is configured the same as the iPhone controller, and it’s simpler because it can’t be folded for storage. The iPad slides right in and the controller rolls up with no problem.

The Gamevice for iPad feels great in the hand, but the overall design is chunky

The Gamevice for iPad feels great in the hand, but the overall design is chunky

The controller is bulky but not too heavy in your hand. We played “Diablo” and “Asphalt 8” comfortably without any issues.

The button layout takes some getting used to as they are close together on the large controller. We found ourselves reaching well below the d-pad when searching for it. The thumbsticks are well placed for the larger design and rest where your thumbs naturally rest.

Should you buy a Gamevice controller

If you’re looking for a game controller, Gamevice controllers are great options. However, we believe that the hardware execution of the iPhone is not on par with what other companies in the field are doing.

Gamevice for iPad and iPhone are great controllers, but not best in class

Gamevice for iPad and iPhone are great controllers, but not best in class

The Gamevice for iPad is the only controller we can recommend for Lightning-equipped iPads. Others exist, but Gamevice has the best design and features yet.

We would like to see the Gamevice app improve with some knowledge of what the user has downloaded or what subscription services they are using. Of course, users can always download a different app that better suits their needs.

  • The iPhone controller has a compact design for storage
  • Buttons are responsive
  • Lightning connection and passthrough charging
  • Zero lag thanks to the wired connection
  • The Gamevice app adds nothing to the experience
  • No screenshot button
  • Bulky design
  • Gamevice for iPad doesn’t fold up for storage

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Where to buy Gamevice controllers

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