The iCade Mobile ($49.99) game controller for the iPad, iPhone, or iPod lets you play some of your favorite mobile games with a little more ease than a touch-screen offers. While the iCade Mobile won't help with every game, it helps add control to a number of popular ones, such as Temple Run and Pac-Man.
Design. While the iCade (which uses two AA batteries) is a little heavy, it still feels comfortable to hold. On the left is a directional pad for controlling movement. It worked well for the games that I played, but a joystick or slider pad would be a nice addition, especially for more complex games.
The right side of the device has four face buttons, and two shoulder and two trigger buttons are on top. The buttons work well during gameplay and are generally responsive, with sufficient feedback.
The center of the rather large controller is a silicone casing that holds your iPhone or iPod in place. The casing can rotate and snap into place, so you can use it for either landscape or portrait mode. It fits the 3rd and 4th generation iPod Touch, iPhone 3, iPhone 3G, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, iPad, iPad 2, and iPad (3rd generation). But since it isn't adjustable, it can't accommodate the iPhone 5 or the latest generation of the iPod Touch.
While the device isn't designed to hold an iPad, it can sync to the iPad via Bluetooth and serve as a controller for that device.
Highs. The iPhone 4 I used to test fit securely in the casing. Being able to rotate the phone to portrait or landscape is a nice feature for playing different types of games. The large, raised buttons are easy to use and provide an advantage over touch controls. For example, when I was playing Temple Run, I found it much easier to use the directional pad for making turns and leaning side-to-side than swiping and tilting the phone.
Lows. The iCade Mobile isn't very, well, mobile. It is a large add-on device, and you won't be able to fit it into your pocket. Another drawback: You have to push and hold all the shoulder and trigger buttons to put the controller into pairing mode; a sync button would be helpful. And I'd also have appreciated a companion app with access to downloading compatible games, like the Moga Mobile Gaming Controller for Android has; the company does provide a list of over 100 compatible games.
Bottom line. The iCade Mobile provides physical controls that are beneficial to the games it is compatible with. It's an improvement over touch-screen controls, but unfortunately, the iCade is too large for gaming on the go unless you carry it in a bag.
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