Logitech G550 PowerShell controller + battery
Built-in battery; comfortable to hold
Logitech’s G550 PowerShell caters to gamers who are still enamoured with the traditional console-style controllers, converting a 4in iPhone 5/5s or iPod touch into a more traditional gaming device. The PowerShell features a Lightning plug and is designed to snugly hold your iGadget. Almost doubling the width of your phone, the case incorporates PlayStation-style controls with a D-pad on the left and A, B, X and Y buttons on the right, along with large shoulder buttons on the top under your pointer fingers. There are no analogue joysticks and no forced feedback as you’ll find on other modern gaming controllers; you’re basically back in Super Nintendo territory. The case features a textured non-slip grip, which feels comfortable in your hands, and it still narrow enough to slip into your pocket. Thanks to the clever design, you can still access your iPhone’s power and volume buttons, headphone jack and camera. The case’s bulk is due to the built-in 1500mAh rechargeable battery, which keeps your iGadget up and running during extended gaming sessions. The PowerShell features a micro-USB charging port and comes with a cable but no AC adapter (you must use your iPhone’s adapter). The PowerShell is brimming with potential, but sadly there’s a dearth of compatible games at this point. It’s compatible with the iOS 7 game controller framework, with several dozen early compatible titles including Bastion, Fast & Furious 6: The Game, MetalStorm: Aces, Galaxy on Fire 2 HD and Nitro. More titles are on the way, but it remains to be seen whether game developers will really get behind the controller framework. There’s little support for retro gaming at this point, apart from Namco’s Pac-Man. The ill-fated iCade Mobile, which brought similar console-style gaming controls to 3.5in iGadgets, was compatible with a range of retro favourites including Namco Arcade, Activision Anthology and Atari Greatest Hits. To get up and running you don’t need to pair the PowerShell with your iGadget; just charge it up and slip in your device. Compatible apps will automatically switch some functions from the touchscreen to the controls, although you’re left to find your own way. D-pad support for Pac-Man is obvious, but it’s a steeper learning curve with more complicated games such as the fighter jet-based MetalStorm: Aces. In return you’ve the benefit of physical buttons, which you can find with your fingertips while you keep your eyes on the action. The buttons are responsive, although the D-pad could be more precise at times. There’s nothing stopping you playing ordinary iOS games while your iGadget is resting in the PowerShell. Games that involve tilting to steer feel particularly natural, although the width of the controller places your hands further away from the edges of the screen. This is unlikely to bother adults, who may appreciate that their hands no longer block their view of the screen. But it may frustrate young children, who could find it difficult to reach the further distance to the screen with their small thumbs. Bottom line. Children who have grown up with touch-friendly games aren’t likely to be that impressed with the PowerShell. It’s more likely to appeal to older gamers who grew up with console-style controllers. The availability of games will make or break the PowerShell, especially when serious gamers can pick up Sony’s handheld PlayStation Vita for only $269. Vita games are a lot more expensive than iOS games, so the PowerShell may seem the more cost-effective long-term investment. Of course gamers who really want a Vita may not be impressed with the PowerShell as a compromise, especially when there are so few games to play.