Gamevice for iPad review: A better idea than you think

At first glance, Gamevice’s Lightning-enabled (MFi) controller for the iPad tablet looks like an absurdly large gaming device. But while the Gamevice for iPad turns the tablet into a great mobile gaming console, it’s actually quite comfortable for seated and reclined style gaming. And the much larger screen of an iPad is better for cloud gaming, since many games are designed for large screens and don’t scale well with the size of the phone, especially if you have poor vision or degraded by age.

The Gamevice for iPad isn’t cheap at $100 (around £79 and AU$139, straight converted), but right now the company is offering the only solutions for nintendo switch Where Valve Vapor Deckresembling designs, with a split controller mounted on both sides of a screen. It cannot be used directly attached this way; you can’t connect the two sides of the controller together and use it standalone like you can with some. If you are familiar with the Razer Kishi, Gamevice’s iPad and iPhone controllers are very similar; unsurprisingly, since Gamevice worked with Razer on this device.

As

  • A nice solution for certain styles of play on the iPad
  • Lightning passthrough connector for power
  • Not too big for average hands, despite the extended length of the handles

Do not like

  • Dear
  • The handles are slippery
  • Buttons and triggers feel a bit mushy
  • The iPad connection can be wonky
  • Cannot be used alone

It supports all iPad, including iPad (5th through 9th generation versions), iPad Air 2 and iPad Air 3, iPad Pro 9.7-inch and iPad Pro 10.5-inch. I tested it with the current 9th generation model; I tried it on a 7th gen iPad, but the tablet tended to crash with the controller. Gamevice says it also runs on a USB-C version for those of us with newer iPad Airs, Minis, or Pros.

An elastic band runs between the two halves to help support the iPad.

Lori Grunin/CBS

Attaching the controller to the iPad works much like the Kishi. Its two sides are connected by a thick elastic band, and the iPad slips into rubberized grooves on both sides. The right side pops up and connects to the Lightning port. There’s a passthrough Lightning connector so you can charge the iPad, but it doesn’t support audio because Lightning just isn’t that smart. The controller itself is powered by the iPad’s battery, and it seems to consume only a minimal amount. It’s easy to put on and take off, a plus since you probably won’t want to leave it on all the time.

Gamevice's iPad controller with paddles that fit on either side of the tablet like a Nintendo Switch, shown on a 9th Gen iPad in the larger hands of a man to give a sense of scale.

By necessity the handles are quite large, but not too large for my average sized hands.

Lori Grunin/CBS

Although the Gamevice is an official “Designed for Xbox” accessory, it does not have a standard Xbox controller setup. Rather than the left stick near the top and the right near the bottom, they’re both up, which also means the ABXY buttons are below and to the left of the right stick. It may take a little getting used to.

Given how much larger the Gamevice for iPad is than typical controllers, it’s surprising how much I felt the need to stretch to reach anything. This seems to be because most of the extra length extends downward, so all hands are within reach of the controls and little hands just have more to rest on.

It would probably get cumbersome to hold like a mobile console or smaller phone – at least I find it awkward considering the size. But sitting up in bed with my knees bent and the iPad resting on my legs is my favorite position for playing on a phone or iPad, and it’s a perfect design for it. However, I tend not to play speed-hungry games on my mobile devices. If you play games that require quick reflexes, this is not a good position.

The right sidebar of the Gamevice for iPad, with the menu button above the ABXY buttons, aligned with the X button, and the controller above and slightly to the right of the B button

If you’ve got serious Xbox muscle memory, the right-side control layout may trip you up.

Lori Grunin/CBS

I think there are probably some things that may take more work to get used to. The grips are dull but quite slippery, and I suspect they will become more so over time. You can probably compensate with tape, though. The non-standard shape and size of the handles means there are no pre-cut handles you can use.

My biggest gripe with the physical design, however, is how soft its buttons and triggers feel. It doesn’t matter how much Lightning reduces latency on Bluetooth connections if the controls aren’t working crisply, because then you can’t tell who’s responsible for the delays in response. “Mushy” is in the player’s fingertips, so you might find it to your liking.

The controller also gave me intermittent connection issues between services. In other words, it would work fine in Xbox Cloud Gaming, but if I upgraded to GeForce Now, games wouldn’t be able to see it. Restarting the iPad would fix this problem, but switching to another service wouldn’t work. And Google Stadia just didn’t see the controller, even though I didn’t take the time to dig into diagnosing the issue; it is possible that there is a solution.

Side view of the Gamevice for iPad showing the profile of the shape of the grips

The handles are much longer than those of a typical controller.

Lori Grunin/CBS

Gamevice Live, the app for the company’s line of controllers, and the iOS home screen always saw it even when individual services didn’t, so it wasn’t an indicator of a bigger failure. The software itself was almost useless. It looks like a launcher that groups the different services — Xbox cloud gaming, GeForce now, apple arcadeGoogle Stadia and the App Store – but it can’t launch anything.

As far as I know, it just shows you featured games from different services and tells you how to add or install them. Even if you have already added or installed. You can add games to favorites to find them easily, but you can create a folder on the home screen to perform the same function and which would also allow you to launch. (This could, and probably could be, a constraint of iOS, but it nonetheless renders the software useless.) In general, however, the software neither adds nor detracts from the experience.

I like the Gamevice for iPad the same way I liked the Kishi – the best choice in a market with almost zero competition, until spine one came with a better feel and design. It’s a bit pricey to recommend, given how tasteless I feel about it, but if you play a lot on an iPad and have a big enough discretionary budget to deserve it, there’s enough upside to make the Gamevice worth it. .

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