Why it’s irritating to play games on iPhone 4

By on August 15, 2011
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I want to love it, but end up hating it.

I was recently tasked with reviewing an app, so I thought I’ll just go onto the App Store and check out the Top 25 section to see what’s hot. Pretty much everything on Top 25 paid apps is some version, or rip off of Angry Birds. Being a hater of platform and physics based games, I was very happy to see something different like Zombie Gunship on the list.

I usually relegate gaming on my iPhone 4 to something as simple as Bejeweled 2. Most of the time my iPhone 4 is used for checking emails, apart from making calls and texting, as well as Facebook and Google+. Certain enthusiastic discussions are had on WhatsApp, and the occasional Skype call to family living abroad, but that’s about it.  Outside of pure work and keeping up to date on social networking, I don’t use my iPhone 4 for anything as frivolous as casual gaming.

Imagine it with both thumbs on the screen.

I have three very simple reasons for not gaming on the iPhone 4. First of all, gaming means severe battery drain. Now a full charge of my iPhone 4 gets me through a full day of less than an hour’s worth of phone calls, constant WiFi connection and the occasional 3G connection when I’m commuting to and from work. By the time I’m home, I still have around 40% of battery left. If I play a simple game like Bejeweled 2 for 15 or 20 minutes, it doesn’t affect the battery much, but playing anything graphically intensive (like Infinity Blade for instance) means the battery is gone before I even head out for home.

Of course, I can always connect a charge cable and sort out the battery that way, but I don’t want my mobile to be tethered down to a cable most of the time. It’s a mobile for a reason. Perhaps Apple could have added a larger capacity battery? But that would have surely meant a bulkier phone. No thanks, I’m happy with the iPhone 4, slim like it is.

My second concern is that every time I game for more than 25 minutes on the iPhone 4, or am talking to someone for that long, the phone really heats up, uncomfortably so. It’s a loathsome feeling when I want to use the iPhone 4 but can’t because it’s literally too hot to handle.

You can't appreciate the beauty coz your fingers are all over the screen!

This is probably more specific to me than a global issue, but having played games on a DS, 3DS and PSP, I just cannot handle playing games on 3.5” screen when my own thumbs are covering 1/4th of the bloody screen. I don’t mind touch based controls, but the screen size is just too small. I would rather play games on the iPad 2. So when I was playing Zombie Gunship, even though I was having a lot of fun, my thumbs soon started protesting in pain, and fun times eventually devolved into painful times. Of course, just like the battery, if the screen size was to increase, the iPhone 4 would lose most of its charm, for me at least.

tl; dr: Battery drain, heating up and not enough space on screen lead me to avoid playing games on the iPhone 4 altogether. I’ll try out the occasional gem, but will never actually play it long term.


From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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