A first-of-its-kind gaming controller debuted this week, and it didn’t come from PlayStation or Xbox.
Logitech released the PowerShell Controller + Battery for sale Wednesday, the first gaming console created specifically to fit around a phone. The device offers unprecedented control of smart phone gaming, and solves the battery drain that usually accompanies smart phone gaming. But early reviewers aren’t sure this will have much of an effect on handheld consoles.
The PowerShell adds about three inches to the length of your smart phone. Directional buttons sit on the left side of the device, while A, B, X, and Y buttons are on the right, and shoulder buttons sit at the top of either side. The device also has a 1,500 mAh battery which allows for longer gaming on a phone than ever before, plus the option to charge your phone using the device’s power.
However, this innovation isn’t available for all smart phone users. Currently the PowerShell is only available for the iPhone 5S, iPhone 5, and 5th generation iPod touch, and is only compatible with iOS 7 devices. Even iPhone 5C users will have to look elsewhere for gaming capabilities, as its slightly larger dimensions mean it won't fit in the device holder, according to Logitech spokesperson Amanda Sanyal.
Early reviewers have had mixed reactions to the PowerShell. Lisa Eadicicco of Tom’s Guide tried out the device on “Real Steel World Robot Boxing” and “Pac Man”, and says the controls improved the phone gaming experience.
“It was much easier to zip around tight corners using directional buttons than onscreen controls,” she writes. “The PowerShell's buttons sported a smooth, glossy texture similar to that of the Xbox 360 controller's buttons, and the build quality didn't feel cheap.”
But the omission of analog sticks was a bit of a disappointment, she adds.
“Using direction buttons is fine for platformers, fighting games and casual gaming, but certain titles such as "Dead Trigger" would really benefit from controls that allow for panoramic viewing,” Ms. Eadicicco writes.
And little oversights like that could make the PowerShell a tough sell as competitors descend on the market. Another gaming company, PowerA, released the Moga Ace today, another phone gaming console for the iPhone. The Moga Ace retails for the same price as PowerShell, and has a slightly longer battery life as well as analog sticks.
However, TechCrunch reviewer Chris Velazco says Logitech's consistency over the company's history is what sets it apart, and could keep it above the fray.
Being the first to really nail a formula matters "and Logitech has remained relevant all these years because they usually manage to do just that," he writes.
The PowerShell is available for $99.99 at the Apple Store, Best Buy, and Logitech online store today, and will be available more widely in December.