iGBHow-toWhat is iPhone Game Mode in iOS 18, and how does it...

What is iPhone Game Mode in iOS 18, and how does it work?

Ever felt your phone getting sluggish in the midst of an intense gaming session? Despite iPhones being top-notch gaming smartphones, they’ve always fallen a bit behind Android devices due to the lack of a dedicated gaming mode.

Thankfully, Apple announced iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 at WWDC 2024. In addition to their plethora of amazing features, Apple is also introducing Game Mode to iPhones and iPads. Here’s a look at what that means for your next mobile gaming session.

What is iPhone Game Mode in iOS 18?

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time Apple introduced a dedicated Game Mode. In fact, it was a hidden feature of macOS Sonoma launched last year. The feature is now making its way to both iPhones and iPads, which are typically used more for gaming than MacBooks.

Game mode on iPhone
Source: Apple

But what exactly is Apple Game Mode? Think of Game Mode as your device’s best gaming buddy. It’s designed to boost gameplay performance on iPhones and iPads. When it’s active, Game Mode focuses your device’s resources on the game you’re playing, leading to smoother graphics, quicker response times, and an all-around improved gaming experience.

Which iPhones and iPads are compatible with iOS 18 Game Mode?

The good news is that Game Mode isn’t exclusive to the latest iPhone or iPad. As long as your device supports iOS 18 or iPadOS 18, you’ll be able to enjoy its benefits. But for better clarity, here’s a full list of devices that support Game Mode.

iPhones compatible with Game modeiPads compatible with Game Mode
iPhone 15, 15 PlusiPad Pro (M4)
iPhone 15 Pro, 15 Pro MaxiPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation and later)
iPhone 14, 14 PlusiPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation and later)
iPhone 14 Pro, 14 Pro MaxiPad Air (M2)
iPhone 13 Pro, 13 Pro MaxiPad Air (3rd generation and later)
iPhone 12, 12 miniiPad (7th generation and later)
iPhone 12 Pro, 12 Pro MaxiPad mini (5th generation and later)
iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max
iPhone XS, XS Max
iPhone XR
iPhone SE (2020 & 2022)

How to turn on Game Mode in iOS 18

If you’ve installed iOS 18 on your iPhone or updated your iPad to iPadOS 18, you must be wondering how to enable Game Mode. Chances are you already tried searching for it inside the device settings, but couldn’t find it. That’s because, unlike Android devices, there’s no dedicated setting in Apple devices for Game Mode.

In iOS 18 and iPadOS 18, Game Mode is automatically activated at the system level. Your device detects when you start a game and turns on Game Mode for you. This means you can enjoy all the benefits of optimized performance and reduced distractions without having to adjust any settings yourself.

Game Mode turns off automatically when you exit the game on your iPhone or iPad. You can also manually turn off Game Mode while your game is still in full screen by tapping the Game Mode notification icon.

Benefits of using Game Mode in iOS 18

Speaking of which, what exactly are these benefits? Once Game Mode is enabled, several changes take place behind the scenes to optimize your gaming experience:

1. Enhanced Performance

Game Mode prioritizes your device’s CPU and GPU resources for the game. It does so by putting everything in the background on hold except the game you’re playing. This, in turn, frees up processing power, allowing your game to run smoother and with fewer frame rate drops.

2. Reduced Latency

If you’re gaming on your iPhone or iPad, you’re probably using a Bluetooth headset or a wireless controller. With Game Mode enabled, your device boosts the Bluetooth polling rate for these controllers. This makes the controllers more responsive, so your button presses translate to in-game actions with almost no delay, providing a smoother gaming experience. This can be especially crucial when you’re playing intensive action games on your iPhone or iPad.

3. Better Sound

This reduction in latency isn’t limited to just Bluetooth controllers. The Game Mode also minimizes audio latency, thus reducing the delay between sound effects and your actions. However, it’s worth noting that at the time of writing, this reduction in audio latency is supported only by the AirPods Pro (2nd generation).

Additionally, if you’re using either of the AirPods (3rd generation), AirPods Pro, or the AirPods Max, you will be able to enjoy Personalized Spatial Audio. With Spatial Audio, you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of the action, with a boosted sense of immersion. All while the sound profile is custom-tailored to your ears.

When will Game Mode be available on iPhone and iPad?

If you can’t wait to test drive the new Game Mode, the good news is that it’s available as part of the iOS 18 Developer Beta. However, for those who prefer a stable build, a public beta is expected in July 2024. The final version will be released later this year alongside the iPhone 16 series.

Video: What is Game Mode in iOS 18?

Happy Gaming…

Apple’s Bionic processors have always performed better than those in most Android devices. Thanks to optimized performance, this new Game Mode promises to deliver a superior gaming experience for gamers.

Whether you’re a casual gamer or a hardcore enthusiast, Game Mode is a feature worth trying out.

Does enabling Game Mode on iPhone and iPad drain the battery?

While the difference shouldn’t be significant, using Game Mode might use a touch more battery power because it focuses on performance. That said, there are plenty of other tricks you can deploy to improve your iPhone’s battery life.

Can I customize the Game Mode settings?

Currently, there aren’t any customization options for Game Mode. However, it’s always possible that Apple might introduce more features in the future, especially by the time the stable build comes out.

Will Game Mode work with all games?

Game Mode should work with most games on your iPhone or iPad. However, since Apple doesn’t offer a setting for it, there’s no option to select games (or even apps) as per your choice. As such, there might be instances where the system fails to recognize that a game is running.

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  • Varun Mirchandani

    Varun is a passionate technology journalist with over 7 years of experience and a knack for diving deep into everything Apple, PC hardware, and gaming. With an engineering degree in hand, he brings a solid technical foundation to his work, ensuring accuracy and insight in every piece he writes. Varun also contributes to GameRant, Guiding Tech, and The Mac Observer.

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  • Marcus

    Marcus Mears III is a lifelong technology enthusiast with half a decade of experience developing prose that keeps readers in the know. With hundreds of reviews, buying guides, and how-to explainers across a number of tech and lifestyle publications like How-To Geek, MakeUseOf, and iGeeksBlog, Mears’ work helps readers around the globe learn to make the most of their devices and software. He uses a 2016 MacBook Pro as his daily driver laptop and a self-built Windows PC for gaming and productivity.

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