A17 Pro chip and iPhone 15 Pro’s AAA Gaming Support, Six Months in

Upon the introduction of the iPhone 15 series, Apple announced its big ambitions of supporting AAA games on the iPhone 15 Pro models. Boasting significant hardware capabilities, Apple positioned itself to support big-scale games within the mobile market.

The iPhone 15 Pro garnered a lot of attention from players all thanks to its high-performance CPU. Exclusive to the Pro series, Apple introduced the latest A17 Pro processor. This chip enables Apple to offer support for more demanding games. With higher performance capabilities, the iPhone 15 Pro became a platform for AAA titles.

Apple is seeing some meaningful support from developers like Capcom, Kojima Productions, and Ubisoft. Together, these studios have helped put together a small, albeit meaningful catalogue of AAA games on iPhone 15 Pro. Currently, owners of the latest Pro-level iPhones are able to purchase and play Resident Evil Village, Resident Evil 4 Remake, and Death Stranding: Director’s Cut. Ubisoft has promised that The Division: Resurgence and Assassin’s Creed Mirage will arrive sometime this year.

With a handful of popular games already available and more seemingly on the way, it’s time to take a look at the iPhone 15 Pro’s AAA gaming capabilities. With significant investments in iPhone 15 Pro, the A17 Pro chip and fostering relationships, how is the AAA space fairing six months in?

A17 Pro

Apple’s A17 Pro is the peak in processing innovations on the iPhone. Pardon the pun, but based on its use, it’s a legitimate game-changer. The chipset features a six-core CPU (split between two performance cores and four efficiency cores). A17 Pro also features a six-core GPU and a new 16-core Neural Engine. Apple has widely touted the processor as the “fastest chip ever on any smartphone.” This is also the first time Apple has split the use of a processor across its iPhone series, making the A17 Pro exclusive to Pro-level iPhone 15 models. The A17 Pro is the world’s first 3-nanometer chip, offering a CPU that is 10 percent faster, a pro-level GPU, that performs 20 percent more efficiently, and a Neural Engine that is twice as fast as its predecessor.

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Of course, the A17 Pro is intrinsic to all innovations across the iPhone 15 Pro. Whether it’s powering the advanced camera systems or the immersive AR capabilities, it’s all driven by the processor. However, when it comes to games, the chip provides a lot under the hood. For instance, the A17 Pro has been developed to bring hardware-accelerated ray-tracing to iPhone 15 Pro. This is the first time Apple has been able to deliver photorealistic graphics and environments within games. The chipset also utilizes the Metal-effects upscaling. Similar to DLSS, A17 Pro can upscale games to a higher resolution than what’s typically possible. With this in mind, players are able to take advantage of high-quality graphics that simply haven’t been available on iPhone until this point. iPhone is now becoming a compelling platform for developers to port their games over to and an ecosystem for blockbuster titles.


Specs are one thing but what does the A17 Pro mean in terms of tangible performance and gameplay? iPhone 15 Pro starts at $1,449 in Canada, making it no small purchase. Thus, it’s important to identify if A17 Pro proves to support this investment as far as gaming performance is concerned. This investment into AAA gaming is uncharted territory for Apple. Behemoths in gaming like the Resident Evil franchise and Death Stranding: Director’s Cut are far more demanding as titles found within Apple Arcade. The end results are sort of mixed, depending on what you may prioritize or the expectations you have broaching this level of AAA gaming.

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For instance, I have sunk a handful of hours into Resident Evil 4 Remake on iPhone 15 Pro. At first blush, it’s a marvel that a game of this calibre is running on an iPhone. It’s sort of a magnificent feat, given that I’ve been following iPhone since the 4S. Never had I thought I’d be playing a full-fledged contemporary AAA game on an iPhone. Capcom published the full game with no concessions taken as far as content is concerned. With that said, however, there is a small graphical toll on Resident Evil 4 Remake.

Unsurprisingly, the iPhone 15 Pro and its processor can’t match the power supplied by the Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, or a decent PC rig. What we do get here something more inline with the Nintendo Switch. The visual presentation is relatively maintained with its dark ambiance only broken up by the sun creeping through the treetops or Leon S. Kennedy’s flashlight. However, Resident Evil 4 Remake does suffer from some visual graininess, especially in darker environments. On top of that, the iPhone 15 version of the game primarily renders at 30fps. It’s smooth enough during gameplay but a noticeable downgrade from its console counterparts.

The other title I spent time with is Kojima Productions’ Death Stranding: Director’s Cut. I poured many hours into this game on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. After Death Stranding 2: On the Beach was announced, I was itching to return to this world. Upon booting the game up on my iPhone 15 Pro, I was elated to find that the development team managed to retain the game’s beautiful environments and stunning character animations. The desolate fields and mountains are awe-inspiring when you’re climbing them as Sam Porter, escaping threats. Much like Resident Evil 4 Remake, Death Stranding: Director’s Cut does seem to be running at a consistent 30fps. Something I wasn’t expecting was that the iPhone 15 Pro’s speakers are very complimentary to the game. Death Stranding: Directors Cut has a curated soundtrack that really sets the tone well, especially when playing on iPhone 15.

Controls are a wildcard

If you’re looking to invest in an iPhone 15 Pro or any future iPhone that supports AAA gaming, keep in mind that touch controls are spotty. This is no fault of Apple nor the developers. It’s just the honest reality that games like Resident Evil 4 Remake and Death Stranding: Director’s Cut are complex. I attempted to use touch controls for both games and gave up in mere minutes. The UI is cumbersome and your hands get in the way of the visual experience. Death Stranding: Director’s Cut expects a lot from the player in terms of its controls. The balancing mechanics as well as the menus are quite a lot to juggle if only using touch support.

Instead, I picked up my Razer Kishi V2 and used that throughout my play sessions. If you’re familiar with cloud gaming on mobile, I’m sure you’re familiar with the Kishi series, the Backbone One, or Turtle Beach’s alternatives. On top of that, these games offer support for the DualSense and Xbox Wireless Controller. You can’t go wrong with any of them. As we’re looking at console-made games, it only makes sense to adopt a control scheme similar to an Xbox Series X/S or the PlayStation 5. Not only does a tactile controller give players a more ergonomic method of holding their device while playing, but the control schemes are simply better.

The ecosystem and future support

There is an elephant in the room when it comes to iPhone 15 Pro’s support of AAA gaming and that is price. Not only are you shelling out $1,449 or more for the device, each game has a premium price tag. For instance, Resident Evil Village is $52.99 on the App Store while Resident Evil 4 Remake is listed as free as it offers a trial. Though, the full game is $79.99. Death Stranding: Director’s Cut is priced at $49.99 and is supported by Apple’s Universal Purchase program, offering access across iPhone, iPad, and Mac. All of these pricing schemes are well above the normal conventions of mobile gaming. Though, the quality and breadth of content justifies the entry fee.

Outside of the pricing, iPhone 15 Pro’s AAA gaming support is limited. Apple has gone above and beyond to secure a stable platform for big-scale games to come over. However, there’s still work to be done to attract developer support. Ubisoft is still up at bat, with The Division: Resurgence and Assassin’s Creed Mirage due sometime this year. Though, it’s imperative that Apple continues to invest in developer relationships as we approach the iPhone 16 and beyond. A consistent and reliable release schedule will undoubtedly attract players.

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