Logitech PowerShell game controller for iPhone (first look)

Logitech's newest iPhone accessory makes use of the 'game controller' features in iOS 7

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Logitech's newest iPhone accessory makes use of the 'game controller' features in iOS 7 to deliver console-like control in compatible games on the iPhone 5 or 5s. It's also compatible with the latest (5th generation) iPod Touch via an included adapter.

The 20cm wide snap-on controller plugs into your iPhone via its Lightning connector. It adds an analogue D-pad on the left, and the traditional four A/B/X/Y buttons on the right (from PC gaming controllers of old). It has what appears to be a dedicated 'pause' button, inset below the right-hand button cluster. Shoulder triggers give a total of what we believe to be six buttons, excluding the probably-pause button.

To work with the PowerShell, a game must support the new external-controller features added in iOS 7, Apple's latest mobile operating system as shipping with the iPhone 5s and 5c. (The iPhone 5 is freely upgradable to iOS 7.)

In a blog post from Logitech yesterday, the company listed 42 games that are currently compatible with the PowerShell. Titles include Bastion, LEGO The Lord Of The Rings, Scribblenauts Remix and racing game Nitro.

Cut-outs in the controller allow access to phone's volume controls, mute switch and camera. An included adapter allows headphones to be plugged in without getting in the way of the user's grip on the controller.

The PowerShell has an integrated 1500mAh battery, to increase gaming time of the connected phone. This is approximately the same capacity as the batteries used in the iPhone 5 and 5s (1440mAh and ~1560mAh respectively).

Due to inefficiencies in charging one battery from another, this won't actually double the run-time of your device. Logitech simply says it "increases the available power capacity", and we'll need to run a few tests to get a good idea of the actual improvement. Whatever it is, it's certainly a good idea. Little drains smartphone batteries quicker than the latest, most graphically-intense gaming titles.

We're also interested to see how well (or not) the button placement works out. It's a logical decision to place the controls on either side of the screen, as Sony did with the PSP. However, many mobile consoles have taken the opposite approach and placed the buttons below, such as Nintendo's DS and its various reinventions. Which will work best when strapped to an iPhone is a tough question, which really demands some hands-on experience.

The side-mounted controls make for a wide controller. Will this work? Only playtesting will tell.
The side-mounted controls make for a wide controller. Will this work? Only playtesting will tell.

The PowerShell has an RRP of NZ$169.90/AU$129.95 and is expected to be available in New Zealand 'late December'. The device is listed as 'coming soon' on Logitech's Australian website.

We're waiting on a review sample to arrive in our Auckland labs - full review to come.

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