It's now been a couple of months since the iPhone 7 hit the shops, in all its familiar-looking, headphone-snubbing, bulgey-camera, post-Brexit-price-hike glory.

Whatever you think about the iPhone 7's conservative design, two of its main improvements promised to be good news for gamers. It's got a much more powerful SoC (system on chip, which incorporates the CPU and GPU), and its display is brighter and more contrasty.

But does this actually play out in real life? Is the iPhone 7 a markedly better gaming phone than its predecessor, the iPhone 6S?

I happened to have both of these phones in my possession for a few days, so thought it would be instructive to run through a few graphically advanced iOS games on both handsets and see what differences I could detect.

Oz: Broken Kingdom

The most fitting place to start would be the game that Apple chose to show off the iPhone 7 hardware. Oz: Broken Kingdom isn't particularly wonderful to play, but its graphics will certainly muster the odd 'oh my'.

Indeed, it looks almost equally pretty on both the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 6S. I could see that the game's bold, vibrant colours popped a little more on the new phone's richer and brighter display, but only because I was looking for it. The difference isn't night and day.

Crucially, both phones ran the game super-smoothly - there were absolutely no stutters or hold-ups on the older iPhone 6S. Indeed, the biggest differences between the two versions had nothing to do with visuals at all. The sound was notably better on the iPhone 7, thanks to its new stereo speaker set-up. Also, the newer phone used the new and improved 'Taptic' motor for force feedback, whereas the iPhone 6S version didn't have any.


Next, the game that Apple used to showcase the iPhone 6 back in 2014. Vainglory is a technically impressive MOBA with plenty happening on screen when things really heat up.

Again, the game runs flawlessly on both devices, with no noticeable performance advantage to playing on the iPhone 7. However, I will note that the iPhone 7's brighter, higher-contrast display has a positive influence on the game's playability. In a game with so many tiny, detailed units running around, it helps to have a clear a display as possible.

Other than that, we're left talking about the iPhone 7's superior sound again.

Eisenhorn: Xenos

It's not a graphical test without at least one Unreal Engine-powered game, and Eisenhorn is one of the most recent and high profile examples.

Again, the game ran similarly flawlessly across both generations of iPhone. The iPhone 7 picture was slightly clearer and brighter, but in a game such as this - where a generally gloomy palette holds sway - that's neither here nor there.

I noticed the sound disparity more here than anywhere else - mainly because there's a lot of recorded dialogue in this game, and I found that I kept missing stuff on iPhone 6S because I was covering the one speaker up. That's less of an issue with the iPhone 7, as the other speaker is front-facing.


Eden Games's racer really is rather special - and it's a stunner to look at. The term console-quality really isn't an exaggeration.

I already knew that the game ran brilliantly on the iPhone 6S, having used the phone to review the game. The iPhone 7 didn't run it any better - or not that I could tell with the naked eye, at least. The recent update that adds 3D Touch controls to the controls for an extra degree of analogue control works on both phones, too.

I'll note some more general points here, though: the iPhone 7 itself ran a little cooler under the strain of extended gaming. Also, in all these tests, I noticed that gaming took a little less out of the iPhone 7's battery. The iPhone 6S I used is a fairly new handset, so a depleted battery doesn't account for that. Rather, you can thank a larger battery and a more efficient and capable CPU.

Neon Chrome

What about a fast action game? Neon Chrome is a brilliant new twin-stick shooter that throws around lots of explosions and detailed destructible environments at a slick rate.

I've been playing it a lot on the iPhone 7, and stepping back to the iPhone 6S is a near like-for-like experience. But is that a slight drop in frame rate I detect when things get hectic? Maybe, but it really is only very slight. Also, those neon visuals undeniably sing a little louder on the iPhone 7's screen.

Otherwise, once again, the key advantage to playing on the iPhone 7 is the sound. Neon Chrome has a brilliantly moody synth soundtrack that sounds particularly great in crisp stereo.