Gaming iPhone and iPad

iPad and iPhone vs. Android: What’s Best for Mobile Games?

Dan Price 09-05-2017

Which is better: iOS or Android? It’s an age-old question that, if rationality prevails, doesn’t really have a correct answer Apple vs. Android: Buy the Ecosystem, Not the Gadget You love your Android phone and want to buy a tablet. Everyone tells you the iPad is the best tablet, and it really is the best; but you should still buy an Android tablet. Read More .


Much of the debate comes down to what you use the device for. Enjoy customization and installing third-party ROMs 6 Best Android 6.0 Marshmallow Custom ROMs If you want to upgrade your phone to Android 6.0 Marshmallow, don't wait! These custom ROMs make it easy. Read More ? Android is the clear winner. Want a seamless experience between mobile and desktop Ditch Your Desktop! Turn Your Smartphone Into a Desktop Replacement Want to ditch the desktop and just use your smartphone? You can do that! Read More ? Stick to Apple’s iOS.

But which operating system is best for mobile gaming? The industry is huge, especially among casual gamers. Estimates suggest almost one billion people played a game on their smartphone at least once in 2016.

If you’re one of those billion people, in my opinion, you should be using an Apple device.

1. The “iOS First” Approach

Game developers often release their games in the Apple App Store before they become available on Android. Super Mario Run is one such example, as are Alto’s Adventure, The Room 3, Prune, and many more.

And it’s not just mainstream titles — lots of indie and hobbyist developers take the same approach. Indeed, our very own Azamat Bohed — the man responsible for all those wonderful feature images you see at the top of each article — recently released his first game How to Make an iPhone Game When You Can't Code Dream of creating your own games, despite lacking the skills to create anything from scratch? Don't write yourself off just yet. Read More , titled Space ShootR, on iOS rather than Android.


What causes developers to release on iOS before Android? In many cases, it boils down to money. Evidence shows iOS users spend considerably more money than Android users on apps. Some figures say as much as 33 percent more. This higher spending has allowed Apple to pay out in excess of $25 billion to iOS developers since 2008.

As an Android user, it means you might be hanging around for a long time waiting for a game from your favorite developer to become available. Sometimes you could wait for 12 months or more.

2. Development Is Easier on iOS

How many iOS devices is Apple actively supporting at any given time? Probably no more than five or six Which iPhone Is the Best? iPhone Models, Compared Which iPhone is the best? Which iPhone should you buy? Here are the best Apple smartphone options for your needs. Read More . Now consider how many Android devices are in circulation. In 2015, Google said there were more than 18,000 competing Android devices available around the world.

Every single one of the 18,000 Android devices has different hardware, various screen sizes, and different button combinations. Worst of all, the nature of Android means the underlying operating systems sometimes vary. For an example, you need to look no further than the wildly different user experience between a Samsung device and a Nexus device Android Skins Explained: How Do Hardware Makers Change Stock Android? Hardware makers like to take Android and morph it into something that is entirely their own, but is this a good or a bad thing? Take a look and compare these different Android skins. Read More .


Of course, developers aren’t going to test their games on all 18,000 devices. However, they certainly have to test them on the top three or four phones and tablets from each of the leading manufacturers — the total number can quickly get into the hundreds.

Ultimately, it’s a process that’s both time-intensive and fraught with possible complications. It’s another reason why so many Android versions of games take such a long time to become available. Sadly, in many cases, they never become available at all, especially with niche apps.

3. Consistent User Experience

These developmental issues can also lead to problems from a user perspective.

If you buy a game on iOS, you can be confident that it will work flawlessly on any other Apple mobile device you own. You can also be fairly sure it’ll work on future devices when you decide to upgrade.


That’s not the case on Android. Sure, games from the world’s biggest developers have massive teams working on them to ensure they work properly, but indie titles could experience some erratic behavior. The problem is particularly prevalent on low-end cheap handsets.

iPad and iPhone vs. Android: What's Best for Mobile Games? using smart phone 670x446
Image Credit: Radmila via Shutterstock

And even though I’m suggesting games from the most well-known companies typically work well, it’s not always the case. Any Android user who has spent serious time gaming will have undoubtedly encountered crashes, bugs, and failed launches. Generally speaking, those issues are far rarer on iOS devices.

4. Fake Games

Both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store have a problem with fake apps Scam Apps in the Play Store You Need to Avoid For every amazing app you can find on Android, there's a cheap knockoff waiting to waste your time and steal your money. Read More . However, the Google product is traditionally the worse of the two.


Some of the platform’s most popular titles have fallen victim. For example, in mid-2016, tens of thousands of users downloaded fake versions of the viral sensation, Pokémon Go. They had names such as “Pokémon Go Ultimate,” “Pokémon Go: New Version for Free App Game,” and “Go Catch ‘Em All!”, thus making children especially susceptible.

If paying for and downloading a fake game isn’t bad enough, security company ESET found many of the spoofed games were harboring malware. Pokémon Go Ultimate had the ability to lock users’ phone and secretly visit adult websites in the background.

fake pokemon go

A year earlier, the same security firm found 30 fake Minecraft applications in the Google Play Store, most of which purported to be cheats and add-ons. Between them, they had more than 600,000 downloads. There were even issues with fake Android versions of Mario Run Beware Fake Super Mario Run Games on Android Super Mario Run is currently exclusive to iOS. Which has prompted some clever ne'er-do-wells to offer fake versions of the game on Google Play to lure in unsuspecting Mario fans. Read More when it hit Apple’s store in 2016.

Parvinder Walia, Director at ESET, said about this type of mobile malware:

“Associating fake applications with popular games is just another example of a sneaky technique used by hackers to encourage users to download hidden malware. This can be dangerous as it potentially allows your mobile device and sensitive and private information to be accessed without your consent.”

5. Frames Per Second

Frames per second (FPS) is one of the most important stats to consider when purchasing a mobile device for gaming.

Most games are capped at 30 FPS to help conserve battery life, but some go as high as 60 FPS. As a result, it means your phone’s processor is far less important to your gaming experience than many people realize.

To maximize game performance, your phone needs to be able to hit the FPS limit that the game developer offers. Sadly, it’s not always the case for Android users.

Independent tests suggest that Apple’s iPhone SE and 6S phones can both get to the 60 FPS mark on Lara Croft Go (our review). In comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and HTC 10 could only manage 44 FPS, while the LG G5 only got to a paltry 42 FPS. This all feeds into the public’s perception that iPhone apps are better than Android apps Why Are iOS Apps Still Better Than Android Apps? I feel I can safely make the claim that iOS apps are just better. Put down the pitchforks for a moment, and hear me out. Read More .

Casual gamers might not notice nor care about the variances, but for hardcore gaming enthusiasts, the difference can be a deal breaker.

Do You Prefer iOS or Android for Gaming?

I hope I’ve made a case for why both casual and serious gamers should choose iPhones over Android devices if they want the best gaming experience.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic. How do the two platforms compare in your opinion? Do you agree with my assessment or are you adamant that Android offers a better experience for gamers?

And for you Android users, check out things you should never say to an iPhone user 7 Things You Should Never Say to an iPhone User Want to stay friends with your buddies who use an iPhone? Never say any of these phrases that will tick them off. Read More . If you’re in the market for a new game on either platform, check out Civilization and the ways you can play it.

Related topics: Android, App Development, Game Development, iOS, Mobile Gaming.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Mervin
    April 9, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    Good information. Lucky me I came across your blog by chance
    (stumbleupon). I've book-marked it for later!4455

  2. Some random anonomyous person
    May 14, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    The Cartoon Wars games are different on iOS and Android. They are mostly better than the iOS counterparts, which are for iOS 10 and lower (32 bit)

  3. Layfon
    February 16, 2018 at 1:35 am

    That's why android users are smarter than ios users. They tend to be careful and smarter in terms of downloading and playing games and not rely too much on money to win games.
    Also, if Android manufacturers were to put the same amount of money in making a device as much as an ios device costs, their performance would be the same.

    • Mc
      June 8, 2018 at 9:26 pm

      You might be incorrect on that one. One problem mentioned here is the amount of different hardware used in these phones. Yeah we got phones like the s8 that can match ios but there are still too many devices for them to optimize. They could only go through so many

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  5. StealthGamer375
    November 11, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    I'm from Brazil, and IPhones are luxury things here. By the price of an IPhone, I can buy a unlocked Xbox 360 with hundreds of pirate games.

  6. John Smith
    May 30, 2017 at 1:28 am

    I think the author of this article needs to be introduced to Android, and then development/game development in general before being qualified to write such nonsense.

    The ridiculous claims of development is easier on iOS vs. Android are just laughable. I see nothing easy vs. hard on any of them, and I developed (still do) for both.

    Also claiming that games are being released on iOS first and then Android as a general rule based on couple of games is even more ridiculous. Even with someone like me, who is not a gamer, bu keep in touch with the gaming community, we know that is just nonsense.
    In fact there are some high end games on Android that were never release on iOS.

    Lastly, the author misses a basic fact. Hardware availability, diversity and less restrictions on the Android side. But if you are worried you can download something fake form Google Play sore, then either put on your man pants or stay on the iOS side.
    Show me one nvidia tablet running iOS and you may be able to convince me, otherwise, this article sounds like an Apple fan boy authoring it.

    • Danzen
      January 5, 2018 at 10:20 pm

      Hes talking about fps haha did he stop to concider the resolution those phones are using?...2 million more pixles than that stupid iphone's crappy display and dude the resolution can be changed also games dont use full spu power unless u grant it on samsung experience and one more thing this fool forgot apple devices battery reaches 20% when samsung reaches 87% plus we have features better signal faster internet controller compatibility, emulators ,macro and more ram for split screen multitasking

      • Mc
        February 2, 2018 at 6:41 pm

        Gotta admit love those emulators but ive heard that ios can use them as well(hope we're on the same page here). Ill be honest the only reason im here is for gaming research purposes. Ive read a few articles stating the same thing about fps but im not 100 on this. Ive heard that ios is top dog in the sgdz community im considering the iphone as a gaming phone strictly

  7. Niaz Gul
    May 12, 2017 at 11:26 am

    O Really Have you Ever Tryed Doogee Android Company Smartphone for Gaming??? you Really Love it I'm Using Doogee Y6 and its really best smartphone. Try Their New Device Doogee mix You will love it .

  8. Doc
    May 9, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    The difference is, I can actually AFFORD an Android tablet - and the one I picked for gaming (a GPD Q9 PSV) actually comes with two analog sticks, a D-Pad, and 10 buttons BUILT IN. Apple won't let anyone build an iPad or iPod with built-in ANYTHING.

  9. gwistix
    May 9, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    I'm an avid mobile gamer, and I think there's clearly a lot of wasted potential for gaming on both iOS and Android. But as someone who has used both Android and iOS extensively for both work and light gaming, I have to say that most of the issues you listed as support for iOS are actually double edged swords.

    While it's true that many games are released for iOS first, all the best games end up making it to Android, too, and often after all the kinks and bugs have already been worked out. You could even say that the (iOS) App Store acts as a sort of filter, sifting out the crap and making sure the good stuff gets through to the (Android) Play Store.

    Your second point is really a moot point from the user's perspective. The reality is that users don't really care which platform it's easier to develop for. If anything, for the user, the fact that many games are released for iOS first just means that the same games end up costing more on iOS than on Android. I'm constantly amazed when I recommend a game that's free on Android to my iPhone-using wife, only to find that the iOS version costs 4 or 5 bucks! Literally the same exact game costs more on iOS than on Android. This has happened multiple times with multiple games. On top of that, many premium games that do cost money on both platforms are available for free, including in-app purchases, on Amazon's Android-only Underground App Store.

    Your third point, the issue of consistent UX on Android, is really a question of high-end versus low-end devices. The reality is that if you buy a high-end device on either platform, you're going to have a great experience. (And arguments about FPS really do depend on the individual game—there are some that run much more smoothly on iOS, and others that run much more smoothly on Android!) Of course, if I want a really good gaming experience, I can drop the cash for a more expensive device on either platform. But what it really comes down to is that I can also spend $80 on a cheap Android tablet for my kids and they'll still be able to play thousands of games, whereas my mother-in-law's iPad that she paid $600 for just a few years ago won't even let her install most modern apps. So it's a question of "some apps don't work perfectly on this tablet that I paid less than $100 for" versus "there's no such thing as an iOS device for less than $300, and my four-year-old iPad can't even run gmail anymore!"

    Apart from the points you made, there are a few pretty big ones you didn't consider in favor of Android:

    (1) Android devices support external storage. Games take up a lot of space. My wife has a 32GB iPhone. Even with all her photos and automatically backed up to the cloud and deleted from her device every few days, she runs out of space constantly, and she literally has fewer than 10 apps installed (apart from the built in Apple apps she doesn't use but can't uninstall). To install even a handful of games, she would need to get a device with a larger storage capacity. And on iOS, to get a larger storage capacity would literally cost hundreds of dollars. On the flip side, most Android devices support both MicroSD cards and USB on-the-go. This means that I can spend $20 and plug a 64GB storage card into my son's 8GB Android phone and suddenly it has nine times the storage space it did before, which means he can have dozens of multi-GB games installed without breaking a sweat.

    (2) Android devices also let you install and run emulators without voiding the warranty on your device. On my Android devices, I can play NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, N64, and even PlayStation games without rooting or jailbreaking my device. I can also use DOSBox to play classic PC games like Doom, Warcraft (I and II), Command and Conquer, Riven, and thousands of others. And I can do all of this with standard USB or Bluetooth controllers that I already have for my laptop. (For games like Warcraft, I can even hook up my extra keyboard and mouse to my Android device!) On iOS devices, the only way to install any of these emulators is to jailbreak the device, and even then, you usually have to buy custom controllers, keyboards, and mice to make anything really worth playing.

  10. Andrew B
    May 9, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    The "iOS First" approach is actually kind of a double-edged sword. The reality is that while many games do go to iOS first, all of the actually good games end up on Android, too. You might even say that the iOS App Store acts as a filter for Android, sifting out some of the crap, but making sure we get the good stuff.

    And when they arrive on Android, it's often for lower prices. As an Android user, I've often recommended a great, free game to my iPhone-using wife, only to discover that though it's free on Android, it's $4 on iOS. This may not be better for developers, but it's definitely better for me.

    That leads to your second argument, that iOS is easier to develop for. This is probably true. But the fact is that the end-user generally doesn't are at all. We just care about the finished product. And while it's also true that the different, ranges of Android devices can give somewhat different experiences, the differences are mostly between high- and low-end devices. If I can afford an expensive device, I'll have a great experience on either platform. The real difference is that with Android I can drop $80 on a cheap tablet for my kids, and they'll still be able to play thousands of games, whereas my mother-in-law's iPad that cost $600 just a few years ago won't even let her install most apps.

    • Sergio
      June 22, 2018 at 5:31 pm

      You just copied what Gwistix say, don't take all the credit when you did NOTHING.

      • Andrew B / Gwistix
        June 26, 2018 at 5:47 pm

        There was actually just an error when I was posting. As you can see, the comment from Andrew B was posted at 12:32 p.m.—six-and-a-half hours before the comment from Gwistix. But what actually happened is that I posted that comment, then later tried to edit it and wasn't able to. I thought I deleted the original comment before posting using one of my screen-names (Gwistix), but apparently the original comment by Andrew B is still there. (I'm still unable to delete it.)