With every passing year, it seems like Apple releases more variants of the iPhone in its bid to attract different groups of customers, each of which demand different things.
This year, the vanilla iPhone 12 is probably the phone most Apple users will think of getting, and with mobile gaming becoming more and more mainstream, it was no surprise then that American telco Verizon and Riot Games came together to promote League of Legends: Wild Rift in the United States. (Full disclosure, Verizon is the parent company of Verizon Media, which owns the Yahoo brand).
With that in mind, this review is going to test the iPhone when it comes to competitive mobile gaming, using the Wild Rift Open Beta.
From the days of gamers moaning and giving Blizzard stick about Diablo Immortal, to the rise of competitive titles such as Mobile Legends: Bang Bang in Southeast Asia, mobile gaming has seen it all.
It is the rise of competitive mobile games that is of the most interest, especially with the pandemic either putting us in quarantine or restricting our movement.
Playing competitive games on mobile phones is a larger prospect than ever. It is also a good way to pass time when you are really bored and stuck at home with your family.
Apple seems to have been watching this space intently too. In Apple’s announcement of the iPhone 12 in Singapore, a special segment was dedicated to the announcement of Wild Rift coming to the iOS platform.
This is not something very new; Apple has collaborated with other brands when it comes to its products but Wild Rift was definitely an eye-raising prospect.
For one, it is League of Legends (LoL) coming to mobile phones. LoL is one of the biggest esports titles in the world, and Worlds 2020, the annual end-of-season tournament for LoL, just concluded on 31 October with a peak viewership of 3.8 million.
Second, it feels like Apple is acknowledging the inevitable rise of competitive mobile gaming, and with Riot Games claiming how good Wild Rift is on the iPhone 12, it is time to put the iPhone 12 to the test.
The Southeast Asia regional Open Beta for Wild Rift was recently made available and I was able to download Wild Rift onto the iPhone 12 rather quickly.
With 5G not being widespread at the moment (I’m just on Singapore’s fibre network), I would not have anything meaningful to say about any of the iPhone’s new 5G capabilities (especially since both Apple and Riot Games are touting it on the iPhone 12).
So, good things first. When I first loaded Wild Rift, the loading time and everything was smooth as one would expect from a brand new iPhone with hardly any apps downloaded or pictures stored.
To be fair, most phones these days (iOS or Android) would perform well when it comes to mobile gaming as long as they are above the mid-range tier of mobile phones.
I really was not expecting the iPhone 12’s A14 Bionic chip to be disappointing in any manner when it came to the speed of launching and loading the game, and it certainly has not so far.
The battery life of the iPhone 12 seems to be decent too.
Starting at 100 per cent when I first played Wild Rift, it remained at 93 per cent after 3 games, some tutorials and looking around the interface.
That was slightly more than an hour of use, with some impressive battery life there. Do note that this was Wild Rift at 30 frames per second (FPS).
When I played Wild Rift at 60 fps, the iPhone got slightly warm and the battery life went from 100% to 90% after 45 minutes of play.
One thing that really surprised me, though, was the iPhone 12’s speakers. They were loud, resonant, and did not sound thin. I had to turn down the volume after launching Wild Rift or risk annoying some of my family members at home.
The interface of Wild Rift is something that I really appreciate having tried the likes of Arena of Valor (AoV), Mobile legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) and PUBG Mobile.
Everything just looked clean and pristine, and Wild Rift did not greet me with many unwanted notifications.
Other than the cleaner approach Riot Games went for, the interface of Wild Rift remained similar to other mobile MOBA games and users who have played AoV or MLBB would find no problems transitioning to the game.
Check out esports videos from Yahoo TV:
The biggest drawbacks of the iPhone 12 when it comes to competitive mobile gaming, however, reveal themselves when it comes to playing an actual round of Wild Rift against other opponents.
First, the notch. The iPhone 12 still has a rather huge notch and this takes up some screen real estate. While Wild Rift circumvented that by essentially not having anything on the left of the screen, it is still a little annoying, considering how many new Android phones (think Samsung S20) these days hardly come with notches anymore.
I guess with more playtime, the notch would be less distracting and users will overlook it.
Second, the speakers. While I wrote earlier that the speakers were loud and resonant, the placement of the bottom speakers at the bottom of the iPhone is not exactly ideal if you want to play Wild Rift with the speakers on.
Because of the way one is going to hold the phone while playing a mobile MOBA like Wild Rift, your index finger and some portion of your palms will block the bottom speakers of the iPhone.
This muffles all the sound coming out from the iPhone’s bottom speakers and the sensation does not feel that comfortable either (remember, sound is essentially moving air, so you are going to feel that). I would recommend using headphones or earphones when playing instead.
The above two complaints, however, are pretty minor compared to the next gripe.
The new OLED screen of the iPhone 12 is pretty good compared to the LCD used on previous models of iPhone. The blacks are deep, the colours are vibrant and everything on Wild Rift looks beautiful.
However, when it comes to the refresh rate of the screen, it gets slightly disappointing. Apple has stuck to a 60Hz refresh rate for the iPhone 12, and the default FPS setting for Wild Rift is limited to 30 fps, unless you turn that off and set it to 60 fps, (but as mentioned above, the phone gets warmer and it uses more of the battery).
As a gamer from the PC world, who plays Dota 2 at more than 120 fps, it feels really odd looking at a smaller screen with a lower refresh rate. The motion in-game just does not feel as fluid to me when compared to the games I play on the PC.
To be fair, 60Hz is probably enough for casual gamers. It will probably also work for a lot of mobile games that are not Wild Rift.
Additionally, Wild Rift is only able to support up to 60 fps in the settings at the moment, so it’s not like you could get any better on an Android.
However, considering that some Android phones now can do 120Hz and have better batteries, I would think that should Riot Games make 120 fps or higher a reality for Wild Rift, the iPhone 12 will conceivably be left behind by the competition.
In general, playing Wild Rift on the iPhone 12 has been a pleasant and relatively enjoyable experience so far despite the screen’s refresh rate.
Will the general public really care that much about 120Hz vs 60Hz? I actually doubt it.
Would I recommend the iPhone 12 to someone who wants to play Wild Rift and other similar competitive titles?
I am a little torn about it. For one, this iPhone 12 is smooth and fast. I really like the new OLED screen and its colours. The battery life seems to be really good. On the other hand, the screen refresh rate is kind of disappointing and the notch is still there.
If you are just a casual player and want to play Wild Rift with your friends, this phone is probably more than enough, especially if you’re looking for an all-in-one device that goes beyond playing mobile games.
However if you are an avid mobile game player and would like to be more competitive, perhaps even by having a dedicated mobile device for gaming, I am not sure if the iPhone 12 is going to be the most appealing compared to other options out there.
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