While gaming phones are picking up steam, there’s often no better gaming phone to buy than the latest iPhone. With more than a million iPhone apps available in the App Store, the gaming options on the iPhone are nearly limitless. But finding the best iPhone games isn’t always easy. Not every app in Apple’s massive game library is worth the money — or your time, for that matter.
- Medieval II: Total War ($15)
- GT Manager
- PUBG Mobile
- ARK: Survival Evolved
- Fill the Fridge!
- Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links
- Mario Kart Tour
- Happy Clinic
- Joe Danger ($2)
- Geometry Dash Lite
- Shadow Fight Arena
- Genshin Impact
- RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch
- The Wanderer: Post-Nuclear RPG
- The Lord of the Rings: War
- Pokémon Unite
- Tiny Island Survival
- Fallout Shelter
- Marvel Future Revolution
- Minecraft ($7)
- Plague Inc. ($1)
- Black Desert Online
- Farming Simulator 20 ($6)
- SimCity BuildIt
- Street Fighter IV CE ($5)
- Risk: Global Domination
- Threes! Freeplay
Luckily for you, we’ve taken on the burden of sorting through the heaving sea of game apps to bring you some of the best iPhone games. So, whether you’re looking for a casual match-three game, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), or a battle royale, take a look at our list of the best games you’ll find on your iOS device. They’ll even work on an iPad (but don’t let anyone know we told you).
Most of these games should work on any iPhone running iOS 15, which includes phones all the way down to the iPhone 6S. Subscribers to Apple’s library of games — which we think contains enough gems to justify the price of membership — should check out our picks of the best Apple Arcade games. For more ideas, check out the best Android games, because many of them are available for the iPhone as well. And if you want to switch off that screen, the best board games could offer a welcome alternative.
Older gamers will remember when games like Medieval II: Total War were new and technically demanding — and now, you can play it on your iPhone or iPad. It costs a princely sum of $15 to buy, but there’s a full PC game here, and one that’s been converted rather well. Play as one of 17 playable factions, and fight, scheme, and trade your way to building your empire. Like Rome: Total War, the battle gameplay takes a little getting used to, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s just as easy to use as on the PC.
Racing games are great, but have you ever wondered what it’s like to manage your own race team? Wonder no longer, thanks to GT Manager. Manage every aspect of your very own racing team, including building up your headquarters, hiring drivers, and managing everything on race day itself. Unlock and collect official racing cars from brands like Porsche, McLaren, Audi, and more, and you can even go head-to-head with other players through the online multiplayer.
You might think of PUBG Mobile as being a buttoned-up, brown version of Fortnite‘s colorful explosion, but that’s not the case. The fourth anniversary of PUBG Mobile‘s launch has brought with it a number of new features. There’s a new vibrantly colorful theme, colorful bicycles, and the new aerial battlefield mode that’s utterly bonkers and unlike anything else you’ve seen in a battle royale game. Other than that, you can still find the classic gameplay you love, along with 10 minute matches, and a massive new range of aesthetic items to collect and wear.
What’s better than a survival game on your iPhone or iPad? A survival game on your iPhone or iPad with dinosaurs! ARK: Survival Evolved is now something of a classic of the survival genre, and it’s easy to see why it’s still around when so many other games have dropped off the radar. You’ll start the game by, well, surviving — but once you have that solid base in place, you can start to set your sights a little higher. Create a home all your own, and train, tame, and even ride over 80 different dinosaurs.
There are few games so easily described by their title, but Fill the Fridge! is exactly what it sounds like. Fill your fridge with the delicious goodies that are currently not in your fridge. Weirdly, dragging your finger along to place goods becomes quite the compulsive and fun, and, if you’re anything like us, you’ll find yourself playing for far longer than you’d originally intended. It starts out simply, but levels soon become fiendishly difficult, and require some quite precise button presses to accomplish.
Sitting alongside Pokémon as the childhood game of choice for many people, Yu-Gi-Oh can now be enjoyed on your iPhone or iPad. Duel Links has a strong tutorial in order to teach you the rules, so don’t worry if you’ve never played before, or are a little rusty. There are microtransactions, but they’re not required to progress, and you can get a lot of free cards from playing the in-game events. A good choice if you’re curious about playing a collectable card game, are an existing Yu-Gi-Oh player, or simply want to indulge in some nostalgia.
Who doesn’t love Mario and his happy band of friends and foes? Mario Kart Tour is the mobile version of the madly popular and decade-spanning Mario Kart series. It’s a simple formula — choose a character and race against other characters, whether A.I.-controlled or player-controlled, and aim to take first place. Win races, collect stars, and unlock new characters, karts, and badges. It’s free to play but has optional paid elements.
Roblox is a weird game. In some ways, it’s not actually a game at all, it’s a place to make and share games. Roblox lets you create vast, sprawling adventures, neat competitions, or just a place to hang out and chat with your friends. It has to be experienced to be understood, and thankfully, it’s free to play, though there are paid elements using the Robux currency.
This one isn’t for anyone looking to relax. Running a hospital is a stressful business, and no one knows this more than the nurse you play in Happy Clinic. Manage your time to keep the hospital running and improve it, helping out the doctors, preparing medicine, and sending patients to the correct departments. But there’s even more here than just that, including an engaging and dramatic storyline centered around the nurse’s past.
The game created by Hello Games that isn’t No Man’s Sky, Joe Danger is a side-scrolling racer where you take the eponymous Joe Danger through a series of levels, jumping, backflipping, and wheelie-ing over obstacles. Recently revamped to work on newer devices thanks to a fan’s desperate plea, it’s a great little game with a lot to offer.
Geometry Dash Lite is a platformer that likes to describe itself as “near impossible,” so it’s fair to say you can expect a challenge after downloading this one. Lovingly rendered in 2D, Geometry Dash Lite revels in its, well, geometric-shaped obstacles that you need to jump, fly, or flip your way past. There’s a range of levels, each with its own musical soundtrack.
Take control of a fighter and battle other players in Shadow Fight Arena, a beat-em-up in the vein of Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. You can unlock and level up a variety of heroes, and while it’s free to play, there’s also a subscription that offers free chests and coins for spending in-game. You can challenge friends to PvP battles or just fight random online strangers.
The buzz about it may have died down, but Genshin Impact is still a massive game with an enormous following and some great gameplay to get stuck into. The story challenges you to find your lost sibling on the unknown world of Teyvat. But really, when there are mountains to climb, lakes to swim, and gliding to do, it’s easy to find yourself waylaid fairly quickly. Select from a range of diverse characters, harness the power of the elements, and enjoy the gorgeous visuals on display.
Rhythm beat games are a classic genre, and it’s been a while since we’ve seen a really good one. Beatstar is just that, combining top music tracks with some simple (but compulsive) gameplay. Tap the blocks as they land in the bar at the bottom of the screen, and build up your streak. Master songs to unlock new song tiers and challenge your friends to beat your scores. It starts simple but becomes extremely challenging as you play more.
The classic PC game comes to iOS with RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch. Build your fantasy theme park by designing your very own rollercoasters, pairing thrill-seeking rides with other attractions, and setting up food and drink locations. Upgrade your park over time, bring in more and more visitors, and make your creation the biggest and best theme park to ever exist. It’s free to play but with microtransactions available to buy.
Inspired by other, more famous nuclear wasteland-set games, The Wanderer: Post-Nuclear RPG is something of a love letter to the setting. Play a survivor of the nuclear apocalypse and wander the wastes, gathering supplies to survive. Along the way, you’ll need to make decisions, make friends and enemies, and take your particular story in your own direction. The map is random every time you start a new game, and you can get a dog. Who can say no to that?
The Lord of the Rings: War is set in Tolkien’s beloved fantasy universe and puts you in the shoes of a faction of Middle-Earth. Fight against the other factions for the One Ring, recruit new commanders, and even forge your very own ring of power. A large amount of Middle-Earth is available to adventure through as you build your team and create an enormous army. It’s free-to-play, but it does have microtransactions.
Pokémon games are taking mobile platforms by storm, and Pokémon Unite is a big part of the reason why. It’s a 5-on-5 battle arena game where you work with your team to secure the most points. Make sure your Pokémon are stylish with Holowear and perform amazing new moves in battle. It’s cross-platform, so you can play with Switch and Android players, and it won’t cost you a dollar if you’re strict with your finances.
Survival games are now something of a classic genre, but it’s quite rare to see one so built just for mobile. Tiny Island Survival is a survival game that takes place on a single screen. The island is truly tiny and stretches only from the top of your screen to the bottom. Despite that, it crams an awful lot into that one island, and you’ll have everything you need to survive — and a few additional surprises, too. It’s great for playing in short bursts, and there’s a secret to find as well. A great time-waster.
It’s been away from our list for a time, but it’s so good that we had to bring it back. Quite unlike any Fallout game that came before, Fallout Shelter puts you in the shoes of a vault leader, sealed away from the nuclear apocalypse. The time to explore the wasteland has come, and your settlers’ lives are a sacrifice you’re willing to make. Gather scraps from what remains of the outside world and build up your vault, keeping your settlers safe (well, as safe as can be expected), and slowly bring some element of civilization back to a lawless land.
Marvel Future Revolution was only released in August 2021, but it’s such a big release that it deserves its place on this list. It’s the latest huge mobile game from Marvel, and unlike previous mobile games from the company, it’s a third-person RPG that tells the tale of a “convergence” on planet Earth. Multiple realities are colliding, and it’s causing chaos. Your job, playing as a variety of Marvel heroes, is to stop it. Move your character with the left thumb, and select from a variety of attacks with the other — it’s a simple formula, but it’s a good slice of mindless fun. It’s a hefty download, but there’s a cute Flappy Bird-style minigame you can play while it downloads.
It’s almost a decade old, but my, how Minecraft has grown. While you can never say Minecraft was ever basic, so much has been added over the years that it barely resembles the game that launched in 2011. If you’re somehow not familiar with this absolute blockbuster of a game, you find yourself in the world of Minecraft. Survive and thrive by making the most of the resources you find, build a gigantic castle, automated farms, and so, so much more. A real time-sink of a game, and for just $7.
Alright, so it might be a little on the nose these days, but there’s no denying Plague Inc. is a lot of fun. Play as a new disease, whether bacteria, virus, fungus, or more, and infect as many people as possible. As time goes by, you need to choose between becoming more overtly infectious — and risking discovery and vaccines — or stay under the radar for as long as possible so you can quickly mutate and ramp up all at once. Despite the global backdrop, Plague Inc. is still a great game to play any time you’ve got a few extra moments.
One of the few iOS games that can call itself a true mobile MMORPG, Black Desert Online is a free-to-play open-world game with an awful lot to offer if you’re a fan of PC games like World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, or other MMORPGs. With 14 character classes to choose from, a massive world to explore, and some gorgeous graphics, Black Desert Online is one of the big MMORPGs to choose from on iOS. Unfortunately, it does have quite a few paid elements, including boosts, but if you’re happy to do more legwork, you can ignore those.
Want to play a farming game, but you’re not a fan of Stardew Valley‘s cutesy style? Farming Simulator 20‘s realistic approach and graphics are definitely up your alley. The noble profession of farming has been faithfully reproduced down to the last brand-name tractor, with over 100 machines from real-world names, the ability to farm and harvest a wide range of crops, and the ability to hop on a horse and live out your cow-tending dreams. It costs $6, but if you’re a fan of a slower pace of life, this is definitely worth the initial investment.
SimCity is the majordomo of city-building games, and it’s great to see the legendary game series land on iOS. SimCity BuildIt is initially a straightforward affair: Build your city from the ground up, designing roads, public transit, and different districts so that traffic and commerce can flow freely. But once you’re past the early stages, you’ll need to start juggling, adding serious depth and giving you some big decisions to make. There are microtransactions here, though, so keep a close hand on your wallet.
Street Fighter is one of the world’s biggest fighting game franchises, and now it has come to your iPhone with Street Fighter IV CE. This mobile port of the 2008 video game gives you access to 31 fighters (including old and new favorites), some impressive graphics, single and multiplayer modes, and full game controller support as well. While you’ll need to pay to play this game, $5 is an absolute bargain for a game of this caliber, and the porting is tight and extremely well done. A great investment if you’re a lover of fighting games.
Who wants to rule the world? Everybody, at least according to Tears for Fears and Risk: Global Domination. This is a classic strategy game and one you’ve likely played if you have a board game-loving friend or two. The rules are simple — win as much land as is possible, and be the player who dominates by the end. You can play single and multiplayer, and it even has cross-play capabilities, so you’ll get to play against PC players as well. If you like to jump between PC and mobile, your purchases also come with you, which is a very nice bonus.
The original puzzle game that started the 2048 craze, Threes! is a matching game with a difference. Slide tiles with matching numbers together to add them together, and continue going until you only have one tile left. It’s a simple concept, but it’s deeper than you’d assume, and it won’t be long before you’re hooked and desperately trying to figure out how to get those last few tiles matched together. This is the free ad-supported version, but there’s also a paid version if you’d like to support the developers directly.
Battles are fought on the edge of a knife, with snap decisions made in the spur of the moment often being the difference between victory and defeat. With excellent-looking and realistic graphics, a range of battlefronts, and customization elements that unlock as you play, this is fun if you’ve always seen yourself as an armchair strategist. Unfortunately, there are complaints of pay-to-win aspects, but if you’re not worried about that, then this is a really fun real-time strategy game.
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