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Ion Audio iCade Mobile review: Ion Audio iCade Mobile

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The Good The iCade Mobile's buttons work responsively, and the accessory does indeed add physical controls to your iPhone or iPod Touch.

The Bad The unit is bulky, the buttons feel cheap, and the list of supported games is limited. Also, there isn't an analog pad for more modern shooters.

The Bottom Line The iCade Mobile is a retro gaming oddity for the iPhone that adds physical buttons, but for a lofty $70 price. Its lack of universal compatibility, lack of analog sticks, and large size relegate it to strictly novelty status.

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5.7 Overall
  • Design 5
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6

Does the lack of physical buttons on an iPhone or iPod Touch make your gamer blood boil? There's a way to turn your phone into a button-laden gaming handheld, but I warn you: it isn't pretty.

Ion Audio, maker of the iCade iPad arcade cabinet, have made a phone accessory called the iCade Mobile that initially sounds like a fun idea. Hold that thought, now ask yourself: what would make such a peripheral fun? Such a device should be very small, as elegantly designed as the iPhone itself, and compatible with all your myriad iPhone games.

The iCade Mobile is none of these. The $70 black plastic device is long and heavy, not to mention thick (and expensive). With an iPhone inserted, you have a handheld device that feels as large and long as an Atari Lynx (remember those?).

Sarah Tew/CNET

The iCade Mobile has no analog stick, either: its controls are relegated to a standard directional-pad, four buttons on the right side, and two sets of left/right shoulder buttons, one of them on each side being trigger-shaped. As far as compatibility, you're limited to a hodgepodge group of ever-growing games that work with iCade products -- so, no, this device isn't universal, and won't let you suddenly play Street Fighter flawlessly.

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