CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

All the hardware you need to play Apple Arcade games

The right iPhones, iPads, controllers and more will help you get into Apple Arcade's 100-plus games.

Alexandra Garrett Associate Editor
Alexandra is an associate editor on CNET's Performance Optimization team. She graduated from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, and interned with CNET's Tech and News teams while in school. Prior to joining CNET full time, Alexandra was a breaking news fellow at Newsweek, where she covered current events and politics.
Expertise Culture, How-To, Tech, Home, Wellness, Money, News
Alexandra Garrett
4 min read

This story is part of CNET's coverage of Apple Arcade, including exclusive first looks we got at some of the service's high-profile new games.

Apple made a splash in the mobile gaming world last fall with its launch of Apple Arcade, its game subscription service. At $4.99 (£4.99, AU$7.99) per month after a one-month free trial, users get all-you-can-play access to the 100-plus "new and exclusive" games on the service without the annoyance of additional in-app purchases or advertisements. 

Unlike upcoming streaming game services such as Google Stadia, Arcade players download the games from the App Store to their device so they can start playing offline. The latest software updates to iOS 13 and iPadOS support Apple TV, Xbox, PlayStation and other Bluetooth controllers, in addition to traditional on-screen controls.  

If you're confused about what hardware is supported or needed to play Apple Arcade games (and it's a long list), these are your current best options, along with our tips for pairing the best controller for Apple Arcade.

Watch this: Apple Arcade is changing video games for $5 a month
James Martin/CNET

Battery life for the iPhone 11 lasts up to an hour more than the iPhone XR, so users can play games on the go for longer before charging. Although the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone Max are made with Apple Arcade in mind, the service is also compatible with older phones that can run iOS 13, which runs from the iPhone 6S through iPhone XS and XR.

Read the Apple iPhone 11 review.

James Martin/CNET

The seventh-gen iPad, announced last fall, boasts a larger 10.2-inch screen, bringing more space for gameplay than Apple's previous 9.7-inch models. Although the new iPad provides a more immersive experience with its larger screen, Apple Arcade is available for the fifth- and sixth-gen iPad, fourth- and fifth-gen iPad Mini, and second- and third-gen iPad Air, all of which require the latest version of iPadOS.

Read more about the new iPad.

Sarah Tew

The SteelSeries Nimbus controller is a full-sized wireless controller compatible with many Apple devices including the iPhone 11 through SE, iPad, iPad Pro, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac and Apple TV. The familiar button placement makes it easy for you to jump into your favorite arcade game without the added stress of fumbling around with an unfamiliar thumbstick and controller. In addition to its familiar design, the controller's rechargeable battery lasts up to 40 hours. 

Read more about the SteelSeries Nimbus.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The current iPad Pro provides a screen even larger than the seventh-gen iPad, with 11- and 12.9-inch options. All models of the iPad Pro will support Apple Arcade.

Read the iPad Pro (2018) review.

Sarah Tew/CNET
Battery Life/Runtime 1,026 minutesWeight 2.8 poundsDisplay size/type 13-inch, 2560 x 1600 IPS LCDProcessor tested Apple M1 8‑coreGraphics tested Apple M1 7-core

The 2018 and 2019 lineup of the MacBook Air showcase high-resolution displays, True Tone technology, large touchpads and even better speakers -- all of which automatically makes them good potential game machines. Beyond gameplay, the 2019 MacBook air is made completely of recycled aluminum, so you can help reduce the carbon footprint while playing your favorite Arcade titles.

Read more about the new MacBook Air.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Besides made-for-iOS controllers, Apple Arcade also has controller support for the wireless PlayStation 4 and Xbox One S controllers. The Xbox One S controller comes in a variety of colors and designs ranging from plain white to camouflage and ombré patterns. The controller also has a textured grip rear for more comfortable hand placement while playing, and up to twice the wireless range of previous Xbox controllers. Note that older Xbox One controllers won't work, because they lack Bluetooth. 

Read more about the Xbox Wireless Controller.

Sarah Tew/CNET

MacBook Pro

The base 2019 MacBook Pro jumps from the older dual-core Intel CPU of the previous model to a newer quad-core version. So compared to the MacBook Air, the Pro may allow for faster and smoother quality gameplay. 

Read more about the 2019 MacBook Pro.

Sarah Tew/CNET


The iMac has the option of a 21.5- or 27-inch high-res display, both of which would be great for gaming, especially at 4K and 5K resolutions. The iMac has inputs for both the magic keyboard and mouse, which is, in turn, a big plus for gaming. 

Thanks to the recent MacOS Catalina release, any Mac that can run the latest OS should be able to play Arcade games. 

Read the 2019 Apple iMac 27-inch review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple TV allows you to start games on the biggest screen in your home. That makes it family-friendly and great for multiplayer arcade games, and adding a Bluetooth controller will make it feel even more console-like. Many games will also support the simple Apple TV remote. 

Read the Apple TV 4K review.

The PlayStation 4 DualShock controller has all the settings and features of a classic PS controller with the addition of a touchpad across its face. This new feature allows players to use a combination of controller and touchscreen controls for Arcade games. The new controller also feels improved with its rumble and reduced latency compared to previous PlayStation controllers. 

Read more about the PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 controller.

Originally published earlier and updated periodically.