iCade Mobile adds physical gaming controls to your iPhone

Ion's new iPhone/iPod Touch gaming accessory, shown at CES 2012, adds hard buttons to your iPhone or other Bluetooth smartphone.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
The Ion Audio iCade Mobile will retail for $79.99 when it comes out in May (click to enlarge). David Carnoy/CNET

LAS VEGAS--Tired of playing games with virtual buttons on your iPhone? Well, a few companies, including Ion Audio, are making Bluetooth game controllers that work with the iPhone and Android smartphones.

We got a chance to play around with the Ion iCade Mobile ($79.99) and found that it worked well enough (yes, those are shoulder buttons on top). That said, Steve Jobs would probably cringe at its design. The shiny black plastic is a fingerprint magnet and the whole contraption isn't terribly elegant. True, we were using an early version of the device, so we may see some refinements before launch in May.

When it does ship this spring, iCade Mobile is supposed to work with around 100 games (no, not all games will be compatible with it--far from it). It's worth noting that the controller does allow you to turn your device vertically or horizontally, which is good.

At its booth here, Ion was also showing off the iCade Core ($99.99), a less fancy version of its iCade gaming cabinet for the iPad, and had a mock-up on hand of the iCade Jr. ($69.99), a shrunken-down version of the iCade that works with the iPhone.

The iCade open in portrait mode Ion Audio