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Nintendo should be worried about the iPhone 15 Pro

OPINION: Ever since Nintendo launched the Game Boy back in 1989, the beloved gaming brand has had a firm grip on the gaming handheld market. 

The Nintendo Switch has shown no signs of Nintendo’s grip loosening either, having sold 129 million units worldwide and ranking only second to the Nintendo DS when it comes to the quantity of handheld gaming systems sold. 

The Nintendo Switch has met some fierce competition over the past couple of years too, with new handheld gaming PCs – such as the Steam Deck, Asus ROG Ally and Ayaneo 2S – flooding the market. 

As popular as those new devices are, they don’t pose a significant threat to the Nintendo Switch. They’re simply too expensive and are a little too intimidating for the more casual player base that Nintendo appeals to. Instead, Nintendo should be more worried about Apple. 

Apple hasn’t really had a major focus on gaming over the years, with the Mac famously being poorly optimised for gaming when compared to Windows counterparts. But last night, Apple announced that Assassin’s Creed Mirage, Resident Evil 4 Remake, Resident Evil Village and Death Stranding will soon be natively playable on the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. 

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The word ‘natively’ is important here, as it means those high-profile modern games will be able to run on the iPhone 15 Pro without the need of an internet connection for cloud streaming, instead relying on its own chip to run games. Smartphones may already be a popular platform for gaming, but they have previously lacked the power to play the latest big-profile games on the PS5, Xbox Series X and Nintendo Switch. The iPhone 15 Pro is the very first phone to buck that trend. 

iPhone 15 Pro
iPhone 15 Pro

Apple has been shy on details in regard to what kind of performance we can expect with these games on an iPhone 15 Pro. There’s no word on the target resolution or frame rate, for example, but the fact the games can run natively on the smartphone is an impressive feat alone. Apple has even confirmed that the iPhone 15 Pro supports hardware-accelerated ray tracing, an advanced light rendering technology that Nintendo is yet to support. 

If these games run smoothly, and Apple is able to see additional AAA games launch on the iPhone in the future, then serious questions need to be asked of Nintendo and the future of the Switch. 

The main appeal of the Nintendo Switch is that it’s an affordable gaming system that can be used on the go. However, if your smartphone is able to run the same calibre of games too, then what’s the point of buying the Switch 2, besides the promise of Nintendo’s excellent first-party library of games such as Mario, Pokemon, Zelda and more. 

It’s worth highlighting that the iPhone 15 Pro is hardly cheap. It’s priced at £999/$999, which is 5x more expensive than the Nintendo Switch Lite. However, you have to remember that the iPhone 15 Pro has many more uses beyond gaming – it’s essentially your ‘everything device’, making the extra purchase of a gaming handheld redundant. 

This is only the start too. Now the iPhone 15 Pro is powerful enough for AAA gaming, it’s likely that the base iPhone 16 will offer a similar performance this time next year. It probably won’t take too long for Android phones to catch up either, with the Snapdragon chip maker already designing processors for gaming devices such as the Meta Quest 2 and Razer Edge

If it becomes the norm for flagship phones to share the same game library as a PS5 or Xbox Series X, then Nintendo will quickly lose the key reason why many people would want to purchase the Nintendo Switch 2. Of course, we’re yet to see an official reveal of the Switch successor, so Nintendo may still have a few tricks up its sleeve, but it will certainly be keeping a keen eye on the emerging gaming talents of the iPhone 15 Pro. 

I’m confident that a Nintendo Switch 2 will still sell well no matter how good the iPhone becomes at gaming. But if smartphones do soon become legitimate options for AAA gaming on the go, it’s difficult to see Nintendo ever again reaching the same sales figures as the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Switch for a future gaming handheld.

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