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.
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.
Surviving the zombie apocalypse is a genre we’ve encountered many times before, but we doubt you’ve ever faced it from the gunning position of an AC-130 gunship. Zombie Gunship Survival is the perfect antidote if you’re sick of slowly building up your resources and hitting zombies with sticks. Instead, jump straight into your gunship and blow them all to kingdom come. Build up your airbase to defend against zombie attacks, and personally lead your troops in tactical operations against the dead. Some reviews complain about microtransactions, but others mention it’s a fairly light touch compared to other games. Worth the download for something new.
Reckon you could run a great business, if only you were given the chance? Give it a go in Sim Companies. Specialize your company in a number of different ways, and test your capitalist skills against other players as you battle to become the top dog. Your success will come down to how well you can watch the virtual economy and watch out for trends you can take advantage of. It’s free-to-play, but there are microtransactions.
The humble flight sim is one of PC gaming’s finest traditions, and it’s now arrived on your iOS (or iPadOS) device. There’s almost too much to do here to list, and pretty much everything you expect from a flight sim you’ll get here. Sure, it’s a bit overwhelming at first, but flying a plane isn’t easy, and neither is Infinite Flight Simulator. You can also fly in multiplayer or play as a flight controller, though you’ll need to pay for a Pro subscription for that at the cost of $10 a month. Still, flying a basic plane is free, and it offers everything you need to know whether this is your jam or not.
The game infamously revealed with the words “do you guys not have phones?” has finally launched, and despite the outcry, it’s actually pretty good. Diablo Immortal is here, and if you’re a fan of the Diablo games or anything similar, then you’re sure to love it. The genius here is that this isn’t some cheap mobile imitation — this is a fully fledged Diablo game in all its glory, and that makes a serious difference. Alright, it’s rammed to the gills with microtransactions, but if you want to sample the game everyone is talking about, then you’ll just have to hold your nose.
Star Wars is a huge franchise at the moment, thanks to the release of Kenobi, so why not enjoy a great Star Wars game? Star Wars: TCS is a port of the 2007 Lego Star Wars game of the same name and has content from Star Wars I to Star Wars VI, so don’t expect anything from the sequel trilogy in this. But regardless of that, you get to play through the six mainline movies, starting in the Trade Federation negotiations and fighting your way through to the second Death Star above Endor. There are over 120 characters to play, and you’ll need to use other characters’ strengths to get all the secrets in every level. It’s free to start playing, with Episode I unlocked for free. Subsequent episodes will cost money, though you can buy the full game for $7.
Born into a world where angels and demons wage eternal war, the titular barbarian must explore the Sanctuary to find a way to prevent the demons from returning to the mortal realm. A relatively straightforward RPG in some ways, Barbarian Merge puts a fun twist on the genre where inventory management is concerned. Instead of just chucking away old swords, axes, and helmets, you instead merge multiple copies together to make more powerful versions. It’s a fun twist on a loot-centered game and one that removes what can often be a tiresome chore. After all, what makes managing loot better than that loot turning into better loot?
Square Valley puts you in the shoes of the Spirit of Valley, whose purpose is to take a square of land and make it habitable for incoming villagers. You’ll need to place houses for them to live in, animals to farm, rivers for water, and trees for wood. The trick is that each portion of the land can only take certain tiles, so you’ll need to balance what you place where. It’s a fun and engaging concept, and one that should tickle puzzle-lovers for hours.
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.