There’s nothing better than curling up on the sofa, wrapping yourself in a blanket, and escaping into a game on your smartphone. There’s something comforting about creating your own little cocoon, safe from the outside world. While gaming phones are picking up steam, there’s no better phone to buy than the iPhone if you’re a mobile gamer. With more than a million apps available in the Apple App Store, the gaming options on the iPhone are nearly limitless. But finding the best iPhone games isn’t always easy. Not every game in Apple’s massive library is worth $1 — or your time, for that matter.
Luckily for you, we’ve taken on the burden of sorting through the heaving sea of titles to bring you some of the best iPhone games. So, whether you’re looking for a casual puzzler or something a bit more epic, take a look at our list of the best games you’ll find on your iOS device.
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.
The Formula One World Championship is one of the biggest racing syndicates around, and while you may never get the chance to get behind the wheel of one of these powerful machines, F1 Manager gives you the opportunity to manage your very own team. Create a pit stop strategy, decide whether to go all out or sneak the lead on the final lap, and recruit and level-up real-life F1 drivers. It looks great and plays excellently — though keep in mind it has some items for sale, so lock down your account if you’re handing control over to a child.
If you don’t know what Minecraft is, well, you’re about to have a very good time. Minecraft is, without a doubt, one of the biggest games of the last decade. Essentially kickstarting the survival genre’s mass popularity, Minecraft drops you into a box-based world and tells you to survive and build. From modest beginnings of creating your first pickaxe and punching trees, you’ll soon be building yourself a house, starting a farm, and even adventuring into creepy other dimensions. Just watch out for Creepers — you’ll know when you find one.
Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom
While his games may not have made the lasting impression of long-time rival Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog is still a hot topic, thanks in large part to his recent film adaptation. Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom is an endless runner in the vein of games like Temple Run, and it’s really the most natural fit for everyone’s favorite hedgehog. You’ll play as Sonic characters from the recent popular Sonic Boom TV show, including Sonic, Tails, Amy, Shadow, and more.
Crying Suns ($9)
Explore a fallen empire as the commander of a fleet of spaceships, discovering the mysterious reasons behind the fall of the empire and taking part in tense battles between battleships. Coined as a blending of rogue-lite FTL and science fiction classics like Foundation and Dune, Crying Suns spares no expense with its vast world-building, offering more than 300 possible story events and six chapters of drama. It’s a rogue-lite, so expect to die often and quickly — but every mission takes you farther into the procedurally generated universe, and reveals more of the mystery at hand.
Our British and Irish history is a little hazy, but we didn’t remember much tennis. Regardless of historical accuracy, it turns out fantasy tennis is a lot of fun, and it means QuestBall thrives. Play as up to eight characters (including Boudica) with their own sets of strengths and weaknesses, and a variety of power-ups and special shots to exploit in your battles with royalty, outlaws, giants, and gods. A fun little time-waster.
If you’re looking to relax a little, settle down with Vía‘s collection of maze puzzles. It may seem like a simple premise to go from A to B, but hurdles will jump in the way, forcing you to think carefully about the choices you make while playing. It’s difficult enough to be challenging, but not too tough to put you off — and it’s oh-so addictive as well. The first 30 paths are free to play, but you’ll need to purchase the full game for access to all 10 journeys. However, it’s well worth your dollar.
War Tortoise 2
War Tortoise 2 is something of a genre defier. It styles itself as an idle shooter, but that’s not entirely correct. Loaded up on your War Tortoise, you shoot down bad guys that approach, gaining money and buying followers as you defeat them. Miniature army in tow, you trek off at a slow plod to the next area, fending off attacks as you go. It’s simple to control — just drag your finger to move your gunsights, and your pilot will shoot automatically. Upgrade your tortoise’s weaponry and armor, add to your army and upgrade their abilities, and keep plodding on. There are a few nice graphical touches too, like droplets impacting on the screen during the rain. A fun little time-waster.
If Found… ($4)
Another game from those who like stories to really make them feel things, If Found…‘s story centers around the diary of protagonist Kasio. It tells the story of her return to the west of Ireland, her conflict with friends and family, and the challenges she comes across — but it all leads up to one fateful night, where a black hole is set to destroy the world. Can Kasio stop the black hole from eradicating everything she holds dear? Stunning hand-drawn art and some storytelling that’s truly emotional means this game is an excellent way to spend a quiet evening.
Snipers Vs Thieves: Zombies!
From the makers of Snipers Vs Thieves, this sequel takes the simple formula from the last game and adds — you guessed it, zombies. But this time, zombies aren’t hungry for brains, they’re hungry for money. Whatever, the story isn’t the reason you’ll be playing this. Protect your cash from hordes of zombies by taking them out with perfectly placed shots, and use the cash you earn to upgrade your trusty weapon. The controls are simple — just drag the crosshair over a zombie and hold it there until your shot meter fills up. There are in-app purchases, as you might expect, but it’s fun enough that you’ll be able to play without paying.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
The latest Animal Crossing game has set the internet on fire, but you don’t need to own a Nintendo Switch to get in on the magic. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is an excellent way to get your Animal Crossing fix right from your pocket. Set up your own little campsite, designing it however you like by collecting items from daily tasks and annual events. Want to set up a theme park, music festival, or an amazing glamping site? You can, and you can do it in the cutest surroundings possible. As a mobile game, there are plenty of microtransactions available, so it’s not the best game for anyone who struggles to hold back from spending too much. But if that’s not an issue, this is a great way to spend some time.
Angry Birds 2
If you don’t know what Angry Birds is, well, it’s one of the most legendary mobile franchises around. The sequel to the hit game that spawned a movie, of all things, Angry Birds 2 takes you back into the war between the birds and the egg-nabbing pigs — a war that can only be won by flinging miffed birds at piggy houses. Hey, we said they were “angry,” not “clever.” There have been a few changes to the original formula though, and you can now pick the bird you use, take on multi-stage levels, and impress the Mighty Eagle to win coins to spend in his shop. While that may sound like a lot, trust us when we say this is one of the best casual gaming experiences around.
There are classic boardganes, and then there’s Scrabble. Scrabble has a simple premise, a small learning curve, and a lot of depth, which probably explains why it’s lasted as long as it has. Scrabble Go now means you can enjoy the Scrabble experience from your phone. But unlike its board-based counterpart, Scrabble Go isn’t restricted to just playing with people in your immediate area, and you’ll be able to play with multiple people from around the world at the same time. Take a turn against one opponent, then open another game and take your turn there. There’s no turn timer, so there’s never any stress to get back to the game, and it’s completely free to play.
Disney Sorceror’s Arena
The turn-based battler has seen a big revival in the last few years, and Disney is the latest to create its own card-collecting version. Thankfully, it’s pretty good. If you’ve played one of these games before then you know what to expect — collect cards to unlock new Disney characters and use them to battle through a series of A.I. or human opponents to unlock more. Battles are conducted in a turn-based environment, and a lot of the strategy comes from choosing when to use each character’s special abilities. It’s compulsive, but be aware there are a lot of microtransactions.
Homicide Squad: New York Cases
Hidden object games are something of a guilty pleasure for many, and they shouldn’t be, because they’re actually a lot of fun. In this game, you take control of a pair of wisecracking detectives as they solve crimes and deliver justice in New York City. Examine murder scenes and find and gather your evidence. You have limited energy to play with, and you have to pay to recharge it — which makes it a casual game for everyone but those with deep pockets. Still, it’s a fun hidden object game if you enjoy them, and worth trying if you’re unfamiliar with the genre.
Hit the baseball as hard as you can with your bat, and see how far it flies. That’s all Baseball Boy! is, but there’s something beautifully compulsive in its extremely simple loop. Every hit earns you gold, which you can then use to upgrade your strength, ball bounciness, and other attributes. It’s dumb, but it’s an awful lot of fun, and by the time you start unlocking new cosmetic bats and balls, you won’t care how stupid it is — you’ll just care about getting to the next major milestone. A great little casual game that doesn’t push you into spending money.
Miss old racing games like Super Hang-On? Maybe Retro Highway is the game to scratch that itch. It has a nostalgia-triggering pixel-art style and challenging gameplay that emulates the feel of classic racing games, but on a modern smartphone. There is a range of challenges to complete, and scoreboards to compete with friends or with the rest of the world. You can collect over 10 types of bike and customize them with power-ups, and the races take you around the world, and even as far as a futuristic moon base. Now all you need is a killer soundtrack and you’re ready to ride.
Undead Horde ($6)
Sometimes it’s fun to be the bad guy, and it’s hard to get more vilified than the humble necromancer. Undead Horde is exactly that — an undead horde raised and commanded by you! The game is a blend of action RPG, strategy, and hack-and-slash as you raise your army and send them against the living and their leader, King Paladin Benevictor. Gather loot to upgrade yourself and your army, fight a wide range of enemies, from humans to scorpions, and reanimate them to continue building your horde.
The world’s biggest game is back on this list again, and it’s here simply because we can’t give it up. Fortnite, the third-person shooter with base-building elements has long been a favorite thanks in large part to its fast-paced action, intuitive combat, and fun, cartoony graphics. It’s free-to-play, but if you want any of the many cosmetic items, you’ll have to pay for them. If you’re new to the Fortnite phenomenon, where have you been? Get started with our range of Fortnite guides, and maybe you could be the next person to win big!
Vertical arcade shooters are part of the fabric of gaming history, but they’re far from outdated. The old school shoot-’em-up genre can still be a real challenge, and if you crave that challenge, P.3 is an excellent way to relive the shooters of yesteryear. It emulates the look of a classic shooter, including a CRT TV overlay and attractive pixel-art graphics, and it’s just as challenging as the originals. We wish it was a bit more colorful though, and with only five stages, you may find yourself running out of game quite quickly if you’re good at it. But for the price of two arcade games, this is a pretty good deal.
Gods of Boom
Gods of Boom may be an odd name, but don’t let that put you off. Gods of Boom is one of the best first-person shooters you can get on mobile right now. Fight for control of a bunch of 3D maps in large multiplayer battles, and customize and upgrade your character as you go. However, Gods of Boom‘s strongest weapon are its regular updates. Previous events have included crossover events with The Walking Dead, and the latest Season 11 update has introduced a new event for the Corp Wars mode.
Asphalt 9: Legends
Love to race? Asphalt 9: Legends allows you to take a spin in a collection of over 60 cars without leaving the comfort of your smaller screen. It’s a simpler version of the classic mobile racing game, but it’s no less compelling and fun. Swipe to take different routes through each race, and tap-and-hold to drift around corners, building up your speed boost meter as you do so. Win races, earn money, and expand and upgrade your garage of amazing speed machines.
Stardew Valley ($8)
Take a slower pace to life with the hit farming sim Stardew Valley. Based on the hit series of Harvest Moon games, Stardew Valley leaves you with a plot of land, and from there it’s up to you to create a working farm by planting seasonal crops, caring for livestock, foraging for rare ingredients, and everything that comes between. But there’s more to do in the game than just farming, and heading into the nearby Pelican Town introduces you to a host of characters to meet, win over, and even marry. A wonderful and relaxing game that’s all too easy to lose many hours to.
Multiplayer arena battlers are picking up steam and Clash Royale is one of the best examples out there. It’s as addictive as it is fun, and its bursts of three-minute action mean it’s firmly at the top of our list of bathroom-break apps. Face off against opponents with your selection of cards representing magical spells and minions, with the aim of knocking down their towers and castles. It’s deeper than it sounds, with each spell and minion excelling in certain areas, and being weak against other cards. Collect more cards as you play, and battle against other players to earn gold. It’s free-to-play, but with paid elements, including offers on buying certain cards.
Call of Duty: Mobile
It’s not every day you come across a legendary shooter series on iPhone, but here’s Call of Duty: Mobile. It’s basically just the multiplayer of a Call of Duty game, but with everything you expect. Take on the opposing team in brutal first-person shootouts across iconic multiplayer maps from past Call of Duty games. Unlock new weapons, loadouts, and outfits, and use them to gun down even more enemies. It’s surprisingly easy to jump into, and the mobile controls are more intuitive than a console or PC veteran might expect. The game is free-to-play, but there are microtransactions along the way.
Civilization VI (free-to-start/$20)
$20 is a lot for a mobile game, but Civilization VI offers more than enough content to make the substantial investment worthwhile. Play as one of a number of historic civilizations, and build your empire, gather resources, and interact with opponents. It’s adapted brilliantly to work on touchscreens, and even works fairly well on a phone’s smaller screen. If you’re still not sure, there’s a 60-turn free trial so you can see whether you’ll be hooked or not.
Hotel Empire Tycoon
We’re busy people, so we have a soft spot for idler games. Hotel Empire Tycoon is, as the name suggests, a game about managing a hotel chain. Simply set the game off and as your business grows you’ll add new furniture, hire new staff, and do whatever’s necessary to keep your increasing number of guests happy. It’s casual and very easy to get into, but with enough depth to keep you entertained for a long time to come.
Love ice hockey? Well, Brutal Hockey isn’t exactly the most faithful recreation of your beloved sport, but it’s a lot of fun anyway. It’s basically ice hockey as people who don’t understand ice hockey think it is — the only goal is to score and you’re allowed to use any means necessary to get there. It’s fast-paced action fuelled by in-game powerups and A.I. that adapts to your gameplay to keep things challenging. There are 15 cups to win, an online leaderboard, and five factions to take to the ice with.
The Elder Scrolls: Blades
So we don’t have Skyrim for mobile just yet, but The Elder Scrolls: Blades is an excellent game to plug the gap. Blades hits all the usual elements you’d expect from a game in the Elder Scrolls series, including freeform exploration, dungeons, and a range of fantastical enemies to defeat, all presented within a believable world. You can create and customize your character, and later, you even get to build and customize your very own city — not exactly an element that’s reached Skyrim yet. It’s plagued by microtransactions, but it’s still worth a shot if you’ve enjoyed playing other RPGs and want something you can carry in your pocket.
The concept behind Draw It is certainly not complicated — you’re given a word and you have to draw it. Draw as many as possible within the allotted time and you’re awarded points. Draw fast to beat the competition, win coins, and unlock new word packs. It’s simple, but extremely fun and very time-consuming. There’s a VIP subscription that gives you extra word packs, free coins, and ad-free playing — but it’s super expensive at $15 a month.
It’s a simple idea, but an engaging one. Tap to hook onto points to avoid obstacles and make your way to the end of the course. The game pulls shamelessly from Spider-Man’s web-slinging abilities, but that doesn’t detract from the fun. Later levels increase the speed you swing and speed along, ramping up the difficulty and keeping you interested. Playing unlocks new characters to swing with, including a lemon and a cheeseburger. It’s worth a quick download if you have a few minutes to spare.