Two words, “Battery Life.”

I have no doubts about Mr. Carmack’s technical ability. His games defined ‘cutting edge’ graphics on the PC for many years. But even he can’t fight against the biggest weakness of the iPhone, a short battery life.

A “graphical tour de force” iPhone game would be cool and I would very much like to see what Carmack can do on it, but I would not be willing eat up all my battery for a few hours of gameplay.

If you look at offical iPhone battery information, video playback is 7 hours and surfing the web is 6 hours. Since Carmack said that the iPhone could be as powerful as a PS2 or Xbox, I would think that video playback or web surfing shouldn’t really tax the CPU.

A game that really pushes the CPU and all the subcomponents will decrease the usage time dramatically. I would estimate less than 5 hours for non-internet enabled game, and less than 4 hour for a game like Quake 2 that require constant internet activity.

I would be hesitant to play a game like that on anything less than a full charge. When I play games on a DS or PSP, if the battery dies it isn’t a big deal because I can always find some other source of entertainment. When my phone dies, it is a much bigger deal.

Battery life is not the only thing going against a graphics intensive game on the iPhone. The competition between PSP and DS shows that graphics just doesn’t matter as much on a portable device. While graphics rich games like “God of War: Chains of Olympus” have sold well on the PSP, lighter fare like Brain Age and Nintendogs have outsold it by a wide margin.

While on the consoles, excellent graphics is almost a necessary condition for hit games (like CoD 4, MGS 4, Soulcalibur 4, GTA 4), and sometimes a sufficient condition (Crysis), there isn’t that correlation for portable games.

Of course, I could be very wrong, and id comes out with an addictive game that’s worth not being able to make calls or send texts. In that case, pray for a breakthrough in battery technology.

How excited would you be by a “Xbox” graphics quality game on the iPhone? How would you manage your iPhone’s battery? Please leave a comment below or send me an email at

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