Faster processors have allowed mobile devices to play console-quality games. But there’s still an obstacle that frequently inhibits enjoyment: touch screen-based control schemes. While these interfaces might work for simple titles, they present a problem for more advanced games, as anyone who has struggled to use a virtual joystick and buttons can confirm. The lack of physical feedback requires players to constantly ensure their fingers are in the proper position, potentially breaking the sense of immersion. But more importantly, this type of system obstructs a significant portion of screen real estate.
A solution might be found in the The FlyDiGi Wasp, a device made by one of China’s dominant controller manufacturers. Although there’s a few trade-offs when using the peripheral, the advantages largely outweigh any drawbacks, creating an interesting proposition for iPhone owners seeking some physical input.
Setting up the Wasp couldn’t be easier. Simple press a recessed button on the back to open the unit’s vise-like mechanism. Once the unit is open, simple slide your phone in (there’s no lightning connect to worry about) and press down on the top part of the grip to fasten your phone in place. Once your iPhone is docked, the Wasp creates a dependable bond, and there’s no worry about your precious hardware accidently slipping out.
Unlike most MFi controllers, the Wasp doesn’t require a Bluetooth connection. Instead, it uses a proprietary technology called CapAir Mapping. Essentially, the device simulates human touch and permits players to map spots on the touchscreen to its four physical buttons. As such, playing games like Fortnight or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds requires one-time settings adjustments. A template that’s included with the peripheral allows you to remap the interactive hot-spots to the proper position. Once completed, two face buttons and two triggers become active, making for a relatively seamless play experience in these two titles.
Unfortunately, games must allow for adjustable on-screen inputs for the Wasp to work. Use the peripheral with a paint app and you’ll understand it’s execution. Moving the analog stick around simulates touch around the lower right corner of the screen while the button imitate a tap at four points immediately to the left. As such, the device won’t work with MFi-compatible titles like Asphalt 8: Airborne, Bastion, or Metal Slug. While there’s a chance that publishers might update their code to accommodate the Wasp, given the number of 32-bit apps that weren’t modernized, I won’t expect many companies to step up.
CapAir Mapping requires power, so you’ll periodically have to recharge the unit’s 300mAh lithium-ion battery. While the manufacturer claims twenty-hours out of play from the device, a full charge yielded only about sixteen hours, which is a slightly disappointing, but tolerable since the unit replenishes its power supply in a few hours. Thankfully, the device’s other trade-offs aren’t deal-breakers, either. When docked, you’ll won’t have access to the physical volume buttons. And while you can fit your iPhone into the Wasp with a screen protector, you’ll have to remove any kind of case on it. Functionally, pressing either of the two face buttons on the controller requires you to remove your thumb from the stick, which is a minor issue that couldn’t be eluded given the Wasp’s design.
With a polycarbonate body, the Wasp strikes a respectable balance between heft and sturdiness. When your phone is inserted into the peripheral, FlyDiGi’s device doesn’t feel unbalanced, which is surprising since the Wasp only covers the top half of your phone. Although the controller might not withstand a drop onto a hard surface, it’s probably solid enough to handle a fall onto a carpeted floor without damage.
With separate models for 6 through 8 Plus and X iPhones the FlyDiGi Wasp comes in two varieties. If you own one of those Apple phones and are seeking an edge at Fortnight or PUBG, then the device comes recommended. With two extra buttons, the Wasp has an edge over the comparable Xiaomi Black Shark controller, especially since the two share a similar price point. As of publishing, Kickstarter has suspending the Wasp’s crowd-sourced campaign for unspecified reasons. We will update when and if Kickstarter when/if the campaign continues.
A Chinese-market version of the Wasp was supplied for review from the manufacturer.