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The Caliber Advantage is the first real iPhone gaming controller

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No matter how many million first person shooters developers crank out for iOS, the platform’s touch-based controls mean the games will never control as well as their console counterparts. Here at CES, mobile accessory maker Zagg is unveiling the best-looking solution to the problem we’ve seen so far — the Caliber Advantage. Its dual analog sticks give gamers the same kind of precision as something like the PlayStation Vita or 3DS. And to get around the lack of content — iOS games don’t natively support anything other than touch input — Zagg is working together with Epic Games to add support for the controller in Unreal Engine 3-based iOS games. In the first half of this year, for $69.99, iOS gamers will get the closest yet to a console experience on their phones.

When not in use, the Caliber Advantage’s controls retract into what looks like an expandable battery case. When they’re extended, users get two analog thumbsticks, a D-pad, four face buttons, and two shoulder buttons. It connects to the iPhone with low-power Bluetooth 4.0, which Zagg says not only helps with latency, but lets the company get by with a slender 150 mAh battery lithium ion battery and still get 150 hours of gameplay.

Aside from Epic, Zagg says that it’s working with several other developers that don’t want to be named. Although, since the other game the company is demoing happens to be Tetris, we think it’s safe to guess that EA is on board as well. But as attractive as the Caliber Advantage is, the cards are still stacked against it — there are a number of similar products on the market, the best and most succesful iOS games rely on native, touch-based interfaces, and Zagg will need developers to modify their apps to support the controller. But out of all the products we’ve seen, this one has far and away the best chance of bringing the console experience to your iPhone.