Caliber Series Concepts: iPhone and iPad Controllers by iFrogz
A closer look at what the iFrogz controller lineup could be
iFrogz (now a wholly owned subsidiary of Zagg) has been teasing the world with their MFi controller designs for months now. Between the silhouette filled webpage and the vague references to unnamed controllers in 3 different form factors, iFrogz has done an excellent job at piquing everyone’s curiosity.
Today, I’m happy to be able to report a little bit more about the form these controllers could take. I want to be clear right now, the following information is by no means final. It is based on concept renderings from Zagg, pre-release product models, and early designs. It should be taken as that, and nothing more. These designs will change before release, assuming they ever are released. With that said, here is what we know about the ideas that iFrogz is at least considering:
1) The Caliber Edge
The Caliber Edge has been hinted at a few times in the past. An early prototype was on display at CES this year, which provided the first publicized look at this new controller:
It is nice to see that this controller is a physical device that exists in some capacity, even if it’s only a prototype. With that said, I’m happy to share a much more clear, detailed concept video that clarifies a bit more about what this controller might be:
There is a lot of information about this new controller to cover both in this video, and from the picture of the existing prototype; here’s what we know:
- The Caliber Edge connects via Lightning, at least in its current form. The Lightning port isn’t visible in the concept video.
- This is a full, extended layout controller, reminiscent of the Moga Ace Power design – my personal favorite layout for iPhone users.
- The iPhone is adapted to fit into the controller through a selection of cases, which are form-fitting to each device. That’s all we know about how this works – with any luck, the cases will be optional.
- Audio is output from a sharp-right-angle headphone jack adapter. That should lead to better audio quality than the Moga Ace Power, and with less hassle than the Logitech Powershell.
- The Caliber Edge features an integrated battery, like the 1500mHa PowerShell battery and the 1800mHa Ace Power battery. The battery capacity of the Caliber Edge is currently unknown.
- The Analog input appears to be through nubs or circles, reminiscent of the PSP or 3DS, the Moga Ace Power. This is in contrast to the analog sticks of the upcoming Moga Rebel and Mad Catz C.T.R.L.i controllers
- No button for controlling the iPhone’s power appears visible in either this video or pictures of the prototype. This is curious – the MFi controller program has historically required such a button to be present.
Of the three controllers listed here, the Caliber Edge seems the most likely to launch in the near future, if at all. Although we have more information about this controller design than the others, there is still much we don’t know. Are the cases necessary? How do you control the phone’s power switch? When will it be available, and how much will it cost? With any luck, this controller will end up launching soon, and these questions won’t remain unanswered for too long.
2) The Caliber Phantom
We may know very little about the Caliber Edge , but we know next to nothing about the Caliber Phantom – including whether or not that is its real name. Aside from the shady silhouette on the iFrogz website, the following rendering is all we have to go on:
Phantom is an appropriate name for this controller – it’s a ghost. It is important to reiterate again that this is a concept – companies create concept renderings about potential products all the time, and it doesn’t necessarily mean it will ever translate into a product. With that said, if we go off this rendering, this is what we can imagine:
- This is an apparently full-sized controller in the same vein as the Moga Rebel and Mad Catz C.T.R.L.i controllers.
- Those appear to be true triggers in the back.
- Previous guesses had pegged the Caliber Series as potentially being multi-platform, but only Apple uses this face button color scheme – this definitely appears to be an iOS controller.
- The analog inputs appear to be true analog sticks, not nubs.
- This controller would almost certainly connect over bluetooth, though no indication is visible.
- The two semi-vertical lines down the middle of the controller could potentially unfold, to be used as a mount for an iPhone. They could also be simple decoration – we don’t know.
For iPad gamers, bluetooth controllers like this are the best option, by far. Assuming this design ever does become a product, time will tell how this Caliber Phantom compares with the Moga and the Mad Catz offerings; personally, I’m very excited.
3) The Caliber Advantage
The Caliber Advantage has a long and complex history. It was first introduced before WWDC in 2013. iOS7 had yet to be announced, and iFrogz had no idea that it would include official controller support. As such, when iFrogz announced the Advantage, they introduced a complete controller integration SDK along with it.
Unfortunately for iFrogz, Apple announced official (and incompatible) controller support for iOS within weeks. That left iFrogz in the somewhat difficult position of being punished for being first on the scene – they spent a lot of work on R&D for a product and software SDK that would never ship in its current form.
The Caliber Advantage is the most unique controller of the lot. It’s sliding design makes it the only TRULY pocketable attached MFi controller revealed so far; the Logitech PowerShell fits, but you really don’t want to walk around with that in your pants. Assuming this design hasn’t been cancelled, we know the following about it:
- Despite its small footprint, this controller features the complete Extended layout.
- It connects over Bluetooth – a first for attached controllers.
- Analog input is handled through nubs or circles, like the PSP or 3DS.
- Unlike all other attached controllers, the Advantage does not include a battery for powering the iPhone.
- The Landscape / Portrait orientation switch is completely unique, and absolutely amazing.
- The button, DPad, and Analog design have probably all changed from the videos and pictures – these are all pre-MFi designs that don’t fit Apple’s requirements.
Nothing else is really known for sure about this controller. It’s strange, because although the internet is full of information about the Caliber Advantage, all of that information was about a device that no longer exists. Whatever the current Advantage is, no final information about it or pictures of it have leaked. The iFrogz website does include pictures of a controller resembling this in various silhouettes – those pictures presumably suggest that something similar to this design exists in some form.
The Caliber Looked like a great controller in it’s original form, and it didn’t even seem that far away from launch. It’s unclear why the delay has been so substantial – it’s possible that the changes Apple required for MFi compliance pushed the release much further than intended. If so, that’s a shame – we’ve been missing out on one heck of a great looking device.
Zagg / iFrogz were contacted for comment about this article, and reiterated that they were excited about this industry and their products, but that the images and videos included above were proof-of-concept renderings, not final products.
While many companies say that sort of thing all the time, in this case, I absolutely believe them. These controller designs are NOT final products. They are official design renderings from iFrogz, prototypes from a trade show, or very old versions of controllers that probably look different today.
We now know considerably more about these designs than was hinted at by the iFrogz website, but remember: it isn’t that these controllers could look different when they release – there is no “could” about it. They will look different, in many ways. Time will tell how different.
While these designs may not be final controllers, it is very exciting to see iFrogz thinking so much about this market, and spending so much time developing different product designs. I am eagerly awaiting the day when iFrogz does officially unveil their controller strategy. Speaking personally, if iFrogz does release any controllers similar to the ones described here, Moga, Logitech, Mad Catz, and SteelSeries are going to have a serious fight on their hands – these iFrogz designs look really fantastic.