PlayStation 4's mobile Remote Play is actually impressive featuring low-latency inputs and worth trying out with a controller

It's probably the next best option if you don't own a Switch and have a decent setup to play

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • October 13, 2019 at 1:12 p.m. PDT

Remote Play was one of the most interesting yet underutilized features between the PlayStation 3 and PSP. It wouldn't be until the PS4 that Sony would implement the system in full with the Vita to play full games via streaming from their console which has since moved to other platforms.

Now, players no longer even need a dedicated handheld or laptop to take advantage of Remote Play, as it is widely available for both iPhone / iOS users and Android users (over 5.0) following the Version 7.0 firmware update — thus opening the possibility to play pretty much anything, anywhere as long as a good connection is available.

Having used Remote Play a handful of times in the past with my Vita, I decided to see how the PS4 experience would stack up on my phone. It turns out I was pleasantly surprised to see the app actually work quite well even when playing something as dependent on low latency as Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator.

Input latency is typically the determining factor used to decide whether a streaming platform has promise, and Remote Play when testing on both my OnePlus 6 and my girlfriend's iPhone 7 Plus exceeded my expectations for the most part everywhere in my apartment.

Sitting in front of the TV, pressing buttons on the phone's screen would work almost as well as just playing the game natively showing little difference in both screens in front of me.

I was able to pull off some basic Ky combos after a little practice getting used to the touch controls, but it's potential shines through when you hook up a controller to play more naturally.

Sony's Dualshock 4 controller is now supported on mobile Remote Play for users on the latest version of iOS and Android 10.0 which makes me feel like I'm just playing something like my Nintendo Switch considering the screen sizes are nearly the same.

Click images for animated versions

Unfortunately, my phone is currently running Android 9, so I'm still forced to use touch controls — even though the OS can register the DS4 on Bluetooth for other functions. Using it on the iPhone, however, made me believe that it could be used for practicing tech in certain fighting games while in bed or chilling in the bathtub or the like.

For the touch controls when in landscape mode, Remote Play actually has a fairly neat feature that will allow players to tap pretty much anywhere on the left side of the screen that's not already assigned to a button to work as the analog stick. That input did seem a little more finicky to control in Guilty Gear, but the virtual d-pad works quite nicely for simple things.

I might have among the best circumstances to play remotely, however, as my PS4 Pro is connected to the internet via an ethernet cable in a single-level apartment. Trying to play with both the PS4 and phone on Wi-Fi will assuredly decrease your overall experience and increase your lag.

The biggest downside of mobile Remote Play is the fact that it will not function using mobile data no matter how fast it is. It's unclear if the issue is latency, large amounts of data usage, or spotty connections, but you'll always be required to have a decent router around to even try playing anything.

According to my phone's data usage, Remote Play has used up 1.3 GB though I've been testing it a good bit and even left it on by itself for a while which probably ballooned that up.

I was also hoping to report on how it behaves outside of the household for players who want to play during breaks at places like school or work, but the app couldn't locate my PS4 at home over the internet at Dunkin Donuts nor McDonald's. I'm not sure what the issue was there.

I have tried out Remote Play over the internet years ago using the Vita, and it was not a great experience. Hopefully some kinks have been ironed out on that front to make games playable over a Wi-Fi connection instead of just a local network.

If you do decide to download and try out the Remote Play app, customizing your connection options can also drastically alter its performance and latency considering you can adjust both resolution and frame rate.

"Customizing connection options can also drastically alter Remote Play's performance and latency considering you can adjust both resolution and frame rate"

Playing on the standard resolution (540p) and frame rate, Guilty Gear didn't look quite as sharp as normal, but it did run smoothly despite the lower frame rate.

Cranking up the resolution to 1080p produced a much better picture while only marginally increasing lag if at all. Adding the boosted frame rate on top of that, however, did lead to a noticeable spike in latency which made it very much not ideal for fighting games — but still fine for some other genres that aren't as input dependent.

The best combinations I found for settings were to run Guilty Gear at either 540p and increased framerate for the smoothest gameplay experience or 1080p with "normal" frame rate for the best looks.

My experience will certainly not apply to everyone out there, but Remote Play is worth checking out on your phones even if you refuse to play fighting games with any extra latency.

This app can provide a console-quality experience on a decent phone. The Switch may scratch that itch for everyone else, but I can see myself getting comfy in bed at night playing around on a PS4 game for a bit before passing out.

It's greatest utility will likely be for things like Persona 5 or other RPGs, but I found myself becoming more of a believer in limited streaming services that has been on my mind more considering I can just pull out my phone and have full access to my PS4.

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