Slightly, slightly - the pros and cons of four mobile flight sims

Back in the day - well, June 2021, 18 months ago, I attempted a comparative review of (arguably) the big four mobile flight simulators. (Archived here, if AAM goes down.)

They were: Aerofly FS 2021 (now 22, of course!), Infinite Flight, Rortos RFS, and X-Plane 11 (now 12!). They're in the app store for both Android and iOS, though I've been testing them again, with 18 months of updates, on the iPhone 14 Pro Max - a larger screen is recommended for flight sim games, of course.

And it's at this point that I'd like to summarise my summary - my ratings and review commentary haven't really changed since the original article.

Except that each product has expanded its resources, to encompass more scenery, more airports, more traffic, and so on. So all simulators have got slightly better. And slightly worse, in that the free versions have less resources, mind you (Aerofly excepted).

And I'm italicising slightly because that's the key word, in that I can, after another month of playing, including trying out the Pro/subscribed versions of each game, reveal that (don't get too excited)...

Infinite Flight is slightly better than the other options for professional grade aviation, i.e. taking routes and timings and controls seriously but the terrain graphics are a notch behind the other games.

Planning a real time multi-player flight...

Asking for a push from a tug to reverse away from the 'gate'...

After take off, banking away from the airport's buildings...

Rortos RFS is slightly better than the other options for graphics, with superlative visuals for weather, objects, time of day, and even 'made up' ground detail to fill in the gaps between airports where nothing definite is known, but the user interface is terribly fiddly on a phone screen - I'm guessing it's optimised for tablets.

A steep takeoff over super-dense populated terrain. Note the tiny bottom controls though - the UI takes patience on a phone screen!

Screenshot, flight sim mobile roundup

A gorgeous sight - the sun peeking through the clouds - and all ready for takeoff.

Screenshot, flight sim mobile roundup

More immense ground detail - I'm convinced that a lot of it is AI-generated - but it's very convincing.

X-Plane 12 is slightly better at being a 'game', with larger controls, fun 'challenges' and non-civilian novelties like guns and even vectored thrust where applicable, but the terrain graphics from the likes of Google Earth are clumsily mapped.

Sorting out despatch with air traffic control in this dusk flight...

So calm and peaceful up at 5000 ft!

Got to watch out for that Boeing taking off in my direction!

One of the many challenges, here involving actual gunfire - where games meet flight sims!

Aerofly FS 2022 is slightly better in terms of value for money, with the one off £10 or so purchase and then everything else is free forever, but the multi-player, real time aspect is a long way behind the other entries, with interactions minimal.

Screenshot, flight sim mobile roundup

London in highish resolution, coming in to land...

Screenshot, flight sim mobile roundup

Detailed cockpits and surprisingly interactive...

Screenshot, flight sim mobile roundup

An external view of my Cessna, flying high...

As the table in my original article indicated, most other aspects are pretty equal among the four contenders. You're advised to check the world areas covered by each, mind you - for example, X-Plane 11's 'free' areas are just a handful of map squares across the globe and you'll almost certainly have to pay monthly.

In fairness to the titles which have 'Pro' subscriptions, the developers largely use this to fund the servers and admins that control their vast multi-player gaming setups, mimicking real world air traffic. So I can understand the economics involved.

From my original article:

Each title receives interative updates through the year, I don't think I was expecting huge upgrades and didn't get them. But hopefully the thoughts above will give you a sense of which flight simulator might be for you and to perhaps start with it.

And again, as per my original verdict, I'd have to recommend Aerofly FS 2022 as it has few weaknesses while not requiring a monthly subscription. But if you want to fly real routes with real, real time pilots and air traffic controllers, then start with Infinite Flight and factor in the £10 a month for your 'hobby'!

Comments welcome if you have a favourite mobile flight sim that can take on the big four! 

PS. If you like this feature and want to support my work then please do so here via PayPal. Thanks.

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