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.
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 gorgeous sight - the sun peeking through the clouds - and all ready for takeoff.
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.
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.
London in highish resolution, coming in to land...
Detailed cockpits and surprisingly interactive...
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:
- You can buy Aerofly FS 2022 here in the iOS App Store and here in the Android Play Store
- You can grab Infinite Flight here in the iOS App Store and here in the Android Play Store
- You can grab Rortos RFS here in the iOS App Store and here in the Android Play Store
- You can grab X-Plane 12 here in the iOS App Store and here in the Android Play Store
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!
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