NBA 2K17 for Android and iOS review: Worthy of the name

NBA 2K16 for Android and iOS wasn’t a good port — it had no audio commentary at launch; it ran slow as molasses on most devices, and many weren’t able to run it at all. A year after its release, it’s still nowhere as good as its console and PC counterpart (you can read our review here), nowhere as good as what it could and should be.

(UPDATE, OCTOBER 3: To see how different NBA 2K17 for Android is from the iOS version, read this article.)

NBA 2K17 for mobile, despite being only a year older, is a whole different ball game. It’s a much better all-around effort. For starters, there’s color commentary this time around, though Doris Burke still works the sidelines, whereas her next-gen doppelganger has already joined the broadcast booth alongside Kevin Harlan and Greg Anthony. Even worse, a bug in the game prevents you from hearing her speech.

We played NBA 2K17 mostly on an Apple iPhone 6s, and here’s what we think of the game.

The visuals are much improved over last year’s version, thanks in large part to better-looking textures and player models. Some guys even have detailed body scans, as opposed to pre-generated ones. Many marquee names like LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Paul George look especially good on our iPhone’s screen.

LeBron James looks good on our iPhone screen

LeBron James looks good on our iPhone screen…

...but rookie Ben Simmons doesn't.

…but rookie Ben Simmons doesn’t.

The rookies — um, not so much. Sure, Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, the top two picks of this year’s draft, resemble their real-life counterparts. But most other draftees, including potential Rookie of the Year candidate Kris Dunn, have been left out of the creative process, leaving them with generic faces. Yet still, some guys like Jordan Clarkson of the Lakers have reddish faces that look as though they’ve been out in the sun way too long.

Here’s hoping a future update will someday sort out this issue and include new player models. But as it stands, NBA 2K17 is a visually stunning mobile game, and it’s easily right up there with the eye-candy elite of the App Store and Play Store.

The NBA 2K franchise is known for its true-to-life gameplay and signature animations, and NBA 2K17 sticks as closely as possible to the same game plan that made its console and PC outing a success.

A whole boatload of new animations — most of them are triggered by contact — have been added to make players react more realistically to just about every basketball situation you can think of. The on-court action is slick and fluid and reflects the pace of an actual NBA game. As far as interpreting a sport goes, no other mobile game comes even close to matching the realism on offer here.

The intuitive dribbling system doesn’t feel as tight and responsive as that of the PC version, but you do feel that you have more control of the ball this time around. Speaking of controls, you have the option to use a third-party controller or switch to on-screen controls, which can get a bit tiring on the wrist and thumbs. Not to mention those thumbs can get in the way of the screen while playing.

There’s a fresh and more streamlined virtual-control scheme to wrap your head around this year, though if you prefer last year’s dual-analog approach, or even NBA 2K15’s controls, you can switch things up with a couple of taps. Defending is easier when using the new scheme, but it will leave you with less control over your team. After four quick games, we reverted to NBA 2K16’s controls and never second-guessed it.

Defending is easier when using the new, more streamlined, virtual scheme, but it will leave you with less control over your team.

Defending is easier when using the new, more streamlined virtual-control scheme, but it will leave you with less control over your team.

NBA 2K16 required a ton of storage space to install and, provided they met the steep hardware requirements, brought most devices to their knees. NBA 2K17 is still as demanding as ever; it needs around 3GB of storage, and from the heat emanating from our iPhone 6s, we can tell that it still requires maximum effort to run with minimal fuss. But it did run smoothly, with all the settings maxed out. And the frame rate never fell behind the fast-paced action, something we couldn’t say about the previous release.

We also noticed that some Android devices that couldn’t install NBA 2K16 are compatible with this year’s version. Case in point: the OPPO F1s. Of course, that’s not to say it will run fine on just about any phone or tablet released this last half-decade. The only way to know for sure is to buy the game, play a few matches, then ask for a refund if things don’t go as you had envisioned them.

We noticed that some Android devices that couldn’t install NBA 2K16 are compatible with this year’s version. Case in point: the OPPO F1s.

Another observation: This game is an absolute battery hog, even more so than Pokemon Go with all the sensors working. We played one match with four-minute quarters, and it drained our phone’s battery to 74 percent from a full charge — a huge drop, we know. Dialing the settings back a bit and switching to Low Power mode, we were able to cut down the battery drain to about 14 percent.

NBA 2K17 for mobile is a battery hog, even more so than Pokemon Go with all the sensors working. We played one match with four-minute quarters, and it drained our phone’s battery to 74 percent from a full charge.

Frankly, the game’s battery usage is the only reason we haven’t touched the single-player story mode yet. Hopefully, the next update covers this issue.

NBA 2K17 for Android and iOS is an engrossing experience that captures the essence of NBA basketball. Our complaints aside, it is the best game of digital sports you can have on your phone or tablet, period. Perhaps more importantly — us NBA 2K fans and students of the game finally have a mobile game worthy of the franchise.

Our complaints aside, NBA 2K17 is the best game of digital sports you can have on your phone or tablet, period.

NBA 2K17 is already available on the App Store and Google’s Play Store. It costs $7.99 or P375.

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Ramon Lopez

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Reviews editor: Ramon "Monch" Lopez has nine years of professional experience creating and editing content for print and digital publications such as Yahoo. He headed the gadgets-merchandising division of one of the Philippines’ largest retail operators somewhere in between. His latest addiction is the comments section of viral Facebook posts.

  • Tom

    Why my cherry mobile flare s play is not compatible to nba2k17 but have 2gb ram 8gb of rom and Android version of lollipop 5.1.1

  • LiketheMayans

    Do the jerseys move on 6s or 6s plus. Not all support cloth simulation

  • Arrrrrrrix

    My gpu is powerVRsgx544 mp2 Can it run?

  • Norman Nozares

    I have tried to play season but unfortunately the game is force closing after I have won the championship game, i already tried to uninstall other apps just to maximize my storage capacity. Can anyone help me with this?

  • justinebacual

    what phones does nba 2k17 is compatible with?pls

    • We can’t provide you a list of compatible devices because there are so many. Your best bet is to check on the Google Play Store if the game is available for download/purchase.

  • justinebacual

    can i play it on o+ compact pro? pls i need your answer !
    i will buy this phne if it surely working

    • We’re not sure. You should probably go to a store, and then see if it’s available for download using a demo unit before you make a purchase.

  • justinebacual

    is nba 2k17 working on lg k10?

    • We can’t say for sure because we don’t have an LG K10 unit. You can check the Play Store, though; if you can purchase and download it, you probably can play it on your device.

  • Kevin

    Can it work in lg k10?

  • Nald Sanchez

    It does not finish downloading. I tried to download it 3 times and still cant finish the download . It says cannot download file. My phone is zenfone 3 . Please help

  • Carl Justine Bacual

    can it work on CPU Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A53

    ?

  • justinebacual

    sir i need your answer will it work at the phone called asus zenfone max qualcomm snapragon 410 32gb rom and 2gb ram

    • You can check if your phone is compatible with NBA 2K17 by looking it up on Google Play. If you can purchase/install it, it’s likely you can play it.

      • justinebacual

        thank you

  • Ivan Maliclic Noble

    2k14 , 15 and 16 work but 2k17 crash

  • Ivan Maliclic Noble

    will it work at o+ ultra lite??

    • Check if it appears on the Google Play store using your device. If it does, there’s a good chance you can play it.

  • justinebacual

    can it work on asus zenfone max?

  • Jacy Ney

    Hi, my husband already bought the nba2k17, but still he can’t download it. He’s using xiaomi mi max.

  • Reddit

    is their any update on Android device the quarter length of MyCareer?

  • tirso

    not working on flarej3plus…it is always forced close every time i open it

    • Have you tried reinstalling the game? If that doesn’t work, get a refund.

  • justinebacual

    it isn’t working on my cherry mobile flare s play it keeps going home if i click nba 2k17 how to fix it

    • Try reinstalling it from the Google Play app. If that doesn’t work, you should ask for a refund.

  • terrence

    is it working on xperia z1?

    • We don’t own an Xperia Z1, but you can check by going to the Google Play Store. If you can purchase/install the game, there’s a good chance it will work on your device.

  • jayar

    nba2k17 is not working in my huawei y6 ii ..

  • Rey Mendivil Bacolot

    same problem on me…i cant switch player on quick game and even in a season game

    using my android vivo y55

    and my work mate has the same issue on that problem..

    please please help us to fix this…

    thank you:)

    • Have you tried switching control schemes? Try reinstalling the app from the Play store, in case you haven’t yet.

  • Nicko

    I have a samsung s4. But it is saying that its not compatible. My brother has the same phone, his is working. Help please

    • Try using his Google account on your device, and then install the app from the Google Play Store.

  • Argel Quijano

    In my nba2k17 why they didnt have head?

  • Jalen T Woodard

    I cant switch players in quick game. Why?

    • Warren

      Same problem when I first install the game it works perfectly.but when I started my career mode.I can’t switch player anymore in quick game and season mode

      • We haven’t experienced the same thing on our iPhone 6s. Are you guys playing on Android?

        • Jackson

          I’m playing on iPhone 6+ and I have this problem as well

          • Marcus

            Pls help, do you have like a solution to this problem?

            • Unfortunately, I haven’t encountered this problem with any of our devices. You can try reinstalling the game. If that doesn’t work, ask for a refund. Good luck!