Android quick app: X-Plane 9

It's been many months since we saw the X-Plane flight simulator for Android demoed at Google IO -- long enough that we wondered if we'd ever actually see it. But it's here, folks. And it's got all the airborne goodness you could have hoped for (and that we saw in our demo).

But at $9.99, this isn't a cheap app. Is it worth the 10-spot? Let's take a look after the break.

The premise is simple fly one of seven airplanes -- Cessna 172, Columbia 400, Piper Malibu, Cirrus Vision, Piaggio Avanti, Beech King-Air and Eclipse-Jet 500 -- through a half-dozen regions -- Innsbruck, Austria; Australia; Boswell Bay, Alaska; Southern California; San Francisco; and Desert Sky, Calif.

I'm no pilot, but I've enjoyed a flight sim or two in my day. (Chuck Yeager's AFT FTW!) And X-Plane is as realistic as anything I've ever used. You have control over the flaps, throttle, all axes of motion (tilt the phone to control bank, roll and pitch) and even get a recreation of the instrument panel to flip switches. (You can tune the radio, we kid you not.) The heads-up display shows all the pertinent information -- altitude, speed, rate of climb/descent, fuel, artificial horizon, compass -- like we said, it's intricate.

You get a few camera angles and replay angles from which to watch your flight, though keeping your head in the cockpit is recommended. You can check your position on the map as well, and have the app set you up for final approach on a runway. For example, if you're in the San Francisco map, you can choose takeoff and landing on runway 10L or 28R, Oakland's airport, if you wish.

The sound effects are pretty good, too. You almost feel the engines, which start to scream if you go into a dive. Start weaving all over the runway, and the tires squeal.

Want customizable settings? You can change the weight of the aircraft, to the expense or benefit of performance. Or change the center of gravity. See how lift is affecting different parts of the aircraft. Yes, this is hard-core nerd flying stuff here. Change the time of day or cloud cover and visibility. Or change the weather to 40 knots of wind, turbulence, storms -- the works. And if you've got a friend nearby, you can fly together via Wifi.

Yes, folks. This is a $10 app. And it's a flight simulator, not combat, so you're not going to be blowing anybody up (unless you screw the pooch and splatter yourself all over the countryside). But if you're looking for a fairly realistic flight experience to pass the time, it's well worth the price.

Youtube link for mobile viewing

Phil Nickinson
  • looks pretty cool.
  • Hmmmm tempting. But now thanks to the 15 min refund window I'm gonna have to really think hard about this.
  • You sure about the 15 min refund window? I uninstalled an app a few days ago after about 20 hours and it refunded. I just figured that 15 min thing had been retracted.
  • Has your phone gotten the new market yet or do you still have the old one? I have wondered about the new refund policy myself, because when I did receive the new market, there wasn't anything notifying me of the policy change..not even in the Terms and Conditions because I skimmed through it. I haven't purchased any apps since the change, so I don't know if it notifies you then before you process the transaction though...
  • I just purchased an app a few days ago with the new market and I was notified that I had 24hrs to get a refund.
  • That refund window is going to create more piracy. I am with you on trying this. With a fifteen minute window I am not going to try it.
  • Hmmm... I wonder if this is based off Flight Gear which is made for Linux
  • Xplane has been an excellant flight sim for the PC for years. I got a version that came on 9 DVD's. Yes DVD not CD. The graphics were amazing. I just don't see my self using this on a phone.
  • I agree this is one where i would need a day to check it out.. not 15 min
  • Damn the man! Lol yea this surely one that would take longer than fifteen minutes. Is wanna run through all l the controls, maps, options but no way that's gonba happen. Google listen I up! FIX THE REFUND WINDOW YOU BROKE SO I CAN GENUINELY TEST DRIVE AN APP!
  • excellent graphics. especially considering its on a nexus one
  • As a N1 owner, I find that offensive lol.
  • Had a couple of these on my pre..this one has no missions you juat fly around after awhile you get bored Nd in my opinion you don't even come close to getting $10 worth out of it. I would seriously steer clear unless you are a hardcore flight sim junkie..wait for some of the other versions that have actuL missions.
  • Is this a paid ad? ? Why would you recommend something youre playing for the first time! ?
  • How many times does he need to play it to recommend it? Also, he mentioned the price as a caveat, but said he thinks it's worth it if you're into flight sims. I don't see anything wrong with this review. It doesn't sound like an ad in my opinion. Are you just mad because they liked a $10 app?
  • When it was demoed months ago someone from this site (pretty sure it was phil) got to play around with it there as well.
  • It's the refund window... I really want to give this a try, but, 15 minutes? It's too bad that so many good apps (whether game, or business, or whatever) will go untried simply due to this restriction, unless they have a "lite" free version. I'll even meet you sort of half way... I'll give you 3 bucks for a 12 hour window. Google, I used to think that you were one of us (whatever "us" is)... now it seems you're just another carbon copy of i-WTF-Crazy man Jobs-Tunes. When are you going to start charging for GMail, Picasa, iGoogle and the air we breath? I'm really going to hate getting a "hotmail" account and using Skydrive :-)
  • Newsflash! Google already charges you for all of those things. Just because it's part of the fee you pay Verizon or whichever carrier you use doesn't mean you're not paying. All those employees and servers cost a lot of money. This is how Capitalism works.
  • Yes ! I have it on desktop and had it on ky ipod touch ! I love it and its well worth it !
  • I'm a fligh sim junkie, and I got bored with this fairly quick. As mentioned before, you just fly around and that's it. Not worth the $. The 15 min window is a mockery. This thing will take like 10 minutes to download and that's it, time is up! They should have made it at MINIMUM an hour for refund.
  • Be thankful Google has a refund window. Geeze man its better than nothing.
  • It would be amazing to incorporate this into google maps! They could call it google flight view.
    P.s. (google if you use my idea, I want my money). :)
  • I refunded a basic widget weather app because of the setup variations .
    Seeing that I needed more than 15 minutes to evaluate the app.
    Now you want me to plunk down $10.00 bucks to evaluate a way more intense app.
    GOOGLE you FUNNY !!!
  • ".....But at $9.99, this isn't a cheap app. Is it worth the 10-spot?" is any app worth 10 bucks?
  • Can't find it in the market yet... Tried the QR code and didn't work. Help?
  • What phone are you using? It could be unavailable for your model depending.
  • I Downloaded it this morning based on the review. I too am a flight sim junky since Chuck Yeagers Air Combat on my TANDY. If you want to shoot stuff up, forget it. If you are a simmer and just want to fill the void, get it. It is fun and challenging. Its not hard core, but it is a game for a phone! Its $10.00. You spend that on a crappy happy meal and wouldn't think twice about that! The refund policy is stupid but take that up with Google. If you are not willing to lose your money do what you do and don't buy it and that is cool. I like it for what it is. May be if we all protest with a "no buy policy" on the Market until this 15 min refund gets re worked then something might happen.
  • For those unable to find the app in Market, here's why: The kicker here is that the Galaxy S isn't correctly reporting its CPU type to the market, but a carrier update will resolve the issue. The problem is getting !@#$% VZW to push out any stinking updates! I'm starting to miss my AMOLED Incredible more and more every day. Let's hope the Galaxy Tab works.... X-Plane would be more fun on a 7" screen anyway. :-p
  • Yup, downloading on the Tab now!
  • I posted a comment worth a few paragraphs a few hours ago. But AC caught it as spam and it never made it through Phil apparently. AC Thinks my Chrome Browser is spam. :(
  • Having tried to get it on my HTC Wildfire, the market said that the App was not found.
    Having contacted the developper, it seems that the processor in the HTC wildfire is too old to support the application (it doesn't have hardware capable of doing floating point math which is extremely critical for a flight simulator). I'm really sad as I was waiting this Android version since a while....