As momentum gathers behind long-standing rumours that Apple is working on a games console, speculation is now turning to what shape this might take. Is Apple about to reinvent the handheld wheel, or are we just looking at some more sophisticated games for the iPhone?

One theory says that because the iPhone sports a more sophisticated touchscreen than Nintendo’s DS handheld - one that is able to register simultaneous multiple impressions - and has a built-in three-way accelerometer, the platform for an Apple games system is already out there in people's pockets.

In fact, since the iPhone was first launched some coders have already managed to port across a Nintendo NES emulator that rather cleverly bypasses the iPhone’s lack of external buttons by placing all the individual game controls on the touchscreen.

Nintendo on iPhone

In addition to the NES (and, more recently, SNES) emulators, a ported version of original 3D shooter Doom has also appeared on the iPhone, which again employs the touchscreen to control the action. According to the reports we’ve read, the controls to both ports aren’t particularly solid feeling, but the potential is clearly there.

However, while the iPhone could serve as a platform for touchscreen-based games, its lack of external buttons is eventually going to come back and haunt it when things get more complicated than 'run', 'jump' and 'fire'.

For a more rounded handheld capable of playing more sophisticated games Apple would undoubtedly be better off creating a whole new device. Something that combines touchscreen controls, external controls and a motion-sensor to provide handheld Apple gaming on the go.

We can almost hear Steve Jobs saying, “One more thing…” at MacWorld 2009 already.