Whether to play Fortnite, use an emulator or the latest game streaming services, a controller is essential to play in good conditions on an Android smartphone or iPhone. A brief overview.
The best smartphone gamepads
There are more and more mobile games cross platform, like Fortnite. Unfortunately, the handling of an FPS (or certain other types of games) on a touch surface remains frankly poor. Add to that an explosion of game streaming services like Google Stadia or especially Xbox Cloud Gaming now available to everyone! With all these options, the controller becomes more essential than ever for those who want to play seriously on their smartphone.
After very quiet years, the small market for game pads was overwhelmed by the arrival of new generation consoles and that’s good! Do you have a good gaming smartphone? Wondering which are the best Android and iOS controllers? Discover our selection. And if you’re more of a computer gamer, we also have a dedicated guide to PC controllers.
Got a Nintendo Switch and need extra controllers? You will find what you are looking for in our recommendations on the best controllers for the hybrid console.
Razer Raiju Mobile The choice of luxury
Razer’s reputation is well established in terms of gaming peripherals. The firm has launched a mobile version of its Raiju controller. It differs from other models by the presence of a support intended to accommodate your smartphone which will connect with or without wire.
Razer puts forward its many buttons and their quality, and we can trust them on that. These can also be easily reassigned via the Razer app. Finally, there is the possibility of adjusting the stroke of the triggers for even more responsiveness. All in a beautiful box.
Its biggest flaw is its price: launched at 149 euros, it is now found around 130 euros, or even less, but that is still a lot for a controller for a smartphone. Also note that it is only compatible with Android. If you have an iPhone, go your way.
Razer Kishi 2020 (Android) The Switch-style pad
If the concept of controllers on the edges of the phone appeals to you, the Razer Kishi may interest you. As long as it respects the maximum dimensions (145.3 – 163.7 mm (height) x 68.2 – 78.1 mm (width) x 7.0 – 8.8 mm (thickness)), your smartphone will come therefore nestle between the two parts of the controller.
If comfort is there, we must specify that the machine is above all designed for titles that support pads. It also perfectly supports the various streaming services. In the radius of regrets, however, we note plastics that deserved to be better given the price charged. Find our complete test of the Razer Kishi.
Microsoft Xbox Series Wireless Controller The safe bet
If there is one controller that has had a major impact over the past fifteen years, it is that of the Xbox 360. If it has not revolutionized anything, it has established itself as the standard meter of the sector, both in in terms of ergonomics and compatibility. And the new version of the controller accompanying the release of the Xbox Series X is no exception to the rule.
Microsoft does not change a winning formula and this controller therefore retains the shape of its predecessor, with however measurements very slightly revised downwards. Microsoft has obviously learned from its high-end Elite Series 2 controller since we find a more effective grip and a redesigned D-pad. The triggers are also able to vibrate, but the function is not active on smartphones.
The big highlight of this controller is its almost universal compatibility: it works without a hitch on Windows, iOS, Android, Chromecast or even your Nvidia Shield TV. It’s only on PS5 that it won’t work… If you have the budget, we can’t do better at the moment and as a bonus you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to colors. And if you are curious, find our test of the Xbox Wireless Controller.
Note that a revision with a more pleasant rubberized grip is available in a 20th anniversary edition.
Sony PlayStation DualSense For PlayStation Fans
Arriving with the PlayStation 5, the DualSense controller is a relatively major evolution in Sony’s family of controllers. If it retains the same key distribution scheme, this wireless controller adopts a more modern form and, it must be admitted, more inspired by that of the Xbox.
In practice, this pad is much more comfortable than its predecessor, thanks to larger dimensions and fuller curves. Like the Xbox controller, the plastic is also slightly textured, which makes it easier to grip, especially if you get sweaty hands quickly. The quality of manufacture is also impeccable in general. The buttons change very little, with a slightly softer touch. The biggest development, the adaptive triggers, however, will not be used outside of the PS5.
On the autonomy side, there is better compared to the PS4 pad since it lasts a dozen hours, which is not exceptional either.
There remains the question of connectivity. In addition to USB-C, it can be connected to an Android smartphone via Bluetooth. No problem on iPhone either: with iOS 14.5, full support has been added.
If it remains a little less comfortable than its competitor from Microsoft, the DualSense is an entirely possible option for playing on mobile if you prefer its shape or if you simply already have a PS5! Too bad, however, that it is so expensive.
SteelSeries Stratus Duo The alternative
Smartphone controllers with symmetrical sticks are not legion. However, SteelSeries has managed to deliver a product that meets this demand with the Stratus Duo. Compatible with Android smartphones (as well as PCs and Chromebooks), the SteelSeries Stratus duo is one of the best alternatives to the Xbox controller for smartphone gaming.
It has two joysticks on the bottom and a directional pad. Its 4 LEDs allow you to know the battery level, or indicate your player number if you are playing a multiplayer game. The Stratus Duo has a rechargeable battery and is Wi-Fi compatible (via supplied USB adapter) for PC gaming with lower latency. Please note that it works with Android, but not with iOS.
8BitDo SN30 Pro The retro style
As we said in our guide to the best PC controllers, but also the best controllers for Switch, we have a soft spot for 8Bitdo controllers. The firm has a habit of updating several iconic models of our old home consoles, but with modern technologies. On the SN30 Pro model, there are therefore sticks and triggers, in addition to Bluetooth for the wireless connection.
This is a good option for those who love old-world designs but want to enjoy modern games. They all work with Android, but also PCs or even the Switch. However, they are not compatible with iOS. It is also a generally less expensive option.
If you want to know more about this type of controller, we tested the SN30 Pro+ from 8bitdo.
There are many versions of 8Bitdo controllers. We really like the Super Nes inspired version at 48 euros.
What about cheap Android controllers?
You will find many “cheap” smartphone controllers on Amazon from unknown brands, often directly from Shenzhen. In general, these products are of poor quality, and will only be possible if you are looking for an extra controller, to play from time to time on your phone. We recommend that you pay an additional twenty euros for more reliable controllers.
Choosing the right phone controller
Bluetooth or USB?
Both technologies have their advantages and disadvantages. Bluetooth has for him the simplicity and the possibility of moving away a little from his telephone. In return for its wire to the leg, a USB controller avoids the latency induced by Bluetooth. A point to keep in mind if you mainly plan to play fast titles or require perfect respect for timings.
How do I assign gamepad buttons to controls?
iOS takes care of everything, if you have an iPhone you don’t have to do anything (whether it works or not). On Android smartphone, the Octopus application can help you assign keys to specific commands.
What if I want to stream games?
With the arrival of Google Stadia, Xbox Game Pass or even GeForce Now on smartphones, investing in a controller is a very good idea. The vast majority of titles are designed to be played on the pad. Among the current services, it is especially Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming service that holds our attention. With a very extensive catalog and availability on all platforms, including smartphones, it seems set to establish itself as the Netflix of video games.
If you already buy your PC games, don’t hesitate to take a look at Nvidia’s GeForce Now service, which is also very efficient. For a more complete overview, do not hesitate to read our dossier on the subject.
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