Game controllers have been around since the days when Atari launched video games. Remember the 8-bit video games we used to play on consoles as a child that had wired remote controllers. I bet some of you may be feeling nostalgic now remembering about your feats in Contra or Dead Fox. For those looking to game on-the-go, tapping on the smartphone or tablet display is alright but a real game controller is what you need to do it properly.
Well, for those who want to relive those moments, NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) emulators are widely and officially available on Google Play Store and those 64-in-1 and 1200-in-1 ROMs are easily available too.
Game controllers have existed for ages to allow gamers a user-friendly experience while playing games.
Game Controllers for Your Mobile Devices
With time, 8-bit Super Mario has evolved and we see HD and Full HD games on handheld devices today. This has brought the demand for game controllers to the forefront again. Games like PUBG and Free Fire have popularized the use of game controllers and we see them being used by almost every mobile gamer. Today we will look at some of the best controllers you can buy for every type of device you may own.
Let’s look at the ones for iOS first.
Best Game Controllers for iOS Devices
A. Controllers for Apple iPhone
Here we include game controllers for both the iPhone and iPad. Standalone wireless game console controllers also work with iOS. If you have one of these controllers at home, you might already have a game controller that works with iOS. See list from Apple below:
- Xbox Wireless Controller with Bluetooth (Model 1708)
- Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2
- Xbox Adaptive Controller
- Xbox Wireless Controller Series S and Series X
- PlayStation DualShock 4 Wireless Controller
- PlayStation 5 DualSense Wireless Controller
However, for a true mobile gaming experience, nothing beats these purpose design controllers that lets you mount your phone or tablet for that console level controls over your game.
1. Razer Kishi Game Controller for iPhone
Razer never ceases to amaze with its peripherals. This time it’s the Kishi gaming controller that brings console-level gaming and control to your iPhone. The analog thumbnails send out tactile feedback and there is an array of face and bumper buttons. There is also support for a D-pad that allows for extra inputs. The controller is compatible with almost all iPhones and the official support list extends up to the latest iPhone 12.
The device gets connected to the charging port of the iPhone that enables extremely low latency and lets you gain a competitive edge while gaming. Inputs are registered at lightning-fast speed resulting in an instant in-game response. Razer Kishi is compatible with popular cloud gaming services such as Xbox Game Pass, Apple Arcade, Amazon Luna, & Steam Link. There is a USB-C charging port built conveniently to allow the gamers to game and charge the device at the same time.
Its compatibility list dons a large number of popular mobile titles such as Call of Duty Mobile, Fortnite, Minecraft, and Asphalt 9: Legends besides the regular games like PUBG or Free Fire.
2. Rotor Riot Wired Game Controller for iPhone
For Apple phones, you can also use the Mfi certified Rotor Riot game controller that offers a lag and latency-free gaming experience owing to its wired connection between the controller and the phone. It is one of the few controllers that is recommended by Apple themselves for gaming and can be seen listed on their website. The controller comes with dual joysticks that are clickable and provides an almost console-type experience while gaming. The controller comes with a charging port between the two palm grips that allow for simultaneous charging and gaming.
There are a lot of buttons starting with two digital bumpers on top followed by two analog triggers. The front face has two joysticks and a d-pad. Finally, on the right, we find four face buttons. The phone holder is stiff and secures the device firmly with the controller and prevents it from falling out. It can be removed to make the controller compatible with other iOS devices as well.
B. Best Controllers for Apple iPad and Apple TV
1. SteelSeries Nimbus Plus
The SteelSeries Nimbus Plus is a Bluetooth controller that is a one-stop solution for all your iOS devices. Its in-built battery can last more than 50 hours and it is Made for iOS certified. It has a mount that can hold the iPhone and can be retracted while paying on the iPad or Apple TV. It is widely compatible with almost all the games in the Apple App Store and the ones on Apple Arcade.
The device has a rugged built that is made to last and comes with two joysticks in addition to a direction pad that adds to the versatility of the controller. Both the joysticks are clickable. The triggers on top of the controller have magnetic sensors that add a smooth feel to the user. The triggers come with a lifetime precision guarantee. There are three dedicated navigation buttons one can use to fully control the iPad using the buttons and the d-pad or the joysticks.
You would love its battery lights that keep you posted about the battery levels and its compatibility with the latest macOS ensures you can game on your laptop too. The Nimbus Plus from SteelSeries is a high-quality and versatile gaming controller that is compatible with older generation iPhones and has all the elements to be your regular driver for your daily dose of gaming.
Best Game Controllers for Android Smartphones
When it comes to android, you have quite a lot of controllers to choose from owing to the fact that Android does not need any special certification and it being open source. You could choose between some basic triggers and full-blown controllers.
1. GameSir X2 Game Controller
You might frown looking at the unknown brand name but it’s one of the best-rated, high-quality android game controllers preferred by mobile gamers. It is so popular that it’s difficult to bag one without paying a bit of premium over the marked price. The device has an innovative design with rubberized grips and a micro-switch underneath the triggers that give pleasant tactile feedback and are built to last for at least 3 million strokes. The maximum length of a smartphone it can support is 167 millimeters and the controller has an ultra-low power consumption of just 2 mAh.
The controller is equipped with e-sports class joysticks offering much better performance and feedback in comparison to other professional-level controllers. The backside of the phone maintains a gap with the resting plate of the controller to ensure air circulation and keep the device cool while gaming. An innovative feature of the GameSir X2 is a screenshot button and a patent-pending 51-degree movable Type C port that helps gamers plug and unplug their smartphones with ease. GameSir X2 is compatible with most of the popular game cloud services and works with all games that support controllers.
Bring back the joy of old-school gaming with game controllers that give you the feel of pressing the buttons as you go for the win. Here is our take on controllers to game with on smartphones.
2. Razer Kishi for Android (Universal Mobile Gaming Controller)
Just like the Razer Kishi for iPhone above, this is the Android variant capable of taking most Android phones especially those with large display. It is identical in design to one designed for iPhone. It will most certainly fit Razer Phone or Razer Phone 2, with included rubber inserts. Check with customer service to see if they have a specific insert for your phone. Other than that, everything works the same, no lag gameplay, buttons that work as they should as long as they are supported by the game and USB-C charging and connectivity (not wireless) for your phone and keep you gaming. This is one gamepad that will let you play AAA games on cloud gaming platform just like you would on your computer or tablet. A separate pass through charging port for the phone is available on the bottom right side of the controller. The only problem is, as it is a universal controller, finding the right fit can be a problem.
Once you have your phone hooked up to this, it will work like a Nintendo Switch, and if your phone is a flagship model with OLED or AMOLED display, it will elevate your mobile gaming experience to beyond the Switch. Power, display, access to games and zero lag controls in one portable package. Game away with Xbox pass, Google Stadia, NVIDIA GeForce Now or your favourite cloud gaming service like a pro.
Best Game Controllers for Android Tablets
The next round of game controllers are for the Android tablets. These are wireless controllers that work over Bluetooth and support the Android OS.
1. Razer Raiju Mobile Bluetooth Gaming Controller
The Razer Raiju Mobile works for any Android devices, smartphone or tablet or as a Bluetooth controller. The onboard phone bracket is retractable and can take a device with up to 79mm width. We pick this for Android tablets for its professional gaming prowess and controls. You have expert controls with recappable 4 multi-function buttons, hair trigger mode to reduce travel distance of controller’s main triggers and uses the multifunction buttons the bottom M3 and M4 for clutch function. Finally, also under the controller is a mode switch to pick your connectivity options and paired devices.
2. GameSir T4 Pro Wireless Universal Controller
This GameSir is not exclusive to Android. It covers just about every device out there including iOS, Windows, MacOS and Switch. It supports Apple Arcade MFi which means you can pair it with an Apple TV or iPad. Plus, it comes in at an affordable price too. How does it offer universal support across all devices? Well, it relies on three different modes of connection, so depending on your mobile device, choose between 2.4GHz Wireless, Bluetooth 4.0 or Wired connection. See table below for connectivity options.
On the surface it looks like any other rechargeable game controller. By the way it uses a Type-C port for quick charging. Turn it around and you see four configurable buttons, labelled M1 to M4. These can be programmed to carry complex macros and you can reach them conveniently when you wrap your fingers around the grips. Inside, there is a 6-axis gyro sensor and two asymmetric vibrating motors with give speed levels, one on either side of the grip for more immersive game play. We picked this for Android tablet because it is completely wireless but you can get a mobile bracket to mount your smartphone. If you prefer a sleeker design with built-in phone bracket and longer battery lift yet be able to support PC, Android, iOS and Switch, pick up the GameSir G4 Pro Wireless Game Controller. It even comes with a screenshot hot key.
Best Value for Money Game Controllers: Game grip for Android
Amongst a host of controllers and triggers, we stumbled across this highly-rated game controller on Amazon that has a feature unlike any other controller. While other controllers, even the premium ones depend on the device for the power, our little man here has an in-built 4000mAh power bank. It could come in handy if you are on the verge of a chicken dinner and the battery is about to die. Plus, is has a cooling fan that works nicely to dissipate heat off your smartphone and stops heat lag.
The nimble-looking controller has rubberized grips and operates on plain old manual trigger method and hence it is devoid of any possible connectivity issues or anything as such. What you get are plain old simple L1 and R1 triggers which is how everything started off. The controller promptly locks the smartphone to stop it from wobbling while use and support smartphones up to 6.5 inches in size.
Although this game controller may be lacking a lot of buttons, it adds a superb power bank feature and ticks all the basics boxes for an enhanced basic game controller that make it an excellent value for money option at under $20. Again, this may not be for everyone as it lack joysticks and buttons. Instead it uses a combination of mechanical trigger to simulate touch and actual touch on the display.
GameSir has a similar version to PopMan above, the GameSir F2 Game Grip. It operations using the same concept providing good grip and palm support as well as trigger and thumb on screen controls. No pairing or Bluetooth connectivity issues to deal, just your straightforward mechanical and finger on screen control.
Best Premium Game Controller for Smartphones
If you are looking for a premium game controller, the SteelSeries Stratus Duo could your best bet. Its build quality, functionality, and versatility make it one of the most exciting game controllers to look out for. It supports dual wireless protocols in Bluetooth and 2.4GHz Wireless connections and it can also be used over a wired connection.
The Stratus Duo works with any Android smartphone, Windows PC as well as VR-enabled apps. The controller does not need any special driver and can be easily plugged and played on Windows laptops and desktops, Android devices, and VR devices like Oculus Go, and Samsung Gear VR via Bluetooth or the USB Wireless Adapter.
The controller has an in-built 20 hours long battery and operates best at under 40 feet from the display device. The Stratus Duo is compatible with almost all cloud gaming applications like X-Box Pass, Steam, or Amazon Luna. Fortnite is a pleasure to play using its extensive support of triggers and high-quality buttons. The Stratus Duo also allows the attachment of a mobile holder for handheld gaming. It has all the buttons we would find in similar gaming controllers.
Gaming controllers are quite a rage now owing to a large number of games being launched that offer a much enthralling experience when played through controllers. They are most popular amongst gamers who indulge themselves in Battle Royale games like Call of Duty (mobile), Free Fire, and PUBG. Gaming on controllers somehow has more appeal and seems more pleasant in comparison to conventional gameplay by tapping on the screen. A game controller would surely improve your gameplay. Now is the time to hone your skills and start earning some chicken dinners.