The best mobile game controllers you can buy

Mobile gaming is serious business now. The biggest titles are games like fortnite and Genshin Impact, helped by legions of children who receive their first smartphone. Many game publishers are delivering console-quality experiences on mobile, and it’s taken gaming accessories a while to catch up. But they did, and now gamers have a number of controller options to suit their playstyle. We’ve sorted the top options to highlight the pros and cons of each, so you can decide. which one is best to launch your game (on the go).

For gamers who prefer PlayStation-style controllers: 8BitDo Pro 2

Kris Naudus / Engadget

8BitDo has earned a reputation for versatile gamepads that can work with multiple systems, from the Nintendo Switch to the Raspberry Pi. And while the Pro 2 is one of our best controllers for the Switch, it’s also a very good option for Android and iOS. The advantage of using them with your phone is also the free software 8BitDo which gives you many customization options for the buttons; it even has more options than you’ll find on Nintendo’s console. Of course, being a Bluetooth gamepad means it’s pretty easy to go back and forth, making it a good investment for people with multiple portable devices (like a Switch).

Advantages: The PlayStation-like design is comfortable; the configuration software is robust; the controller is available in several colors

The inconvenients: Not small and would be better carried in a case

Buy 8BitDo Pro 2 on Amazon – $50

For gamers who love Xbox-style controllers: SteelSeries Nimbus+ and Stratus+

Two controllers in black

Kris Naudus / Engadget

While the PlayStation’s DualShock design has gained its share of followers over the years, the Xbox gamepad is the stereotypical image of the gamepad in many people’s minds (along with the Discord logo). So it makes sense that there are a lot more mobile gaming options with this shape, and the best ones come from SteelSeries: the Nimbus+ for Apple-made devices and the Stratus+ for Google-based devices (Android and Chromebook) .

Both controllers are, for the most part, identical. They have shoulder buttons and shutter releases, the d-pad is the same, and they both include sturdy phone holders to secure your device to the top – the kind that automatically locks into place. Unlike a clamp from a more generic company, the one SteelSeries ships with both controllers won’t fight you during the mounting process of your phone.

Advantages: More gamers are likely to be familiar with Xbox-style controllers; both models include sturdy clips to attach your phone to the controller.

The inconvenients: You need to buy a different controller depending on the operating system you are using. the controller with the clamp attached is unwieldy

Buy Nimbus+ on Amazon – $70 Buy Stratus+ on SteelSeries – $60

For gamers who want to turn their Android phone into a Switch or Steam Deck-like device: Razer Kishi

Razer Kishi with phone inserted and Brawlhalla on screen

Kris Naudus / Engadget

Let’s be honest, the form factor is a big reason why devices like the Switch are so popular. They’re comfortable to hold, well-balanced, and really bring the screen to the fore. You don’t really get that with a phone clamp or a table stand. Luckily, the Razer Kishi is a super affordable option that’s easy to slot your phone into – although setup admittedly wasn’t as quick for me as the SteelSeries options. But at least the direct connection it forms with the phone via USB-C is faster than Bluetooth.

The Kishi’s main advantages, besides Razer’s premium build quality, are its passthrough charging, so you never have to detach it to charge your phone, and the size it folds down to when you remove it from your device. It’s smaller than SteelSeries controllers, which makes it ideal for tossing in a small bag.

Advantages: Provides a direct connection to a phone instead of relying on Bluetooth; folds up compactly when not in use

The inconvenients: The phone with Kishi attached may seem bulky; does not work with iPhones

Buy Razer Kishi on Amazon – $90

For gamers who want to turn their iPhone into a portable console: Backbone One

Backbone One, folded

Kris Naudus / Engadget

The Kishi’s USB-C port limits it to Android devices, and Razer doesn’t make an iOS equivalent. However, the new Backbone One is designed for Apple devices, but at a higher cost (because it’s newer and comes from a smaller company). My colleague Mat Smith was a big fan of the One when he tried it out, and in my own use it has a few advantages over the Razer device, namely a cleaner design and more fade-resistant matte texture. sweat. It also features Apple-specific buttons that are much larger and therefore easier to touch than those on the Kishi.

Advantages: Beautiful matte finish; specially designed for iPhone users

The inconvenients: Dear; only works with iPhones

Buy Backbone One on Amazon – $100

For gamers who want the most portable (or cutest) controller possible: 8BitDo Zero 2

8BitDo Zero 2 in Pink

Kris Naudus / Engadget

If you have big hands, the 8BitDo Zero 2 is definitely not for you, and your hands will probably cramp up if you spend too much time playing with this little Bluetooth controller. But for everyone else, it’s definitely worth a look, if only because it’s so small there’s no reason to keep it on you at all times in an emergency. Not that we can tell you what constitutes a gaming emergency, but if an emergency does arise, you’ll be glad you have it on hand. It’s really about the size of a keychain, so you can clip it onto your backpack or easily slip it into a Switch carrying case. And we love the bright colors, which are based on the Switch Lite design and should blend in with your spring and summer clothes.

Advantages: Cute and tiny; comes with a strap to attach to a bag

The inconvenients: Too small for players with large hands

Buy 8BitDo Zero 2 on Amazon – $20

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