Mobile devices are making it more apparent every day that they would like to be considered gaming devices as much as they are considered telephones and social media scrollers. iPhones and Android devices are capable of playing fully realized, visually impressive experiences, whether natively or via streaming. And with big-name titles like Diablo Immortal, Into the Breach, and Shovel Knight Dig now available on mobile, it’s a great time to really dive into the mobile scene. Many games are being ported from console and PC platforms and are nearly indistinguishable from their console counterparts, but touchscreens still don’t make for the best gaming experiences. Below you will find our suggestions for the best phone controller options for the kinds of experiences you want to have on your mobile device.
When it comes to picking the best phone controller for you, there are a lot of different choices to consider, from official pads that require mobile controller clips to third-party ones that don’t. Fortunately, you probably already own a great controller that’ll work with your phone, as both the official Xbox Wireless Controller, PS5 DualSense, and even Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons can be connected to an Android phone or iPhone via Bluetooth. Still, you may want to consider a mobile controller that’s specifically designed for gaming on a phone, and we’ve included some of the best options for that below. There’s a lot of variety here–some controllers connect directly to your phone’s USB-C port, while others are Bluetooth-enabled. Some mobile controllers clip onto either side of your phone to resemble Joy-Cons, while others feel similar to a traditional console controller with a phone clip at the top. There is even option for connecting your giant iPad to a controller. Whether you need an Android or iPhone controller, you’ll find something to suit your needs here.
Editor’s Note: Article updated on September 26, 2022
Compatible with most phones, including Android and iPhone
Great-feeling analog sticks
Analog triggers work great with all games
USB-C connection allows for low-latency play
Doesn’t require charging
Features a USB-C port for phone charging
USB-C port doesn’t work with USB-C headphones
Mushy buttons make it feel less premium than other Razer controllers
Razer’s Kishi turns your phone into something that looks more like a Nintendo Switch, and it’s compatible with a large number of phones. While Razer’s other phone controllers connect via Bluetooth, the Razer Kishi plugs directly into your phone’s USB-C port (or Lighting port for iOS). All you need to do is adjust the strap, plug your phone into the Kishi, and start playing. The Kishi doesn’t require charging and runs off of your phone’s battery. Thankfully, it has a port of its own that allows for the charging of your phone while you’re playing.
The Kishi has the same capabilities of a traditional console controller, including analog triggers. The buttons and D-pad aren’t as satisfying to press as the Razer Junglecat, feeling a little mushy, but they still work well with every game. The Razer Kishi’s analog sticks also feel more similar to a standard controller, making them a bit more accurate and comfortable. The Kishi doesn’t feel quite as premium as Razer’s other gamepads, but overall, it’s still the best phone controller we’ve tested for its features and compatibility. Be sure to choose the correct style you need–iPhone or Android–before buying.
Update: Razer recently released the Razer Kishi V2, an updated model that more closely resembles the Backbone One thanks to a one-piece design with an extendable bridge connecting the left and right controllers. The V2 adds a pair of additional programmable buttons. It’s available now for iOS and Android. Considering that it’ll set you back more than twice the price of the original Kishi, those who are buying their first dedicated mobile controller may just want to go with the original. While the Kishi V2 feels a bit better to use than its predecessor, you still can’t go wrong with the Joy-Con-like original.
Lightning pass-through port lets you charge iPhone during play
Only compatible with iPhone
D-pad is a little too firm for precise platforming
Backbone One is built for iPhones, and like the Razer Kishi, it turns your phone into something resembling a Nintendo Switch. As a result, it shares many of the Kishi’s same smart and forward-facing features, like a port for low latency play (instead of Bluetooth), a passthrough port for charging while you play, and solid controller design across the board. Since it’s designed just for iPhones, the tight spring-loaded mechanism fits snug and secure. But the real secret sauce for Backbone One is the dedicated Backbone app.
The app wrangles all of your favorite games into a single interface that looks similar to what you’d find on Xbox or PlayStation, with big bold icons and the ability to add any other games in your collection simply by pressing the Backbone button from within them. The face buttons also allow you to quickly record screenshots or gameplay clips and share them with the Backbone community, and the app serves as a hub for other popular video highlights. The whole experience feels much more elegant than flipping through your apps manually, and it makes turning your iPhone from everyday use to “game mode” a more cohesive transition. Check out our Backbone One review for more details.
Update: The Backbone One now comes in a PS5-themed white model built specifically for remote play.
PowerA’s Moga XP7-X Plus is the newest mobile controller on this list, and it also happens to be one of the very best we’ve tried. Officially licensed by Xbox, the XP7-X Plus basically looks like an elongated Xbox controller. The conventional handle shape gives it excellent ergonomics and makes it feel very similar to using Microsoft’s first-party controller. This makes the transition to using the XP7-X Plus as your Xbox Cloud Gaming controller seamless.
The XP7-X Plus further excels because of its high-quality buttons, triggers, sticks, and D-pad. The best compliment we can pay the XP7-X Plus is that it mostly feels like you’re using a first-party Xbox controller. Plus, it has a pair of programmable back triggers, which is a nice added bonus.
The XP7-X Plus has an extendable design similar to the Backbone One and Kishi V2, which allows you to snugly cradle your Android smartphone between the handles. It also comes with a handy removable play stand that can be used for tabletop mode. Another great perk is that it doubles as a PC controller. Sure, it may look a tad wide for this purpose, but it works well and could help you limit the number of controllers you need to travel with when away from your house.
The XP7-X Plus connects via Bluetooth or USB on Android and PC. The downside with the wired connection is that it uses microUSB rather than the more modern USB-C. So yes, it uses microUSB for charging, too. That said, it comes with a USB-C cord with a microUSB adapter, so you won’t have to carry around USB-C and microUSB cords to charge your phone/controller. It’s also unfortunate that the XP7-X Plus isn’t available for iOS, since it would be great for those with larger hands who think the Backbone One is too small. That said, it’s one of the best mobile controllers for Android and it comes in at the same price as the Kishi V2.
The Moga XP5-i Plus is PowerA’s first mobile controller for iOS. The prolific accessory manufacturer has made plenty of great Android controllers, so it’s not surprising that its first controller for iPhone is a huge success.
The Moga XP5-i Plus is very similar to the aforementioned XP5 for Android. It retains the same shape, which mirrors the official Xbox controller. It has tactile grips that make its ergonomic handles comfortable to hold for long play sessions. The sticks have great tension, the D-pad feels great, the buttons and triggers have just the right amount of click to them, and the mappable rear triggers are located in an ideal spot for your middle fingers.
The controller also comes with an expandable gaming clip that connects to the base and secures your phone. It’s capable of stowing small and large phones, including the latest iPhone Pro Max devices. If you have a relatively compact case, you won’t even need to take your phone out of it to secure it in place.
The Moga XP5-i Plus even comes with a built-in 3,000mAh battery that will charge your phone while playing. The only (minor) downside with this feature is that you have to use a USB-C to USB-A adapter, but thankfully it’s included. You can also sync the controller via Bluetooth to your iPad or Apple TV.
Just about perfect for Apple Arcade gaming and cloud gaming on your favorite service, the Moga XP5-i Plus is a triumph.
If you’re looking for a traditional controller for iOS, RiotPWR’s newest controller is your best bet. It also works particularly well for streaming Xbox games. The RiotPWR Xbox Cloud Gaming Controller has a striking white and green color scheme and retains the familiar layout of the Xbox controller.
The difference here is that RiotPWR has added dedicated buttons aimed for mobile functionality with iOS, including a dedicated Xbox button, a share button for streaming and capturing gameplay, and compatibility with Ludu Mapp.
The controller connects to your iPhone via the Lightning port and has a headphone jack as well, so you can easily use your favorite wired gaming headsets. While some users may prefer Bluetooth controllers, the RiotPWR Xbox Cloud Gaming Controller’s wired connection helps to eliminate input lag.
The included clip attaches into the faceplate of the controller and provides a sturdy holder for your iPhone, making the RiotPWR Xbox Cloud Gaming Controller an excellent all-in-one bundle for mobile gaming and streaming.
Power bank that charges both controller and phone included
Android owners looking for an affordable controller for Xbox cloud gaming need look no further than PowerA’s Moga XP5-X. It looks and feels just like a standard Xbox Wireless Controller, includes a dock for your phone, and connects to your phone via Bluetooth or USB-C. Oh, and it’s officially licensed by Xbox for use with Game Pass streaming.
The XP5-X also features Advanced Gaming Buttons that can be mapped as you see fit as well as an integrated power system that charges easily and quickly via a USB cable. The XP5-X is the closest mobile-focused controller that isn’t the actual Xbox controller available for phones right now, and it’s usually on sale on Amazon, making it one of the most affordable options on this list.
Phone cases only compatible with a limited number of phones
Digital trigger buttons aren’t great for some games
Small size can take some getting used to
Unlike the Razer Kishi, which connects to your Android phone via the USB-C port, the Razer Junglecat controllers clip into the sides of its phone case (much like the Switch’s Joy-Cons), then connect via Bluetooth. After the first time you connect them to your phone, it’s quick and easy to reconnect them.
The Razer Junglecat phone controllers feel very similar to Joy-Cons, especially the analog sticks that resemble what we see on the Switch. The D-pad is more similar to the DualShock in shape, though it is segmented into four different buttons. These buttons are satisfyingly clicky, as are the bumpers and triggers. They’re a little tricky to get used to–and unfortunately, the triggers aren’t analog–but once you become accustomed to the smaller size, they’re an incredible portable controller option.
While the Junglecat controllers can connect to any compatible device, they only come with cases that fit a limited number of phones, making them harder to recommend than the Kishi. The Razer Junglecat is compatible with the Razer Phone 2, Samsung Galaxy S10+, and Galaxy Note 9.
Limited compatibility considering the various input ports on iPads
Doesn’t store well when not in use since it’s large
Can’t use a case
The Gamevice for iPad controller looks unwieldy at first glance, but actually playing with it reveals its value quickly. The largest traditional handheld we’re used to playing with buttons is probably the Nintendo Switch, which makes this feel big by comparison, but when you consider that the iPad is typically held in your hands for use anyway, adding buttons and control sticks to the side doesn’t end up feeling strange. In fact, it’s nice to have such a large screen.
There are compatibly issues considering iPads are slowly migrating toward USB-C and this device uses Apple’s standard lightning connection, but if you have an iPad that fits, it feels good. The buttons are large, and the controller sticks are responsive, but the controller does feel too light and a little hollow and flimsy as a result.
I played the recent Apple Arcade games Amazing Bomberman and Subway Surfers Tag and encountered no connectivity or lag issues. Both games were responsive and played well with the controller. The Gamevice for iPad controller is a good option for the player who wants to play handheld, but wants it on the biggest screen possible.
Full-sized controller that works great with all games
Remappable back and shoulder buttons
Built-in adjustable phone clip
Satisfying, tactile buttons
Also works with PC
Up to 23 hours of battery life
Phone clip isn’t removable for when you play on PC
Razer’s Raiju Mobile is an Elite-style controller that has a phone clip built into its chassis. The clip is adjustable and holds your phone in place while the Raiju Mobile connects via Bluetooth. This is an excellent all-in-one option that feels solid enough to survive commutes and road trips. The controller works well on PC, and it’s just as delightful when connected to an Android device. However, the built-in phone clip may be a bit annoying when you use this controller on PC.
In addition to the basics, you’re able to customize the included back paddles and extra shoulder buttons. You can remap any function on the controller to these buttons, making it easy to keep your thumbs on the sticks when you need to reload or perform another action. You can also activate the trigger stops to shorten the throw of the Raiju Mobile’s triggers.
All of xCloud’s titles are designed with this controller in mind
Long battery life powered by two AA’s
Easily connects to iPhone or Android via Bluetooth
Xbox Series X owners already have this controller on hand
Phone clip must be bought separately
The Xbox Wireless Controller is another excellent Xbox cloud gaming, though because it wasn’t designed for gaming on a phone, you will need to buy a phone clip separately for the best experience. Still, all Game Pass games were designed with the Xbox Wireless Controller in mind, meaning it will work perfectly with every title, including those that utilize the analog triggers like racing games. Plus, if you own an Xbox Series X or Series S, you already have the new Xbox Wireless Controller on hand, so all you need to pick up is a good mobile clip. The Xbox Wireless Controller can connect via Bluetooth to iOS 14.5 phones and Android phones.
The Xbox Elite Series 2 controller has the most premium feel of any controller out there with its incredible build quality, clicky home button, and excellent hand and trigger grips. It’s probably the best wireless controller around, featuring two different trigger stop positions, a number of interchangeable back paddles and parts, and adjustable analog stick tension–perhaps my favorite aspect of the controller is the included Xbox 360-size thumbsticks. The Elite Series 2 pad also features three profiles that you can save your back paddle’s mappings to, making it easy to change on the fly when you switch between games.
Unfortunately, it can be easy to lose the interchangeable thumbsticks, making it a risky option for bringing with you on the go. Despite this, the Xbox Elite Series 2 controller is one of the best controllers I’ve ever used, and thanks to its Xbox Series X compatibility, it’s one that’s well worth buying. You may just not want to bring it with you on your commute.
Update: The Elite Series 2 controller now comes in a cheaper ($130) white model dubbed the “Core.” This edition features the same premium build without the extra accessories, including the paddles and interchangeable analog sticks. You can buy the accessories separately, either in an official components pack or from third-party manufacturers.
Released on April 12, 8BitDo’s Pro 2 Bluetooth controller is an evolution of the company’s SN30 Pro and Pro+ controllers. Its build is a cross between a classic SNES controller and a PlayStation DualShock controller, but despite looking like a controller from the old days, the 8BitDo Pro 2 connects seamlessly with your iPhone or Android phone to play any mobile game. It’s also a fantastic (and affordable) Switch Pro Controller alternative, letting you easily switch between playing on your phone and on your Switch while on the go.
The 8BitDo Pro 2’s accompanying software allows for full button mapping–letting you customize the controls to your heart’s content–while the two “pro” buttons on the back of the controller offer even more control when in the middle of a tough battle. 8BitDo’s Bluetooth controllers have earned a reputation for being top-of-the-line, and the Pro 2 is no exception. However, one downside is that the phone clip isn’t included with the 8BitDo Pro 2, so if you’re specifically buying it to play on your iPhone or Android device, you’ll have to buy that clip separately for $15. Note that while it’s compatible with Nintendo Switch, you can’t use this controller on PlayStation or Xbox consoles.
Easily connects to iPhone or Android via Bluetooth
PS5 owners already have one, so no extra charge
Haptic feedback and other PS5 features aren’t compatible
Phone clip must be bought separately
If you already have a PS5 DualSense controller and are wondering why you can’t just use that with your phone, good news–you can! The DualSense will connect to any iOS 14.5 phone or Android phone via Bluetooth. The haptic feedback and other advanced features might not work the same as they do on the PS5, but it’s still the same DualSense controller that PS5 owners know and love. Of course, you’ll still have to pick up a phone clip for the best experience with cloud gaming.
The DualSense only takes seconds to connect via Bluetooth, then you’re gaming on your phone the same way you do on your PS5. Connecting the DualSense back to your console is a breeze as well–simply re-sync the controller with the PS5 via the charge cable when you’re done, and you’re back in business. The DualSense is now available in three colors: white, Midnight Black, and Cosmic Red
Best phone controller clips
Already have a great controller that’ll work with your phone but need a clip to attach it? You can snag one of the mobile clips below to convert your current controller into one that’s ready for cloud gaming.
The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors.
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