These days even budget Android phones are capable of pushing PSP emulation, while high-end phones are running open-world games like Fortnite and Genshin Impact. Connecting a gamepad to your phone is incredibly enticing. Adding a gamepad will greatly improve input accuracy and viewability, resulting in a better experience. Does it sound like something you’d be interested in? We’ve rounded up the best gamepads for Android and iPhone.
Looking for a worthy Android emulator frontend? Check out DIG and learn how to set it up.
- What Makes a Good Gamepad?
- 1. Best for Competition (Android) – Razer Raiju Mobile
- 2. Best First-Party Controller (Android and iOS) – DualShock 4
- 3. Best for Xbox Fans (Android and iOS) – Gamevice
- 4. Best Small Gamepad (Android) – 8Bitdo Sn30 Pro
- 5. Best Traditional Gamepad (Android) – PowerA MOGA XP5-X
- 6. Best for Comfort (Android) – Nacon MG-X Pro
- 7. Best for Long Gaming Sessions (Android) – GameSir X3
- 8. Best for Apple Users (iOS) – Backbone One
- 9. Best Wallet-Friendly Controller (iOS) – GameSir X2 Lightning
- 10. Best Overall Gamepad (Android and iOS) – Razer Kishi
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Makes a Good Gamepad?
The three main things to look for in an Android/iOS gamepad are:
- compatibility with your device
- great build quality
- mapping software
A gamepad with all three of these is a rare gift, and we’ve narrowed down the best options that hit those critical points. There is an alternative worth considering, though, especially if you’re using a tablet: a regular Bluetooth-enabled gamepad.
Finally, if you have an Xbox One/Xbox Series controller, we also recommend considering a phone-to-controller clip! It’ll be a little weighty, but if you prefer to use authentic-to-console controls, that’s your best option.
1. Best for Competition (Android) – Razer Raiju Mobile
The Razer Raiju Mobile seems to combine the best bits of first-party controllers, all bundled in a compact and mobile-friendly package. It has the offset analog sticks of the Xbox controller but the separate D-pad buttons of the DualShock 4.
It’s also very lightweight at 0.67lbs, so your hands won’t tire too quickly, and all the buttons are remappable if you get the accompanying app. The gamepad also offers a hair-trigger mode for that FPS twitch shooting and an integrated mount with 60-degree viewing angles that you can pretty much slide away when you’re not using it.
Of course, this is Razer we’re talking about – one of the veterans of gaming hardware – so there’s excellent after-sales support, and you can expect this one to last.
2. Best First-Party Controller (Android and iOS) – DualShock 4
If you want the best support, ergonomics, and reliability, you should probably opt for one of the official console controllers. We could write an essay debating the merits of the Xbox One controller vs. the Switch Pro controller vs. DualShock 4, but as a mobile gaming controller, the DualShock 4 wins out.
The key aspect is that the DualShock 4 is much lighter than the other two, which is an important factor to consider if you’re using a controller mount and will have the phone in your hands as well. It’s also slightly smaller than the other two.
Not only that, but the PS4 controller is micro-USB rather than battery-powered, and many mounts come with a cable that lets you plug your DualShock 4 into your phone to share its battery charge.
Looking to hook up your PS4/PS5 to a laptop or Mac? Here’s how to do that.
3. Best for Xbox Fans (Android and iOS) – Gamevice
The Gamevice is available for both Android and iOS devices. However, be aware that iOS users will be paying an additional Apple tax. The Gamevice features a familiar telescope design that collapses into a more portable form factor when not in use. Furthermore, the Gamevice utilizes USB-C/Lightning port connectivity to provide low latency when gaming.
If we’re being honest, there’s not much about the Gamevice that sets it apart from other controllers on this list. If you’re partial to the Xbox controller, the Gamevice might edge out the competition on that point alone. The Gamevice takes its design cues from the Xbox One controller, featuring a familiar layout that includes the offset analog sticks.
4. Best Small Gamepad (Android) – 8Bitdo Sn30 Pro
If maximum portability is what you want, the 8Bitdo Sn30 Pro for Xbox Cloud Gaming is a great pick. With the included clip, it turns your phone into something more like a Game Boy or PSP than a Switch. The Xbox design leans into its Xbox Cloud Gaming compatibility, but you can use this with Steam Link and any gamepad-supported apps just fine.
The one downside is the lack of touch-mapping software, but that’s mainly because this is meant to be used for apps built around gamepads. You can still map your buttons, and on the hardware side, even adjust the resistance/sensitivity on the sticks and triggers. It’s basically a tiny Xbox Elite controller, except it doesn’t actually support XInput on Windows.
5. Best Traditional Gamepad (Android) – PowerA MOGA XP5-X
If you prefer the traditional form factor, check out the PowerA MOGA XP5-X. It boasts authentic-to-console controls, as well as great touch-mapping software and two extra programmable back buttons. The shape and feel are very close to that of a regular Xbox One controller, with a more pronounced D-Pad.
The touch-mapping software is good for the most part but doesn’t support every touch-based game on Android. Even so, this is a superb all-around Android Gamepad, and with the added back paddles, it even has some light Xbox Elite Controller influences.
Gaming on Android is not all about installing apps or even having an Internet connection. Check out the best games you can play on your mobile Chrome browser and fun offline games to play on your phone.
6. Best for Comfort (Android) – Nacon MG-X Pro
The Nacon MG-X Pro is hands down one of the best gaming controllers available for mobile gaming enthusiasts. At first glance it looks unwieldy – it is a beefy telescopic controller – but this is a blessing, not a curse. The Nacon MG-X Pro was modeled after the Xbox controller. As a result, it has two ergonomic handles that feel super comfortable in the hand. Furthermore, because the controller is larger, the face buttons themselves are large and spaced out instead of being crammed together. The result is a controller that won’t cause carpal tunnel.
The Nacon MG-X Pro can be used with virtually any Android device, and you don’t have to worry about taking your case off. The MG-X Pro connects to your device via Bluetooth, which may give some consumers pause. Yet, the MG-X Pro receives very favorable reviews from both the press and end users.
7. Best for Long Gaming Sessions (Android) – GameSir X3
The GameSir X3 seems like every other telescopic gaming controller. However, the X3’s big claim to fame is the large integrated cooling fan. GameSir claims that the 7500 RPM fan is able to cool the surface of the phone up to 24 degrees Celsius (75 F). This is a big plus for those who play demanding games or engage in long gaming sessions.
In addition, the GameSir X3’s face buttons, bumpers, triggers and D-pad all utilize Kailh mechanical switches. Using these switches results in reduced actuation distance, which can give users an edge over players using traditional membrane buttons.
The GameSir is compatible with most Android games and emulator apps as well as cloud gaming services. Furthermore, it is compatible with virtually every Android phone on the market, accommodating phones 110-179mm. To top it all off, the GameSir X3 connects to the phone via USB-C, so input lag is a non-issue. The only downside is the addition of superfluous RGB lighting. In our opinion, it looks a little tacky, but it’s a small complaint.
8. Best for Apple Users (iOS) – Backbone One
While there are a number of controller options available for Android devices, iPhone users aren’t quite as lucky. Thankfully, the Backbone One was made specifically for the iPhone, and it’s easily one of the best available. The Backbone One was designed in conjunction with the folks who worked on the Microsoft Xbox controller, resulting in an ergonomic controller with tactile buttons that feels comfortable in the hand.
The Backbone One connects to the iPhone via a Lightning connector, resulting in lower latency, which can give you the edge when playing competitive multiplayer games. The Backbone One also supports pass-through charging, so you don’t need to worry about your iPhone’s battery dying during a gaming session. It even has a 3.5mm headphone jack!
Tip: If you just bought a controller but don’t know what to play, check out these interesting games that also offer controller support. And if you’re looking for more interesting games to play, here are a few’ Metaverse games you might enjoy.
9. Best Wallet-Friendly Controller (iOS) – GameSir X2 Lightning
The GameSir X2 is also available for Android devices; however, the updated X3 model mentioned above makes it somewhat redundant. As the name implies, the GameSir X2 Lightning features Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector. Therefore, your phone connects to the controller via the iPhone’s charging port, which is beneficial due to minimal input lag and support for pass-through charging.
The buttons on the GameSir X2 also utilize microswitches, resulting in a more tactile feel while gaming. In addition, it utilizes a layout that will be instantly familiar to Xbox fans. Furthermore, the X2 has a smaller form factor than some other controllers on this list, resulting in a more comfortable experience for children or those with smaller hands.
10. Best Overall Gamepad (Android and iOS) – Razer Kishi
Our pick for “Best Overall Gamepad” is the Razer Kishi. The Razer Kishi has it all: compatibility with a decently wide range of devices, an ergonomic design, and great mapping software. This is particularly notable, as you can get it to work with just about anything – even touch-based games that don’t officially support gamepads.
Software aside, the hardware is great. If your Android phone has a centered USB-C port, chances are high that it’ll be compatible with this controller. It also minimizes input lag that would normally be introduced by using Bluetooth. It even supports pass-through charging, so you don’t need to stop gaming to charge your phone like you would with other telescopic controllers. Finally, because the Razer Kishi v1 has been out for a few years, you can pick one up at a bargain-basement price, making it a no-brainer.
A Worthy Successor? (Android and iOS) – Razer Kishi v2
The second iteration of the Razer Kishi offers a more minimalist design, making it easier and more comfortable to hold. Furthermore, it utilizes better-quality thumbsticks, something many users complained about during the first go-around.
Other than that, Razer hasn’t changed much, so many are criticizing the Kishi v2 as uninspired. However, if you are a fan of the v1 and looking for a more refined upgrade, the Razer Kishi v2 is a solid option.
Have an Xbox and want to experience it to the fullest? Here are the best Xbox accessories you should consider getting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I really need a gamepad, or are touch controls good enough?
Outside of games that are explicitly built for touch controls (like Fruit Ninja, for example), a gamepad will always provide a better experience. In addition to not obscuring the screen with your fingers, it also becomes much easier to develop muscle memory for quick reactions and complex maneuvers with actual buttons and triggers. Especially if you’re looking to emulate, having a proper gamepad is a must for hardcore gaming experiences on mobile.
Is having a quality D-Pad important when choosing a gamepad?
Yes, for comfortable and accurate inputs, especially in platformers or fighting games. We chose to focus on gamepads with great D-Pads for this reason – if your gamepad can’t even handle a solid Super Mario World session, that’s a pretty bad sign.
Can I use these Android Gamepads with a tablet?
Absolutely! You’ll want to make sure that it supports Bluetooth, so you may not want to go with the Kishi. Additionally, if you already have an Xbox controller lying around, it can make a great gamepad for your tablet.
Image credit: Unsplash
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