If you’re hoping to find the best mobile gaming controller for your smartphone, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re new to mobile gaming or a veteran, we’ll be exploring some of our favourite controllers and updating you on our journey. From a SteelSeries Stratus Duo to the Backbone One and Razer Kishi, read on to discover the best one for you.
With more and more developers offering cross-platform compatibility for video games, mobile gaming is gaining traction as a new popular platform. Moving past Candy Crush and Pokemon Go, smartphone apps are going beyond happy-tappy puzzles and augmented reality games. Instead, they’re adding more and more titles like Fortnite, Call of Duty and Brawlhalla to the roster, which are far more difficult when played with touch-controls, period. One way to really enjoy Battle Royale-style games (or similar) on your smartphone is with a compatible mobile gaming controller.
What to consider before getting a mobile gaming controller
Is it compatible with my smartphone?
Before you add that handsome-looking phone game controller to your cart, it’s best we ask you: Android or iOS?
You’d be surprised by the amount of mobile gaming controllers out there that are tailored only for Android. While there are plenty of options you can roll with if you want one that’s cross-platform, you’ll need to pay close attention to its compatibility. There’s nothing more groan-inducing than realising you have to return something because you forgot to check the compatibility.
Does this game really require a controller?
It goes without saying, but please don’t buy a mobile gaming controller if you don’t actually need one. There’s nothing worse than dropping a lot of cash on something that will just end up collecting dust.
The easiest way to do this is to ensure your game comes with controller support and Bluetooth compatibility. It’s obvious that first-person shooters like Fortnite demand a controller if you want to have any success with winning the battle royale. But Hearthstone? Don’t bother.
Does this phone game controller come with a mount or do I need to buy one separately?
Admittedly, they can be the most affordable option, but not ideal if you don’t have access to a spare controller, plus they need to be recharged often. Sometimes, it pays to have a dedicated smartphone controller — especially if it sports a USB-C port so that it relies on your phone’s battery for juice instead.
The best mobile gaming controllers
Best overall controller — Razer Kishi
The Razer Kishi is touted as the best premium controller for mobile gaming around. Capable of supporting both iOS and Android, the Razer Kishi is a fan-favourite because of its Nintendo Switch-like controllers that allows you to clamp it on either end of your smartphone.
As one of the top recommended controllers for NVIDIA’s GeForce Now streaming service, it’s easy to see why. It comes with a complete set of triggers, shoulder buttons, clickable analogue sticks and D-Pad for tactile feedback and improved accuracy. The controller itself is designed for long gaming sessions (perfect for the solely mobile gamer) thanks to its ergonomic design and optimised button placement.
Since it sports a USB-C charging port, there’s no need to recharge it — it simply relies on your phone’s internal battery. That said, you can always plug in a cable if your battery goes into the red so you can keep on gaming.
The Razer Kishi is Bluetooth-compatible, which makes it super quick and easy to pair. But just be aware that some games on the app store don’t support Bluetooth controllers, so make sure you check with your favourites before purchasing.
It also happens to be among the most travel-friendly controllers you can find, since you can disconnect it from your phone, snap each end into each other and pocket it for later.
Best mobile gaming controller for Android — SteelSeries Stratus Duo
Not only is the SteelSeries Stratus Duo one of the best mobile gaming controllers you can get for Android, but it also happens to be the most budget-friendly.
For a phone game controller that’s only $84.90, you can enjoy a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and dual wireless connectivity. This means your controller can sustain up to 20 hours playtime and connect to either your phone via Bluetooth or computer via 2.4 GHz wireless. In order to take advantage of this multi-platform controller, all you have to do is attach its included Wi-Fi dongle if you wish to switch over to your PC.
This controller was made to pair with Fortnite Mobile, but it is Steam-powered meaning you can pair and play with 5000+ controller-enabled games. Design-wise, it was created to be full-sized and ergonomic, featuring clickable analogue joysticks that cater to precision and performance, regardless of whether you need to engage in a bit of button-mashing to get out of a tight spot. The Stratus Duo features updated triggers, in contrast to previous SteelSeries controllers, that are more durable so that they last longer and can sustain aggressive gameplay.
Best mobile gaming controller for iPhone — Backbone One
For those of you equipped with an iPhone, the best choice for you is the Backbone One — a solely iOS-compatible mobile gaming controller. Like the Razer Kishi, this controller snaps onto either side of your smartphone before selecting the Backbone app to instantly start playing your favourite games.
It was designed in partnership with the team who created the Xbox controller, so you know that every button has been carefully positioned to offer a streamlined gaming experience. The Backbone One is compatible with any game that offers controller support, so you can choose between hundreds of games including Minecraft or Asphalt 9.
Among its many great features, some standouts include its 3.5mm headphone jack, built-in screenshot button, a dedicated Backbone home button and of course clickable triggers. And let’s not forget that it’s compatible with Cloud gaming services, including Xbox Cloud.
The Backbone app itself really gives you the vibe that you’re playing on a console thanks to its all-in-one game launcher. It intelligently collates all of your gaming apps in one place and can give you recommendations based on your preferences. It even allows you to record, edit and share your best gaming moments. Plus, it can instantly notify you when your friends come online so you can hit them up to join your party in a beat.
If you’re a first-time Xbox Game Pass Ultimate player, you’ll get a free one month trial by purchasing the Backbone One phone game controller.