Best game controllers for Apple TV and Apple Arcade iMore 2021
Playing games on your Apple TV is always more comfortable when you're using one of the best Apple TV) game controllers. Since Apple Arcade was released, quite a few games can use a controller. The SteelSeries Nimbus+ is the best Apple TV game controller to ensure your gaming sessions are at comfortable as possible and feel like a full-blown console experience when you're playing your favorite Apple Arcade games.
- Best overall: SteelSeries Nimbus+
- Best for portable gaming: PXN Mfi Game Controller
- Best compact controller: SteelSeries Stratus wireless controller
- Best for PS4 users: DualShock 4 Wireless Controller for PlayStation 4
- Best for Xbox One users: Xbox Wireless Controller — multiple colors
- Best for PS5 users: PlayStation PS5 DualSense Controller
Best overall: SteelSeries Nimbus+
The SteelSeries Nimbus was already the best Apple Arcade controller on the market. It got even better with the release of the Nimbus+ in May. One of the essential things in any gaming controller is how it feels in your hand, and the Nimbus+ keeps the original's ergonomic design meant to keep your hands from cramping during marathon sessions. This version adds an iPhone mount to extend that comfort to mobile game players.
The already impressive 40-hour battery life has been upped to 50, and you can quickly recharge it through a lightning cable. The product is officially licensed, so it will easily connect to all your Apple devices wirelessly utilizing a new high-performance Bluetooth module. It also features menu and options buttons that will make navigation easier.
High-performance will enjoy the clickable L3 and R3 joystick buttons that help replicate a traditional console experience. The triggers feature magnetic sensors meant to deliver smooth and precise control without the rapid wear and tear that can come from serious use.
- Fantastic 50-hour battery life
- Comfortable ergonomic design
- Compatible with Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad
- Lightning charging
- The iPhone mount doesn't really work for portrait games
- Higher price than the original
Best for portable gaming: PXN Mfi Controller
The PXN Mfi Controller is perfect for gamers who love sitting down on their Apple TV 4K but then like to get on the move and continuing gaming on their iPhone. With a detachable iPhone holder, you can take the PXN controller anywhere and play a game on your iPhone hands-free.
It has a full array of buttons to use, including triggers, and it even has an app you can use with your phone to adjust different settings.
- 20-hour battery life
- Great for use with iPhone
- micro-USB charging
Best compact controller: SteelSeries Stratus
Sometimes you want a controller that is a bit more compact, and that's why the SteelSeries Stratus is a great option for travel.
It comes with two joysticks, four triggers, A, B, X, and Y buttons, and a directional pad, meaning it has all the buttons and controls you want from a full gamepad, just in a smaller form. It is an older design. It still charges use MicroUSB and only has a 10-hour battery life, but its design is great for retro-style games because it's similar to the controller on systems you had in the 90s.
It works on all the Apple devices you want, so whether you play Apple Arcade on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV, the SteelSeries Stratus will serve you well.
- Compact design
- Great for retro games
- Compatible with Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad
- Older Bluetooth 2.1
- Only 10-hour battery life
Best for PS4 users: DualShock 4
If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? The DualShock 4 is the standard controller that comes in the PS4 box and, therefore, comes with the design we've come to expect. If you like it already but wish it were a little more interesting, Sony has a range of different colors available.
One of the significant drawbacks of using the DualShock 4 with your Apple TV is never knowing exactly how much battery power you have left. It can just turn off on you in the middle of a gaming session if you don't ensure you've topped up the battery.
- Familiar design
- Also works with PS4
- Can't check battery life on Apple TV
- Micro-USB charging
Best for Xbox One users: Xbox Wireless Controller
The Xbox One controller is a super comfortable gaming experience. It not only works with Apple TV, but it works seamlessly with the PC, too, either wired or over Bluetooth.
If you're not a fan of dumping AA batteries inside it, a play and charge kit is available that transforms it into a rechargeable controller. And whether it's through the Design Lab or the ridiculous amount of special edition designs, there's a color combo that's perfect for you.
- Familiar design
- Also works with Xbox and PC
- Needs AA batteries
Best for PS5 users: DualSense
If you've been lucky enough to get a PS5, or you are waiting to be able to get one, the DualSense controller is an amazing piece of technology you can use with your Apple TV, iPhone, and Mac. It has all the buttons you expect from a PlayStation controller, dual analog sticks, and a traditional D-Pad, which most gamers will be familiar with.
Unfortunately, all the really cool features of the DualSense controller — like the awesome haptic feedback —aren't available when you're gaming with your Apple products. Still, the controller is fully featured and comfortable.
One last thing, to get the DualSense to work with your iPhone, Apple TV, and Mac, you need to be running the latest software. Make sure you have iOS 14.5, tvOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and the latest version of macOS Big Sur.
- Very cool features
- Also works with PS5
- Can't use the cool features
When it comes to gaming on your Apple TV, the best Apple TV game controllers can go a long way. While you can get by with the Siri remote when playing many games, others require or will feel a lot better if you have a traditional console controller. If you're shelling out for an extra accessory, you want to make sure you choose well. Plus, the best Apple TV game controllers are super easy to add to your Apple TV, so it's not an extra hassle just to play with one.
The SteelSeries Nimbus+ is the best around. Its 50-hour battery life is more than enough to keep you gaming for extended periods, and thanks to its comfortable ergonomic design, your hands won't cramp up! It's got the precision to give you an edge in your favorite Apple Arcade or iPhone games, and it's made especially for Apple products, so it's very easy to use.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Luke Filipowicz is an iMore staff writer who plays way too many video games, and his hands-on experience with several MFi controllers made this guide possible.
Samantha Nelson is a former freelance writer for iMore, Windows Central, and Android Central who loves playing all forms of games and strengthening her wrists through yoga.
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