Best game controllers for Apple TV and Apple Arcade in 2023

Apple TV with Game controller
(Image credit: iMore)

Playing games on your Apple TV setup is always more comfortable when you're getting the full “console experience”, using one of the best game controllers for Apple TV for a more ergonomic setup. Since Apple Arcade was released, quite a few games can use a controller, such as Dungeon Hunter 5 and Crossy Road+, and it’s the best way to enjoy them. 

The SteelSeries Nimbus+ is the best Apple TV game controller to ensure your gaming sessions are as comfortable as possible. It will feel like a full-blown console experience when you're playing your favorite Apple Arcade games, but there are plenty more options depending on whether you’re used to a certain shape of the controller from a previous console or want an option with different features. For console gamers, pairing up a PS4 or PS5 controller with your iPhone and iPad could be a better solution, however.

Here are the best Apple TV game controllers you buy

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Steelseries Nimbus

Steelseries Nimbus (Image credit: SteelSeries)

SteelSeries Nimbus+

The best overall controller for gaming on all your Apple devices

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic 50-hour battery life
+
Comfortable ergonomic design
+
Compatible with Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad
+
Lightning charging

Reasons to avoid

-
The iPhone mount doesn't really work for portrait games
-
Higher price than the original

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 2020, and it remains the definitive controller even now.  

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, as well as improve the experience of the best Apple TV games.

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.

With 50-hour battery life and responsive buttons, the SteelSeries Nimbus+ is the best all-rounder controller for Apple TV and Apple Arcade.

Dualsense Face Buttons Closeup 3

Dualsense Face Buttons Closeup 3 (Image credit: Android Central / iMore)

PlayStation PS5 DualSense Controller

Best game controller for current or prospective PS5 users

Reasons to buy

+
Very cool features
+
Also works with PS5

Reasons to avoid

-
Can't use the cool features
-
Expensive

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 and adaptive triggers —aren't available when you're gaming with your Apple products. Still, the controller is fully featured and comfortable, and you're going to get all those features when you inevitably upgrade to a PS5.

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 at least iOS 14.5, tvOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5 — or the latest version of macOS Monterey. One of the coolest controllers PlayStation has ever made, and now it works with your Apple products!

Pxn Lifestyle

Pxn Lifestyle (Image credit: PXN)

PXN MFi Game Controller

Best controller for portable gaming, with a holder for your iPhone

Reasons to buy

+
20-hour battery life
+
Great for use with iPhone

Reasons to avoid

-
Micro-USB charging only

The PXN MFi Controller is perfect for gamers who love playing on their Apple TV 4K but also like to game on the move with 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. Whether you're gaming on your Apple TV or gaming on the go, the PXN MFi Controller is awesome, and at $49.99, it's slightly cheaper than the SteelSeries.

White PS4 Controller

White PS4 Controller (Image credit: iMore)

DualShock 4 Wireless Controller for PlayStation 4

The best controller for PS4 users, with a familiar design

Reasons to buy

+
Familiar design
+
Also works with PS4

Reasons to avoid

-
Can't check battery life on Apple TV
-
Micro-USB charging

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.

It's also worth remembering that now the PS5 is becoming more readily available, the DualShock 4 and PS4 are no longer being produced in large quantities. As such, it may be difficult to find and buy a DualShock 4 in the near future. If this is a controller you must add to your collection, you need to buy it very soon. It's the standard controller that comes in the PlayStation 4 box, and therefore if you like it, it's a great choice!

Sport Red Xbox Controller

Sport Red Xbox Controller (Image credit: iMore)

Xbox Core Wireless Controller

The best game controller for Xbox users

Reasons to buy

+
Familiar design
+
Ergonomic and comfortable
+
Also works with Xbox consoles and PC

Reasons to avoid

-
Needs AA batteries

The Xbox Core wireless 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. There's a reason this controller is often considered the default even outside of use with Xbox consoles, such as on PC.

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. This way, you're prepared regardless of whether you're playing on Apple Arcade or grabbing an Xbox Series X|S.

The official Xbox One controller has a tweaked design, adding more grippy parts on the rear side, making it comfortable to hold.

Which of the best game controllers for Apple TV is right for you?

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.

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.

However, if you already have a console using a wireless controller or you miss the feel of an older controller, it makes sense to grab one that also matches your pre-existing hardware.

Can I play all games on Apple TV and Apple Arcade with a controller?

Sadly, no. Many, but not all, games on the App store offer controller support, but before you buy a game, you should check whether it can be played with an external handset before you decided to hit the "buy" button. 

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 


Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.

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