Best Game Controllers for Apple TV and Apple Arcade iMore 2020
Playing games on your Apple TV is always more comfortable with a controller, and since Apple Arcade released, there are a ton of games that can use a controller. The SteelSeries Nimbus is the best 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 Battery Life: Horipad Ultimate
- Best Compact Controller: SteelSeries Stratus
- Best for PS4 users: DualShock 4
- Best for Xbox One users: Xbox One Wireless Controller
Best Overall: SteelSeries Nimbus
One of the essential things in any gaming controller is how it feels in your hand, and the SteelSeries Nimbus is beyond comfortable. Extended gaming sessions are no problem, and your hands shouldn't feel cramped or sore no matter what game you're playing. It's all thanks to the ergonomic design of the controller.
While some people don't like the joysticks in the side-by-side configuration (similar to a PlayStation controller), the way the handles are designed and force you to hold the SteelSeries Nimbus make it much more comfortable. If you play a lot of games that need dual-sticks to function — so your mileage may vary.
Let's talk buttons because the SteelSeries Nimbus has a full direction pad (D-Pad), A, B, X, and Y buttons, both bumpers, and triggers on the left and right side, and a menu button in the middle. All the buttons are very responsive and are sensitive, so when you press a button, you know it.
I've had my Nimbus for over two years, and I use it multiple times a week. The buttons haven't reduced to a mushy mess, yet - which is a lot less than I can say for even my PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 controller. On top of the controller, you'll also find a power button and a Bluetooth button used for pairing. It's also super easy to put the controller into pairing mode to connect to a new device or turn off the controller to make sure you conserve battery power.
- Fantastic 40-hour battery life
- Comfortable ergonomic design
- Compatible with Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad
- Lightning charging
- Can't 100% control your Apple TV
- Only one Bluetooth connection at a time
Made for gaming on all your Apple devices
With 40-hour battery life and responsive buttons, the SteelSeries Nimbus is the best controller for Apple TV and Apple Arcade.
Best Battery Life: Horipad Ultimate
The Horipad Ultimate is another reliable full MFi controller that will pair well with your Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Its two-toned look offers a bit more of a unique look, and the thumbsticks have a slightly less concave construction, which may be more comfortable for some people.
Lory, iMore's Managing Editor, has mentioned that the Horipad Ultimate feels better in smaller hands, meaning if you have big palms, you may want to look elsewhere.
- 80-hours battery life
- Lightning charging
- Better for smaller hands
Best Battery Life
Even more playing time
Similar to the SteelSeries Nimbus, the Horipad Ultimate features all the same buttons, but it doubles the battery life!
Best Compact Controller: SteelSeries Stratus
Being cheap and small, the SteelSeries Stratus is perfect for people who like to carry their gaming controllers around or ensure they don't take up a lot of space.
The Stratus does come with a few drawbacks. It uses a much older version of Bluetooth, and it only holds about a 10-hour charge. Plus, the R2 and L2 buttons can be a tad hard to reach, making the Stratus better suited for retro-styled games that have fewer controls.
- Lightning charging
- Great for retro-styled gaming
- 10-hour battery life
- L2 and R2 buttons hard to reach
Best Compact Controller
More compact retro-inspired design
If having a full-sized controller seems like too much, the SteelSeries Stratus offers a lot in a smaller package.
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 PlayStation 4 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, meaning 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 PS4 users
The DualShock 4 is the standard controller that comes in the PlayStation 4 box and therefore if you like it, it's a great choice!.
Best for Xbox One users: Xbox One Wireless Controller
The Xbox One controller is a super comfortable gaming experience, and 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, there's a play and charge kit 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 Xbox and PC
- Needs AA batteries
Best for Xbox One users
The official Xbox One controller has a tweaked design, adding more grippy parts on the rear side, making it comfortable to hold.
When it comes to gaming on your Apple TV, a great gamepad can go a long way, and the SteelSeries Nimbus is the best around. Its 40-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!
The buttons on the SteelSeries Nimbus are nice and firm, and provide good tactile feedback when pressed, so you know your inputs are being received. Plus, it works with Mac, iOS, and Apple TV giving you the option to upgrade your gaming experience no matter what device you use to play your favorite Apple Arcade games.
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.
Lory Gil is the Managing Editor of iMore and knows her way around both an Apple TV and MFi gaming controllers. She's a believer in the SteelSeries Nimbus herself.
Rene Ritchie is the foremost authority on all things Apple and has insider knowledge about the goings-on at the biggest tech company in the world. He knows everything, literally everything, there is to know about Apple.
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