Best Game Controllers for iPhone iMore 2021
Once upon a time, gaming on the go was unheard of and regulated to those savvy enough to own a Game Boy. Those days are long behind us now; just about anyone can play high-quality games using the iPhone in their pocket. However, many mobile gamers still can't get behind touchscreen controls. Luckily, there are many great controllers available for iOS gamers. If you're gaming on your iPhone, look no further than the Razer Kishi. Designed to fit on almost every phone on the market, the Razer Kishi offers low latency, a sleek, ergonomic design, and compatibility with many Apple Arcade games. The Razer Kishi stands tall among its competitors.
- Best Overall: Razer Kishi
- Best for PlayStation Owners: DualSense Controller
- Best for Xbox Owners: Xbox Core Controller
- Best for Accessibility: Xbox Adaptive Controller
- Best for Budget: Rotor Riot Gamepad Controller
Best Overall: Razer Kishi
The Razer Kishi is ingenious in its design. Using a simple base, the Razer Kishi slides open and attaches to just about any iPhone available today. Once attached, both left and right controllers will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has held a video game controller in the last 15 years. The Razer Kishi has two clickable thumbsticks and a pair of face buttons reminiscent of an Xbox controller as well as an 8-way D-pad. It also has an indicator light on the side that'll let you know the status of your device.
It's also incredibly light, and paired with your phone, it's much lighter than a Nintendo Switch or even a Switch Lite. Gaming with the Razer Kishi feels great, and the build quality is up to par with other Razer products. The controller can be a transformative experience, and many gamers, myself included, would rather not use touch controls ever. A downside to this is losing access to the lightning port, which means you'll have to use a pair of Airpods or other wireless headsets.
There are some drawbacks to the Razer Kishi, but they don't really come from the device itself. As of this writing, Apple hasn't opened the door to Cloud Gaming on the iPhone, which means iOS gamers can't enjoy any of the excellent offerings available on the Xbox Game Pass. Other than that, this is the device to buy for iOS gamers.
- Stylish design
- Great build quality
- Fits on most iPhones
- Perfect for Xbox Game Pass...which isn't available on iOS yet.
- Expensive option
Best for PlayStation Owners: DualSense Controller
Getting a PS5 was one of the hardest things to do last fall, and its scarcity seems like it'll continue well into 2021. The controller, on the other hand, is readily available and fantastic. It's a huge step up from the PS4's controller and looks and feels next-gen. The white and black design might turn off some of Sony's faithful, but the controller is comfortable and looks great. I particularly like the thumbsticks, which feature a slight lip that gives the sticks some added grip.
Connecting the DualSense controller to your iPhone or Ipad is simple, too. Just turn on your iOS device's Bluetooth and sync your controller. This allows you to play any controller compatible iOS game. If you're enrolled in the 14.5 public beta test, you can edit your controller options, rebind buttons, and even disable haptic feedback.
If you're one of the lucky gamers who found a PS5, then using the controller that came with the system is a no-brainer. Of course, like the Kishi, the problem with using the PS5 controller doesn't really come from the device but the iPhone. You'll want to invest in an iPhone mount to get the most of your controller combo.
- Stylish contemporary design
- Can utilize Haptic Feedback while playing
- Works seamlessly with either an iPhone or iPad
- Requires a mount
- A reminder of that PS5 you'll never find
Best for Xbox Owners: Xbox Core Controller
The Xbox Wireless Controller has been the template for controllers since the Xbox 360, and for good reason. Everything from the button placement to the size and weight of the controller just felt right. Years later, with the release of the Xbox Series X, Microsoft seems to have taken an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach, making just minor refinements to their controller to improve on perfection.
Just holding the Xbox Core Controller in your hands feels good, and the button and controller placements are accessible and feel just right. The back of the controller features a textured grip at the ends that supports your hands, and the addition of a capture button right in the center makes grabbing video clips and screenshots a breeze. And like the DualSense controller, connecting an Xbox Controller to an iOS device is a simple process.
Microsoft knocked it out of the park when they designed this controller, and its feature set is worth the price of admission. The only downside is, again, having to invest in a mount to use it, as well as its odd choice to use double A batteries instead of a chargeable one, but aside from that, the Xbox Wireless Controller is an excellent way to play.
- Incredibly comfortable
- Textured grip adds extra support for intense gaming
- Works with Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and iPad
- Requires a mount
- Requires double A batteries
Best for Accessibility: Xbox Adaptive Controller
While I may not like touch controls, I can't deny that there's an audience for them, especially for those with disabilities. Microsoft, seeing the need for a bridge between the two worlds, introduced the Xbox Adaptive Controller.
The Xbox Adaptive controller was created with limited mobility players in mind. The Xbox Adaptive Controller is a unified hub and works with various external devices, such as switches, buttons, mounts, and joysticks to create a custom controller. You may customize it further by adding button, thumbstick, and trigger inputs via the addition of assistive devices that connect through the 3.5mm jack or the USB ports.
Like the Xbox Controller and the PlayStation Controller, gaming on an iPhone with the Adaptive Controller requires an additional mount. Still, it's the ideal controller for any gamer who may need extra assistance while they play.
- Essential to bringing gaming to players with disabilities
- Extremely customizable
- Compatible with Windows 7,8, and 10, Xbox One, Xbox Series X & S
- Expensive and can get more expensive with additional parts
Best for Budget: Rotor Riot Gamepad Controller
You may have noticed that most of the choices on this list must be paired with an iPhone mount, right? What if you don't own a PlayStation or Xbox and just want something to use exclusively for your iPhone? Well, if you're looking for a dedicated mobile phone controller, you might like the Rotor Riot, an iPhone controller with a built-in mount.
The Rotor Riot comes with everything you'd find in an Xbox or PlayStation Controller. Two analog sticks, an 8-way D-pad, and L3 and R3 functionality mean you'll be getting the full feature set found with a controller. There's even the option to charge while playing via pass-through charging. You can use the affiliated app, Ludu Mapp, to find over 1000 controller compatible games.
So what are the downsides? The Rotor Riot is the most affordable choice on our list, but the build quality, while not bad, is definitely not on par with the other options on the list. But that aside, the Rotor Riot is a pretty handy device, especially if your phone is your dedicated gaming platform.
- Mount can be removed from the controller
- Includes all of the features you'd find in an Xbox or PlayStation controller
- Build quality is somewhat lacking
Take control of your games
These are our choices for the best game controllers for your iPhone. While any of these would be a good pick for your phone, our recommendation is the Razer Kishi. Sleek and stylish, this handy device turns your phone into a portable machine that could rival the Switch itself, and all the great iPhone games available now, and news of Game Pass coming to iOS, you're sure to get plenty of mileage out of this excellent device.
The iPhone has proven itself to be a worthy gaming machine and offers gaming experiences on par with its console cousins, and considering you pair the DualSense and Xbox Controllers to your iPhone, what's not to love? Be sure to upgrade to the best iPhone you can so you can enjoy playing your games at the highest visual fidelity.
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