Bottom line: As far as cooling goes, the Snowgon lives up to its name. It will absolutely keep your phone cool while gaming. But as far as a controller goes, it's lackluster.
Looks really cool
Keeps phone from overheating
Must be plugged in
Too loud and bright
Accessories don't work well
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Thanks largely to the widespread availability of extremely powerful smartphones, mobile gaming now accounts for roughly half of the entire gaming market. As someone who games more on my iPhone 12 Pro Max than anywhere else, I know just how big of a difference a good mobile gaming controller can make. I've also had my fair share of overheating issues, so when I heard that GameSir had released a cooling gaming grip that worked for the iPhone, I was excited to try it out.
GameSir F8 Pro Snowgon review: Price and availability
The GameSir F8 Pro Snowgon is available for $40 on Amazon or directly from GameSir's website. It may also pop up periodically on sites like eBay and Aliexpress, but you won't find it from the big tech retailers.
GameSir F8 Pro Snowgon review: What you'll like
As advertised, the GameSir F8 Pro Snowgon will keep your phone cool. In addition to a traditional fan, the Snowgon has a semiconductor refrigeration plate that cools within one second of powering on. This plate works best on glass-backed phones, like an iPhone, but it also works well on a plastic-backed phone. Not only does the plate cool down fast, but I was also genuinely surprised with just how cold it got at roughly 40 degrees. It's hard to imagine a phone that could still overheat on the Snowgon while still being functional for daily use.
If you have a larger phone, like my iPhone 12 Pro Max, or smaller hands, the Snowgon will probably also be more comfortable than just holding your phone. I spend at least two hours a day gaming on my iPhone, and while I love having the big screen, I often find my hands cramping up or even falling asleep during longer gaming sessions. I didn't have the usual discomfort while using the Snowgon.
GameSir F8 Pro Snowgon: What you won't like
My biggest complaint about the Snowgon is that it's not a controller. This is a grip or even a stand, but it does not hold up to an actual controller, such as the Razer Kishi. It is roughly the shape of a controller, and it has a manual joystick attachment and compatibility with GameSir's other accessories, such as the F2 Firestick Triggers. However, it's not nearly as comfortable as any current-gen console controller. Because of the fan, the Snowgon also noticeably vibrates, which I found distracting.
More important than the feel of the grip, the Snowgon doesn't work like a controller either. The Snowgon comes with an optional joystick that has both latency and extremely limited uses. Plenty of mobile games have a virtual joystick in the bottom left corner, but because the joystick attachment can't be adjusted, it was useless on most games I play. Even when it lined up perfectly, there was a noticeable delay between moving the joystick and movement on-screen. I found the additional accessories, such as the triggers, were even less useful for the games I play.
Another huge complaint with the Snowgon is the lack of a battery or ability to charge from the phone. A big part of the appeal of mobile gaming is being able to play from virtually anywhere. With the Snowgon, you need to be close enough to plug into an outlet or carry a backup battery with you — a battery that will also be producing heat. This restriction is easier on your phone's battery, and it means you won't have to worry about your controller's battery dying. Still, it also means it's more challenging to use outdoors, where most overheating happens.
Admittedly, your phone's battery will last longer with the Snowgon than some mobile controllers, but how this grip fits around the phone raises a different power issue: you cannot charge your phone while using the Snowgon. When playing at home, I keep my phone plugged in almost constantly. I have to if my battery is going to make it through sessions. However, the Snowgon grip covers the charging port.
Unfortunately, I also have some smaller issues with the Snowgon. The fan, for example, is constantly vibrating, creating both noise and physical discomfort. The noise isn't too loud, and if you game with headphones, you won't notice it at all, but given just how cold the plate gets, I have to wonder why the fan was included.
The Snowgon is also visually lacking. The distinctive RGB lighting on the back is a familiar sight for any gamer and certainly something I appreciate when implemented well, but that's not the case here. If you're playing in a well-lit room, you're unlikely to notice the lighting, but anyone sitting nearby will. Moreover, if you're playing in lower lighting, the constantly shifting colors are an annoying distraction that cannot be turned off, dimmed, or even set to a single color.
GameSir F8 Pro Snowgon: Competition
While I've used controllers and gaming mice with built-in fans, I've not seen another product that cools like the Snowgon. The cooling plate really works, dropping the temperature almost instantly and keeping cool the entire time playing. However, as far as mobile gaming controllers go, there are definitely better options.
My personal favorite mobile gaming controller is the Razer Kishi. For just $15 more, the Kishi is a much more comfortable fit, with a feel similar to the Nintendo Switch, and the joysticks, buttons, and D-Pad work much better, with virtually zero latency. Best of all, the Kishi plugs directly into your iPhone via Lightning, allowing you to play anywhere without needing an outlet or battery pack. This does mean you can't charge your phone on the Kishi, and your battery life will suffer, but I'd gladly take that over needing to be tethered to a power source.
PlayStation's DualSense and Microsoft's Xbox Core controllers are also excellent options for gamers already accustomed to the PlayStation or Xbox layout. While both the DualSense and Xbox Core controllers are a little more expensive than the Snowgon and don't provide cooling, gamers who already have either console will already have the controllers. These controllers also have an impressive battery life, easily handling all of my longest gaming sessions. The biggest downside to both is the need for a mount, but because my phone isn't in hand while using them, I find heating is far less of a concern.
GameSir F8 Pro Snowgon: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- Your phone overheats while gaming
- The RBG gaming lights are your aesthetic
- You don't mind touchscreen controls
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You want to play on the go
- You want a controller comparable to consoles
- You're bothered by a noisy, vibrating fan
If you have serious overheating issues with your phone and cannot afford to replace it, the Snowgon is an affordable solution that looks cool while keeping your phone cool. On the other hand, if you're looking for the feel and function of a traditional gaming controller or even want to be able to play anywhere without needing to plug in your phone, you're better off checking out the competition.
The GameSir F8 Pro Snowgon excels in exactly one area: keeping your phone cool. I've not used another mobile accessory that cools a phone even half as well. So, if you're dealing with an overheating phone, this is a great option. It's also a decent grip if you're looking for something to hold your phone. And if you're a big fan of the RGB lighting that has taken over the PC gaming market, the lighting on the back of the Snowgon is a bonus.
However, if you're looking for a real mobile controller, this isn't it. There are definitely better options for just a little bit more. From the Switch-like Kishi to the actual controllers for PS5 and Xbox, several controller options work really well for iPhone. If nothing else, the fact that the Snowgon needs to be plugged in is a huge flaw for a mobile gaming accessory.
Casian Holly has been writing about gaming at iMore since 2019, but their real passion is Pokémon. From the games to the anime, cards and toys, they eat, sleep, and breathe all things Pokémon. You can check out their many Pokémon Go and Pokémon Sword and Shield guides and coverage here on iMore.