Bottom line: The RiotPWR Xbox Cloud Gaming Controller for iPhone is as close as we're going to get right now to true Xbox Cloud Gaming on iOS. The controller works seamlessly with iPhone and Xbox Cloud Gaming games and even has a headphone jack!
It has an Xbox button!
The controls work perfectly for Xbox Cloud Gaming games
It has passthrough charging
Also a headphone jack
The menu controls don't always work
It's wired instead of wireless
It only works with the iPhone
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I’ve never been a big mobile gamer, and that's all Xbox’s fault. I grew up with Xbox; I remember getting the original Xbox console for Christmas and playing Halo and NASCAR for as long as my parents could stomach. I picked up the Xbox 360 when I went to college and, like everyone, played through some tough times in the company's history (I'm looking at you, Red Ring of Death).
After college, we got the Xbox One, a lackluster direction from the company that resulted in a leadership change. When the Xbox One S came out, I couldn't wait to switch over from the One to the new form factor. And, of course, when they released the Xbox Series X, I upgraded immediately.
Xbox has always been where I have gamed. I've dipped into PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, PC, and mobile gaming, but none of the others have ever stuck as Xbox has. However, I've always wanted to be able to enjoy Xbox when I was away from, well, my Xbox. Enter the RiotPWR Xbox Cloud Gaming Controller.
When RiotPWR reached out about sending its new iPhone controller that was designed in tandem with the Xbox team, I jumped at the chance. In my mind, I was thinking, "Finally, an iPhone controller for Xbox Remote Play and Xbox Cloud Gaming that Xbox actually signed off on."
While there are plenty of iPhone controllers out there that allow you to enjoy Xbox away from your console (including the Xbox Wireless Controller), I've been waiting for one that was purpose-built for the iPhone and given the blessing of the Xbox team itself. So, how does RiotPWR's controller shake out? Let's jump in.
RiotPWR Xbox Cloud Gaming Controller: Price and availability
The RiotPWR Xbox Cloud Gaming Controller is available directly through RiotPWR and other retailers like Amazon for $69.99. While one of the most expensive controllers in the company's lineup, it's similar in price to an Xbox Wireless Controller for the Xbox Series X/S and other competing iOS controllers.
RiotPWR Xbox Cloud Gaming Controller: What I liked
After spending about a week with the RiotPWR Xbox Cloud Gaming Controller, a few things stand out. The first, and probably the most important, is that it's just simply a great controller. If you normally play on Xbox and use the company's Xbox Wireless Controller, you will feel at home with RiotPWR's controller.
The layout here is the same as the Xbox controller, right down to the Xbox button in the middle. This makes it a perfect companion for all of the best Xbox Cloud Gaming games since you don't need to adjust anything concerning the physical controls.
In addition, I found that the RiotPWR, just like the Xbox controller, is incredibly comfortable to use. One of the best things about the controller is that, since you just dock your phone in the device holder, you don't need to remove your phone case. I was able to game for hours without feeling any fatigue because of how the iPhone is mounted directly above the controller. Other controllers, like the Backbone One, mount an iPhone in between the controls like a Nintendo Switch.
While some people prefer a Switch-esque layout, I've found that I actually prefer RiotPWR's approach. That's probably because I'm an Xbox person and not a Nintendo person. It's incredibly biased, but hey, when a controller skews closer to what you're used to, you're bound to prefer it as well.
The controller also has some other nice features, like pass-through charging with USB-C and, would you believe it, a headphone jack! This all makes it super easy to play without having to worry about unnecessary devices or cables.
RiotPWR Xbox Cloud Gaming Controller: What I didn't like
While the RiotPWR controller is great for Xbox Cloud Gaming, it isn't perfect. Some of the menu buttons, including the Xbox button, didn't always garner the expected result when I pressed them.
In some games, the menu buttons simply would not work. The Xbox button, which should bring up the Xbox home menu, was also touch and go and, even when it did work, was very delayed. I'm not sure if this was more of an issue with the controller or with Xbox Cloud Gaming itself, but it was a common issue that I ran into in my week of testing. Granted, no internet is good internet in the U.S., so I won't rule out connectivity issues either.
Things also got strange when I tried to use the menu buttons outside of Xbox Cloud Gaming. They would work sometimes, but they were mapped to arbitrary commands. For example, playing one of the best Apple Arcade games worked great but clicking on the Xbox button opened up Game Center. That's not a bad guess since it's the closest thing Apple Arcade has to the main menu for a gaming service, but it's just an oddity you have to play around with and... see what happens.
The only other small issue I had with the controller was the cord. While some people want a wired controller since you don't have to worry about battery life on your accessory, I am not one of those people. The wired connection felt odd to me, especially since the cord for it was much longer than you need to get from the controller to your iPhone. Of course, that comes in handy when you perhaps want to hook it up to your best iPad or Mac, but I'd prefer a wireless controller altogether. Maybe that option will come soon!
RiotPWR Xbox Cloud Gaming Controller: Competition
While the RiotPWR Xbox Cloud Gaming Controller may be the first purpose-built iPhone controller designed alongside the Xbox team, it still has a ton of competition.
Since Apple opened up third-party controller support in a major way across the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV, there isn't a shortage of options when it comes to the best iPhone controllers for gaming. From the Razer Kishi to the Rotor Riot, there are plenty of options to find a controller that works best for you.
The Kishi, which we loved when we reviewed it, is particularly popular with many as it takes a Nintendo Switch-like approach and, unlike some other controllers, can fit a whole range of phones due to its flexible design. Like the RiotPwr, it works with pretty much any game and has excellent build quality and controls.
One of my favorite overall controllers for the iPhone is the aforementioned Backbone One. If you prefer a controller layout similar to the Nintendo Switch rather than the Xbox, there isn't a better controller on the market right now. And, even though the controller itself is great, the Backbone app takes the experience to an entirely new level for gaming on the iPhone.
RiotPWR Xbox Cloud Gaming Controller: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if...
- You want to play Xbox Cloud Gaming on your iPhone
- You want a controller purpose-built for the cloud gaming service
- You prefer the Xbox controller layout over other options
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You want a wireless gaming controller
- You want a controller you can use across iOS and Android
- You prefer the PlayStation or Nintendo Switch controller layout
The RiotPWR Xbox Cloud Gaming Controller is available for $69.99 on Amazon and the company plans to launch it in additional retailers soon.
After using the controller for a couple of weeks, I'm really into the idea of a controller purpose-built for the best experience with Xbox Cloud Gaming. However, the latency issues are still there, and the inconsistent experience with the buttons on the controller makes this feel like the first-generation product it is.
Xbox Cloud Gaming still has a way to go to get things working really smooth and RiotPWR has work to do to get the buttons to do what they say they will. I imagine that also means Xbox has some work to do with them.
These couple of things aside, the promise of cloud gaming is huge and RiotPWR is surely pushing the experience further here. If they can get over these initial hurdles, it will soon be an incredibly smooth experience. So much so that I wouldn't hesitate about gaming from anywhere ever again.
Xbox on your iPhone!
The RiotPWR Xbox Cloud Gaming Controller is the company's controller purpose-built for Xbox Cloud Gaming on the iPhone. If you're an Xbox fan, this will be a perfect fit.
Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.