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What You Need to Know About Mobile Game Controllers

In a few years, gaming on smartphones has become particularly accessible. The catalogs of games on Android and iOS have expanded and there is no need to spend a fortune on a high-end mobile to play. Discover what you need to know about mobile Game Controllers:

Which controller to play on smartphone?

All smartphones, at least on the Android side, are compatible with Bluetooth controllers. This means that controllers for game consoles are functional with your mobile device.

But, models specifically dedicated to smartphones have arrived on the market. Most often, they allow the smartphone to be housed inside a slider that holds it in place. The connection is then made via Bluetooth or a USB-C port.

To properly choose your smartphone controller, you need to pay attention to several criteria:

  1. Check that the controller accepts smartphones of the same size as yours
  2. The number of buttons offered
  3. Is the controller self-powered by the smartphone, or does it run on battery?
  4. Are there programmable buttons? Can you remap the buttons?
  5. Does the controller have vibration?

Do all games support the use of a controller?

It is up to the developers to accept or not the use of controllers in their games. So it’s best to check in advance to make sure your favorite game is compatible.

Other games put up certain barriers to the use of smartphone controllers. For example, popular games like Call of Duty Mobile or Apex Legends Mobile only accept official PlayStation or Xbox controllers. It’s possible to get around this, but smartphone controllers are not supported by default.

Which controller for cloud gaming?

Smartphone controllers are very convenient for enjoying cloud gaming services like Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Google Stadia or GeForce NOW.

Unlike native games, these services fully support the overwhelming majority of smartphone gaming controllers. Moreover, Microsoft has set up a special certification – from which most models on the market benefit – guaranteeing the compatibility of its cloud with labeled controllers.

Bluetooth controller or USB controller for a smartphone?

Gaming controllers for smartphones are divided into two categories. On the one hand, self-powered controllers that connect to the phone’s USB-C or Lightning port, on the other hand, battery-powered models that pair via Bluetooth.

Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. With USB-C, you eliminate the risk of latency as well as the need to recharge your controller. But the controller can be a pain to set up if it’s poorly designed.

A Bluetooth controller has the advantage of being able to connect more quickly to the smartphone, but will need to be recharged regularly to avoid running out of battery in the middle of a game. In addition, wireless technology inevitably leads to higher latency. A detail that can be detrimental to those who play competitive games.

Can I use a controller on a smartphone emulator?

Gaming controllers for smartphones are useful for cloud gaming and native games as well as for games launched via an emulator.

Of course, you have to check that the emulator you are using supports joysticks, but in most cases this should not be a problem.

If the keys are not assigned correctly, some applications such as Octopus or Mantis GamePad Pro allow you to remap them for a better gaming experience.

How to play on a smartphone with a PlayStation or Xbox controller?

There are several options for smartphone gaming accessories, the design of which will strongly impact your gaming experience. If you use a traditional controller such as PlayStation DualSense or Xbox, you can prop your phone or tablet on a stand and put your game screen on a table or desk. However, this is not very practical for mobile gaming and immersion, as the screen is away from the eyes. In this situation, a mobile gaming clip can act as a support for the phone, which is then attached to the controller. But the clip must be adjusted for comfortable use, both in terms of the weight of the smartphone and the viewing angles. Also be careful about compatibility with the controller you are using. Xbox has a certification program to ensure that a clip is compatible with its controllers.

Which controller to play on Android?

Many, many controller models are compatible with an Android smartphone or tablet. This is especially true of wireless controllers that have Bluetooth connectivity or controllers with USB-C connections. Make sure your Android device is compatible before you buy, but there shouldn’t be any nasty surprises if your phone or tablet is recent.

Which controller to play on iPhone?

iPhones are compatible with most of the game console controllers on the market: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series but also recently Nintendo Switch. On the other hand, Apple is making it difficult for manufacturers to offer controllers that are adapted to smartphone gaming. At the moment, no manufacturer offers a smartphone controller adapted to both the iPhone and an Android smartphone. They have to get their product MFI (Made For iPhone) certified before they can market it. That’s why you can find a Razer Kishi for Android and a Razer Kishi for iPhone on the market. The same goes for the Backbone controller, which comes in two editions: one for each operating system.

Which brand to choose for a smartphone controller?

The market for this kind of product is exploding and more and more players are jumping on it. Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation are, of course, sure values, but the experts in gaming peripherals also have interesting proposals, like Razer with its Kishi range. Don’t leave out brands like 8Bitdo if you are sensitive to retrogaming design.

Photo by Daan Geurts on Unsplash