Best mobile gaming controller for Android Android Central 2021
Even before the Xbox Game Pass launch, having the best mobile gaming controller was pretty important for mobile gamers. There are a slew of great Android games out there that can be enhanced with the help of a controller, and honestly, who really enjoys using the on-screen controls? Nevertheless, if you're in the market for a new controller that can enhance your mobile gaming experience and take it to the next level, we've got you covered with the best Android controllers.
- Best Android controller overall: Razer Kishi
- Best Android controller for tournament gaming: Razer Raiju Mobile
- Best value: SteelSeries Stratus Duo
- Best retro controller: 8BitDo SN30 Pro
- Best Android controller for next-gen gamers: Xbox Series X Controller
- Best gaming grip for Android: GameSir F2 Grip
- Best Android controller for Stadia: Google Stadia Controller
- Best Android controller for Xbox Game Pass: PowerA Moga XP5-X Plus
- Old meets new: 8BitDo SN30 Pro for Xbox Cloud Gaming
- Best Android controller for versatility: 8Bitdo Pro 2
- Best Android controller for foldables: GameSir X2 Bluetooth
Best Android controller overall: Razer Kishi
Many game developers took over the Play Store with phones that feature better specs than many computers. Call of Duty and Fortnite are great examples, for starters. You shouldn't have to deal with a third-party plastic clip, though, if you want to play your phone like a real controller. With the Razer Kishi, you can turn just about any smartphone into a Nintendo Switch, and you don't have to worry about Bluetooth connectivity slowing you down.
In our review of the Razer Kishi, we found that the Kishi hits just about every mark you could want in a game controller for Android. With cloud gaming becoming increasingly popular, you'll be happy to know that the Kishi is one of the recommended controllers to use with NVIDIA's GeForce NOW streaming service. Perhaps the best part is that you'll never have to charge the Kishi as it plugs right into your smartphone. There's even a pass-through USB-C port available if you start running out of juice.
While there aren't many gripes to be had with the Kishi, Razer did miss the mark in a couple of places. Notably, you won't be able to use the Kishi to play games on your computer. Plus, the USB-C passthrough port can only be used for charging, so there's no way to plug in some headphones unless your phone has a 3.5mm headphone jack.
- Fits practically every phone
- Compact and lightweight
- Recommended controller for NVIDIA GeForce NOW
- Does not require charging
- Can't be connected wirelessly to smartphone or PC
- External USB-C port only for passthrough charging
Best Android controller for tournament gaming: Razer Raiju Mobile
When you consider everything that the Razer Raiju Mobile brings to the table: dual Bluetooth and wired connections, four multifunction buttons that you can remap to fit your needs, a hair-trigger mode for both left and right triggers, and a phone mount with a 60-degree tilt for comfortable viewing angles. With all these great features, the only thing that might give you pause is the price.
The Razer Raiju Mobile is a pro controller that feels perfectly balanced in your hand, even with a phone mounted. That makes this a great controller for extended gaming sessions, in addition to the 20-plus hour battery life and the extra-long braided USB-A to USB-C cable that you can use to charge the controller as you game. The only issue I've had with it is sometimes the grip will block the volume controls or, in worst cases, put pressure on the power button.
Released as a premium accessory for the Razer Phone 2, the Raiju Mobile also works with two Android phones at once. That's one of my favorite features about this controller. There's a physical switch that lets you pair and connect to two different phones. It's perfect if you intend to share this controller with other gamers.
- Comfortable grip
- Easy to pair over Bluetooth
- Works with two phones at once
- Comes with cables for wired connection and charging
- Works flawlessly for any app that supports Bluetooth controls
- Can't custom map buttons
- Phone grip may block access to volume controls
Best value: SteelSeries Stratus Duo
SteelSeries has been delivering the best Bluetooth gaming controllers for Android, and the Stratus Duo is its latest and greatest. Once again, the company has designed a comfortable controller to hold. This time it's with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and a Wi-Fi dongle that allows you to just as easily connect it to a PC to play your favorite Steam games.
The Duo has replaced the Stratus XL as my favorite SteelSeries controller for Android. To start, the controller has been redesigned to be more ergonomic, especially around the top. The shoulder buttons are comfortable, and the only thing missing is a phone mount (which is sold separately). Best of all, the rechargeable lithium-ion battery means I'm never left searching for AA batteries like I was with the XL.
- Rechargeable battery
- Designed for comfort
- Pairs reliably fast every time
- Easily switch between Android and PC
- Connects via Bluetooth or Wi-FI with a USB adapter
- No haptic feedback
- Phone holder costs extra
Best retro Android controller: 8Bitdo SN30 Pro
If your childhood involved spending countless hours playing SNES, the 8bitDo SN30 is going to give you all the nostalgic feels.
The iconic Nintendo controller design is updated with Bluetooth connectivity that lets the 8BitDo SN30 Pro work with Android, Windows, macOS, Raspberry Pi, and even the Nintendo Switch. Such versatility will be especially valuable if you happen to have a collection of retro games you love to revisit. Not so good is the lack of a dedicated power switch or button for pairing — instead, you use the Start and Select buttons, and that can result in unpairing by accident.
The SN30 Pro does a great job delivering all the modern features we've come to expect from a quality wireless controller. Not only do you get the familiarity and comfort of the beloved SNES controller, but it's also available in all the classic colors of the GameBoy Color. A rechargeable 480mAh battery powers everything and pairing and resetting are accomplished using the Select button.
- Wireless SNES controller
- Well-built with tactile D-pad and buttons
- Available in nostalgic color options
- Compatible with Android and more
- No dedicated switches or buttons for power or pairing
- Bluetooth 4.0 is outdated
Best Android controller for next-gen gamers: Xbox Series X Controller
Microsoft and Sony's next-gen consoles are finally here, and with it, Microsoft has introduced a slightly redesigned controller. The Xbox Series X controller is compatible with all of your devices (minus iOS), making this the perfect way for you to jump into Xbox Game Pass and play some games. Or, you can just use this as a regular controller to play your favorite compatible Android games.
The trigger and bumpers sport a new soft and textured grip, ensuring you click the bumper when you need to and not accidentally slip onto the bumper. The new "hybrid d-pad" looks like it was brought down from the Xbox Elite Controller, but this is not interchangeable like the more expensive version. Even still, Microsoft has made it so that you can customize and map a few of the buttons to your liking, depending on which game you are playing.
Battery life is kind of a moot point with the new Series X controller, however, as you will need to rely on AA batteries for power. The older Play and Charge kit is compatible with this, so you can always pick one of those up after the fact if you don't already have one. And while there is a 3.5mm headphone jack on board (like the old version), Microsoft still has opted not to include a built-in microphone, so you'll need a good headset if you plan on jumping online with your buddies.
- Soft and textured grip on trigger and bumpers
- Hybrid D-pad provides more control
- Works with All Xbox models, PC, and Android phones
- Customizable button mapping
- Does not include rechargeable batteries
- No built-in microphone
Best gaming grip for Android: GameSir F2 Grip
In theory, any controller that offers physical buttons has to be better than touchscreen controls, but this is not always the case. I've dealt with plenty of frustrating Bluetooth connectivity issues or laggy inputs when all I want is a more comfortable thing to hold in my hand than my flat smartphone.
That's where I've come to appreciate the GameSir F2 Game Grip. You can use it on practically any sized phone to provide your palms with something to rest on. It takes a little while to get used to where your thumbs naturally fall holding the grip versus just holding your phone. But it does wonders if you frequently deal with hand fatigue after playing games for multiple hours.
It also includes a conductive joystick that rests on the screen and lets you control your character's movement with a more tactile response. It's a simple snap to change its orientation or remove it altogether. And the grip can also be used as a kickstand for watching media or gaming with a Bluetooth controller.
- Compatible with pretty much any phone
- No pairing or compatibility issues
- Adds much-needed comfort
- Compact and affordable
- Conductive joystick is awkward with other games
Best Android controller for Stadia: Google Stadia Controller
Google's Stadia Controller had a rough launch because it was required you use it wired at launch unless you were playing with the Chromecast Ultra as part of the Stadia Founders Edition bundle. All of those issues have finally been straightened away, and recent updates made it possible for you to leave the wires behind. This is the only way to play Stadia on your Chromecast, but it's also just a great game controller for the service overall.
Coming from Google, you knew that there would be some Assistant-centric features in-tow. There's not only a dedicated button for accessing Assistant but another that makes it easy to share a clip to YouTube quickly. And you don't have to worry about dealing with a funky design, as Google kept things simple and the Stadia Controller has a familiar and comfortable feel.
Outside of the Google Assistant integration, the price tag could be a bit steep for some. Plus, if you want to game from your phone and not on a Chromecast, you'll need a smartphone clip to complete the ensemble. Finally, you may run into issues actually finding this controller, as it's only available from Google and can't be picked up from your local big-box store.
- Built-in share button
- Comfortable and familiar design
- Quick access to Google Assistant
- Only way to play Stadia with Chromecast
- A bit pricy for a basic controller
- Smartphone clip sold separately
- Only available from Google
Best Android controller for Xbox Game Pass: PowerA Moga XP5-X Plus
When the Galaxy Note 20 lineup was unveiled, Microsoft and Samsung took to the stage to announce that "Project xCloud" was graduating from beta status. Xbox Game Pass is now here in all of its greatness and PowerA was one of the announced partners to bring a new controller to the masses.
The PowerA Moga XP5-X was designed with Xbox Game Pass in mind and was designed with Microsoft's help. Two buttons can be customized and reassigned, along with sporting a dedicated power bank to help keep your smartphone chugging along for those longer gaming sessions. And if you are worried about being able even to use your smartphone with the XP5-X, you can throw those concerns aside, as PowerA includes the best game controller phone mount, which features up to 220-degrees of articulation, providing the best angles possible for your mobile gaming session.
While the XP5-X is designed to be used with your smartphone, they are also compatible with your PC. However, make sure you have a cable that's long enough, as you must use a wired connection to use the XP5-X with your computer. We would have liked to see USB-C instead of microUSB, as the former has become the de-facto choice for charging for many accessories and smartphones. Finally, if you plan on using some wired headphones, you're going to need to plug them directly into your phone, as there is no 3.5mm headphone jack to be found on the controller itself.
- Buttons can be reassigned
- Features built-in power bank
- Includes detachable gaming clip
- Must use wired connection for PC gaming
- Still uses MicroUSB for charging
- No 3.5mm headphone jack
Retro controller for new-age gaming: 8BitDo SN30 Pro for Xbox Cloud Gaming
This next controller may look a bit familiar, and that's because it's nothing more than a redesigned version of the SN30 Pro from 8BitDo. However, this one is special; 8Bitdo worked closely with Microsoft to create a new controller designed for Xbox Game Pass (formerly Project xCloud).
This partnership with Microsoft is apparent by the familiar Xbox button placed right in the middle of the controller. However, unlike the standard SN30 Pro, this new version is a bit more customizable. You'll be able to reassign the buttons, along with customizing the thumbtacks for better precision and the triggers to react to how far you are pushing them.
While 16 hours of battery is not terrible, it's a bit less than we would have liked to see. If you are used to playing mobile games with a bigger controller like the Xbox One option, then 8Bitdo's controller may also be too small.
- Buttons can be reassigned
- Thumbsticks can be customized for better precision
- Triggers are adjustable to react quicker
- Includes improved gaming clip
- 16-hours of battery life is not the greatest
- Controller may be too small for some
Best Android controller for versatility: 8Bitdo Pro 2
Take one look at this list, and you'll see a couple of different 8Bitdo controllers that make great Android controllers. However, the two options you see are styled more like those classic SNES controllers and aren't exactly the most ergonomic controllers. However, 8Bitdo has updated its lineup with the new 8Bitdo Pro 2, which has replaced the 8Bitdo SN30 Pro+ that was available until earlier this year.
With the Pro 2, you're getting a rechargeable and replaceable 1,000mAh battery, which is rated for up to 20 hours of battery life. The controller is also designed like something you would expect to see in 2021, falling in line more with something like the Xbox Core Controller or the Sony's PS5 DualSense for better comfortability. There's a four-way toggle to switch between profiles and devices easier than before, along with the ability to use this on practically any device save for an iPhone or iPad.
With the accompanying 8Bitdo app, you can map any of the buttons on the controller to something else, providing even more controls over how you play your games. This includes the two new back paddle buttons that can be remapped, which is handy for some, but the placement could end up in the way if you never plan on using them. And just like most of the other controllers on this list, you'll have to pick up 8Bitdo's phone holder if you want to game on the go without using a stand.
- Rechargeable battery
- Designed for comfort
- Four-way toggle switch makes it easy to move between devices
- Can be used with Android, Switch, Windows, macOS, and Raspberry Pi
- Custom button mapping available with accompanying app
- Back paddles could get in the way
- Phone holder costs extra
Best Android controller for foldables: GameSir X2 Bluetooth
The problem with some of the best game controllers for Android is that they don't offer a one-size-fits-all approach. Sure, they can work with most traditional candy bar smartphones, like the Galaxy S21 Ultra or OnePlus 9 Pro, but what about the best foldable phones? Even the Razer Kishi works with the Galaxy Z Flip 5G, but that leaves out options like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Microsoft Surface Duo.
Enter the GameSir X2 Bluetooth. There are actually several variants of the GameSir X2, but the latest offering brings Bluetooth connectivity for this telescopic controller. The buttons have been improved to offer traditional AXYB placement and provide up to 20 hours of battery life. The triggers are now more sensitive than ever, providing you a little more sensitivity when trying to outduel an opponent in something like Call of Duty: Mobile.
With the new button layout and high-sensitivity triggers, the GameSir X2 Bluetooth is a fantastic companion for all cloud game streaming services like Google Stadia and Xbox Game Streaming. There are a couple of potential frustrations, as you won't be able to use wired headphones and instead have to rely on the best Bluetooth headsets for Xbox Game Pass. Additionally, some owners of the GameSir X2 Bluetooth have reported some hiccups when it comes to updating the software, but this is not extremely widespread, so your mileage may vary.
- Supports cloud gaming platforms like Stadia and Xbox Game Streaming
- Up to 20 hours of battery life
- Classic button layout
- Expands to support devices up to 173mm wide
- Trigger buttons offer high sensitivity
- No audio passthrough
- Updating controller software can be a pain
What are the best Android controllers?
The value of a Bluetooth controller for gaming will continue to grow with game streaming services like Google's Stadia and Microsoft's Project xCloud, letting us do more gaming on the go. If you don't already have a premium Bluetooth controller, you should look at something like the Razer Kishi, which is part of Razer's big push into the mobile gaming scene.
The Kishi slides out and fits just about every Android smartphone you could think of without worrying about Bluetooth. The built-in USB-C port ensures that you won't end up lagging in the middle of an intense gaming session when your teammates need you the most. Razer even included a built-in USB-C port, which you can use for passthrough charging on your smartphone.
There are only a few minor qualms with the Kishi, with smaller smartphones potentially suffering from some wobbling. Plus, you won't be able to take this controller to your PC or Xbox, as there is no Bluetooth connectivity onboard. But it's our favorite game controller for Android, and for good reason.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Andrew Myrick is a regular freelancer at Android Central and iMore. He has been a tech enthusiast ever since the original iPhone was released and continues to flip-flop between devices. You might as well hook him up to an IV filled with coffee to get him through the day. If you have any questions, you can find him on Twitter, and he'll get back to you.
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