Pixel 4 And 8Bitdo StadiaSource: Andrew Myrick / Android Central

Best Game Controllers for Android Android Central 2020

Mobile gaming on your phone often offers the flexibility of gaming everywhere just using touchscreen controls. But let's be real — there's nothing better than gaming with a trusty controller in hand. The best option is the Razer Kishi which is a premium Bluetooth controller that will let you play all your favorite old-school games using emulators or the best Android games that support Bluetooth controls, along with those graphic-intensive titles that are making their way onto the Play Store.

Best Overall: Razer Kishi

Razer KishiSource: Russell Holly / Android Central

With phones that feature better specs than many computers, many game developers have taken over the Play Store. This has been evidenced by Call of Duty and Fortnite. 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 passthrough USB-C port available if you start running out of juice.

While there are not 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.

Pros:

  • Fits practically every phone
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Recommended controller for NVIDIA GeForce NOW
  • Does not require charging

Cons:

  • Can't be connected wirelessly to smartphone or PC
  • External USB-C port only for passthrough charging

Best Overall

Razer Kishi

Perfect for pros or amateur mobile gamers

The Razer Kishi is sleek, gives you a familiar controller layout, fits just about every phone, and won't break the bank.

Best for Tournament Gaming: Razer Raiju Mobile

Razer Raiju mobile gaming controller

When you consider everything that the Razer Raiju Mobile brings to the table — dual Bluetooth and wired connections, four multifunction buttons that can be remapped 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 — 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, as does the 20+ 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.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • Can't custom map buttons
  • Phone grip may block access to volume controls

Best for Tournament Gaming

Razer Raiju Mobile

A pro controller for serious mobile gamers

The Raiju Mobile is the most complete Bluetooth gaming controller you can buy for mobile gaming.

Best Value SteelSeries Stratus Duo

SteelSeries Stratus DuoSource: Android Central

SteelSeries has been delivering the best Bluetooth gaming controllers for Android, and the Stratus Duo is it's 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.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • No haptic feedback
  • Phone holder costs extra

Best Value

SteelSeries Stratus Duo

For those that bounce between Android and PC gaming

The Stratus Duo is a refined and comfortable controller that also connected to PCs with the included USB dongle.

Best Retro Controller 8Bitdo SN30 Pro

8Bitdo SN30 Pro On PixelSource: Andrew Myrick / Android Central

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 of 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. Everything is powered by a rechargeable 480mAh battery, and pairing and resetting are accomplished using the Select button.

Pros:

  • Wireless SNES controller
  • Well-built with tactile D-pad and buttons
  • Available in nostalgic color options
  • Compatible with Android and more

Cons:

  • No dedicated switches or buttons for power or pairing
  • Bluetooth 4.0 is outdated

Best Retro Controller

8BitDo SN30

The perfect pairing for retro gamers

This is the wireless SNES controller you dreamt about as a kid. Get your game on with this Bluetooth controller for classic games.

Best for Pro-gamers: Xbox Elite Controller Series 2

Xbox Elite Series 2Source: Android Central

There are professional gaming controllers, and then there's the Xbox Elite Controller Series 2. Pro-gamers everywhere use this controller, and for good reason. Just about every aspect of the controller is customizable, from the D-Pad to the trigger shapes on the back.

USB-C is onboard, which is a no-brainer for any new accessories, but Microsoft also includes a carrying case and charging dock. Fully charged up, the Elite Series 2 Controller will give you up to 40 hours of gameplay. The controller is so customizable that you can even create custom profiles based on the games that you are playing, which is just phenomenal and extremely useful.

The biggest downside of the Elite 2 has nothing to do with the controller itself, but instead is the price. It's quite pricier than other controllers, so this wouldn't make too much sense unless you have an Xbox or are a PC Gamer as well.

Pros:

  • Premium controller used by eSports competitors
  • Can create custom profiles for different games
  • Interchangeable thumbtack and paddle shapes
  • Re-charge via USB-C or included charging dock
  • Up to 40 hours on a fully charged battery

Cons:

  • High asking price
  • Overkill for most mobile games

Best for Pro-gamers

Xbox Elite Controller Series 2

A controller designed to be used by pro gamers

The Xbox Elite Controller 2 is the end-all-be-all of controllers, with all the customization options you could want.

Best Gaming Grip: GameSir F2 Grip

Gamesir F2 LifestyleSource: Gamesir

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.

Pros:

  • Compatible with pretty much any phone
  • No pairing or compatibility issues
  • Adds much-needed comfort
  • Compact and affordable

Cons:

  • Conductive joystick is awkward with other games

Best Gaming Grip

GameSir F2 Grip

Just get a grip!

The GameSir F2 Grip gives you a bit more to hold onto while you enjoy your favorite mobile games.

Best for Stadia: Google Stadia Controller

Stadia ControllerSource: Android Central

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 one that makes it easy to quickly share a clip to YouTube. 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.

Pros:

  • Built-in share button
  • Comfortable and familiar design
  • Quick access to Google Assistant
  • Only way to play Stadia with Chromecast

Cons:

  • A bit pricy for a basic controller
  • Smartphone clip sold separately
  • Only available from Google

Best for Stadia

Google Stadia Controller

Google's cloud gaming

The Stadia Controller sports a familiar design and works great even if you don't play Stadia.

Coming Soon: 8BitDo SN30 Pro for Project xCloud

8Bitdo Sn30 Pro Xcloud LifestyleSource: 8Bitdo

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 Project xCloud.

This partnership with Microsoft is evidenced 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.

The 8BitDo SN30 Pro for Project xCloud is slated to be released in September but is available for pre-order from Amazon now.

Pros:

  • Buttons can be reassigned
  • Thumbsticks can be customized for better precision
  • Triggers can be adjusted to react quicker
  • Includes improved gaming clip

Cons:

  • 16-hours of battery life is not the greatest
  • Controller may be too small for some

Coming soon

8BitDo SN30 Pro for Project xCloud

Get ready for Project xCloud

8Bitdo already makes some pretty great controllers, and the updated SN30 Pro will make for a great Project xCloud companion.

Bottom Line

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 that you could think of, without needing to worry 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 can be used for passthrough charging for your smartphone.

With the Kishi, there are only a few minor qualms, 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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