Mobile game developers in general still seem somewhat hesitant to include proper support for Bluetooth controls. Sometimes it just doesn't work with the style of game, but then there are games that would play so much better and be more fun if you didn't have to fight against the often-problematic touchscreen controls.
Since entering the smartphone gaming industry with its first Razer Phone, Razer has been quietly raising the bar for mobile gaming. On the phone hardware side, they've been pushing for a faster and smoother gaming experience that can handle games running at their highest graphical settings, and the Raiju Mobile represents the company's first efforts to improve the way we control mobile games.
- Well designed with a comfortable grip
- Easy to pair and connects fast over Bluetooth
- Includes hair-trigger locks for shorter travel
- Comes with cables for wired connection and charging
- Works flawlessly for any game or app that supports Bluetooth controls
- Can't custom map buttons for on-screen touch points
- Phone grip blocks access to volume controls
- You'll either love or hate the button clicks.
Razer Raiju Mobile gaming controller What I like
The Raiju Mobile controller simply rules. From the moment you first pick it up, you can instantly feel how comfortable it is to hold, with a solid weight to it that tell you it's built to last, and it's proven to be incredibly easy to set up and use during my time gaming with it.
Borrowing from the tried and tested design of the Xbox Elite controller, Razer has included pretty much every feature a savvy gamer wants to see in their gaming controller, including hair-trigger locks to shorten trigger travel, four multifunction buttons that can be remapped just how you like it, and a mobile app for creating different gamer profiles that let you save different thumbstick sensitivity and button mapping for specific players or games.
In terms of game compatibility, Razer offers a fairly comprehensive list of controller-compatible games on its website although I've found that not all games on the list actually work with Bluetooth. Widespread support for Bluetooth controllers is still lacking in the Google Play Store, but perhaps if products like the Razer Raiju take off more game developers will see the value in including support.
Beyond the Google Play titles that work really well with Bluetooth controls, I also tested the Raiju with some emulators and the Steam Link beta, and that's where I think the Raiju shines brightest — and it's also the direction I hope mobile gaming industry is headed.
Emulators in particular work really well with the Raiju, and the best ones will let you completely customize your controller input layout just how you want it. Mounting your phone to the controller and playing some of the classic games I enjoyed from my childhood is downright amazing. I wish companies like Sony that dabble in both the smartphone and console gaming industries would connect those dots and start porting over classic titles Android in the same vein as Sega. There's a market there, for sure, especially with accessories like the Raiju Mobile now available.
I love how portable this controller is, and it includes a shortened USB-C cable for a hardwired connection for the times when you don't want to connect via Bluetooth. I haven't noticed any difference between the wired or wireless connections, which is great. If I travel more often, the Raiju Mobile would absolutely have a dedicated spot in my carry on luggage.
The mechanism for holding your phone is well designed, with metal reinforcement, and is adjustable up to 60 degrees so that you can hold it more naturally. As you'd expect, the controller works especially well with the flat edges of the Razer Phone 2, but you'll want to remap two of the multifunction buttons to control volume as those physical controls are likely to be blocked by the controller mount.
I love that you're able to pair two phones using the switch on the bottom of the phone, and I found it faster to pair my phone to the controller than it is to pair an Xbox controller to my Xbox One or any other Bluetooth device with a phone. It's an example of how the consistency of core features can improve the overall experience of using an accessory like this. It also means that if your phone and controller get disconnected somehow, it's lightning quick to pair back up and get right back into your game.
Razer Raiju Mobile gaming controller What I don't like
The biggest con the Razer Raiju is the price. In terms of build quality and value, it's comparable to an Xbox Elite controller, but it's probably easier for an Xbox One gamer to justify the Elite's cost given the huge collection of games available for Xbox. As it currently stands, you're going to either need to be heavy into emulation or a hardcore fan of specific Android game that supports Bluetooth controls to justify the price.
That's ultimately more of a knock on the Android game development community than anything wrong with the controller itself, but this is definitely the sort of accessory that you'll either use frequently or abandon to collect dust in a drawer somewhere.
The companion app for the Raiju Mobile is great, but I certainly expected there to be a way to configure the controller to work with more games in the same way we saw ASUS incorporate AirTrigger controls on the ROG Phone. In that instance, ASUS lets you map the AirTrigger input to a specific area on the screen, letting you tap the right edge of the phone to shoot and the left to jump or however you want to configure things.
Call me a fool, but I went into testing out the Raiju Mobile with the lofty expectations of a similar feature set for the whole controller — primarily the ability to map each button to a different area covering a virtual button in a game. I thought this would be the point of creating controller profiles, so that I could have a custom layout when I want to play PUBG Mobile and a different one set up for Guns of Boom. Sadly, you cannot do this and that leaves me feeling a bit underwhelmed having seen a similar feature built into the ASUS gaming phone. Not a dealbreaker by any stretch, but something that would be great to see included with an app update in the future if it's feasible, or something for Razer to consider for future mobile controllers.
The last thing worth noting is the click that accompanies nearly every button press on this controller. Some gamers are certain to love the tactile feedback the controller gives you but it's a divisive design decision that not everyone is going to love. I personally had no issues with the setup but if that constant click click click sound is the sort of thing that'll drive you batty you're not going to like it here.
Razer Raiju Mobile gaming controller Should you buy it?
Yes. The Razer Raiju Mobile is hands down the best Bluetooth controller for Android gaming, beating out the SteelSeries Stratus XL for its "elite" design and features, lightning-fast pairing over Bluetooth, and sturdy built-in phone holder.
4.5 out of 5
If you prefer mobile games that offer controller support, this is the controller you've been waiting for.
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