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Best Phone Controller 2024

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The best smartphones have become highly capable gaming devices delivering a console-like experience on the go. But tapping wildly on the screen of the best gaming phones without tangible or tactile controls can be frustrating. Adding a great phone controller, like our top pick, the Razer Kishi Ultra, remedies the issue, pushing the action even further, allowing you to do more and improve your performance in your favorite mobile games.

TL;DR – These are the Best Phone Controllers:

The best phone controllers work seamlessly with Android and iOS devices, providing a more ergonomic grip, added functionality, and low latency connection to make the most of your games. Whether you’re looking to dock your phone into the controller for an experience similar to a handheld gaming PC or are after the best PC controllers that provide a simple, reliable connection to your phone, we’ve found 10 excellent phone controllers to suit your playing needs.

The Best Phone Controller

Razer Kishi Ultra with tablet installed

1. Razer Kishi Ultra

Best Phone Controller

Razer Kishi Ultra

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The Razer Kishi Ultra provides an ergonomic grip, responsive Mecha-Tactile face buttons, and an impressive app to make the most of mobile gaming.

Phone support

Android, iOS

Satisfying and responsive Mecha-Tactile buttons

Certain features only supported by Android

We love gaming on the Razer Kishi V2, and the Razer Kishi Ultra takes everything that phone controller offers and amplifies it. Its design is similar to the Razer Wolverine V2 controller, though it’s split in half with an expandable bridge for slotting smartphones or smaller tablets and iPads into the USB-C port, or you can use the gamepad as a detached controller via a wired USB-C connection. However, Razer’s immersive Sensa HD Haptics and handy Virtual Controller Mode only work with Android devices. Still, the robust Razer Nexus app’s easy-to-use interface makes for simple access to mobile games and tinkering with controller settings.

With full-sized, textured grips and a tiny dose of RGB flair, the Kishi Ultra feels and looks great in your hands. But weighing just over half a pound alone, the controller may feel a little hefty with your device docked. Luckily, Razer’s Mecha-Tactile face buttons provide satisfying and responsive presses, while the shoulder buttons and full-size analog triggers are easy to reach and activate. Its two offset analog sticks are also super snappy and the D-Pad’s 8-way design is ideal for fighting games.

2. SteelSeries Stratus+

Best Budget Phone Controller

SteelSeries Stratus+

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Affordable controller blending the stylings of Xbox controllers and Sony’s DualShock symmetrical sticks with an included slim phone mount to get gaming anywhere.

Connectivity

Bluetooth, USB

Only connects wirelessly via Bluetooth

The SteelSeries Stratus+ is an upgraded version of the Stratus Duo, and just like its predecessor, it’s a straight shooter for budget-friendly Android gaming. You can snag this for under $60, but it offers everything you’d expect from a controller made with mobile gaming in mind. It offers a familiar layout blending the stylings of Xbox controllers and Sony’s DualShock by opting for symmetrical thumbsticks. Hall effect magnetic sensors offer a great feel on the triggers to ensure precision and consistency. You’ll have an edge in shooters with this weapon. There’s even an included slim phone mount, making it simple to get gaming anywhere.

It’s important to note that the only way to connect the SteelSeries Stratus+ wirelessly to devices is through Bluetooth LE. You do lose the 2.4GHz wireless dongle that came with the original. But, it’s designed for Android and Chromebook devices, so you should experience fuss-free support with them. This also enables the gamepad to offer a wild 90-hour battery life, so it’s the perfect travel companion, as it will last the entire duration of your journey and beyond. And if you forget to charge it up before you go, a mere 15 mins will give it 12 hours of juice. Of course, a wired USB option is available to use the Stratus+ with your gaming PC.

The Backbone One in hand

3. Backbone One

Best Premium Phone Controller

Backbone One – USB-C

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Expandable, flexible dock for your phone with the main gaming controls, including two analog sticks, a D-pad, and responsive, somewhat mushy buttons.

Phone support

Android, iOS

Connectivity

USB-C or Lightning port

Expandable, flexible dock

The Backbone One mobile gaming controller lets you turn your phone into a handy portable gaming console. This controller serves as an expandable, flexible dock for your device by locking controls on each side while freeing up the screen to see clearly for a more enjoyable gaming experience and a comfortable hold. Many of the best Android phones and the iPhone 15 series should fit perfectly. There’s also a iPhone version that supports a Lightning port, and Backbone Labs released a special adapter for the iPhone 13/14 Pro Max that you can 3D print at home or get as a free extra.

The Backbone One holds onto your phone and connects to it over USB-C to deliver lower latency than you’ll get from Bluetooth connections. With the Backbone One connected, you’ll get your main gaming controls, including two slightly stiff analog sticks, a solid D-pad along with a plethora of responsive, somewhat mushy buttons. The controller even lets you charge while you’re playing, and you can use a on of the best gaming headset thanks to the 3.5mm jack on the left side of the controller.

The Razer Kishi V2’s mashable buttons and responsive controls

4. Razer Kishi V2

Best iPhone Controller

Razer Kishi V2 for iPhone

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Dual analog sticks, AXBY buttons, triggers, shoulder buttons, and a D-pad come with this controller that clamps onto each side of your phone’s display.

Phone support

iOS or Android and iOS

Connectivity

Lightning port or USB-C

Includes additional programmable shoulder buttons

Passthrough power for phone charging

The iPhone version of the Razer Kishi V2 controller effectively turns your device into a Nintendo Switch-like handheld, as it clamps controls onto each side of your phone’s display using an expandable bridge with adjustable rubber inserts similar to the Backbone One. That means it can support pretty much any iPhone 14 or earlier, including the iPhone 14 Pro Max, as long as it’s under 11.5mm thick/170mm long, uses a lightning port, and runs on iOS 15.4 or later. And don’t worry Andriod users or iPhone 15 users, there is an almost identical version of the Razer Kishi V2 for you.

This controller for the best iPhones provides all the mashable buttons and responsive controls you need with dual, clickable analog sticks alongside AXBY buttons, triggers, shoulder buttons, a D-pad, and a few navigation buttons. Two additional programmable shoulder buttons come with this upgrade, while another new button takes you to Razer’s Nexus app for remapping and other features. However, the app is still in its infancy and could use some work. And if you need to charge your phone while playing, the Razer Kishi V2 has a passthrough for power. You can take a lookt at more iPhone accessories for an expanded selection.

The GameSir X2 Pro in action

5. GameSir X2 Pro

Best Android Phone Controller

GameSir X2 Pro

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Dock your Android phone and connect via USB-C to enjoy an Xbox controller layout and responsive, snappy controls

Articulating USB-C for more universal fit

Shape may be awkward for some

If you’re committed to playing games on your Android phone or one of the best iPhone alternatives, go for the GameSir X2 Pro controller. Similar to the Backbone One and Razer Kishi V2, it features a bridge to slot your phone in between two controls. Some may find the rectangular shape of the controller a bit awkward, but there are textured grips for added comfort. An articulating USB-C allows for a more universal fit and has pass-through charging to ensure your phone never dies in the heat of battle.

Once the GameSir X2 Pro connects using USB-C, you’ll enjoy gaming on this controller designed for Xbox with its offset analog sticks, Xbox-style A, B, X, Y button layout, and D-pad that are all snappy and responsive. There are even two thumbstick caps for a different feel and interchangeable face buttons. Two Kailh micro-switch mechanical shoulder buttons offer tactile feedback and precision, while two customizable rear buttons add even more control.

If you like the sound of the X2 Pro but want something a little cheaper and lighter with hall effect sensors, give the GameSir X2s a look.

Adaptive triggers on the DualSense

6. Sony DualSense

For Team Sony

Sony DualSense Controller

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The DualSense is comfortable to grip and offers impressive haptics and adaptive triggers for more immersion in the action.

Phone support

Android, iOS

Connectivity

Bluetooth, USB-C

Reliable buttons and controls

Battery life could be better

The Sony DualSense steps up the controller game in a big way. It features a new design that does more than just look pretty. The DualSense delivers an ergonomic shape with textured grips (styled after the PlayStation buttons if you look closely enough).

Inside the DualSense is the heart of the experience: its haptics. The DualSense derives its name from Sony’s impressive haptic feedback, which can give an extra layer of immersion in games. Sony has also introduced adaptive triggers that can adjust their resistance to go even further in connecting you to the in-game action. It may be a while before games on mobile actually tap into those features of the controller, though. See more of our picks for the best PS5 controllers for additional options like this.

The 8BitDo Ultimate in its charging dock

7. 8BitDo Ultimate

Best Multiplatform Phone Controller

8BitDo Ultimate Controller

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Customize button mapping, swap stick behavior, and adjust vibration levels using robust software on this controller with two extra rear paddles and a charging dock.

Phone support

Android, iOS

Connectivity

Bluetooth, 2.4GHz dongle, USB-C

Low latency 2.4GHz wireless connection

Highly customizable controls

The 8BitDo Ultimate matches the stylings of an Xbox controller. You’ll find hall effect sensors in the offset sticks, a large D-pad, tactile triggers, and two handy back paddles that add to the overall functionality of the gamepad. Using the 8BitDo’s app, you can customize the button mapping, swap stick or trigger behavior, and adjust vibration levels. A custom profile switch button also allows you to store three profiles on the pad for on-the-fly swapping.

This wireless controller offers a low latency 2.4GHz connection for a low latency connection, while Bluetooth makes it a great, versatile mobile gaming controller. You can also go for a wired connection via the included USB-C. All that capability is paired with a 22-hour battery life, and the 8BitDo Ultimate even comes with a charging dock.

8. Razer Raiju Mobile

The Everything Package

Razer Raiju Mobile

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Android mobile controller with a mount for your phone that lets you map buttons and connect over Bluetooth or wired via USB-C.

Connectivity

Bluetooth, USB-C

Limited availability as at end of life

As another of the more established names on this list, it’s no surprise to see Razer turn in one of the more “elite” mobile controllers on our list. It can connect over Bluetooth or wired via one of the USB-C cables that Razer bundles in the box.

The controller also has a built-in dock for your phone, which slides upwards and should have no problem handling most Android handsets. Our favorite bit is the companion app, which lets you map buttons and adjust the sensitivity of the analog sticks. The downsides: it’s at its end of life and no longer available on the Razer website, but you can still find it on Amazon, Walmart, and other retailers.

Familiar layout of the Xbox Core Controller

9. Xbox Core Controller

Best Ergonomic Phone Controller

Xbox Core Controller

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Enjoy the familiar Xbox layout on an ergonomic controller with remappable buttons, a tactile D-pad, and ample connectivity options.

Phone support

Android, iOS

Battery life

30-40 hours (2 x AA batteries)

Connectivity

Bluetooth, USB-C

Microsoft’s Xbox Core Controller doesn’t change much from the previous Xbox One controller. It has a slightly different look to it, but otherwise features all the same buttons and controls, though the D-Pad has been slightly redesigned in a style more like the Elite Controller’s concave pad. That’s not to say there are no improvements.

Microsoft has changed how the controller will feel in your hands. The shape is unchanged, but the controller features textured grip in more places, including the triggers, to give you a better hold while you’re playing. There is one key upgrade that makes this a strong mobile option, and that’s the upgrade to Bluetooth LE for a lower-power connection with smartphones and tablets.

Mount for phone on the PowerA MOGA XP5-X Plus

10. PowerA MOGA XP5-X Plus

Best Xbox Game Pass Controller

PowerA MOGA XP5-X Plus

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With a layout similar to an Xbox gamepad, this phone controller has a rechargeable battery that doubles as a phone charger, an adjustable phone clip, and Bluetooth connectivity.

Connectivity

Bluetooth, microUSB

Built-in battery can charge phone

If you’re trying to take full advantage of Xbox Game Pass, then you can’t just play on console or PC. One of the big perks is the option to take your Xbox games on the go with you and stream to your phone. While Microsoft’s own controller is a handy mobile controller on account of its Bluetooth connectivity, the PowerA MOGA XP5-X Plus takes things up a notch for an even better mobile game streaming experience.

The PowerA MOGA XP5-X Plus has the layout of an Xbox controller, so all the buttons and controls will be right where you’re used to. The face buttons are also mapped properly, so you won’t struggle to learn the controls of a new game. And, the PowerA controller can support both wired and Bluetooth wireless use. So far, it might not sound like a much different experience from an Xbox controller, but here’s where it specializes. The controller has a mounting point for an included phone clip that’ll hold your smartphone for easy viewing and portability. The built-in 3,000mAh battery isn’t just for the controller either. You can use the controller to give your smartphone extra juice to extend your play period. The controller also features programmable shortcut buttons on the underside akin to those on the Xbox Elite controllers. That’s a ton of capability for on-the-go play.

What You Need to Know About Mobile gaming controllers

Compatibility: First things first, make sure the controller works with your mobile device. A lot of mobile controllers are Android-only, but there are plenty of iPhone options too. And pay special attention to the version compatibility, especially if you’re running an old version of Android or iOS, as some controllers will need newer versions to work.

The games: Some games are better suited to specific control types, so you need to think about the types of games you tend towards. More of a touchscreen puzzle player? A mobile controller might sooner find itself in a draw collecting dust. But if you play a lot of first-person shooters or find yourself longing for more precision in your platformers, then chances are your gaming experience will improve vastly with something more tactile.

Mounting: If you’re playing with a mobile controller, then you’ll need something to hold up your phone or tablet. Some controllers come with a mount, some don’t. You could also get a stand for the phone, which is great if you have a surface to play it on, but less helpful when you’re trying to cram in a quick game of Fortnite on the bus. A mount, either built-in or attachable, is recommended.

Handheld Gaming PC Vs. Phone for Gaming

Deciding on a portable gaming device depends on your lifestyle, the type of games you want to play, and how you want to play them.

A phone for gaming is ultra-portable and easily pocketed, offering all your typical smartphone features, including quality cameras, navigation, and communication. Many gaming phones even have cooling solutions to prevent thermal throttling and triggers for easier use. Of course, the mostly touch controls can be annoying, and thus, a phone controller from this guide can come in clutch.

The best handheld gaming PCs, like the Steam Deck OLED or Asus ROG Ally Z1 Extreme, are bulkier but still easy to toss in a bag and take on the go. Unlike gaming phones, they are pretty much used solely for gaming and come with all the controls you need, including joysticks, triggers, and buttons.

As for actual games, more and more options are coming to Android and iOS, albeit most are toned down compared to their PC counterparts. Cloud gaming with Nvidia GeForce Now and Xbox Game Pass continues to improve, making gaming on your phone easier than ever. However, most handheld PCs are insanely powerful, letting you take your library of the best PC games anywhere. Something that just isn’t possible on a smartphone.

Cost also comes into play, as gaming phones are expensive, with some of the best options costing between $700 to well over $1,000. Gaming handhelds can be much more affordable; you can find the Steam Deck OLED for under $600.

In the end, it’s all about personal preference. Do you want something that does it all but games in a slightly toned-down manner? Grab a gaming phone. Do you want a device dedicated to gaming that offers platform-exclusive titles? Get a handheld PC.

Kevin Lee is IGN’s SEO Updates Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam.

Danielle Abraham is a freelance writer and unpaid music historian.

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