The best mobile controllers of 2021 for gaming

Handheld gaming has come a very, very long way. From the days of dedicated portable devices like the Nintendo Game Boy (and all of its iterations), to Sega’s Game Gear, the Playstation Portable and, later, the Vita, and now the Nintendo Switch, gaming on the go have undergone several evolutions. . But one side of portable gaming has started to take the lead: mobile. Years ago, playing on your phone was as easy as a touchscreen type of game like Candy Crush and Words with Friends. With the rise of Fortnite on mobile, followed by Call of Duty Mobile, PUBG and, more importantly, the growth of cloud gaming and remote gaming on Xbox, Playstation, and PC, mobile controllers have taken a big step forward. going from a niche product to almost a necessity for those who want to play on their phone. However, finding the right mobile controller can be a challenge. Do you want something that connects directly to your phone or something that can connect via bluetooth? Are you on iOS or Android? Mobile controllers have bridged the gap between what was just a simple game on your phone using touchscreen controls and the game we’re used to with the phone simply providing the screen. Not all mobile controllers are built the same and these are some of the best available today. Related: The 5 Best Wi-Fi Extenders For Gaming Of 2021

Razer kishi

Image via Amazon The Razer Kishi is an interesting mobile controller, but it’s also one of the best and perfectly designed for mobile gaming. The Kishi is available for iOS and Android, but the Android version responds much better on your phone because Android natively supports game controllers via USB-C. In comparison, the plug-and-play iOS version is just as straightforward, with just a slight input lag. The Kishi is nothing special at all, having no touch buttons and clickable joysticks which are good, but a bit stiff. Still, the Kishi feels perfectly in hand. It won’t suddenly slip off your phone during a strenuous session and will feel responsive. It should be noted that the left side of the Kishi may feel a bit looser than the right side, depending on the size of your phone. It fits my Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra well, but I can feel the left side is not as secure as the right side which is plugged in. The Kishi is also available in an xCloud version that connects directly to Xbox Game Pass on mobile when you press the Xbox button on the controller. The best part of the Kishi is its portability. It locks to make it easily transportable in your bag or jacket pocket. The Kishi can usually be found at your local Best Buy with the Android version on sale more often than the iOS version. With the growth of xCloud through and alongside Xbox Game Pass, the Kishi is the perfect fit, especially for Android devices.

backbone one

Image via Amazon Where Android has the Razer Kishi, iOS has the Backbone One which gives the Kishi very strong competition for the best overall mobile controller. The Backbone One makes your phone feel like a smaller Nintendo Switch, which might be one of the best things about it. It supports all iPhones, from iPhone 7 to 12 Pro Max and all its sizes in between. Similar to the Kishi, the Backbone One connects to the iPhone’s Lightning port to provide lower latency response than conventional Bluetooth connections. The buttons are tactile, they don’t feel quite big in your hand, and you don’t feel like you have to put your fingers in them either, it’s actually a fit as perfect as a connected mobile controller. can be. The biggest upgrade is that you can plug a wired headset directly into the controller, compared to the Kishi whose USB-C port is only for charging (a BIG missed opportunity for Razer). The Backbone One also offers its own iOS app that lets you launch your games, including Xbox Game Pass which includes a free month of Game Pass Ultimate (another BIG missed opportunity for Razer’s Android Kishi). If the Backbone One were available for Android devices, the Kishi could become a forgotten device. Instead, iOS gets its only main controller that’s as good as advertised and as strong, if not stronger, than its beloved rival Kishi. Related: The 6 Best Small Gaming Desks Of 2021

8BitDo Pro 2

Image via Amazon If you’re looking for a retro-like feel, the 8Bit controller lineup is pretty impressive and feels as close to this SNES-type controller as a controller can get. Oh, and it also helps that it’s a really good mobile controller as well. The 8BitDo Pro 2 combines the feel of the old SNES controller with the grips and sticks of a DualShock to give you serious gaming performance on your phone. The grips have a textured feel and the knobs resemble those on the original SNES controllers. There are also two macro buttons on the back that can be programmed to give it that professional controller feel. The controller as a whole can be customized on 8BitDo’s personalization software. Considering that it connects primarily via Bluetooth, the 8BitDo Pro 2 connects to just about everything: Android, iOS, PC, Mac and even the Nintendo Switch, however, you will need a separate phone holder for the 8BitDo Pro 2 uses it with your phone. Overall, this is a very cool and fun controller.

Razer Raiju Mobile

Image via Amazon After the Razer Kishi, if you’re looking for something serious for competitive mobile gaming (yes, that’s really a thing), the Raiju Mobile is perfect for both gaming and the hand. After its console brother, the difference of the Raiju Mobile lies in the way it uses its touchpad. Instead of a touchpad, it tilts up to 60 degrees to keep your mobile device in place while you play. Otherwise, it feels like one on one with the Raiju Tournament Edition, from the grips to the knobs and the joystick position. The Raiju Mobile has both Bluetooth and wired connections, four multi-function buttons that can be reconfigured to suit your needs, and capillary trigger modes for the left and right trigger buttons. It also has 20 hours of battery life and a USB-A to USB-C cable that can be used to charge your phone while gaming. The biggest issue is the price of the Raiju Mobile. At $ 120 retail, it’s as high-end a mobile controller as it gets, especially $ 20 more than the Kishi. Still, for those looking for a serious pro-style controller for mobile and cloud gaming, this is as professional a level as a mobile controller can get.

SteelSeries Stratus Duo

Image via Amazon If you want a simple, no-frills controller designed for Android, the SteelSeries Stratus Duo is a fantastic option. The Stratus Duo connects to your phone via Bluetooth and is fully supported by Android for a stress-free connection with low latency. Speaking of low latency, the Stratus Duo can also connect to your PC or Mac via a 2.4GHz wireless dongle, adding a sense of versatility that few mobile controllers offer. It’s also perfect for Steam on the go as a great controller to use with the Steam Link app on Android for those who want to stream their Steam games to mobile. The controller features an ergonomic feel that makes it comfortable to hold in the hand with a familiar button and joystick layout, deciding to take the best of both worlds with symmetrical joysticks like Playstation and a button layout like Xbox controllers. Overall, there’s not much to dislike about the Stratus Duo. It looks familiar, can be used with multiple devices, and is the rare controller almost specifically designed for Steam before SteamDeck was released. It’s also relatively inexpensive, just $ 60 and on sale quite often, slashing Razer controllers by at least $ 40 and bringing it in line with the average retail price of console controllers now. Honorable mention: For those who don’t want to spend the money on a separate controller for their phone, you can use the Xbox or Playstation controller you already have. All you would have to buy is a controller clip which can be found on Amazon for no more than $ 10 to $ 15. Xbox and Playstation controllers pair with your phone via Bluetooth and both work quite well on mobile. However, depending on where you’re playing and what controller you’re using, you may occasionally experience a slight input lag. The DualSense and Xbox Series X / S controllers are both designed for mobile and perform better than their predecessors, so those with next-gen consoles are in luck. The DualShock 4 is also a good choice to use with a mobile and also works great with Playstation Remote Play. For more hardware guides, look at The 5 Best Gaming Monitors for the PS5 on our guides!

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