While there are plenty of smartphone controllers out there, the Backbone One has been pretty much top of the market for a few years now, offering an intuitive and attractive gamepad. With the arrival of the Gamesir G8 Galileo, it seems Backbone finally has a challenger to worry about.
The Backbone One has easily been one of the best phone controllers in recent memory, with even Razer's excellent Kishi controller taking a step down in the list. However, the Gamesir G8 Galileo is definitely a worthy competitor to rival Backbone One's domination, even if it does have a few caveats that drop it down a spot or two.
Gamesir's design for the G8 Galileo shouldn't look too different from what many have come to expect in smartphone controllers. It's a standard controller-like design, with a large gap where your phone sits. The G8 Galileo only comes in one colour, a light grey that feels not too dissimilar to that of the original PlayStation's simplicity.
Unlike Backbone One's flatter, more rounded design, the G8 Galileo offers traditional controller grips that feel much better to wield. It’s comfortable to hold for longer gaming sessions, similar to a PlayStation Portal, instead of a Nintendo Switch's tiny kid-friendly Joy-Cons attached to either side. That does make it less compact, but for mobile gamers that want to play for plenty of hours, the loss of portability is likely a detriment worth having.
The other side of the controller holds two back buttons, fittingly called L4 and R4. If you're accustomed to the Steam Deck or other controllers that offer easy-to-press rear buttons, you'll feel right at home with the G8. Not only that, but at the bottom of the Gamesir G8 Galileo is a USB-C port for passthrough and a lovely 3.5mm headphone jack, reminding us all of better times.
There's also the fact that the USB-C connector is slightly adjustable, allowing you to easily fit larger smartphones in the controller without feeling like you're going to either break your new peripheral or your expensive device. Unfortunately, this does mean that iPhone 14 or older iOS devices can't work with the Gamesir, but plenty of Android handsets are compatible.
I used both an S23 Ultra and an iPhone 15 Pro Max with the G8 Galileo, playing a variety of games from the competitive Call of Duty Mobile to indie delights such as Dead Cells. The latter of which, I really struggle to play without using a controller, despite the port being made for touch screens. The games instantly recognised the controller inputs, allowing me to play straightaway.
As for the controller feel itself, it’s utterly superb. While its directional pad feels a little squishy and not as great as an Xbox controller’s D-Pad, the rest of the buttons is extremely tactile with great feedback. The analogue sticks — which are Hall Effect so you won’t need to worry about drift — ping back into place with ease while offering great resistance. It certainly beats the feedback, or lack there of, when you kill an enemy using a touch screen, and, arguably, feels a lot better than the squishy feedback of the Backbone One.
Unfortunately, the Gamesir app doesn't have the same quality control as the G8 Galileo received. The Android version offers plenty of customisation options, which allowed me to actually create inputs, like within the AetherSX2 emulator, letting me play PS2 games on-the-go without fiddling around on the touch screen. However, the app frequently caused issues on Android, popping up in random locations when a game wasn't open, and causing a bunch of system errors to pop up. The iOS app fairs similarly, with the app not even updated to reflect the G8's release meaning it’s actually far behind in options.
The Gamesir G8 Galileo is a great contender in the fierce market for smartphone controllers as mobile gaming seems to increase with each passing year. It has great buttons that feel superb to the average console gamer, hall effect sticks with excellent tension, and all at a pretty affordable price. However, compared to competitors, the software is very lacking, and the bigger size may not be great for those looking for the best on-the-go portability.