Best controller for iPad 2023

Someone using a white DualSense controller with a tablet.
Credit: Onur Binay

Someone using a white DualSense controller with a tablet.
Credit: Onur Binay

The best controller for iPad can help you enjoy gaming more readily on your tablet, but you'll need to figure out which one is right for you.

You'll need to consider things like your physical needs and preferences, much like you would when choosing the best phone controller, as well as the kinds of games you enjoy, and also how much money you're willing to spend too.

For an iPad, there are a number of options you can go for, from more classic-style controllers to 'clip-on' gamepads.

Generally speaking, the more familiar controllers are great for practically every game, but some people do enjoy gripping the iPad itself while gaming - especially for racing games, which allow you to steer using the iPad itself.

We've selected a few options that we think are the best controllers for iPad, based on specs, features, and anything else we thought made them stand out from the crowd.

Best controllers for iPad

  1. SteelSeries Nimbus+
  2. Xbox Core Wireless
  3. Rakize PUBG
  4. PlayStation 5 DualSense
  5. Xb1 Adaptive
SteelSeries Nimbus+ product image of a black controller featuring orange lights.
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Credit: SteelSeries

1. SteelSeries Nimbus+

Best controller for iPad overall

Battery: Rechargeable
Weight: 254g
Jack: None

If you've been in the gaming scene for a while, chances are you're familiar with SteelSeries, which has built its brand on the high-quality, high-performance peripheral market.

Maybe, you're donning some Arctis Pros and you're wanting a controller to match. Well, SteelSeries has got your back with their Nimbus+, which utilises the official Apple-licensed wireless protocol.

These controllers have a sleek design and seemingly the build quality that we'd expect from SteelSeries, alongside a built-in rechargeable battery with 50 hours of battery life, clickable joysticks and a tactile d-pad.

SteelSeries are renowned for having great drivers, through their SteelSeries Engine, so we recommend downloading that to ensure your controller has the best performance it can get.

Drivers are software that run in the background of your devices to ensure that they have up-to-date quality of life and compatibility checks so that your device can be running as smoothly as they can.

The benefits of the SteelSeries Nimbus+ don't stop there, they've also thrown in a free 4 months of Apple Arcade, so if you're just entering the mobile gaming market, you get some great value here.

Xbox Core Wireless Controller product image of the classic Xbox controller in black
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Credit: Xbox

2. Xbox Core Wireless Controller

Best Xbox controller for iPad

Battery: 2 AA
Weight: 540g
Jack: 3.5mm

It would be impossible to get through this list without mentioning the classic Xbox controller, which has stayed largely the same since they downsized the colossal controllers of the original Xbox.

It's years down the line from that fateful day, and the work Xbox has done to make their controller look so ergonomic proves how much they've understood about the creation of a controller that can be used for long periods of time.

The D-pad is angular, giving it a look that implies high-end responsivity, and both of the joysticks are hemmed by rubber patterning, that'll help keep your inputs accurate.

The controller runs off of double-a batteries, which has its pros and cons. On one hand, it's very quick to switch them out for a full charge without having to wait, and on the other, having to use double-A batteries is more of a hassle.

Fortunately, there are third-party battery packs and charging docks that give users of this controller more versatility.

If you love Xbox's classic style and are planning on playing their native games, we'd highly recommend looking into this controller.

Rakize PUBG Controller product image of two grey and red tablet controller attachements
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Credit: Rakize

3. Rakize PUBG Controller

Best competitive FPS controller for iPad

Battery: None Needed
Weight: 181g
Jack: None

Now we're getting into the more specialist controllers. If you're someone who loves to play FPS' like PUBG pay attention to this one. Rakize has designed a dual-trigger controller to add to the new wave of controllers specially designed for mobile devices.

These triggers clip directly onto the phone or to a back-plate for tablets, allowing you to hold your phone right in front of you, whilst granting accurate inputs for FPS' like PUBG, Knives Out and Rules of Survival.

Whilst these controllers aren't likely to be useful for non-fps games, they really enable high-performance competitive gaming with their lightweight triggers that allow for 4 triggers and 6 fingers to be used with both phones and tablets.

It's important to point out that if you want to use this controller, you'll have to go into your game and customise the settings. Though this takes a slight bit more setup than other controllers, it gives you greater playing freedom.

These triggers work without the necessity of a battery pack or double A batteries, so you'll never be stuck on a long journey without access to these wonderful new additions to the mobile controller market.

PlayStation 5 DualSense product image of white and black gamepad featuring a blue light.
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Credit: Sony

4. PlayStation 5 DualSense

Best PlayStation controller for iPad

Battery: Rechargeable Pack
Weight: 430g
Jack: 3.5mm

We wouldn't want to skip over the renowned PlayStation and miss out on the stylish DualSense. This controller is more than just looks; PlayStation has added a variety of unique features that really cement its place on the list.

Not only does the controller have a 3.5mm jack that you can add your crispest sounding headset to, but it also comes with a built-in speaker and microphone, with its own button to mute and unmute.

The DualSense also comes in a variety of different colours, like NOVA pink and Starlight blue, so your hands can reach past the firmament and grip your own custom cosmos.

Though this controller is designed for PlayStation games, we can imagine you love it for all kinds of purposes, so this product definitely gets our seal of approval.

Xb1 Adaptive Controller product image of a flat white controller featuring two large black circles in the centre.
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Credit: Xbox

5. Xb1 Adaptive Controller

Best modifiable controller for iPad

Battery: Rechargeable
Weight: 552g
Jack: Many 3.5mm jacks and some USBs

Xbox sneaks back onto the list with a unique controller that allows the user to completely customise their inputs with different buttons and devices.

The Xb1 Adaptive Controller was originally designed for special needs gamers with conditions such as cerebral palsy who struggle to use standard controllers effectively. Microsoft came up with the solution to the problem in the form of a controller with an array of ports that correspond to different inputs so that the user can make a completely customisable setup.

We would like to preface this device by saying it's only suitable for people who are either differently abled, or curious about niche customisation options.

The controller was originally Xbox exclusive, but iPadOS 14 added support for the controller. Make sure that your device has this OS as a minimum, or the device will not be useful for you.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

We've answered some of the most commonly asked questions on controllers to help your search.

Is there a controller that works for iPad?

Yes! Every controller on this list is compatible with an iPad; the term MFi was coined in 2005 for peripherals that were Apple approved to work for iPods, and the term is now used for any tech that's certified for use on Apple devices.

The market for MFi devices has grown massively alongside the rise of mobile gaming, and now there are plenty of choices on the market for you to use.

What's the best controller for iOS?

That answer is going to depend on your needs. Any of the controllers on this list are going to be great for playing games on iOS devices, but the more specialist devices come with caveats, so if you're wanting something generally useful for iOS devices, try the classic style controllers.

Is Apple arcade worth it?

As it stands, Apple arcade is only $4.99 a month in North America, with similar prices around the globe, which makes it a really cheap option to game on. With the ability to carry your mobile device around and pull out any of these fine controllers

You can find a list of all the games on Apple's official website.

Can I use PS4 / PS5 / Xbox Controller for iPad?

Whilst PS4 controllers are easily able to connect to most iPads, Xbox and PS5 controllers will require iOS 14 or later to be able to connect. If you're thinking about gaming on an iPad that hasn't been updated, you may want to make sure that the upgrade is possible for you, before buying one of the controllers on the list.

Fortunately, once you've updated, it should be super easy to connect your controller and game anywhere, with the same comfortable controls as you'd find on a console.

Will the Nintendo Pro controller work on iPad?

So the good news is that you can use a Nintendo Pro controller with your iPad, but much like with the other more mainstream console gamepads, you'll want to ensure that your iOS is the right one for the job.

According to imore if you have iOS 16, you should be good to go.

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