We've come a long way from Temple Run and Subway Surfers, with mobile games like Call of Duty: Mobile, Genshin Impact, and Stardew Valley all rivaling their desktop counterparts. In many cases nowadays, touchscreen tapping and blocking the screen with your thumbs won't give you the best experience, which is where the best phone controller comes in.
From wirelessly connecting your console's controller via Bluetooth, such as the 8BitDo Pro 2, to gamepads like the Razer Kishi that wrap around your phone, there are quite a few options to choose from. The best ones come with programmable buttons let you customise them for your game.
Not all mobile games support controllers, but the best ones continue to add compatibility post-launch, with COD Mobile, Fortnite, and Rocket League Sideswipe being popular examples. Of course, these gamepads won't make your device the best gaming phone, but they let you play competitively and comfortably and are a whole lot cheaper then a Steam Deck.
Best mobile controller
- Razer Kishi V2 - Android, iOS
- SteelSeries Stratus+
- GameSir X3
- Backbone One
- 8BitDo Pro 2
1. Razer Kishi V2
Best phone controller
Compatible With: iPhone, Android, PC, Console
Other Features: Microswitch buttons, additional programmable buttons
Razer has built a reputation for producing some of the highest quality gaming equipment out there, and it's often first to market with innovative products the change the game - quite literally. The Razer Kishi V2 is no exception, taking cues from its tried and tested Wolverine series.
The Razer Kishi V2 comes in two variants: one for Android phones and one for iPhones. Both controllers are almost identical, except the iOS version has a Lightning connector, while the Android one has a USB-C port. One day this might not be an issue, but that comes down to Apple and the confusing state of USB classifications. For now, you'll want the one made for your device.
With that said, the Kishi controller is easy to set up and use - you just have to fit your phone in between the grips after plugging into the connector. You also don’t have to worry about running out of juice because the controller features passthrough charging.
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Alongside playing mobile games natively, you can play PC and console on your phone thanks to cloud gaming via Xbox Game Pass or GeForce Now. The Kishi V2 is the perfect streaming companion, as you can remap buttons in the Razer Nexus software, and even capture and share your gameplay.
What makes Razer Kishi V2 different from its competitors is its microswitch buttons that feel more tactile than the membrane switches of the predecessor Razer Kishi. You also get two extra buttons beside the shoulder buttons that are programmable with the Razer Nexus app.
2. SteelSeries Stratus+
Best budget phone controller
Compatible With: Android, Windows, Chromebook, Nvidia GeForce Now Other Features: Fast charging
Not only is the SteelSeries Stratus+ a budget option, but it’s also wireless. That means no tangled cables slowing you down or making your phone look messy. Just straight from the menu into the game.
At first glance, SteelSeries’ controller has the bulk of an Xbox controller but it sports a PlayStation thumbstick layout. These ALPS analog thumbsticks make aiming and moving around easier. Combine this with the New Hall Effect magnetic sensors that deliver a more realistic trigger feel, and you'll experience shooter games in a whole different light.
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Rather than awkwardly propping up your smartphone against something or bending your neck downwards, the Stratus+ comes with a clip that holds your Android or iOS device above the controller. You can connect it to your mobile, or even other devices such as PC and consoles, using Bluetooth or the included USB cable.
Stratus+ runs on rechargeable batteries, and with a single charge, you get 90 hours of playtime. And the battery charges quickly - with a short charge of 15 minutes, you can get up to 12 hours of use, which makes the controller travel-friendly.
3. GameSir X3
Best Android controller
Compatible With: Android, Xbox Game Pass, Luna
Other Features: Built-in cooling, detachable buttons, RGB lights, carry case
If you’re a serious mobile gamer, then you need to check out GameSir X3. To start with, the controller looks like the joy-cons on Nintendo Switch, but it's far more customisable. The buttons, including the thumbsticks and D-Pad, are all detachable and can be swapped, which makes it a highly-customizable phone controller.
To maintain optimal performance and temperature, the X3 controller has a seven-bladed fan. This helps keep your phone cool and can deliver up to a 24°C drop in the temperature. Plus, the fan has dynamic RGB lights, which gives it a “gamer” look.
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Perhaps, the only shortcoming is that GameSir X3 isn't compatible with iOS phones given Apple's proprietary connector. But even with that, you get access to a lot of games, as you can play titles from Stadia, Luna, and Xbox Game Pass.
Finally, GameSir X3 comes with a carry case and a whole bunch of extra accessories, something that a lot of other brands skip.
4. Backbone One
Best iPhone controller
Compatible With: iPhone, Android, Xbox, PlayStation, Nvidia GeForce Now, Steam Link
Other Features: Companion app, remappable buttons
If used right, Backbone One can literally become your backbone for gaming on your iPhone. Made specially for Apple devices, the controller clicks into Lightning connection, ensuring your gaming is smooth.
For starters, Backbone One is easy to pop on your handset and use. All you have to do is stretch the controller, fit in your iPhone, plug the Lightning connector in, and you’re good to go. You can also plug your gaming headset into the audio jack. In fact, it might feel familiar if you've ever used a Nintendo Switch.
The Backbone One controller is compatible with anything from the iPhone 6S onwards, including the lestest iPhone 14 series. However, if your phone has a bigger camera bump, we advise you use the adapter that comes in the box. If yours doesn't for some reason, you can request one directly from the folks at Playback.
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In addition to iOS devices, there's also a Backbone One for Android if you happen to run Samsung's, Google's, or OnePlus's finest. No matter which you go for, you can use the controller with Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Remote Play, Nvidia GeForce Now, and even Steam Link.
To deliver a better and more personalized experience, Backbone One has an app. You can use the free version or go for the premium and unlock extra perks like live streaming directly to Twitch, in-app voice chat and texts, and more. Nonetheless, the free app has much to offer, like button remapping, a controller-compatible games catalog, easy screenshotting, and more.
5. 8BitDo Pro 2
Best multi-platform controller
Compatible With: Android, iPhone, Nintendo Switch, Steam Deck, iPad, PC, Mac, Raspberry Pi
Other Features: Extra back buttons, companion app, remappable buttons
If you miss the good old days from the 8-bit era, then 8BitDo Pro 2 might just be the phone controller for you. To start with, it’s the retro design that catches the eye. But don’t let that fool you - the controller has all the modern features needed to play the latest AAA game.
The 8BitDo Pro 2 is compatible with multiple OS like Android, iOS, Windows, Switch, Raspberry Pi, and SteamOS, which means you can use it with most devices that you typically game on.
Recently, 8BitDo announced that six of its controllers would work with iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV. The list of compatible controllers includes 8BitDo Pro, 8BitDo Pro 2, 8Bitdo Lite SE, and three more.
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The 8BitDo Pro 2 controller has your regular D-Pad, thumbsticks, the AXBY buttons, left and right shoulder buttons, and other functional buttons. But what makes this controller unique is that it has two programmable back buttons, so you don’t have to remove your thumbs from the thumbsticks.
If you plan on using the controller on your Android phone or iPhone, check out the 8BitDo mobile clip for better support. For an even better gaming experience, 8BitDo’s mobile app lets you remap the buttons and make other adjustments.
The controller packs in a battery life of 20 Hours, which is enough for your long gaming sessions. The rechargeable battery can be replaced with two AA batteries if you like.
Phone controller FAQ
Is COD Mobile better with a phone controller?
If you are used to gaming on consoles like Xbox or PS, then gaming on the phone with a controller might be easier for you. This can be true for shooters as well, where controllers can give you better precision than touch.
What is the best budget phone controller?
While there are many budget options out there, SteelSeries Stratus+, SteelSeries Stratus Duo, and HyperX Clutch Wireless are some of the best budget phone controllers.
For more articles like this, take a look at our Tech and Buying Guides page.