Best phone controller 2023

Someone playing an FPS game on their phone with two black sides of a controller connected on either end.
Credit: Backbone

Someone playing an FPS game on their phone with two black sides of a controller connected on either end.
Credit: Backbone

The best phone controller is the easiest way to help you game on the go, and it can change how you view your favourite apps on your phone completely.

While a lot of people are happy to just use the touchscreen, if you do a lot of cloud gaming, or second-screen stuff, then having a controller is going to make things way easier.

Having one of the best gaming phones is one good way to get more gaming into your toilet breaks, but a controller is a little more revolutionary overall. Whether it's a Bluetooth connection or a USB one that turns your phone into a Nintendo Switch of sorts, there are a few really cool devices out there for you to consider.

They make playing things like Call of Duty Mobile, Genshin Impact, or whatever other games you have much more comfortable, and you might even save yourself some money if you end up committing to your phone more instead of buying a dedicated handheld.

So, with that all in mind, let's get stuck into our list and see what sits atop this best phone controller article.

Best phone controllers

  1. Razer Kishi V2 - Android, iPhone
  2. SteelSeries Stratus+
  3. GameSir X3
  4. Backbone One
  5. 8BitDo Pro 2
Razer Kishi V2 product image of two black sides of a controller either side of an Android phone.
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Credit: Razer

1. Razer Kishi V2

Best phone controller overall

Connectivity: Lightning connector, USB
Battery Life: N/A
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 that 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.

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 though, above all else, is its microswitch buttons that feel more tactile than the membrane switches of its predecessor. You also get two extra buttons beside the shoulder buttons that are programmable with the Razer Nexus app, giving you a fully customisable bit of kit that can level up your mobile gaming experience.

Read More: Best gaming headsets

SteelSeries Stratus+ product image of a black controller connected to a phone with Fortnite mobile loaded up.
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Credit: SteelSeries

2. SteelSeries Stratus+

Best budget phone controller

Connectivity: USB, Bluetooth
Battery Life: 90 hours
Compatible With: Android, Windows, Chromebook, NVIDIA GeForce Now Other Features: Fast charging

The SteelSeries Stratus+ is both a budget option and a wireless one. 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 gamepad, 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, helping you experience shooter games in a whole different light.

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 PCs and consoles, using Bluetooth or the included USB cable.

Additionally, the 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 that gives you up to 12 hours of use, making this extremely travel-friendly and a great budget option overall.

Read More: Best wireless gaming headsets

GameSir X3 product image of two white sides to a controller connected either side of a phone, with a back shot in dark grey as well.
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Credit: GameSir

3. GameSir X3

Best Android controller

Connectivity: USB
Battery Life: N/A
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 customisable device.

To maintain optimal performance and temperature, the X3 controller has a seven-bladed fan to keep your phone cool, and it can deliver up to a 24°C drop in the temperature. Plus, the fan has dynamic RGB lights, which gives it a “gamer” look if you're someone who appreciates the aesthetics of your devices.

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, which makes it a very strong option to consider, particularly if you're an Android user.

Read More: Best cheap phones

Backbone One product image of two black sides of a controller connected to a phone with Xbox Game Pass loaded up.
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Credit: Backbone

4. Backbone One

Best iPhone controller

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Connectivity: Lightning Connector, Bluetooth
Battery Life: N/A
Compatible With: iPhone, Android, Xbox, PlayStation, Nvidia GeForce Now, Steam Link
Other Features: Companion app, remappable buttons

If used right, the Backbone One can literally become your backbone for gaming on your iPhone. Made specially for Apple devices, this thing clicks right into a Lightning connection, meaning you can get gaming in no time.

The Backbone One is easy to pop on your handset and use as well. 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, something that might seem familiar if you have a Nintendo Switch.

The Backbone One controller is compatible with anything from the iPhone 6S onwards. However, if your phone has a bigger camera bump, we advise you to 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.

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 personalised experience, the 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 catalogue, easy screenshotting, and more, giving you a whole host of customisable options to explore to fit this great gamepad to your specific needs.

Read More: Best rugged case for phones

8BitDo Pro 2 product image of a retro white controller featuring grey and dark red buttons.
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Credit: 8BitDo

5. 8BitDo Pro 2

Best multi-platform controller

Connectivity: Bluetooth, USB
Battery Life:
20 Hours
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. 8BitDo also announced that six of its controllers would work with iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV, with the list of compatible controllers including the 8BitDo Pro 2.

In terms of its design, it features 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 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 also packs an impressive 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 too, giving you plenty of play time on this top-tier phone controller.

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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Buying a mobile controller can often lead to a ton of questions. No need to panic though as we've answered some of the most frequently asked queries below.

What is a phone controller?

A phone controller, or mobile controller, is a handheld device designed to enhance the gaming experience on smartphones and tablets by allowing for more precise control and tactile feedback when playing video games on a mobile device.

Much like on a console, a phone controller is typically connected via Bluetooth or a wired connection, and they can come in various shapes and designs, with buttons and joysticks that mimic traditional console gamepads.

The primary purpose is to essentially provide a more console-like gaming experience. Mobile games have become increasingly sophisticated and immersive, and some genres, such as first-person shooters, racing games, and action-adventure titles, benefit greatly from precise input control. Traditional touchscreen controls can often be less intuitive and less precise, leading to a less enjoyable gaming experience for many players.

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.

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