- The easiest way to play video games on an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV is with a controller.
- The SteelSeries Nimbus+ is our high decide due to its versatility, acquainted format, and iOS options.
There is no denying the recognition of iOS video games. Apple gave them their very own part of the App Retailer in 2017 and launched the Apple Arcade subscription service in 2019 due to its prospects play so many video games.
Many cell video games might be performed with nothing however a touchscreen. Some titles can profit from extra exact controls, nevertheless, and the shortage of an official Apple controller means keen iOS players have to make use of a third-party gamepad. (A state of affairs that Apple’s been rumored to resolve for years, however, has by no means delivered on.)
With so many controller choices on the market, it may be exhausting to determine which iOS gamepad is most significant to your wants. The perfect controller for somebody who owns an Xbox One and predominantly performs on their Apple TV, for instance, will not be identical to one of the best controllers for somebody who would not personal a console and solely serves video games on their iPhone, whereas they commute.
After testing several fashions throughout totally different iOS gadgets, we have chosen one of the best controllers for taking part in video games on the iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. Our picks are divided into classes geared toward particular consumers based mainly on Apple’s expanded help for console gamepads, compatibility with totally different sorts of gadgets, and potential use instances.
The perfect iOS controller total
The SteelSeries Nimbus+ is essentially the most versatile but acquainted controller you will discover for gaming throughout the Apple ecosystem.
Execs: Constructed-in stand that matches most iPhones; helps all fashionable iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac fashions; acquainted format complemented by iOS navigation buttons.
Cons: Attaching the stand can appear a bit sketchy; distinguished battery indicator detracts from the design
The SteelSeries Nimbus+ is one of the best iOS controllers because of its incredible versatility. It might simply pair with iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac gadgets through Bluetooth. It may be used standalone as a standard controller, or it may be used with an iPhone mount that makes it appear extra like a handheld console than a gamepad. And, it will possibly even be custom-made utilizing the SteelSeries Engine software program.
All of these options assist the Nimbus+ slot simply into the Apple ecosystem. So does the Lightning port that makes it simple for many iPhone and iPad house owners to maintain the battery charged. With that stated, iPad Professional house owners who depend on a USB-C cable for charging should dig up one in their outdated Lightning cables. The battery lasts as much as 50 hours on a single cost, which needs to be greater than sufficient for cell use or gaming periods around the home on the sofa.
The Nimbus+ was impressed by different controllers — it options the identical format as Sony’s DualShock Four with a form that resembles Microsoft’s Xbox Wi-fi Controller. Four face buttons, two shoulder buttons, a directional pad, two clickable analog sticks, and a trio of navigation buttons meant, particularly for iOS gadgets. The controller ought to feel acquainted with any skilled gamer.
This is not to say the Nimbus+ is ideal. Attaching the telephone mount feels perilous, the distinguished battery indicator is an eyesore, and the face buttons feel oddly slick compared to those discovered on different controllers. But, none of its competitors manages to greatest the Nimbus+ relating to providing essential expertise on each Apple machine you personal. That versatility greater than makes up for a couple of design quibbles.
The perfect iOS controller for PlayStation house owners
The DualShock 4 is included with the PlayStation 4, it contains a dependable design for gaming, and it is simple to swap between Apple gadgets and your console.
Execs: Acquainted format; PS4 house owners will not buy one other controller; simple to modify between gadgets
Cons: Not everybody will discover it snug to make use of; battery life might be missing, particularly late into the controller’s life
Sony launched the primary DualShock controller as a non-compulsory PlayStation accent in 1997. Till the discharge of the PlayStation 5, which comes with the brand new DualSense controller, each different PlayStation console debuted with a next-generation DualShock controller constructed upon the unique design. The gamepad is acquainted with tens of millions of players — and PS4 house owners can simply use the DualShock 4 with all of their Apple gadgets.
Apple formally added help for the DualShock Four to iOS and tvOS in 2019 to coincide with the launch of Apple Arcade. Pairing the controller is as simple as concurrently urgent and holding the Share and PlayStation buttons till the sunshine bar flashes. The controller can then be chosen within the iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV’s Bluetooth settings; the sunshine bar will glow a stable coloration when it is efficiently paired.
Utilizing the DualShock 4 is, in any other case, just like using it with a PS4. The controller options have the identical fundamental format as the unique DualShock launched in 1997: two clickable analog sticks, a directional pad, four face buttons, two shoulder buttons, and three navigation buttons are all right here. Anyone performing on a PlayStation console within the final 23 years can have well-recognized expertise with the DualShock 4.
Sadly, help for the entire DualShock 4’s options varies by recreation. Some builders select not to help “additional” options, such because the contact bar, mild bar, and rumble-based suggestions. Apple has made it simple for devs to customize on-screen management prompts based mainly on the linked controller, which is sweet; however, they are not all the time excellent. And, the DualShock 4’s battery life typically leaves loads to be desired.
The perfect iOS controller for Xbox players
The Xbox Wireless Controller is a superb all-around gamepad for iOS gadgets, and it contains a form many individuals with more giant fingers will discover snug.
Execs: Straightforward to modify between gadgets, Xbox One house owners will not have to purchase a brand new controller, and snug form lends itself effectively to more extended gaming periods.
Cons: It may be too giant for some fingers, requires batteries
Apple did not simply throw PlayStation house owners a bone in 2019; it additionally formally added help for the Xbox One controller. It is a fundamental idea — make it simple for iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV house owners to use a gaming controller they could already personal; however, this time, the gamepad Microsoft has shipped with each console since 2013.
Most individuals, in all probability, will not have to decide between an Xbox controller or a DualShock Four for iOS because it’s extra doubtless you will receive a personal one or the opposite, and each is a friendly performer. For individuals who do have a possibility, nevertheless, there are a couple of variations to notice.
The form is obvious: Microsoft opted for an uneven format, barely bigger physique, and extra trigger-like shoulder buttons with its controller. It also selected to use AA batteries relatively more than a chargeable battery, which can provide the Xbox One controller an extended battery life at the expense of comfort.
I have been a PlayStation proprietor for many of my life, and I am used to the DualShock lineup; however, I will admit the Xbox One controller is much snugger when enjoying prolonged intervals. Folks with more giant fingers will, in all probability, want Microsoft’s providing; these with fingers on the minor aspect may be higher off with Sony’s. However, the purpose is to use the controller you already personal with as many gadgets as attainable.
Pairing an Xbox One controller with an iOS or tvOS machine is as simple as urgent the Xbox button, holding down the Pair button for a couple of seconds if it is already linked to a console, after which deciding on the controller from the Bluetooth menu of the machine you need to play on. I have not encountered any points switching between my iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, whereas I used to be evaluating the Xbox One controller for this information.
Nevertheless, it needs to be famous that the brand-new model of the Xbox One controller launched alongside the Xbox Collection S and X doesn’t but have official iOS help. It is anticipated to be added, however solely the older mannequin linked to this information at present works with iOS.
The perfect iOS controller for Nintendo Change followers
The Backbone One turns a linked iPhone right into a makeshift Nintendo Change with a bevy of software program options that are not accessible with different gamepads.
Execs: Snug design, intensive software program help, simple setup
Cons: Not as moveable as another controller
There is no denying the Backbone One makes the iPhone seem like a Nintendo Change. The designs are virtually equivalent: a gamepad on the left, a display screen within the center, and one other on the precise. Anybody who’s used a Change will feel proper at residence with the Spine One — and would possibly even discover themselves wishing Nintendo would copy a couple of concepts itself.
Organizing the Spine One is as simple as pulling the gamepads aside, lining up the Lightning connector with an iPhone’s equal port, and letting the controller snap into place. This could be a bit nerve-wracking on the primary few occasions; however, I have not encountered any issues regardless of utilizing the controller for dozens of hours throughout some weeks.
As soon as the hardware’s in place, it is time to arrange the Spine app for iOS. The app can seek out and launch video games that help the Spine One at its most elementary degree. The app additionally enables you to share experiences through screenshots, gameplay recordings, and social options corresponding to the flexibility to hitch a good friend’s recreation.
The Backbone One was constructed with this platform in thoughts. It has a dedicated Spine button for launching the app, an ellipsis button that may be pressed twice to mute the system’s microphone, and a seize button for recording gameplay or taking screenshots. (Plus the identical menu button that may be discovered on many different gamepads.)
The result’s a controller that provides complete console expertise because of its twin analog sticks, a bevy of face buttons, typical shoulder buttons, and its comprehensive social platform. It additionally contains splendid cell options like a headphone jack, a Lightning port for passthrough charging, and the flexibility to function with no battery.
The perfect iOS controller for the journey
The Razer Kishi is an easy-to-transport controller with a small footprint and compatibility with all kinds of iPhone fashions.
Execs: Nice for the journey, works with most iPhone fashions, would not require a battery
Cons: It might be exhausting to arrange the primary time or reset between makes use of, cannot be used throughout the Apple ecosystem.
Razer is generally identified for its PC gaming peripherals, and however, at CES 2020, the corporate introduced a brand new Kishi controller for smartphones. (I’ve used the model made for iOS gadgets; however, there’s additionally an Android model.) Unlike many controllers on this checklist, which emulate or just are conventional gamepads, the Razer Kishi is at its greatest when used as a journey companion that makes iPhone gaming extra pleasurable.
This is the way it works. iPhone house owners can pull the Kishi aside and plug the precise controller into their Lightning port, aligning their telephone with the slot on the left controller. The peripheral holds the linked iPhone securely and provides identical inputs — two analog sticks, four face buttons, two shoulder buttons, and many others. — as extra conventional gamepads. When arranged, the Kishi is similar to the Spine One, making a makeshift Nintendo Change out of your telephone.
This setup lends itself notably effectively to gaming on the go — particularly for individuals who want their controller to take up as little house as attainable of their luggage. Unlike the Spine One, which bridges the hole between its controllers with plastic, the Kishi depends on cloth bands. The ensuing setup is much less sturdy than the Spine One but smaller when the Kishi is collapsed. Individuals who want more extraordinary gaming expertise should respect Spine’s providing; those worth house should go for the Razer and its different transport-friendly design.
The Razer Kishi is a beautiful possibility for iPhone players on the go. The controller is responsive, sturdy, and more straightforward to hold around than most of its opponents. It additionally options passthrough charging that ought to make it simple to maintain the linked iPhone charged throughout extended gaming periods. However, different controllers supply more considerable versatility in enjoying video games on an iPhone while you’re out and about. The Kishi is a beautiful possibility for all, however, essentially the most hardcore players.
Our testing methodology
To find out one of the best iOS controllers, I examined several fashions utilizing a sequence of video games and media functions. All of our controller picks had been used to play a mixture of iOS-native video games, titles streamed from my PlayStation Four Professional utilizing the Distant Play app, and video games streamed from my PC utilizing the Steam Hyperlink app.
The aim was to judge every controller’s responsiveness in a wide range of eventualities, substantiate that every gamepad may work with the iOS interface, and gauge every controller’s efficiency throughout genres.
Controllers had been evaluated based chiefly on how snug they felt whereas enjoying, how swiftly their batteries died, and the way straightforward they had been to arrange. A few of these metrics, like consolation, are admittedly subjective. Nonetheless, I’ve reviewed many peripherals and try to make the road between objectivity and subjectivity clear the place relevant. Nevertheless, your mileage could differ based mostly on some components.
Examined hardware features a new iPhone SE, second-generation iPad Professional, Apple TV 4K, and the 2018 Mac mini. The SteelSeries Nimbus+, DualShock 4, and Xbox Wireless Controller work with the entire gadgets. Nevertheless, the Razer Kishi and the Backbone One depend upon a physical Lightning connection limiting them to the iPhone.
What we want ahead to testing
Although our present picks characterize one of the best controllers we have been capable of test up to now, there are all the time extra fashions we might prefer to get our fingers on. With the discharge of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Collection X|S, there quickly needs to be new choices.
I sit up for testing these new controllers when iOS help is formally added.
- Sony DualSense Controller ($70): Sony launched the DualSense controller alongside the PlayStation 5 in November 2020, breaking the DualShock line’s 23-year-long reign. Apple included help for the brand new controller with the beta launch of iOS 14.5, so the official service ought to arrive before later. It will probably be fascinating to see if builders reap the benefits of its distinctive options, like haptic suggestions and adaptive triggers.
- New Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller ($60): Microsoft launched a new controller alongside the Xbox Collection X|S consoles in November. The brand new Xbox Wireless Controller contains a barely modified design with a Share button on the gamepad. Assist for this controller arrived with the beta launch of iOS 14.5. With each Apple and Microsoft saying they need the gamepad to work with Apple gadgets, it looks as if Xbox lovers will not have to attend lengthy to use the controller elsewhere.
You may also like
- Nintendo’s new Switch OLED promises a bigger and better screen — here’s how it compares to the standard Switch and Switch Lite
- Nintendo just released the $350 Switch OLED
- A complete price breakdown for Hulu and Hulu Live TV packages
- The best gaming monitors
- Best 15-inch laptop
- Windows 11 review
- Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio
- Amazon gets futuristic with its new smart home devices, including a flying camera and household robot