The best controllers for iPhone and Android 2023on September 15, 2023 at 11:08 Tech Advisor


Portable gaming has been popular for decades, but there are more options than ever before in 2023.

Alongside a new wave of handheld consoles, smartphones are becoming increasingly capable gaming machines. And you don’t need to buy a dedicated gaming phone, either – many regular smartphones will still do an excellent job.

Provided your device is powerful enough, you’ll be able to run any game on App Store or Google Play Store. That includes genuine AAA titles such as PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty: Mobile and Genshin Impact. Plus Fortnite, if you have a Samsung phone.

What’s more, cloud gaming services including Nvidia GeForce Now and Xbox Cloud Gaming mean you can play many PC and console games on your smartphone.

However, there’s one big reason you might be reluctant to do so – touch controls. While fine for a casual title, they’re really not suitable for fast-paced action games where response times are crucial. Instead, you’ll need a third-party controller.

The good news is that there are a range of Bluetooth controllers to choose, and most are compatible with both Android and iOS (so will work with your iPhone or iPad). Here are our top nine recommendations, plus detailed buying advice in the FAQ section at the bottom of the page.

Best controller for iPhone and Android in 2023

1. Backbone One – Best overall


Official Xbox/PlayStation accessory

Great build and feel

Impressive companion app


Need an adapter for use on newer iPhones

The Backbone One is the ultimate mobile controller to buy in 2023.

The Lightning or USB-C-connected controller is ergonomically shaped for added comfort, and offers all the bells and whistles you’d expect.

There are rear bumpers, analogue sticks, face buttons and even separate pause and options buttons, along with a few extras including a dedicated screenshot button and even a headphone jack. A rare feature, it allows you to hook up your wired gaming headset to the Backbone One for improved voice chat in compatible games.

The hardware is exceptional, but the Backbone One goes much further than just hardware.

Hitting the bright orange button on the controller takes you to the Backbone app. The slick, well-polished app looks to be your gaming hub, allowing quick access to your favourite mobile titles without a dedicated Game folder on the home screen.

It’s also home to social features that’ll let you chat and play with other Backbone One users, and you’ll even be notified when friends begin playing so you can join them.

The Xbox-themed controller is also fully compatible with cloud gaming services like Xbox Cloud Gaming and even comes with a free trial in the box, allowing you to stream some of the best AAA titles on your iPhone or Android with full access to all game features and functionality. There’s also a PlayStation-branded version for PS gamers, complete with the black and white colour scheme of the PS5.

The blend of hardware and software support is much more in-depth than the competition, offering an unrivalled mobile gaming experience for both Android and iPhone users.

2. PowerA MOGA XP7-X Plus – Best for Android


Built-in powerbank with wireless charging

Hybrid design for mobile and desktop gaming

Remappable buttons


No iOS support

Best Prices Today:

$99.99 at Amazon

The PowerA MOGA XP7-X Plus is an exceptional mobile controller designed for Android and Windows 10/11 that genuinely offers something new for gamers.

The mobile controller offers all the bells and whistles you’d expect, including dual analogue sticks, front buttons and rear triggers, complete with official Xbox branding, along with two remappable buttons on the rear. These can be easily remapped without exiting the game you’re playing, allowing you to assign functions like the brakes and accelerator in a racing game to the easy-to-reach buttons.

So far, so good, right? Well, it gets better. The XP7-X Plus has a unique design that allows you to play games on your smartphone Switch-style, with controls on either side of the display, as well as a Desktop mode via a removable phone stand built into the controller.

There’s also a 2000mAh power bank that, while adding to the heft of the controller, allows you to wirelessly charge compatible smartphones when gaming to keep you playing for longer.

It’s also compatible with both Android and Windows 10/11 thanks to both Bluetooth and USB connectivity, with a removable middle block that allows the controller to resemble something akin to a standard Xbox controller for PC gaming.

It’s the ultimate hybrid controller perfect for Android gamers – it’s just a shame there isn’t an iPhone equivalent.

3. Turtle Beach Cloud Recon – Best traditional controller


Traditional controller experience

Built-in removable phone clamp

Turtle Beach audio features


No official iOS support

Best Prices Today:

$49.99 at Best Buy

The Turtle Beach Recon Cloud offers the best of both worlds: it’s compatible with the Xbox Series X|S while offering a snap-on mount that allows for a high-end mobile gaming experience. With Bluetooth connectivity, it’s compatible with Android devices, making it a handy option if you’re both an Xbox and mobile gamer and want to play your favourite Xbox games via the cloud.

The ability to add the smartphone mount whenever you want to play mobile games is a nice touch, allowing you to attach your device to the top of the controller in landscape orientation, with an adjustable viewing angle.

The controller also benefits from Turtle Beach’s audio heritage, with easy-access audio controls including EQ presets, game and chat volume mix, mic monitoring and more – though that is limited to use on console and not on mobile.

It also helps that it’s an official Xbox product, meaning the design closely resembles that of the standard Xbox controller with a great ergonomic shape, responsive triggers (including two customisable back paddles) and Xbox-branded buttons. There’s even a free one-month trial to Xbox Live Ultimate in the box for you to dip your toe into the world of Xbox-branded cloud gaming without the need to pay any money.

It requires charging, but with a 30-hour battery life, it’s not something you’ll need to top-up that often. Considering its hybrid nature and advanced features, the price isn’t too bad either.

4. Nacon MG-X Pro – An impressive official Xbox controller for iPhone & Android


Official Microsoft Xbox accessory

Compatible with a range of smartphones

Great Xbox-inspired design


Bluetooth-only connectivity

Separate models for iOS and Android

The Nacon MG-X Pro might look like a Switch-style mobile controller, but it’s in fact an official Microsoft Xbox accessory built with Game Pass Ultimate cloud streaming in mind, so you can be confident in its compatibility. 

As you’d expect from that, the controls are modelled on an Xbox pad, so you get asymmetric clickable joysticks, ABXY face buttons, a D-pad, and four shoulder buttons. There’s also an Xbox-branded power button, and the same ‘menu’ and ‘view’ buttons on the official controllers. Unlike other Switch-style controllers, it even has Xbox controller-esque ergonomic handles with a textured surface that makes gaming over long periods much more comfortable.

Battery life is rated at up to 20 hours, and charging is over USB-C when you do need to top it up. 

Unlike some similar rivals, this uses Bluetooth to connect to phones, which means there’s a touch more input lag – but that’s less important if you’ll mainly use it for cloud gaming anyway. Besides, it also means that the pad is more universal, so it will work with any phone – though there are separate versions for iPhone and Android users.   

On that note, Nacon claims that the iPhone variant can house any iPhone from the iPhone 6s onwards, while the Android variant should house any smartphone up to 6.7in – it certainly handled the chonky iPhone 14 Pro Max without issue. The grippy, textured back holds devices securely too, and when there’s no phone in the controller is small enough to be portable but still a comfortable size to use on its own, so it can double as a Bluetooth pad for a tablet or PC.

5. Razer Kishi – A solid all-rounder


iOS & Android support

No charging required

USB-C passthrough


Separate USB-C & Lightning variants

The Razer Kishi is the ideal controller for most, designed for use with iOS and Android in mind. The Kishi essentially turns your smartphone into a Nintendo Switch with controls to the left and right of your smartphone display, clamping snuggly into place, with support for a range of smartphones – as long as they sport USB-C or Lightning connectivity.

That’s the main appeal of the Kishi: while most controllers rely on Bluetooth connectivity, the Kishi is connected directly to the phone, not only negating the need to charge the controller, but also improving response time in mobile shooters like Call of Duty Mobile, and the difference is noticeable.

Elsewhere, the controller is well-built, featuring a complete set of triggers, shoulder buttons, AXBY buttons, a D-Pad and navigation buttons alongside dual clickable analogue sticks. There’s even a USB-C port for passthrough, allowing you to keep your phone topped up during longer gaming sessions.

It’s also compact when not in use, making it easy to throw into a jacket pocket for use on long train journeys. What more could you want?

6. GameSir X3 Type-C – Best controller for cooling


Keeps your phone cool

Customisable buttons and joysticks

Fits a variety of phones


Cooler needs USB-C power to work

No Lightning variant for iPhone

Best Prices Today:

$99.99 at GameSir

While accessory maker GameSir usually manufactures budget-friendly mobile controller accessories, the GameSir X3 Type-C is an entirely different beast, offering not only a customisable controller but impressive built-in cooling too.

Overheating is a problem faced by most mobile gamers during long gameplay sessions – even those with gaming phones sporting dedicated cooling systems – usually resulting in a hot spot on the rear of the smartphone, and a knock-on effect on performance and battery drain too.

The GameSir X3 Type-C looks to solve that problem by attaching a literal fan-powered cooling system to the back of your smartphone. The multi-part system, including a cold copper plate, a Peltier cooling module, heatsink and a seven-blade fan helps keep your smartphone cool, reducing the temperature by up to an impressive 24 degrees Celcius in just a few minutes. 

The fans are lit by RGBs to add to the gamer look, and the position of the fan can be adjusted to better suit your smartphone if needed. The only downside? With no built-in battery, the fan needs constant USB-C power to operate, meaning you’ll have to use a power bank if you want to use it on your travels.

Of course, the X3 Type-C isn’t just a cooler – it’s also a mobile controller, and a pretty capable one at that. Connecting to your phone via its USB-C port, there’s 0 lag, and the controller plays nicely with all controller-ready games available on Android including cloud streaming apps from the likes of Nvidia and Xbox.

It’s impressively customisable too. The buttons are magnetic, allowing you to switch between Xbox- and Nintendo-style layouts, and there are two sets of thumbstick caps and D-Pads in the box to choose from too. That’s all stored in a nice hard shell carry case, keeping the controller and all accessories in one place.

It’s compatible with a range of smartphones too, as long as it offers USB-C connectivity and measures between 110-179mm.

7. GameSir X2 – A Switch-themed alternative


Switch-like aesthetic

Rotating USB-C/Lightning port

Screenshot button


Odd button layout

Though replaced by the updated GameSir X3 Type-C, the GameSir X2 offers a similar design – sans cooling capabilities, of course – and unlike the high-end variant, there’s a USB-C variant for Android, a Lightning variant for iPhones and even a Bluetooth version for the best of both worlds.

In terms of design, it leans into the whole Switch-esque design, sporting the same shades of red and blue beneath the analogue sticks as the most popular combination of Joy-Con, but that’s forgivable compared to the mimicry of Nintendo’s Y-X, B-A button layout. Considering most if not all mobile games are designed around the layout of the standard Xbox layout, you’ll find yourself battling against muscle memory when navigating menus – especially during fast-paced games.

If you can look past the odd button layout, there’s a lot to like about the X2, including the USB-C port that rotates by up to 51° to make slotting your phone into place much easier, and the inclusion of a dedicated screenshot button too. It’s also a generally nice-looking controller and it’s much more affordable than its premium sibling too.

8. Sony DualSense – Great for PS5 players


Compatible with PS Remote Play

iOS & Android connectivity

Great design


No way to attach smartphone

No access to advanced DualSense features

Sony’s DualSense controller is arguably one of the main selling points of the PS5, and to further sweeten the deal, it’s also compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones. It’s an all-around improvement on the older DualShock 4, featuring an improved design that not only looks great but feels more comfortable in the hand, and the textured grips are a notable addition too.

But it’s the haptic system and adaptive triggers that truly steal the show. The former allows for advanced haptic feedback for improved immersion in games, simulating the feel of raindrops or footsteps on metal floors, while the triggers can adjust resistance depending on what you’re doing. It’ll be a while before game devs build these features into mobile games admittedly, but if you’ve already got a PS5, it’s well worth using – especially as it allows you to play PS5 games remotely.   

If you haven’t got a DualSense controller, Sony’s older DualShock 4 is also fully compatible with iOS and Android devices.

9. Xbox Wireless controller – A solid wireless controller


Ergonomic design

iOS & Android support

Bluetooth LE


No way to attach smartphone

Along with Sony’s DualSense controller, the competing Xbox wireless controller from Microsoft is also compatible with iOS and Android devices.

It’s not quite the big redesign on offer from Sony’s option, but the updated controller offers a slightly refreshed look compared to the older Xbox One controller, but the main notable difference is the addition of textured patterns in more areas – including the triggers themselves – for improved grip. There’s also a redesigned concave D-Pad, bringing it more in line visually with the upgraded Elite controller.

Importantly for smartphone users, the updated controller features Bluetooth LE for a low-power connection, which should translate to improved battery life compared to the older Xbox One controller.

The older Xbox One controller is also fully compatible with smartphones if you’ve got one of those laying around.



Can’t you just use a PlayStation or Xbox controller instead?

Yes, and as you can see above, we’d recommend giving it a go if you already own one. Both Sony’s DualSense and Microsoft’s Xbox Wireless controller are compatible with iOS and Android via Bluetooth.

However, the big downside compared to dedicated controllers is that they can’t directly attach to your smartphone. It means you’ll have to set your phone down somewhere and use the controller separately.

Visibility on such a small screen can be compromised as a result, and it’s more difficult to use while on the likes of public transport.


How do I know if an iPhone or Android game supports controllers?

On iOS, Apple makes it easy to tell if a specific game works with third-party controllers. Simply find the listing in the App Store, then scroll down to the ‘Supports’ section and look for ‘Game Controllers’. On Apple Arcade, a ‘Controller Supported’ indicator is displayed under the ‘Get’ button.

But on Android, there’s no equivalent information in the Google Play Store. Unless the description of the app specifically mentions it, you’ll need to actually play it and find out. If it’s a paid game, try searching online first.


How much do I need to spend on a phone controller?

Usually around $100/£100, but it’s possible to get a great controller for significantly less. All options in this article offer a solid build quality, clicky buttons and a stable connection to almost all phones.

Those compatible with iPhone and Android will include a choice between Lightning and USB-C, meaning they’re compatible with iPhone models released between 2012 and 2022.

Other optional features include remappable buttons, a built-in battery and more premium materials. Some even include unique lighting effects.

Consider which of these features are important to you, and which you can live without. It may mean you can get something that’s a bit more affordable.

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