Mobile games have come a long way since the olden days of Snake and Solitaire, and some of today's more complex Android games require the extra button inputs, ergonomic design, and overall convenience that only a traditional controller can provide. Although there is a world of gaming controllers available for Android devices, many such devices are cheap, flimsy, and unresponsive. The best options sport impressive battery life and quick response times, making for a seamless mobile gaming experience.
To learn more about gaming controllers and to find a model that will hold up to your gaming demands, continue reading our buying guide. Our favorite is Razer's Junglecat Mobile Game Controller, which sports an impressive battery life of more than 100 hours.
Considerations when choosing gaming controllers for Android
Would it be more convenient if your controller used a Bluetooth or wired connection to pair with your Android device? Bluetooth is a great option for putting a little distance between you and the screen, but a wired device may be your only choice if your Android device does not utilize Bluetooth. In addition, many gamers appreciate the quicker response time of a wired connection.
If carrying a traditional gaming controller alongside your Android device sounds inconvenient, a wraparound style controller would take up far less space in your pocket or bag. A good wraparound gaming controller will snugly hug your smartphone like a case, while providing you with an ergonomic control layout similar to what you would expect with a classic controller. If you're a console gamer, you may find a traditional gaming controller more intuitive and comfortable.
Since there are many versions of Android available and each Android gaming controller is specifically designed to work with certain versions, it is important to find out whether a model is compatible with your device before you buy. For example, if a controller claims to be compatible with Android Oreo devices and newer models, your Android Pie smartphone would definitely work with that controller.
The best mobile controllers sport an ergonomic design that will cradle your hands and fingers, allowing you to comfortably play for as long as you want without discomfort. A streamlined shape, rubberized grips, and additional padding are indications of a well-designed Android controller.
While not essential, LED-backed buttons are a fun addition to an Android controller. More importantly, some controllers support handy LED lights that indicate if your device is connected via Bluetooth or if it needs to be recharged.
If you want to play Android games that were originally released on console or PC, it is vital to buy an Android controller that features a similar button layout so your preferred playstyle will seamlessly transfer to the mobile version. In addition to the layout, check to see if the device supports button remapping, so you can personalize your gaming as needed.
You tend to get what you pay for when it comes to gaming controllers. While the top-tier Android gaming controllers with the most beneficial features and comfortable controls are priced for $60 or more, you can find a solid model for sale anywhere between $30 and $50.
Q. Will my Android gaming controller work on iOS devices, too?
Our take: This Bluetooth device feels like the best of a PlayStation and Xbox One controller combined, yet its smartphone clip and 10-hour battery life makes it great for mobile gaming.
What we like: Compatible with a wide range of Android devices. Moderately priced. Auto-sleep mode conserves battery life. Vibration feedback. Retro-styled turbo button.
What we dislike: Its companion clip cannot hold a smartphone wider than 6 inches.
Arnold Carreiro is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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