Mobile gaming has finally matured into something serious. But if you’re using an Apple device, it can be hard to find a solid mobile gamepad that actually works. Lucky for you, we’ve tracked down the best iOS-ready mobile controllers, for everybody’s needs.
Back in February, Epic games announced gamepad compatibility for Fortnite Mobile. That’s an exciting change for any Fortnite Mobile player, but it’s also a serious landmark in mobile gaming as a whole. In less than a decade, phone games have made the leap from Doodle Jump and Flappy Bird to Minecraft and Fortnite. For the first time in the history of smartphones, dedicated game controllers are a necessity, not a novelty.
But if you’re an iOS user, the transition from touch controls to gamepads can be a little frustrating. Manufacturers tend to focus on the Android market, and they tack on iOS compatibility as an afterthought. Most gamepads that advertise “iOS compatibility” are a nightmare to use on iPhones or iPad.
So, if you’re an iOS gamer, you should try to buy a mobile gamepad that’s designed specifically for Apple devices. Thankfully, there are a variety of great iOS controllers that have the look and feel of premium console controllers. Some of them are great for on-the-go gaming, some are ultra-portable, and others are just like Xbox controllers for your iPhone.
All of these controllers work over Bluetooth, but they aren’t guaranteed to work with non-Apple devices. Android users should stick to dedicated Android gamepads, and PC gamers should avoid controllers that aren’t natively supported by
SteelSeries Nimbus iOS Gaming Controller ($50)
If you’re interested in an Xbox-styled pro gaming controller, then you should consider buying the SteelSeries Nimbus. It’s a solid, Fortnite-ready gaming controller that connects to your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV via wireless Bluetooth or Lightning cable.
This controller won’t disappoint hardcore gamers. Most 3rd party controllers (especially mobile gaming controllers) have mushy buttons and awful joysticks. But the SteelSeries Nimbus is genuinely a joy to use. It’s comfortable to hold, its buttons are clicky, and its joysticks feel responsive.
There’s just one thing that you want to keep in mind before dropping $50 on the Nimbus. It doesn’t have a built-in phone holder. Thankfully, some companies, like Danislef, sell attachable phone holders that fit comfortably on the Nimbus.
Rotor Riot Gaming and Drone Controller ($50)
If you want a Xbox-styled premium gamepad that has a built-in phone holder, then you should check out the Rotor Riot mobile gaming and drone controller. It has the same button configuration as an Xbox controller (the same D-Pad, too), and it even has L3/R3 buttons (the joysticks click in). Like the SteelSeries Nimbus, the Rotor Riot’s buttons are clicky, and its joysticks are responsive and reliable.
As you can imagine, the Rotor Riot gamepad is great for on-the-go gaming, but it also doubles as a drone controller. It works with some popular drones, like the Parrot Bebop, the DJI Spark, and the Teal One.
EVO VR Gamepad Pro Flip Bluetooth Controller ($17)
Premium mobile gamepads are kind of expensive. If you want to play Fortnite on-the-go without breaking the bank, you should check out the EVO VR Gamepad Pro. It’s an inexpensive Xbox-styled controller with a flip-up phone holder. It has all the buttons that you’d expect from a modern gaming controller, and it has a button to switch between iOS and Android devices. Additionally, the EVO VR Gamepad works with stand alone VR helmets like the Occulus Go, so it gives you a lot of bang for your buck.
Admittedly, the EVO VR Gamepad kind of gives off an early 2000’s 3rd party controller vibe. In form and function, you can tell it’s an inexpensive piece of hardware. That being said, any controller is better than no controller, and the EVO VR Gamepad is miles ahead of most other sub-$20 mobile gamepads.
SteelSeries Stratus Bluetooth Gaming Controller ($25)
You know, for whatever reason, most mobile gaming controllers are kind of bulky. They can take up a lot of room in a bag, and they won’t fit in pockets. That’s why the SteelSeries Stratus is so appealing. It has the same button layout as the SteelSeries Nimbus, but it’s small enough to fit in a pocket.
You’d think that the SteelSeries Stratus’ ultra-portable form factor would be a hindrance, but it really isn’t. This is a comfortable, easy to use controller with responsive buttons and reliable joysticks. It works with all iOS devices, including Apple TV, and it only costs $25. Not a bad deal.
The only disadvantage of the Stratus is its lack of a phone holder. And since it’s so compact and rounded it’s not really a viable candidate for a clip-on holder. But if you’re gaming at a table, you could always use a kickstand, and if you’re playing in the back of a car, you could use a headrest phone holder.
Gamevice Bluetooth Gamepad ($75)
Wireless mobile gamepads are really great, but they all suffer from the same problem. Where do you put your phone? Yes, controllers like the Rotor Riot have built-in phone holders, but these phone holders aren’t really an ideal solution. They force you to hold the controller at odd angles, and they can add a lot of unnecessary bulk (and breakable parts) to a product that’s dedicated to mobile gaming.
If mobile gamepads with phone holders aren’t really doing it for you, then you should check out the ubiquitous Gamevice. It’s a really nice controller that turns your iPhone into a Nintendo Switch-like gaming machine. It has a familiar button layout, with satisfying buttons, triggers, and joysticks. For $75, you can only expect the best.
Keep in mind that this controller requires a hard connection, and it only works with the iPhone X, 8, 8+, 7, 6, and 6S. Yeah, that’s almost every iPhone, but there’s a chance that you won’t be able to use the Gamevice when updating to a future iPhone, especially if Apple swaps out the Lightning port for a USB-C port.