While most mobile games are designed with touch screens in mind, we’re starting to see more console/PC games playable on mobile devices through streaming platforms like Google Stadia and GeForce NOW. When it comes to those types of games, you’re going to need a controller to properly play them, and the MOGA XP5-X Plus from PowerA was specifically designed with these platforms in mind.
To be more specific, it’s the Xbox Game Pass streaming service that’s launching September 15th. The XP5-X has been officially licensed by Microsoft for this service, and Samsung is advertising it as the controller to buy alongside the Galaxy Note 20 (although it works with any Android phone). However, there are tons of these mobile controllers around nowadays, so is the XP5-X worth its relatively high price of $69.99? Let’s find out.
The Controller Itself
It won’t take long for you to realize that the XP5-X is modeled after the Xbox One controller. In fact, it’s shaped nearly identically to one. I use an Xbox One controller regularly, so the shape and layout felt natural to me, but fans of controllers like the Dualshock 4 will need to adjust.
Layout-wise, the only things of note are the few useful buttons and switches scattered around the controller (wireless/wired toggle, power on/off, and a battery life indicator) and the rear “advanced gaming buttons.” The rear buttons can be programmed to do whatever you want, and the process is pretty simple. Just hold down the green programming button on the bottom of the controller, perform any input, then push the rear button you want to reprogram.
Eric Schoon / Review Geek
Something that I often find lacking in third-party controllers is the buttons themselves—balancing the buttons to not be overly sensitive or firm is tricky. That isn’t a problem here though, the face buttons feel nice to push down, and the same goes for the triggers and bumpers. The rear buttons are finely tuned—sensitive enough to be easy to push while remaining firm to avoid accidental inputs.
The joysticks are covered in a nice grippy texture and movement is smooth as butter. The D-pad also impressed me, even on many high-end controllers the D-pad can feel lackluster, but it’s nice and responsive on the XP5-X.
Finally, as for the controller on a whole, it uses a hard plastic for its body that’s extremely similar to the standard Xbox One controller. It feels nice in the hand, and it’s helped by the soft grip material coating each handle.
The XP5-X can connect wirelessly to any Android device, and it can work in wired mode as a standard USB gamepad. I did try using it on my PC to test this, and in wired mode it worked great, but I couldn’t get it to work in wireless mode at all. (Side note for PC players: You can switch it between DirectInput and Xinput by holding down “Start” and “Select” for three seconds while it’s connected to your PC.)
There are two ports on the XP5-X: a microUSB and a USB-A. The microUSB port is used for charging the controller or using it in wired mode. The USB-A port is used for charging your phone out of the 3,000 mAh battery bank inside the controller. This is a great inclusion from PowerA—game-streaming services can eat up a phone’s battery, so being able to charge while you play is a real selling point. There are also some battery indicator lights on the bottom of the controller, so you always know how close you are to running out of juice.
Chances are you’re going to use this controller with your phone, which PowerA planned for by including a handy phone clip. The clip slips onto the controller with ease and should work for the vast majority of phone models. For reference, I used my Pixel 3 XL while using this controller, which is 6.22 x 3.02 inches, and according to PowerA, the clip fits any phone up to 3.12 inches wide. The clip felt reasonably secure and is highly adjustable, so you can get the perfect angle for your phone.
The Xbox Game Pass streaming service may not be out yet, but the beta is, and of course, this controller works with any old mobile game. I decided to test out both to cover all the bases, and to evaluate how well the controller works with the streaming platform for which it was designed. I wanted to push the Game Pass Beta to its limits, so I originally tested two games: Ori and the Will of the Wisps and Forza Horizon 4—both relatively fast-paced games that I’m fairly familiar with.
Something I was glad to see right off the bat is that my save progress for both games synced from my PC to my phone, which means
I don’t have to suffer through Forza Horizon 4’s tutorial again that you can seamlessly switch between platforms with no issue. Something of note is that you can press the Xbox button on the XP5-X to open a simple overlay where you can perform some actions like inviting friends to your game. This works the same as a standard Xbox controller would on a PC or Xbox One, and it’s nice that this was included on mobile as well.
The performance in both games wasn’t great. I saw noticeable input lag and frame-rate stutters in Ori, and Forza managed to look, sound, and play terribly. The service is in beta, of course, but I decided to throw it a bone by also playing Untitled Goose Game—a simple looking and playing game. As expected, the experience was a lot better, so your mileage will vary depending on the games you want to play.
So then, that’s kind of a downer on the Game Pass streaming service, but it doesn’t have much to do with the controller itself, so I also played some standard mobile games. Even in a fast-paced platformer, I didn’t notice any input lag in the controller’s wireless mode. The XP5-X feels great to play with, and it easily rivals other high-end controllers for comfort and build-quality.
The XP5-X doesn’t do much to wow you, and it doesn’t need to—game controllers are fairly straightforward products after all. So at that point, all that matters is the build quality, alongside any little bonus features the manufacturer can sneak in. And on that front, I’d say the XP5-X hit the nail on the head. It’s an incredibly comfortable controller to play with; the quality of life features, such as the rear buttons and battery life indicators, are great inclusions; and the interior battery bank is a nice touch.
This controller is on the more expensive side of things at $69.99 (even compared to most console controllers), but I think it crams in enough bonus features to justify that price. If you’re looking for a high-end controller to enhance your mobile gaming sessions—whether they’re streaming or locally installed—then this is a great option.
The XP5-X is launching September 14th to coincide with the launch of the Xbox Game Pass streaming service.
Here’s What We Like
- Comfortable shape
- Great-feeling inputs
- Built-in battery bank
And What We Don't
- Kind of pricey