Which are the best phone controllers in 2023? The mobile gaming sphere has evolved so much over the last few years, to the extent that many phone games are now able to rival those on consoles when it comes to fun and enjoyment. It’s no wonder gamers are looking for dedicated controllers to use on their mobile device.
So let’s imagine you’ve got one of the best gaming phones and can play whatever you like on it, whether that’s the best Android games, or the best iOS games, we’ve got recommendations for you that will cover all bases, giving you the chance to take your gaming experience to the next level. (We meant that figuratively, but maybe you’ll literally be able to get to the next level with a better mobile controller.)
Here are the best phone controllers:
- GameSir X2 – best overall
- Razer Raiju – best for Android
- SteelSeries Nimbus+ – best for iPhone
- 8Bitdo Ultimate – best for Nintendo fans
- Backbone PlayStation Edition – best for PlayStation fans
- Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Hybrid – best for Xbox fans
- 8Bitdo Zero 2 – most portable
- 8Bitdo Gaming Clip – budget option
1. GameSir X2
The best mobile phone controller overall.
GameSir X2 specs:
|Compatible with||Android and iOS variants available|
- Variants to meet your needs
- Comfortable to hold
- Can charge while using it
- No audiojack passthrough
- Buttons slightly stiff
- Feels slightly flimsy
We reckon the GameSir X2 is going to tick all the right boxes for most of our readers. There are models for both Android and iOS devices, and its Switch-like controller set-up is both stylish and comfortable to hold. It accommodates gamers with passthrough holes which make it easy for you to have your charger plugged in while you play, although we do wish that it had the same for earphone jacks.
If you enjoy taking screenshots of your games (and as games journalists, we do it all the time), you’ll be pleased to hear that it comes with a simple screen capture button that you can press anytime. Ideal for sharing your in-game creations with friends, or remembering your favorite moments in the best mobile games.
Admittedly, when we started using it, we thought that the buttons seemed a little stiff, which took some getting used to. But it is something you can get used to quite easily with a little time. Ultimately, we think it gets a lot of things right, and not many things wrong, so we reckon that it’s going to be the best option for most mobile gamers.
Read our GameSir X2 Type-C review to find out more.
2. Razer Raiju Mobile
The best controller for Android phones.
Razer Raiju Mobile specs:
- Comfortable, ergonomic design
- Reasonably priced
- Customizable back triggers
- Phone mount not removable
- Slightly heavier than other phones
Are you an Android fandroid? Well, this is the best option for that particular platform. The Razer Raiju Mobile is a pretty fantastic controller and is actually pretty similar to Xbox controllers (which we’d say is one of the best controller designs of all time). This one is comfortable to hold and has been ergonomically designed, so it’ll help stop your hands from aching if you fancy an extra-long gaming session.
When it comes to portability, there’s one small hitch: its phone mount is not removable, which means that it can be a bit cumbersome to fit into different bags and cases. We’re not quite sure why it was designed like this, since it would seemingly be easy enough to have a detachable clip, but at the very least you don’t need to worry about it coming off while you play.
Generally though, this is a really great phone controller. It even comes with customizable back triggers, allowing you to tailor to meet your specific needs as a mobile gamer. Considering the obscenely wide variety of experiences available on phones, being able to assign different functions to these back buttons is going to come in very handy.
3. SteelSeries Nimbus Plus
The best phone controller for iPhone.
SteelSeries Nimbus Plus specs:
|Compatible with||iPhone, iPad, Apple TVs|
- Compatible with all iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS
- Comfortable design
- Responsive controllers
- Doesn’t come with a charging cable
- A lot of games are incompatible
Are you an iPhone iFan? Well, if you want a suitably premium phone controller to match your premium phone, then we recommend the SteelSeries Nimbus+. This comfortable and responsive controller is not only compatible with iPhone, but also iPad, and Apple televisions, so you can potentially get a lot of users out of it, depending on which other devices you own.
The biggest thorn in this controller’s side is its limited pool of compatibility. There are some pretty cool games that it’ll work with, like Terraria, Sonic & Sega All-Star Racing Transformed, Rayman Fiesta Run, and The Wolf Among Us, but we recommend checking the list of compatible games on the SteelSeries website before ordering to make sure your favorite is on there. The list isn’t exhaustive, so don’t be disheartened if it isn’t there, but make sure you Google around a bit to see if you can find anyone else who has tried using the controller for whatever game it is.
If it does work with your favorite games, you’re going to have an excellent time with this controller. It has a detachable mount that you can fit your phone to, but which can be easily removed for storage purposes, and it just generally feels, looks, and plays wonderfully.
4. 8Bitdo Ultimate
The best mobile controller for Nintendo fans.
8Bitdo Ultimate controller specs:
|Compatible with||iOS, Android, Windows, Steam Deck, Nintendo Switch|
- Comfortable, Nintendo-like design
- Loads of customization options
- Comes with a charging dock
- On the pricey side
- Switch between devices can be awkward
If you’re a lifelong Nintendo fan, the chances are that there’s a certain type of controller that you’ll feel more comfortable with. Of course, Nintendo controllers have varied quite a lot over the years, but this follows the same sort of general design philosophy and we reckon it’ll feel familiar to Nintendo fans.
It’s a little on the pricey side, but it does more than enough to earn that bigger price tag. It’s broadly compatible with most platforms (hence why it’s also on our best Nintendo Switch controller list) so while you may buy it for your phone, you might find other uses for it to (e.g. for PC gaming). Meanwhile, it also comes packed with its own charging station, which is especially nice when compared to those which don’t even give you a charging cable.
Notably, this controller offers users loads of customization options. You can essentially re-map every button on the thing, so you can tailor it to meet your needs exactly. You can even save multiple profiles and change them with just the flick of a switch, which is handy if you plan on using it for a range of games in different genres.
Read our 8Bitdo Ultimate Controller review.
5. Backbone PlayStation Edition
The best phone controller for PlayStation fans.
Backbone PlayStation Edition specs:
|Customizable buttons||iOS version only|
|Compatible with||Android, iOS (separate models)|
- Official PlayStation product
- Amazing companion app
- One of the more expensive options
- Some Android phones won’t fit
If the controllers of Sony’s PlayStation are the ones you’re most familiar with, then you’ll want to look at the Backbone PlayStation Edition. It clamps to either side of your phone and gives you the same sort of button layout as you’d get on Sony’s family of consoles. It’s perfect for anyone who likes to use their phone to play Roblox, Minecraft, Fortnite, or indeed anything on the PS Plush subscription service which can be streamed.
Though this is one of the most expensive controllers on this list, we definitely think it’s worth it. Aside from its dazzling aesthetics, we found this to be very comfortable to hold, even during extended play sessions. It’s the product of an official collaboration with Sony too, so you know it’s going to be a reliable product.
This controller also has a fantastic companion app. Essentially, it acts as a hub for all your mobile gaming needs, giving you a central point to find new games. Whether a game is free and just waiting to be downloaded, or locked behind a subscription service, the Backbone app will tell you exactly where it is and how to play it. It’s super convenient, and just part of the reason we love it so much.
Read our Backbone PlayStation Edition review for more information.
6. Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Hybrid
The best phone controller for Xbox fans.
Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Hybrid controller specs:
|Customizable buttons||2 fully customizable buttons, otherwise fully remappable|
|Compatible with||Android, Windows, Xbox|
- Official Xbox controller
- Ideal for Xbox Cloud Gaming
- Not so portable
We’ve given an option for the Nintendo and PlayStation fans – now here’s something for the Xbox fans. If you like to take advantage of the streaming aspect of Game Pass Ultimate, you can keep playing many of your favorite Xbox games on your phone, and with the Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Hybrid controller, it’ll feel pretty much just the same as it does when you play on the console directly.
Even more excitingly, this could give you an easy way to experience Xbox games without even having the console. If you look at our list of all Xbox Game Pass games on Xbox Cloud Gaming you’ll get an idea of what’s on there (and it’s a lot). With Forza, Banjo-Kazooie, Halo, Sea of Thieves, Psychonauts, and much more, you could turn your phone into a real gaming hub, with the Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Hybrid poised to be the perfect controller for it.
Of course, there’s no reason that you can’t use it for all your other favourite mobile games too. The only real problem with it is that, as it is just like a regular Xbox controller, it’s not the easiest thing to transport (even with the mount detachable). It’s not like it’s impossible, but there are other mobile controllers which are easier to bring out and about with you.
Read our Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Hybrid review for more information.
7. 8Bitdo Zero 2
The most portable phone controller.
8Bitdo Zero 2 specs:
|Compatible with||Android, iOS, MacOS, Windows, Nintendo Switch|
- Tiny, cute, and portable
- Really cheap
- May be too small for some gamers
- Battery life could be longer
Aw. Look at this cute little baby controller. If you want something that you can really easily slip into your pocket, or maybe even your wallet or purse, look no further than the 8Bitdo Zero 2. This thing is so tiny, it’s actually pretty impressive that 8Bitdo managed to make a functional gaming controller as small as this.
If you think you have an idea of how small this is, you’re probably wrong. Have you ever played a Nintendo Switch using just one Joy-Con? If you thought that was small, this is much smaller. In some respects, that’s really cool, but in other ways, it’s a little inconvenient, especially if you’re somebody who has large hands.
This is also a great option for anybody shopping on a budget because it’s pretty darn cheap. We feel bad criticizing it for being so small, because that’s kind of the whole point of it, and aside from that, it’s a fantastic controller that could do everything you want it to.
8. 8Bitdo Mobile Gaming Clip
The mobile gaming clip.
- No need to buy a new controller
- Really cheap
- Finding the right clip can be cumbersome
- You might not have any other controllers
Did you know that quite a lot of controllers are compatible with mobile devices? With that in mind, you might already have something (e.g. an Xbox controller) that will serve your purpose perfectly. Of course, precariously propping your controller up on a table or desk is a bit awkward, so you might just want to buy a clip, like the 8Bitdo Gaming Clip.
This one is specifically designed for use with official Xbox controllers, but you can find other clips which have been designed for other devices. Why buy something new if you can just repurpose something that you’ve already got? There’s not a lot more that we can say about this, other than that it’s obviously not going to be very useful for anyone who only games on their phone and doesn’t own any other controllers.
How we chose the best phone controllers
There are hundreds of phone controllers out there, so how did we narrow it down to just eight recommendations? Well, we play a lot of mobile games, and so have used a lot of controllers, so we know from experience what works well and what doesn’t. Generally, we judge based on the following criteria:
- Pricing: Everyone should have a chance to play with a phone controller, but some of the premium options are especially expensive. We’ve included choices to accommodate players on all kinds of different budgets.
- Button configuration: Everyone is going to have a certain type of controller that they find most comfortable – and most likely that’ll be based on whatever their first console was. We included options that are well-suited for players with Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo backgrounds.
- Portability: Some of the controllers (mostly those that you mount your phone on top of, rather than slotting it in) are a lot less portable than others. That’s fine if you enjoy playing on your phone at home, but we wanted to cover more compact options for those who like to game on the go.
- Customization: For some gamers, having remappable buttons is excellent because of the convenience it brings. For others, it’s a matter of accessibility. As far as we’re concerned, having a lot of options for customization is a sign of a controller’s quality.
- Compatibility: If you only play on your phone and you get a controller that will only work on your phone, then that’s fine. No problem at all. But for gamers who game across multiple platforms, it’d be good to have a controller with a broader pool of compatibility, and we’ve tried to include options that’ll work with various things.
For more about how we decide what to include in our buyer’s guides, read our how we test page. If you’re left with any outstanding questions, read our FAQs below:
What does a mobile controller do?
Much the same as any other controller. While you can play mobile games with the touch screen, many gamers prefer the extra level of precision that a dedicated controller gives them – especially in online games where they might be playing against people using consoles. They even the playing field and help enhance your gaming experience.
Can I play all games with a phone controller?
Not all games. Some mobile games have been specifically designed to use the touchscreen interface. However, with more and more games from other platforms becoming playable on smartphones, the value of a phone controller increases by the day.
Which mobile controller is best?
We recommend that Gamesir X2 as the best mobile controller. Our reason for this is that it is broadly compatible with most phones, and it’s a comfortable, well-designed piece of gear. Of course, everyone will have slightly different interests and needs, so if that one doesn’t do it for you, we reckon at least one of the others on this list will.