Android has, over many years, become a platform where you can now play games that are not just Candy Crush re-skins. This means FPS and fast-paced titles such as Call of Duty: Mobile, PUBG Mobile, and Fortnite are all playable on your smartphone, and emulation also allows users to play older games from older consoles as well. In all of these scenarios, while you can use touch buttons and gestures to play these games, it’s not really ideal. If you’re really into gaming on your Android smartphone, you obviously need a good smartphone. But it also makes sense to get a controller for your phone, relieving your fingers from hot touchscreens and accidental swipes. If you’re thinking about that, here are some of the best controllers you can grab for your Android smartphone right now.
From known options to more dedicated ones, Android-compatible game controllers come in all shapes and forms.
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Best Overall (Mobile): Razer Kishi
The Razer Kishi goes in first as one of the best controllers for Android simply because it’s made from the ground up with smartphone gaming in mind. It features a similar format and layout to the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons. There are separate left and right controllers that hook on the sides of your phone, allowing you to use your smartphone like you would use a Nintendo Switch. It also connects to your smartphone via USB-C, meaning that latency should be greatly reduced compared to a regular Bluetooth controller.
It’s one of the best controllers you can get for Android if you’re looking into either going after a Switch-like look or simply something that integrates with your smartphone seamlessly.
Runner-Up: GameSir X2
Further complementing the Switch look is the GameSir X2. GameSir is a brand that’s currently making a name for itself in the gaming gadgets space, and the GameSir X2 puts up a good fight to the Razer Kishi while managing to undercut it in pricing. With Razer, you’re going for a known brand in the gaming space, but if you don’t really care about that, the GameSir X2 provides a similar feature set, including connection over USB-C for lower latency.
If you’re debating on getting a controller for Android, this is definitely one of the best options to have in mind.
Best Overall (Full): SteelSeries Stratus Duo
For everything that’s not a console, SteelSeries is usually among the top tier of controller makers, and we can sure see why. Unrivaled compatibility and excellent build quality are just some of the reasons SteelSeries controllers are so great, especially for smartphones.
The SteelSeries Stratus Duo is a top competitor that often shows up in a lot of recommendation lists. There’s several reasons for that — excellent battery life, support for both Bluetooth and 2.4 GHz wireless (although we’re more interested in Bluetooth here), and more. It’s a fine controller that gets the essentials right, which is why it makes our list of the best controllers for Android.
Runner-Up: Razer Raiju Mobile
The Razer Raiju was initially conceived as an e-sports focused controller for the PlayStation 4. The Razer Raiju Mobile keeps most of the DNA from that particular device, including the same overall shape and build quality, making up for a splendid controller for e-sports and fast-paced titles such as first-person shooters.
Since it’s made to work with smartphones, it also features a docking clip where you can put your phone while you play, connects to your phone via Bluetooth, and is made by Razer, so you can expect the same quality from this controller as you would get from their other products. It’s an amazing game controller for people invested in the Razer ecosystem and for people looking for a “pro” controller for their smartphones.
Best for Most People: Xbox Core Controller
Sometimes the best options come in the shape you would least expect, or if you’re a console gamer, it may even come from what you already have. The Xbox Core Controller is the standard Xbox controller that’s bundled with the Xbox Series S and the Xbox Series X. But it’s also a surprisingly solid controller for both PC gaming as well as any device that’ll take a Bluetooth controller. And that includes Android.
The Xbox Core Controller is as barebones as an Xbox controller can get, but it includes a slightly tweaked design from the Xbox One. Most of all, it’s fully compatible with any game that supports it, and you can even get mount clips for mounting your phone to the controller. It’s one of the best controllers you can get right now unless you’re looking for something more specific for your device.
Best Ergonomic: Sony DualSense
PlayStation controllers are also solid options for other devices as well, despite some of its features being proprietary to their consoles, and the DualSense is no different. The successor to the DualShock 4 is included in the PlayStation 5 and comes with a handful of new features, most notably, things like adaptive triggers and sublime haptics to enhance your experience in games.
Most of these features won’t be directly working on an Android phone, but you end up with a controller with an amazing new ergonomic design and refreshed look over the aging DualShock 4, a controller that was also a solid option for Android gaming. It’s one of the best controllers out there, and given that it still gives you the ability to hook it up to an Android smartphone via Bluetooth, it’s a nice bonus.
Best Budget: MSI FORCE GC30
The MSI FORCE GC30’s best feature is it’s nothing special. That’s pretty much all there is to it. It’s not bad, but it’s not particularly good either compared to the other options in this list. But it’s cheaper than most of those other options in this list, and it does the job in a pinch, which is pretty much its intended purpose.
The FORCE GC30 features an Xbox layout (and the shape is also eerily similar to that of the Xbox 360’s controller) with the company’s logo, black and red accents, and Bluetooth support for connecting to a smartphone. It’s the best game controller available if all you’re looking for something that’s a step up from touch buttons, and you don’t want to spend that much on a controller.
Best for Retro Gaming: 8BitDo Sn30 Pro+
If you’re the kind of person who plays retro games on an emulator, you’ll know that with some games, such as platformers, touch controls can quickly get annoying. Modern controllers will sometimes not translate as well as you’d think to an older title. This is where the 8BitDo Sn30 Pro+ comes into play.
Think of it as a Super Nintendo controller on steroids — it’s wireless, it features two joysticks, and it’s a tad bit more ergonomic. It’s actually very similar to the Nintendo Switch’s Pro Controller in a lot of ways, including button layout and joysticks. If you’re going to do a lot of retro gaming on your smartphone, the 8BitDo Sn30 Pro+ is probably the best game controller to get.
Best for SEGA Retro Gaming: 8BitDo M30
If the retro gaming you’re planning on doing involves SEGA consoles, particularly consoles like the SEGA Genesis, then the 8BitDo M30 is a better option for you. This is because of the console’s unique 6 button + d-pad layout that doesn’t really translate well to other controllers.
The 8BitDo M30 keeps the same layout and looks like a super-powered SEGA Genesis controller with wireless Bluetooth support. This should give you way better compatibility with your games, allowing you to play them the way you’re supposed to. It’s quite likely the best game controller for SEGA fans.
On the Razer side, Razer includes several products, including the Razer Kishi and the Razer Kaiju Mobile, that will sit in perfectly with whatever use case you’re looking for. If that’s a little bit on the expensive side for you, the SteelSeries Stratus Duo looks like an amazing option, while the controllers you probably already have in your household can also be a nice improvement over trying to get kills in Call of Duty: Mobile using the tiny buttons showing up on your screen. Note that some controllers would need a clipping mount as well, and here’s a clip that is compatible with the Xbox One Controller.