The Best Smartphone Controllers of 2024 (2024)

Thanks to services like Xbox Game Pass and titles like Fortnite, mobile gaming is more popular than ever. But to turn your iPhone or Android device into a bonafide gaming machine, you'll need a gamepad. Here's a look at the best smartphone controllers to up your game.

Best Smartphone Controller Overall: Backbone One (2nd Gen)

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The Backbone One was a great controller when it first launched, and now that it's in its second generation, it's an even easier recommendation. The main improvement is added support for cases, allowing you to connect the Backbone One to your smartphone without needing to pop off its protective cover.

Beyond that, this is largely the same Backbone One. You're getting responsive buttons, a built-in audio jack, a compact footprint, and access to the Backbone app to help you manage all your games and settings. It can be a bit small for larger hands or extended play sessions, but that's a minor caveat on an otherwise well-rounded device.

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Best Overall

Backbone One (2nd Gen)

The Backbone One (2nd Gen) works with both Android and iOS, is large enough to fit around most cases, and features responsive buttons and analog sticks. This is hard to beat if you're looking for the best mobile controller.

Pros

  • USB-C and Lightning formats
  • Fits phones with cases
  • Responsive buttons
  • Compact design

Cons

  • Not ideal for large hands

$100 at Amazon

Best Budget Smartphone Controller: SteelSeries Stratus+ Bluetooth Controller

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The SteelSeries Stratus+ isn't the fanciest controller in the SteelSeries lineup, but it's surprisingly great, especially considering its low price. Built like a traditional controller used for console gaming, its layout should make it comfortable for just about everyone. The gamepad isn't supported by iOS, but if you're an Android gamer on a budget, the Stratus+ is a solid option.

Along with a simple Bluetooth connection and familiar button layout, the gamepad includes a phone mount so you can snap your phone into place above the controller. You'll also get native support for games like Fortnite and apps like GeForce Now. Toss in Hall Effect magnetic sensors, clickable analog sticks, and a ridiculous 90-hour battery life, and there's a lot of value packed into the Stratus+ Bluetooth Controller.

Best Budget

SteelSeries Stratus+

$28 $60 Save $32

The SteelSeries is a full-sized controller that's great for mobile gaming. It's not compatible with iOS, but Android users should give it a closer look if they hope to save some cash.

Pros

  • Simple Bluetooth connection
  • Includes phone mount
  • Traditional button layout

Cons

  • Doesn't work with iOS

$28 at Amazon

Best Premium Smartphone Controller: Razer Kishi Ultra

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The Razer Kishi Ultra is the premium version of the already great Razer Kishi. It's essentially a full-sized gamepad that gets split in half by your smartphone, turning your display into a Switch-like device. The big draw is that the Razer Kishi Ultra is a full-size gamepad with pro-grade buttons and triggers, ensuring all your inputs are registered properly, and your hands stay comfortable during long play sessions.

Other cool features of the Razer Kishi Ultra include the Razer Sensa HD Haptics system for strong vibrations and feedback, RGB lighting, and access to the Razer Nexus app for enhanced controls and usability. The only real drawback to the gamepad is its price, and its large size also makes it slightly more difficult to travel with.

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Best Premium

Razer Kishi Ultra

The Razer Kishi Ultra is Razer’s most premium telescopic mobile game controller yet, with RGB lights and full-sized console controls.

Pros

  • Full-sized controller
  • Includes haptics and vibration
  • Also works on PC and iPad

Cons

  • Larger than the competition

Best Smartphone Controller for Android: 8BitDo Ultimate Wireless Controller

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The 8BitDo Ultimate Wireless Controller is a nice combination of pricing and performance. For a reasonable price tag, you get a reliable controller that even comes with its own charging dock. You'll also love the Hall Effect joysticks, which are drift-resistant and should hold up to the rigors of extreme gaming.

Beyond Android, the 8BitDo Ultimate also works with PC and iOS, so it's really a great all-around controller for everyone. Other reasons to check out the controller include a turbo function, vibration support, up to 15 hours of play per charge, and custom profile switching.

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Best for Android

8BitDo Ultimate Wireless Controller

Along with responsive buttons, a sleek design, and Hall Effect joysticks for better longevity, the 8BitDo Ultimate comes with its own charging dock. That makes it a bit fancier than the competition and a great pick for Android gamers.

Pros

  • Hall Effect joysticks
  • Included charging dock
  • Ergonomic design

Cons

  • Only a few available colors

$50 at Amazon

Best Smartphone Controller for iPhone: SteelSeries Nimbus+ Bluetooth Controller

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The SteelSeries Nimbus+ is an officially licensed Apple product, making it ideal for gaming on iOS. You'll benefit from its full-sized design, a tactile and responsive D-pad, and clickable joysticks for added input. It doesn’t have a built-in phone mount, but it comes with a removable one you can take off when not in use to increase its portability.

You'll be thankful for that detachable design, as the Nimbus+ is quite bulky. However, you're getting a premium gamepad with a 50-hour battery life. You'll also get Hall Effect magnetic triggers, which provide smooth actuation and are much more reliable than the competition. So, if you don't mind the detachable phone mount, the Nimbus+ is a great choice for iOS gaming.

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Best for iPhone

SteelSeries Nimbus+

Officially licensed by Apple, the Nimbus+ is an absolute powerhouse when it comes to gaming on iOS.

Pros

  • Officially licensed by Apple
  • Up to 50 hours of play with a single charge
  • Responsive D-pad
  • Includes phone mount

Cons

  • Bulky design

$69 at AmazonSee at Best Buy

FAQ

Q: Do I need a controller to play smartphone games?

No, most mobile games are entirely playable without a controller. However, a smartphone controller typically makes the experience more enjoyable and helps improve your play.

Q: Can I use an Xbox controller with my smartphone?

Yes, you can pair your Xbox controller to an Android phone or iPhone with Bluetooth. In fact, it's a solid choice for mobile gaming, thanks to an ergonomic design and responsive inputs.

Q: Can I use a PS5 controller with my smartphone?

Yes, just as you can pair an Xbox controller to iOS and Android, the same can be done with a PS5 DualSense controller. Just like the Xbox controller, this is a solid option if you'd rather not pick up a dedicated smartphone controller.

The Best Smartphone Controllers of 2024 (2024)
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