It has been a great few years in the world of mobile gaming. While mobile games were once limited to the likes of Candy Crush and Angry Birds, the mobile gaming scene has truly taken off in recent years with AAA game releases like PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty Mobile and Fortnite.
Even better, with the release of cloud gaming services like Nvidia GeForce Now and Xbox Cloud Gaming, you can play PC and console games on your smartphone.
That’s all welcome news, but let’s be honest, touchscreen controls can be frustrating – especially when it comes to fast-paced shooters like Call of Duty where split-second response times are the difference between virtual life and death. That’s where third-party controllers come into play.
Android users have been able to use a range of Bluetooth controllers for some time, and while iOS users were initially limited to (usually expensive) MFI controllers, Apple opened up support for standard Bluetooth controllers with the release of iOS 13.
- Advertisement -
So, if you’re ready to take your mobile gaming to the next level, take a look at our selection of the best game controllers for iOS and Android smartphones available right now.
Best controller for iPhone and Android in 2023
1. Backbone One – Best overall
- Official Xbox/PlayStation accessory
- Great build and feel
- Impressive companion app
- Advertisement -
- Need an adapter for use on newer iPhones
The Backbone One is the ultimate mobile controller to buy in 2023.
The Lightning or USB-C-connected controller is ergonomically shaped for added comfort, and offers all the bells and whistles you’d expect.
There are rear bumpers, analogue sticks, face buttons and even separate pause and options buttons, along with a few extras including a dedicated screenshot button and even a headphone jack. A rare feature, it allows you to hook up your wired gaming headset to the Backbone One for improved voice chat in compatible games.
The hardware is exceptional, but the Backbone One goes much further than just hardware.
Hitting the bright orange button on the controller takes you to the Backbone app. The slick, well-polished app looks to be your gaming hub, allowing quick access to your favourite mobile titles without a dedicated Game folder on the home screen.
It’s also home to social features that’ll let you chat and play with other Backbone One users, and you’ll even be notified when friends begin playing so you can join them.
The Xbox-themed controller is also fully compatible with cloud gaming services like Xbox Cloud Gaming and even comes with a free trial in the box, allowing you to stream some of the best AAA titles on your iPhone or Android with full access to all game features and functionality. There’s also a PlayStation-branded version for PS gamers, complete with the black and white colour scheme of the PS5.
The blend of hardware and software support is much more in-depth than the competition, offering an unrivalled mobile gaming experience for both Android and iPhone users.
2. PowerA MOGA XP7-X Plus – Best for Android
- Built-in powerbank with wireless charging
- Hybrid design for mobile and desktop gaming
- Remappable buttons
- No iOS support
The PowerA MOGA XP7-X Plus is an exceptional mobile controller designed for Android and Windows 10/11 that genuinely offers something new for gamers.
The mobile controller offers all the bells and whistles you’d expect, including dual analogue sticks, front buttons and rear triggers, complete with official Xbox branding, along with two remappable buttons on the rear. These can be easily remapped without exiting the game you’re playing, allowing you to assign functions like the brakes and accelerator in a racing game to the easy-to-reach buttons.
So far, so good, right? Well, it gets better. The XP7-X Plus has a unique design that allows you to play games on your smartphone Switch-style, with controls on either side of the display, as well as a Desktop mode via a removable phone stand built into the controller.
There’s also a 2000mAh power bank that, while adding to the heft of the controller, allows you to wirelessly charge compatible smartphones when gaming to keep you playing for longer.
It’s also compatible with both Android and Windows 10/11 thanks to both Bluetooth and USB connectivity, with a removable middle block that allows the controller to resemble something akin to a standard Xbox controller for PC gaming.
It’s the ultimate hybrid controller perfect for Android gamers – it’s just a shame there isn’t an iPhone equivalent.
3. Gamevice Flex – Best for case users
- Portable design
- Supports a wide range of cases
- Official Xbox branding
- Versions for iOS and Android
- iOS controller is more expensive than Android
- D-Pad can feel a little mushy
Using a mobile controller is great, but most of them just about fit the phone and next to none are compatible with cases, especially chunkier options like the Otterbox Symmetry. Gamevice is looking to solve the age-old issue with the Gamevice Flex, a controller that specifically supports a wide range of smartphone cases.
It uses an innovative system that lets you swap out certain parts of the grip to better accommodate the width of the case you’re using without compromising on grip. It can be a little fiddly, admittedly, but thankfully it’s not something you’ll have to do very often.
Besides, the payoff is worth it. With the Flex able to accommodate my iPhone 14 Pro Max and its chunky case without issue, I can finally game without removing first having to remove it. It makes the experience for those with cases much more fluid.
It’s also quite compact when folded down, allowing it to easily slip into a pocket or bag without taking up too much room. There’s support for both iOS and Android devices – though with physical ports, there are two versions available – and because it’s an official Xbox controller, you’ll get the same Xbox-branded buttons and a month-long trial to Xbox Live Ultimate to get a taste of what Xbox cloud gaming has to offer too.
The downside is that the iOS version is inexplicably $10 more expensive than the Android version, and it’s bad news for UK gamers too, with US-only availability at the time of writing.
4. Turtle Beach Cloud Recon – Best traditional controller
- Traditional controller experience
- Built-in removable phone clamp
- Turtle Beach audio features
- No official iOS support
The Turtle Beach Recon Cloud offers the best of both worlds: it’s compatible with the Xbox Series X|S while offering a snap-on mount that allows for a high-end mobile gaming experience. With Bluetooth connectivity, it’s compatible with Android devices, making it a handy option if you’re both an Xbox and mobile gamer and want to play your favourite Xbox games via the cloud.
The ability to add the smartphone mount whenever you want to play mobile games is a nice touch, allowing you to attach your device to the top of the controller in landscape orientation, with an adjustable viewing angle.
The controller also benefits from Turtle Beach’s audio heritage, with easy-access audio controls including EQ presets, game and chat volume mix, mic monitoring and more – though that is limited to use on console and not on mobile.
It also helps that it’s an official Xbox product, meaning the design closely resembles that of the standard Xbox controller with a great ergonomic shape, responsive triggers (including two customisable back paddles) and Xbox-branded buttons. There’s even a free one-month trial to Xbox Live Ultimate in the box for you to dip your toe into the world of Xbox-branded cloud gaming without the need to pay any money.
It requires charging, but with a 30-hour battery life, it’s not something you’ll need to top-up that often. Considering its hybrid nature and advanced features, the price isn’t too bad either.
5. Nacon MG-X Pro – An impressive official Xbox controller for iPhone & Android
- Official Microsoft Xbox accessory
- Compatible with a range of smartphones
- Great Xbox-inspired design
- Bluetooth-only connectivity
- Separate models for iOS and Android
The Nacon MG-X Pro might look like a Switch-style mobile controller, but it’s in fact an official Microsoft Xbox accessory built with Game Pass Ultimate cloud streaming in mind, so you can be confident in its compatibility.
As you’d expect from that, the controls are modelled on an Xbox pad, so you get asymmetric clickable joysticks, ABXY face buttons, a D-pad, and four shoulder buttons. There’s also an Xbox-branded power button, and the same ‘menu’ and ‘view’ buttons on the official controllers. Unlike other Switch-style controllers, it even has Xbox controller-esque ergonomic handles with a textured surface that makes gaming over long periods much more comfortable.
Battery life is rated at up to 20 hours, and charging is over USB-C when you do need to top it up.
Unlike some similar rivals, this uses Bluetooth to connect to phones, which means there’s a touch more input lag – but that’s less important if you’ll mainly use it for cloud gaming anyway. Besides, it also means that the pad is more universal, so it will work with any phone – though there are separate versions for iPhone and Android users.
On that note, Nacon claims that the iPhone variant can house any iPhone from the iPhone 6s onwards, while the Android variant should house any smartphone up to 6.7in – it certainly handled the chonky iPhone 14 Pro Max without issue. The grippy, textured back holds devices securely too, and when there’s no phone in the controller is small enough to be portable but still a comfortable size to use on its own, so it can double as a Bluetooth pad for a tablet or PC.
6. Razer Kishi – A solid all-rounder
- iOS & Android support
- No charging required
- USB-C passthrough
- Separate USB-C & Lightning variants
The Razer Kishi is the ideal controller for most, designed for use with iOS and Android in mind. The Kishi essentially turns your smartphone into a Nintendo Switch with controls to the left and right of your smartphone display, clamping snuggly into place, with support for a range of smartphones – as long as they sport USB-C or Lightning connectivity.
That’s the main appeal of the Kishi: while most controllers rely on Bluetooth connectivity, the Kishi is connected directly to the phone, not only negating the need to charge the controller, but also improving response time in mobile shooters like Call of Duty Mobile, and the difference is noticeable.
Elsewhere, the controller is well-built, featuring a complete set of triggers, shoulder buttons, AXBY buttons, a D-Pad and navigation buttons alongside dual clickable analogue sticks. There’s even a USB-C port for passthrough, allowing you to keep your phone topped up during longer gaming sessions.
It’s also compact when not in use, making it easy to throw into a jacket pocket for use on long train journeys. What more could you want?
7. GameSir X3 Type-C – Best controller for cooling
- Keeps your phone cool
- Customisable buttons and joysticks
- Fits a variety of phones
- Cooler needs USB-C power to work
- No Lightning variant for iPhone
While accessory maker GameSir usually manufactures budget-friendly mobile controller accessories, the GameSir X3 Type-C is an entirely different beast, offering not only a customisable controller but impressive built-in cooling too.
Overheating is a problem faced by most mobile gamers during long gameplay sessions – even those with gaming phones sporting dedicated cooling systems – usually resulting in a hot spot on the rear of the smartphone, and a knock-on effect on performance and battery drain too.
The GameSir X3 Type-C looks to solve that problem by attaching a literal fan-powered cooling system to the back of your smartphone. The multi-part system, including a cold copper plate, a Peltier cooling module, heatsink and a seven-blade fan helps keep your smartphone cool, reducing the temperature by up to an impressive 24 degrees Celcius in just a few minutes.
The fans are lit by RGBs to add to the gamer look, and the position of the fan can be adjusted to better suit your smartphone if needed. The only downside? With no built-in battery, the fan needs constant USB-C power to operate, meaning you’ll have to use a power bank if you want to use it on your travels.
Of course, the X3 Type-C isn’t just a cooler – it’s also a mobile controller, and a pretty capable one at that. Connecting to your phone via its USB-C port, there’s 0 lag, and the controller plays nicely with all controller-ready games available on Android including cloud streaming apps from the likes of Nvidia and Xbox.
It’s impressively customisable too. The buttons are magnetic, allowing you to switch between Xbox- and Nintendo-style layouts, and there are two sets of thumbstick caps and D-Pads in the box to choose from too. That’s all stored in a nice hard shell carry case, keeping the controller and all accessories in one place.
It’s compatible with a range of smartphones too, as long as it offers USB-C connectivity and measures between 110-179mm.
8. GameSir X2 – A Switch-themed alternative
- Switch-like aesthetic
- Rotating USB-C/Lightning port
- Screenshot button
- Odd button layout
Though replaced by the updated GameSir X3 Type-C, the GameSir X2 offers a similar design – sans cooling capabilities, of course – and unlike the high-end variant, there’s a USB-C variant for Android, a Lightning variant for iPhones and even a Bluetooth version for the best of both worlds.
In terms of design, it leans into the whole Switch-esque design, sporting the same shades of red and blue beneath the analogue sticks as the most popular combination of Joy-Con, but that’s forgivable compared to the mimicry of Nintendo’s Y-X, B-A button layout. Considering most if not all mobile games are designed around the layout of the standard Xbox layout, you’ll find yourself battling against muscle memory when navigating menus – especially during fast-paced games.
If you can look past the odd button layout, there’s a lot to like about the X2, including the USB-C port that rotates by up to 51° to make slotting your phone into place much easier, and the inclusion of a dedicated screenshot button too. It’s also a generally nice-looking controller and it’s much more affordable than its premium sibling too.
9. Sony DualSense – Great for PS5 players
- Compatible with PS Remote Play
- iOS & Android connectivity
- Great design
- No way to attach smartphone
- No access to advanced DualSense features
Sony’s DualSense controller is arguably one of the main selling points of the PS5, and to further sweeten the deal, it’s also compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones. It’s an all-around improvement on the older DualShock 4, featuring an improved design that not only looks great but feels more comfortable in the hand, and the textured grips are a notable addition too.
But it’s the haptic system and adaptive triggers that truly steal the show. The former allows for advanced haptic feedback for improved immersion in games, simulating the feel of raindrops or footsteps on metal floors, while the triggers can adjust resistance depending on what you’re doing. It’ll be a while before game devs build these features into mobile games admittedly, but if you’ve already got a PS5, it’s well worth using – especially as it allows you to play PS5 games remotely.
If you haven’t got a DualSense controller, Sony’s older DualShock 4 is also fully compatible with iOS and Android devices.
10. Xbox Wireless controller – A solid wireless controller
- Ergonomic design
- iOS & Android support
- Bluetooth LE
- No way to attach smartphone
Along with Sony’s DualSense controller, the competing Xbox wireless controller from Microsoft is also compatible with iOS and Android devices.
It’s not quite the big redesign on offer from Sony’s option, but the updated controller offers a slightly refreshed look compared to the older Xbox One controller, but the main notable difference is the addition of textured patterns in more areas – including the triggers themselves – for improved grip. There’s also a redesigned concave D-Pad, bringing it more in line visually with the upgraded Elite controller.
Importantly for smartphone users, the updated controller features Bluetooth LE for a low-power connection, which should translate to improved battery life compared to the older Xbox One controller.
The older Xbox One controller is also fully compatible with smartphones if you’ve got one of those laying around.
- Best gaming headset
- Best cheap gaming headset
- Best gaming phone
- Best gaming keyboard
- Best gaming mouse