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August 29, 2018

The best game controllers for Android

by John_A

We live and breathe Android, but we’re also gamers and love playing just about everything on our phones and tablets. Gaming controllers make a big difference, and we’ve use nearly every one to find the best picks for you.

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The SteelSeries Stratus XL is regularly at the top of our list for the best controller you can use for just about everything, due in no small part to its familiar feel and superior build quality. These are great controllers, regularly beating the rival MOGA an others for the top spot.

Best Overall

SteelSeries Stratus XL

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$44 at Amazon

The best gaming controller for your Android phone.

If you want a no-compromises controller, something that feels just like the controller you use when you’re sitting in front of your television, SteelSeries has what you need.

Who should buy this controller

If you spend most of your gaming time in front of a television, especially one with an PlayStation or an Xbox connected to it, you’re going to feel right at home with the SteelSeries Stratus XL controller. It borrows a lot from the Xbox design language, offers battery life for days, and has more than enough buttons for any game your phone can play.

Is it a good time to but this controller?

SteelSeries has had the Stratus XL out for quite a while now, and it remains our favorite. It has also seen several price drops in the last year, making now the perfect time to pick one of these controllers up. We’re not expecting anything to replace this model any time soon, and what it already offers is superior to the competition.

Reasons to buy

  • Great build quality
  • Familiar design
  • Solid battery life

Reasons not to buy

  • No color options
  • Bulkier design makes portability an issue

Your mobile gaming should be as comfortable as possible

Plain and simple, most Bluetooth gaming controllers suck. They’re shrunk down versions of other controllers which sacrifice battery life and make my hands cramp up after using them for a while. If you’re on an airplane for a few hours and want to keep yourself distracted, you want that controller to feel good the whole time you are using it.

This is what makes the SteelSeries Stratus XL stand out. It’s built as though you were playing on a full console, and it sells very well for that very reason.

Alternatives to the SteelSeries Stratus XL

Nice as it is, there’s no such thing as one controller for everyone. If you’re on a train every day and want something more portable, or if you’re looking for something small on purpose so you don’t need a bag to carry it, there are options from MOGA and 8BitDo which deliver on everything you want.

Runner-up

Moga Hero Power

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A simple controller designed to hold your phone.

$28 at Amazon

If portability is what you need, MOGA offers the best with the Hero Power controller.

Folks who dig the Xbox key layout and prefer the controller actually hold the phone while playing are going to love the Hero Power from MOGA. It’s a nice flat design with side grips for different hand sizes to enjoy, but best of all the phone mount handles just about every phone in existence with east. The battery life isn’t the best out there, but it’ll get you through a day or two of gameplay with no problem and is still great for commuters.

Top budget option

8BitDo Zero

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It’s just so tiny, you can’t help but love it.

$17 at Amazon

Small enough to hang from your keys, this controller is an extremely portable barebones option for any wallet.

Can we all take a moment to stop and appreciate how small and functional this controller is? It’s a classic SNES format in a package small enough that you could hang it from your car keys. That’s damned impressive. 8BitDo has a history of making quality hardware that appeals to Nintendo nerds, and this latest version if no exception. The buttons are nice and tactile, the battery will last for several days of gaming, and it even comes with a wrist strap just in case.

Bottom line

There is no such thing as one kind of gamer. If you want a controller for your phone that feels like a console controller, get yourself the SteelSeries Stratus XL. If portability is the most important feature, the Moga Hero Power is what you need.

For those on a budget, or just want something pocketable, 8BitDo nails it with the Zero. Either way you win, because each of these are exceptional controllers delivering quality gaming experiences. Have fun!

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

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Russell Holly is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He lives for the shiniest new thing, and loves explaining its potential to improve your life. Whatever you do, don’t tell his spouse about the drawer full of tech under the bed.

Updated August 2018: We’ve refreshed this page with our favorite gaming controllers for Android!

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