With the ever-growing popularity of mobile gaming, game controllers have become an essential accessory to take your gaming to the next level. Apple Arcade also launched games supporting controllers. Therefore, if you are a casual gamer or a hardcore enthusiast, get the best game controllers for iPhone and Apple TV. I have scoured the market to find the most innovative, user-friendly, and compatible controllers that provide a seamless and immersive experience.
- Nintendo Switch Joy-Con
- Razer Kishi
- Xbox Core Controller
- DualSense Controller
- Xbox Adaptive Controller
- Rotor Riot
- SteelSeries Nimbus+
- GameSir T4 pro
- Backbone One
1. Nintendo Switch Joy-Con – Editor’s choice
The Nintendo Switch has been an immaculate success for Nintendo, which was under fire thanks to the underwhelming sales of their previous consoles. With an innovative design and a new dimension to portable gaming, the hybrid console became one of the most popular gaming consoles in the world. It offers a powerful gaming device that can either be paired to your Smart TV or can be taken along during your travels for high-quality gaming.
The dual controllers that come with the Nintendo Switch are called the Nintendo Joy-Cons. Thanks to the latest iOS 16, tvOS 16, and iPadOS 16 updates, these controllers can now be paired to your iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV as standalone gaming controllers, without the need for the Nintendo Switch console.
With mobile games increasing in graphical fidelity and competitiveness, touch controls are no longer the most intuitive way to enjoy them. They cut down on the screen space for smaller devices such as the iPhone, and the iPad is far too large for most people to use touch controls. So, by pairing the Nintendo Joy-Cons to these devices, you can have more control over your gaming sessions, leading to a better overall experience.
Moreover, whether you’re using them with your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, you can also customize the gamepad profiles for different games. Since many games differ from each other in terms of control schemes and gameplay mechanics, this is a boon to the new-age gamers!
- Highly portable
- Easy connectivity with Apple devices
- Can use one or both controllers
- Size isn’t ideal for people with bigger hands
- Lack of textured body reduces the grip
2. Razer Kishi – supports the Xbox Game Pass
The Razer Kishi has completely hit it out of the park as a game controller for iPhones. Its design is similar to Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Con. The two sides of the controller are attached with an elastic back panel, and you can slide open both sides to fit your iPhone. It can be stretched quite far, and this makes it future-proof for newer iPhones.
The controller’s design itself reminds me of the older gamepads, with an added touch similar to a new Xbox controller. This gives you more options in setting up the controller for specific games. There’s an indicator on the controller that’s useful as well. Once you’ve connected the controller to your phone, you realize that the setup is ergonomic.
The setup is solid and doesn’t feel like it adds much weight to the device you can’t use for too long. Once you use this controller setup on your phone, you may find it difficult to switch to others. It’s portable and supports the Xbox Game Pass. This is good news as this vastly increases the games to play on your iPhone.
The Razer Kishi will be responsible for ushering in a new era of mobile games. At its best, the controller is everything that you will need for mobile gaming.
- Great design
- Supports Xbox Game Pass
3. Xbox Core Controller – Best budget option for Xbox owners
The Xbox Core Controller is one of the best Bluetooth game controllers for the iPhone you can find. While Microsoft has continued to release multiple gaming consoles for the past decade, the controller design has been mostly the same.
This is a good sign – the Xbox Core Controller may not match the features of the DualSense controller, but its design and ergonomics are unparalleled.
There have been minor improvements to the design in recent years. Nonetheless, the core elements remain the same. There’s a hybrid D-pad to choose how you plan to approach a particular game, and the handles are textured for proper grip during an intense gaming session.
It also has something that most smartphones don’t have these days – a 3.5mm headphone jack. The Share button is a bonus for players who like recording their gameplay, either for improvements or for sharing videos online. Microsoft also claims that on a single charge, the controller lasts for 40 hours of gaming.
Microsoft truly doesn’t have to do anything new with its controller design. They found the right formula when they created this design for the Xbox 360. Now, all they’ll do is make minor improvements without changing the entire design philosophy for the controller.
- Works with iPhones and Microsoft consoles
- Superb design
- Textured for better ergonomics
- Mount isn’t provided
4. DualSense Controller – Best for PlayStation owners
When Sony released the PlayStation 5, one of their main marketing strategies was to push the DualSense controller. While most thought it would be an overhyped accessory to the console, the DualSense controller proved its mettle.
Although PS5 sells out as soon as it’s restocked, DualSense is available for purchase separately. If you have the money to spare for a videogame controller for iPhone, you might as well spend it on Sony’s gaming accessory.
The new iteration changes the design from the older DualShock controllers to a more ergonomic and modern one. It looks sleeker, more advanced, and plays better than a lot of the controllers. While you may not get the most out of the controller if you don’t have a PlayStation, it’s still a great option.
However, you might have to buy a mount for a more comfortable gaming experience.
- Impeccable design
- Connects with most Apple devices
- Haptic feedback provides an added dimension to gaming
- Mount isn’t provided
- Battery life isn’t satisfactory
5. Xbox Adaptive Controller – For more accessibility
Gaming has only recently started to consider accessibility options for physically challenged people. Microsoft has been one of the first companies to consider the challenge and design a controller for such situations.
This is where the Xbox Adaptive Controller comes into play. While it provides various customization options for people, with the ability to mount switches or buttons, it’s more useful for people who face physical challenges. They can customize the controller based on their specific situation and use it for gaming.
It’s got 3.5mm jacks and USB ports to connect various assistive devices. The range of customizable parts is high, and you might need to mix and match to find what works for you. With trial and error, this controller can be useful for a certain sub-section of the gaming community.
Again, a mount for your iPhone is recommended if you want to have a good experience. Its only caveat is that the entire setup might cost more than expected.
- Provides access to people with physical challenges
- Can be customized
- Customizing takes time
- Setting it up can be expensive
6. Rotor Riot – Best budget controller (overall)
If you search for mobile game controllers online, you’re likely to find plenty of cheap options. Nonetheless, none of these more affordable options can bring the quality that Rotor Riot brings. Despite its price, Rotor Riot has gotten most things correct.
From an attached lightning cable for charging the controller to a design that rivals gaming controllers for consoles and PCs, Rotor Riot brings plenty to the table. If you’re also a fan of the PS4 Remote Play, you’ll find that Rotor Riot supports the required thumbstick buttons. This has been a requirement in MFi (Made for iPhone) controllers for a while.
There’s also a plastic phone holder with the controller. It may not be as sturdy as a standalone mount, but with a little adjustment, you can save yourself from another expense. Beware – the phone holder adds heft and size to the entire ensemble.
For a budget option, Rotor Riot provides some serious advantages over the more expensive controllers. Its kinks are mostly those that can and will be patched through firmware updates after you set up the controller.
- Detachable mount
- Pocket-friendly price
- Similar to a console controller
- Updates are needed after the first setup
7. SteelSeries Nimbus+ – Highly compatible with Apple ecosystem
The SteelSeries Nimbus+ improves on certain aspects of the previous SteelSeries Nimbus. Thankfully, those improvements have made it a must-buy for people who are entrenched into the Apple Ecosystem. If you own a lot of Apple products, this controller will support all of them.
One of the main draws of the controller is that the layout has been inspired by iOS devices. If you use an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and/or a Mac, the controller’s compatibility with Apple devices will be a boon for gaming. There’s a mount provided with the device that transforms the entire ensemble into a handheld console.
You can attach your mobile device to the lighting port that comes with the controller. This will keep the device charged as you continue a long gaming session.
Despite this compatibility and versatility, the SteelSeries Nimbus+ has its issues. The phone mount does not feel sturdy, and the buttons are textured too smoothly for a firm grip. Nonetheless, for an ardent Apple user, you will not be disappointed with this gamepad.
- Compatible with the Apple ecosystem
- Lightning port provided
- Layout is based on iOS
- The phone mount could have been sturdy
- Button textures aren’t great for grip
8. GameSir T4 pro – Best for beginners
The GameSir T4 pro isn’t a controller that would stand out in a comparison of features. It’s a basic gamepad for mobile devices that does a little bit of everything and is a good starting point for many beginner gamers. The gamepad is a handy model for casual gamers too.
Its design is inspired by the old Xbox 360 controller, and that’s shown in the button layout. It works through a Lithium battery lasting for a substantial amount of playtime. More importantly, it’s MFi-certified, meaning that this controller is compatible with many App Store games. You can also use it to play games on Apple TV.
There’s a 5-speed vibration motor inside the gamepad that adds depth to certain games. The mount provided with the controller fits most Apple devices well and can be adjusted for the screen angle. The design of the controller is semi-transparent and shows the contents inside. This gives the gamepad a futuristic feel.
Overall, the controller is great if you don’t want to spend too much money. Moreover, if you want to dabble in casual iPhone gaming, this is a comfortable choice. It’s near-perfect for beginners with an Apple Arcade subscription.
- Perfect for beginners
- Good battery life
- Interesting design
- Build quality could have been better
9. Backbone One – Best for iPhone owners
The Razer Kishi and SteelSeries Nimbus+ are versatile and work well for Apple devices. However, if you want a controller meant strictly for iPhone gaming, you have to turn your head to Backbone One. If the other controllers are generalists, this controller is a specialist.
While this controller was also developed keeping the Nintendo Switch in mind, I’ve found that the design philosophy fits well with iPhone. Make no mistake – if you own a Nintendo Switch and an iPhone, you should buy this gamepad. However, even if you own an iPhone, this is a good and safe bet.
There’s also a Backbone app that lets you check compatible games on the App Store. The app is useful if you like showing off your achievements by sharing screenshots and gameplay. You can also use the app to switch off the phone’s microphone when you’re gaming.
Besides, there’s a Lightning port and headphone jack as well. To turn your iPhone into a console, the Backbone One seems like a good option.
- Ergonomic design
- Works flawlessly with iPhones
- Backbone app has a lot of features
- Razer’s customer service needs work
What do you think?
These are the best game controllers for iPhone in the market today. As you can see, I’ve tried to divide the list into segments and categories for your convenience. Which controller are you planning to buy? Let me know in the comments below.
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Anirban is a literature post-grad who delves in philosophy and postmodern novels when not writing on tech and gaming. His love for research is only trumped by his love for chai and heavy metal.