While once upon a time the game selection on Android was fairly basic, thankfully that’s no longer the case. The runaway success of mobile shooters like Fortnite and PUBG Mobile has started a mobile gaming revolution where console-quality games are being created specifically for smartphones and tablets.
The issue is that touchscreen isn’t always the best input method, especially for fast-paced online shooters, which is why we’ve compiled a list of our favourite Android controllers along with buying advice to help you find the right controller and improve your mobile game performance.
Once you've picked a controller, head over to our list of the Best Android games to see what you should be playing.
Android controller buying advice
The most important thing to consider when buying a controller for Android gaming is compatibility. It’s crucial that you know the version of Android that your phone or tablet is running and make sure that the controller supports it. While most controllers will support the latest version of Android, not all manufacturers offer backwards compatibility with older versions of the mobile operating system.
As well as making sure that your controller is compatible with your version of Android, you should check that your favourite mobile games offer controller support. The good news is that the hugely popular Fortnite and PUBG Mobile both offer support for controllers, with hopes that the upcoming Call of Duty: Mobile game follows suit.
There are various designs available when it comes to Android controllers; you pick up something resembling an Xbox One or DualShock 4 controller for familiarity, but there are other, more unique options available too that can really enhance the mobile gaming experience.
For example, why not consider a controller with a built-in smartphone mount? It’s ideal for portable mobile gaming as you don’t need to find a surface to place your smartphone or stand and sacrifice viewing distance. Both the GameStir T1 and Gamevice for Android, featured below, are ideal for gaming on-the-go.
While you can pick up non-branded Android controllers fairly cheaply online, it’s worth noting that you’ll pay a premium for controllers from established brands like Gamevice, Microsoft and SteelSeries. The average price for a premium gaming controller is around £50 – anything more than that and you should really consider whether you’ll get enough use out of it as there are cheaper options available.
Best Android controllers 2019
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SteelSeries Stratus XL
The Bluetooth-enabled SteelSeries Stratus XL is a favourite amongst both iOS and Android gamers, providing a console-like experience on your mobile. Its design is familiar yet different; it sports the general design of an Xbox One controller while featuring the aligned analogue sticks of the DualShock 4 controller. The best of both worlds, right?
Unlike the Nimbus for iOS, the Android variant doesn’t offer a built-in battery, so you’ll need to pick up a couple of AA batteries before using it for the first time. The good news is that you’ll get around 40 hours of use before you’ll need to swap them out - that’s not bad, especially for the more casual mobile gamers out there.
The only downside? It doesn’t feature a clip for your smartphone, so you’ll have to invest in a separate stand to hold your device while playing games.
Gamevice for Android
The Gamevice for Android is like a classic console gaming controller that's been chopped in half, and had the two halves connected by a rubbery, stretchy band that goes around the back of the smartphone. The righthand end plugs into the port of your phone, so there's no worrying about setting up a wireless connection, and the other stretches over the top and is held there securely.
You get two analogue joypads, one on each side, and a more old-fashioned joypad on the left; plus, four buttons on the right (and a separate Menu button) and two shoulder buttons on each side. It's got a terrific, chunky feel and is a pleasure to use. It's also very easy to put on and take off, and because you can roll the rubbery centre section over, reasonably portable.
The catch? It’s only available for the select Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy devices.
DualShock 4 + Smart Clip
If you own a PS4 and have access to a DualShock 4 controller, the good news is that Sony’s Bluetooth-enabled controllers are fully Android-compatible. It’s not news to Sony Xperia users, who have had access to PS4 Remote Play for quite some time, but it’s not widely known outside of the Xperia circle. The DualShock 4 controller is widely regarded as one of the best controllers on the market at the moment, so what better way to interact with Android games?
Of course, it wasn’t designed with mobile use in mind, so the DualShock 4 doesn’t feature a smartphone clip. That’s where the Smart Clip comes in; costing £5.99/$9.99 on Amazon, this cheap accessory allows you to mount your smartphone onto the PS4 controller for a more comfortable, streamlined mobile gaming experience.
Diswoe wireless controller
Another great option for mobile gamers is the Diswoe wireless controller. While the brand may not be a household name in the UK, the company produces a range of gaming accessories available via the likes of Amazon.
It might look a bit old-school on the surface but you’ve got access to all standard controller function, and at £22.99 (around $30) with a smartphone mount built-in, it’s the ideal solution for portable mobile gaming. It’s not currently available in the US, but the $23.88 Beboncool controller offers the same functionality at a similar price.
Xbox One controller
While not all models of Microsoft’s Xbox One controller are compatible with Android devices, more recent ones certainly are. Microsoft’s decision to ditch proprietary connection methods allows the new Xbox One controller to be used wirelessly not only with PCs, but with Android smartphones and tablets too.
Microsoft’s Xbox One controller is regarded as one of the most robust and comfortable controllers ever made, offering full gamepad functionality in a sleek design. You can even create your own custom controller via the Microsoft website to truly own something truly unique. Like the DualShock 4 controller, it doesn’t feature a built-in stand, but these can be picked up fairly cheaply online.
Nintendo Switch Pro controller
It might be the priciest option of all in our roundup at £54.99/$69.99, but Nintendo’s Switch Pro controller is also compatible with Android devices. It’s probably not buying one outright if you don’t already own one as there are cheaper, more specialised options on the market, but the Switch Pro controller is a great Android controller if you already own one.
The catch is that setup isn’t as straightforward as some of the other controllers in our chart. That’s not a problem though, as we’ve got a step-by-step guide on how to use the Switch Pro controller on Android right here.