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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

23 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
345 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best gaming controllers for Android

Last Updated April 2020

Whether you’re a high-level gamer or someone who enjoys playing smartphone app games, having a separate controller can make or break your gameplay experience. Playing games on an Android without a gaming controller can make your hands cramp, become frustrating when the touchscreen buttons are too touchy, or just not feel like you’re really gaming.

An Android-compatible gaming controller offers an at-home gaming experience wherever you may be, whether that’s taking a long road trip, waiting at the doctor’s office, or even lounging outside on a beautiful day. A gaming controller has easy-to-use buttons, is more ergonomic for your hands, and gives you better overall control of the game.

Our buying guide covers all the ins and outs of shopping for an Android gaming controller, from compatibility to how much you should pay. For our picks for the top five gaming controllers for Android on the market today, see the matrix above.

Android-compatible gaming controllers don’t have licensing restrictions like Apple iOS controllers do. Because of that, there are more Android controllers available at affordable prices.

Key considerations

Connection

Some Android gaming controllers have wireless connectivity, usually in the form of Bluetooth. Controllers that use Bluetooth must remain in a certain range of the Android device you’re using, and this range should be large enough to game at a comfortable distance from your Android phone.

Gaming controllers for Android with a cord will connect either to the charging port of the smartphone or the headphone jack. If you’d like to connect the controller and it doesn’t have a cord, there are various adapters available.

Wraparound

Wraparound gaming controllers for Android connect to both sides of the smartphone, similar to how the Nintendo Switch controllers work. That way you’re still holding your phone as normal, but you have additional controller and button options for each hand.

System compatibility

Almost every Android gaming controller is compatible with the Android operating system version 4.0, which is also referred to as “Ice Cream Sandwich.” The well-integrated technology allows you to use a compatible controller to operate your smartphone, whether it’s while playing a game or just doing daily tasks.

Some Android-compatible gaming controllers are also compatible with other systems. However, these systems do not include Apple iOS because of licensing issues. The most common compatible alternative systems are different versions of PlayStation, Wii, and PC operating systems.

Version compatibility

It’s important to know which software version your Android smartphone is currently running. If the version is older than 4.0, it doesn’t mean that the gaming controller won’t work. However, a controller may be unpredictable and glitchy with an older system. On the other hand, the most recent version of Android can sometimes cause problems with an Android gaming controller because it is too advanced. There are apps that can be downloaded to remap the buttons in order to have the best compatibility possible with your Android gaming controller.

Bracket

Some Android gaming controllers come with a bracket to hold your smartphone while you play. This bracket will fit standard Android smartphones. But make sure to compare the bracket’s dimensions with your smartphone before purchasing.

For the daily gamer, complete with joysticks

This gaming controller for Android works exclusively with Android smartphones. It boasts an ergonomic design with a wireless connection feature. Play with the gaming controller as far as 10 yards away from your Android device and for as long as eight hours on its internal battery life.

Features

Ergonomic

Gaming controllers for Android are outfitted with rubber and padding to increase their ergonomic handling. Handheld gaming becomes a problem when your hands start to cramp and your fingers start to ache from being bent at the same angle for so long. Eliminate this problem by ensuring your gaming controller for Android has ergonomic features.

Lighting

There may be LED lights placed behind the buttons or behind the button layout on the Android gaming controller. The buttons may always be lit up, or they may only light up when pressed. Another common feature is a back panel light that lights up when the gaming controller is in use.

Button layout

The button layout differs among gaming controllers for Android, but there’s often an available feature to map the buttons to your preferences. All controllers should feature the standard buttons, such as joysticks, a D-pad, right and left triggers, and home or menu options. Changing the button layout will give the buttons different functions, which may be useful depending on what game you’re playing.

EXPERT TIP

Once the Android gaming controller is connected to your smartphone, you’ll be able to see the controller’s battery level. Usually, there is a small battery icon to show how much life is left in the controller.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Some gaming controllers for Android run on conventional batteries, like AA or AAA batteries. Keep some spare batteries in the controller case or nearby at all times. That way you’ll never be without your controller.


Staff  | BestReviews

Gaming controllers for Android prices

Inexpensive: For $15 to $25, you can purchase a simple gaming controller for Android. It most likely won’t include any astounding features, and it probably won’t boast an ergonomic design. The controller will work for your gaming needs, but it may wear out after vigorous use.

Mid-range: If you spend between $30 and $50, you can purchase a reliable Android gaming controller. The button layout will be similar to what you’re used to, and the controller may have a wireless or wired connection.

Expensive: For $60 or more, you’ll find gaming controllers for Android with all the bells and whistles. These high-end controllers are ergonomic, offer Bluetooth connectivity, and have other special features, like a carrying case, a smartphone stand, or a separate charging cord.

Some Android gaming controllers feature additional buttons to control the music you listen to while you game.

Tips

  • Some games available on Android offer a better gaming experience when played with a separate controller. The game may have been designed specifically for use with a gaming controller for Android.
  • Use the charging cord of the Android gaming controller to connect it to USB-friendly devices. You can then use the controller with a different gaming system or a tablet.
  • Some gaming controllers for Android come with brackets or stands to prop your phone up while you game. If your controller doesn’t have this feature, simply prop your phone against a book or wall to better see your gameplay.

Makes you feel like you’re gaming at home

Besides being Android-compatible, you can also use this gaming controller with Windows applications or a PlayStation 3. With its increased versatility, it resembles a classic gaming controller. There’s no need to relearn button function or adjust your gameplay with this conventional gaming controller for Android.

Other products we considered

While the market isn’t extremely extensive for gaming controllers that are Android-compatible, we did find a few runners-up to our top five. Take a look at these options if nothing in our matrix catches your eye. We like the iPega Wireless Gamepad Controller because of its ability to play games with a stronger and faster connection. This gaming controller for Android also features colorful buttons, which add to the look of the controller. It has a comfortable design, and it will stay connected to your phone without being too bulky.

There’s also the SteelSeries Stratus Bluetooth Mobile Gaming Controller. This Android-compatible gaming controller resembles an Xbox controller, which can be beneficial for those who are used to playing on that system. It uses AA batteries, so as long as you are stocked up on those you can play as long as you like. This controller can also use a Bluetooth connection, but the adapter is sold separately.

Search through your smartphone’s application store for apps that increase the function of your gaming controller for Android. There are apps available that can change the button layout and apps that can increase the compatibility of the controller with other devices.

FAQ

Q. How do I charge my Android gaming controller?
A.
Most gaming controllers for Android come with a charging cord. The cord will most likely be USB-compatible or micro USB-compatible.
 

Q. How does a gaming controller for Android stay charged if it doesn’t have an internal battery?
A.
Controllers without internal batteries pull charge from the battery life of your smartphone. Once the controller is connected to the phone (usually via a wired connection), it begins to draw on the battery life of the phone to maintain its power.
 

Q. If I buy a new Android phone, can I still use my old Android gaming controller?
A.
Absolutely. The controller should be able to pair up with any Android phone as long as the system version is compatible.

The team that worked on this review
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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