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Back in the day, the Google Play store is solely inhabited by games inspired by Farmville, Pac-Man, and Tetris. Not anymore, though. Today, Android’s operating system is brimming with several games that could compete with that of gaming consoles. Hence, don’t be surprised to find Fortnite, Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto, and a lot of other hardcore games playable on your mobile phone.
The thing is, playing these games on your phone or tablet can be a little frustrating without the help of a third-party peripheral. In fact, a lot of these games won’t work well at all with touchscreens. For instance, you will have a much better experience playing Geometry Wars 3 and Tomb Raider if you use actual buttons to control the game.
This is where the best Android game controllers come in. Believe me; it is a lot easier to walk around the halls of Lara Croft’s manor with a joystick or gamepad rather than your fingers. Plus, controllers make Android games all the more fun, immersive, and addictive.
Fortunately, there is a myriad of game controllers suitable for Android gadgets. Plus, they are so portable you can carry them around wherever you go. Whatever your budget and requirements are, there will be at least one model that will suit you best.
If you are currently looking for the best Android game controller for your smart gadget, then you have come to the right place. In this article, you will find out everything there is to know about these portable peripherals. More importantly, to help you with your search, we have also taken a look at the best Android game controllers out on the market today.
First, what is a game controller?
Also known as a joypad or gamepad, a gamer controller is a peripheral gadget that you can connect to your computer or console. It has several buttons (and some even a joystick) that lets you control the characters in your game.
Game controllers may be used in a wide array of games, including first-person shooters, sports, RPGs, and a whole lot more. In fact, some consoles, such as PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii, are not playable without a gamepad. Other consoles, however, such as the Sony PSP, already come with a built-in gamepad.
Game controllers may be connected to computers, and now even smartphones, using a USB or a Bluetooth connection.
Specific modern game controllers are designed with haptic feedback, a feature that lets you feel some of the action in your game through vibrations.
Things to Consider Before Buying The Best Android Controller
Getting a brand new Android game controller could be really exciting, but you have to make a few considerations before you do.
The first thing you need to think of is compatibility. You do not want to spend your hard-earned cash on a brand new controller, and then, later on, realizing you can’t use it after all. As such, you have to identify the version of your phone or tablet before you head to your favorite tech store.
Android gadgets that run on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Android 3.2 Honeycomb, and up can support game controllers natively. But, if your device is running on older software, chances are, controllers will not work well, or sometimes, at all, on them.
Keep in mind, though, that just because your phone or tablet runs on a newer Android OS, does not mean you can play all your games with a controller. Some games do not make use of Android controllers at all, so naturally, they won’t respond to one. So, you also need to identify whether your favorite games can be played at all with a controller.
After all, what is the point of buying a new affordable Android game controller if it will only last a month? The best Android game controllers can withstand several falls.
The best Android game controllers come in a variety of styles and designs. Appearance is extremely subjective, so you can pick whichever suits your style the best. For instance, if you are used to the PlayStation controller, you can get one that comes in similar shape and design.
The point of getting a game controller is to let you control your game accurately and timely. The best Android game controllers will give you precision at every press of the button.
As much as possible, get a wireless game control so you won’t have to deal with annoying wires. Just make sure to charge them appropriately so you won’t lose battery life in the middle of an exciting game.
The best Android game controllers have a phone mount where you can affix your device while playing. This feature is incredibly useful, particularly if you do not have a stand for your gadget. It will keep your gadget in position, which will allow for comfortable gaming.
The price of an Android game controller varies depending on their make and model, and of course, performance. They are all relatively inexpensive, though. Do watch out of the excessively cheap controllers – these could cause a lot of hassle and may not regularly get maintenance updates from the manufacturer.
Why Should I Get the Best Android Controller?
Using a controller while playing your favorite game on your Android device has several benefits. Here are some of the advantages you get if you use one:
- Better function. The best Android controllers have more buttons that will allow you to control your game better. So, instead of just tapping or sliding your fingers on the screen, you get multiple buttons and even joysticks to choose from.
- Better control. From the term itself, a controller lets you control a game even better, allowing for accurate movements and, thus, better gaming experience. With a game controller, you can smoothly run, turn, and dodge bullets.
- Familiarity. Android controllers are designed similarly to the controller you are used to, such as that of the Xbox, Nintendo, and PlayStation consoles. As such, you can get used to them very quickly.
- Responsiveness. The best Android controllers respond to your actions immediately, which is essential in racing, sports, and fighting games. These speedy reactions could mean the difference between winning and losing a match.
- Better performance. With all these benefits, ultimately, what you get is better performance and gaming experience.
What Makes Android Game Controllers Better Than Others?
High Standards. Ever since the launch of Android’s 4.0 version, the Ice Cream Sandwich, the company also released an official support service for its controllers. These controllers are integrated so well with Android gadgets that you can even control your device through a controller!
And, since Android does not require their controllers to work exclusively on Android products (such as Apple’s iPhone licensing policy), Android controllers are more affordable than other brands.
Limitless Options. The most affordable game controller for iOS costs $50. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend that much on Android controllers. And, you can even use specific Android Bluetooth controllers with your computer as well! Just be wary of compatibility problems, though, as there is a ton of Bluetooth controllers out there that do not work well on desktops.
If you get a wired Xbox 360 or Xinput-compatible controller, expect that you can use it on your Android phone or tablet. And, official Xbox, Dual Shock, and even Wii controllers will work fine with your Android gadget as well. Just keep in mind that most Android devices will require a USB host cable so you can plug the controller into it.
Game Controllers, A History
Gone are the days when computers are dominated by card and board games such as Solitaire and Monopoly, where you are only required primary drag and drop movements. Over the centuries, gaming interactions have upgraded into more complex motions. At the onset of video games in the 20th century, there emerged a need for a third party medium to interact with a game. Hence, the birth of the gaming controller: the link between the player and the game.
In the beginning, these controllers only consisted of two to three buttons. They were very simple since the games were also simple. For instance, Tennis for Two (1958) had just one knob and a button for controlling the game. Pong, on the other hand, made use of a paddle. Magnavox Odyssey (1972), the first home video game console, had two paddle controllers that had two dials each. It also had a separate gun that gamers used to shoot at enemies.
But, as gaming technology progressed, so did the need for a better controller that can accommodate advanced mapping. The Atari VCS (later Atari 2600) was famous not only for its games such as Adventure, Breakout, and Pitfall but for its joystick as well. The joystick had one button that allowed players to move in four directions. Apart from the joystick, the Atari also had a touchpad, a paddle controller, and a bunch of other third-party gadgets.
In 1985, Nintendo introduced the very first game controller. The NES gamepad offered a brand new approach to controllers. Instead of the standard joystick, the controller could be held by two hands and controlled by thumbs.
The NES gamepad also had two to four buttons that allowed players to perform separate actions at once, such as jumping and shooting at an enemy. It also had a start button, used to pause and start a game, and a select switch, which you press to change modes in the game.
But, perhaps the most vital contribution of the NES controller to the gaming community is the directional pad or D-Pad. The plus-shaped pad allowed players to move up, down, left, and right merely with their thumb, unlike the joystick which needed your entire hand to control.
And while the controller was far from perfect, i.e., it was not comfortable to hold; it still was a massive leap from the joystick. Its design set the groundwork for all game controllers we know and love today.
Shortly after, Sega Genesis released their version of the game controller, which, apart from the extra button, was a lot similar to that of the original Nintendo. Other versions later emerged, adding a few more buttons here and there. But, while many brands tried to enhance the gamepad, it was still Nintendo (or their successor, that is) that contributed the most significant improvement.
The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) added two buttons to their original controller and enhanced its design with round edges. But the best contribution among them all was the shoulder buttons.
These are the L and R buttons at the top corners of the controller, which you will also see in modern gamepads of today. These buttons are controlled by your index fingers and allowed for simultaneous motions while gaming. The shoulder buttons were handy for one-directional input, i.e., rotating a camera or switching menus. More importantly, it allowed for more advanced mappings that developers can’t design with D-Pads.
And then came an even more enhanced version of the controller – the Nintendo 64. It had a rather unusual design – a trident setup, where three hands are required to reach all of the buttons. However, you only need to hold two out of the three prongs to play a game effectively. The controller also got rid of the Select button but retained the Start button, which they placed at the center of the pad. The Nintendo 64 also featured an expansion port, which let you plug in a memory card.
But, despite those many many enhancements, the most epic one was the thumb-stick at the center of the controller. It worked a lot like the joystick, except it allowed you to move in all directions. It was a significant invention for gaming, particularly for 3D games. Finally, players could control the pace of their character’s movements – they can now walk slow, run, sprint, et cetera. They are also no longer limited to four directional shifts, and can now travel in virtually any direction. Since the birth of the analog joystick, all controller manufacturers followed suit.
As if that was not enough, the N64 also introduced another state-of-the-art feature to gaming: the Rumble Pak expansion. For the first time ever, not only could players see and hear a game, but they could also feel it via force feedback. This new layer made games even more immersive and addictive. Once again, other manufacturers, such as Sony, followed suit.
The next generation of game controllers introduced the Dreamcast, Sega’s final contribution to the world of gaming consoles. The Dreamcast was a circular device that’s a lot like its predecessor, the Saturn 3D. The main difference was it had two fewer buttons. It also mimicked the memory card slots of the N64. But its most significant contribution is the analog triggers.
Analog triggers are a lot similar to shoulder buttons, but they are shaped like a gun’s trigger. Depending on how hard you press the trigger, it produces different levels of input. Sadly for Sega, the birth of the GameCube, Xbox, and PlayStation 2 put the Dreamcast out of business.
The Playstation 2 made a few innovations from its predecessor, the DualShock. But, while the DualShock2 introduced pressure sensitivity, it did not prove to make any significant difference.
Nintendo also introduced a few enhancements to its GameCube controller. It was a lot like Playstation’s DualShock, but it changed the placement of the left analog stick and the D-Pad. It also introduced the C-Stick, which is a second analog stick that replaced the C buttons of the N64. It featured one shoulder button called the Z button and two analog triggers. Most gamers found the new configuration challenging to use, but games specifically created for the controller did make use of this new design quite well.
Microsoft later introduced the Xbox that came with a humongous controller that, unfortunately, was not up to par with its competitors. The controller had way too many buttons located in awkward places, thereby could not be used effectively. All in all, it had eight buttons, two analog sticks, analog triggers, two memory card slots, and a gigantic logo at the center. It was so difficult to use that Microsoft later introduced a new smaller, lighter, and better version called the S controller.
For a while there it seemed that manufacturers ran out of ideas to further enhance the controller. Apart from improving the design and turning controllers wireless, the gaming community did not see any other significant improvements until 2005.
For years, Nintendo kept their newest controller under wraps until the Tokyo Game Show in 2005. The new controller for the Wii was so hidden that several rumors, including the infamous “Nintendo On,” emerged. And while it was nothing but a hoax, it did set the stage for an equally impressive peripheral.
Initially, the Wii controller looked like a basic remote control with several buttons and a D-Pad. It did not look impressive at all at first glance. But, the seemingly basic controller did have remarkable features. Its piece de resistance is, of course, its motion-sensing capabilities that allowed for virtual reality games. The Wii Remote (a.k.a Wiimote) also had an analog stick attachment called the Nunchuk, which let you play more traditional games. Both controllers could be played in either hand and could recognize gestures. Shortly after, Sony introduced their own motion-sensing controller called the SIXAXIS.
Today, the Wii significantly outsells other consoles because of its appeal and affordability. But, it’s still unclear how their technology will affect the new generation of games and controllers since there only exist a few games that capitalize on motion-sensing. While these games are incredibly fun, it might take some time before we see more games using this technology.
While it is not clear what the future might hold, Nintendo did announce that they are making further enhancements to the Wiimote that will make motion detection more detailed and accurate.
Today, game controllers are not only meant for gaming consoles and computers. You can now link them to your smart gadgets as well! And with the vast improvements, we saw for game controllers over the centuries; we can only expect even more exciting changes as technology becomes even more and more advanced.
The Best Controller-Compatible Android Games
Gone are the days when Android gaming only requires you to use touchscreen controls. However, not all games on the Google Play store can accommodate a controller. Here are some of the best games you can play with ease using the best Android game controllers.
Tesla vs. Lovecraft
While this intense shooter game is fun to play on your phone, it is even more fun to play using a controller. In this game, you play the role of Nikolai Tesla and are up against H.P. Lovecraft, who has found a way to open portals to let various monsters into the world.
In the game, Tesla has a wide range of weapons such as machine guns, shotguns, and pistols. But its piece re resistance is his mech suit that can kill a bunch of enemies in an instant. To enable the mech suit, you need to connect all five pieces that randomly appear throughout the game.
In each game level, you need to vanquish monsters and Cthulhu-spawning pools that appear randomly. Certain boss levels also require you to destroy a gigantic along with infinite hordes of monsters. These difficult levels are the best time to use the Perks you get from collecting XP.
You can collect different kinds of XP as you kill monsters. When you fill your XP bar, you unlock a specific Perk, such as a weapon upgrade that you can use at a certain period of time.
The game has more than 30 levels, each having three difficulty levels. Naturally, the harder the level, the better the rewards. You can also play the game in survival mode, where the goal is to withstand endless swarms of enemies.
You can play Tesla vs. Lovecraft on your Android device for $9.99.
Horizon Chase World Tour
This game is an entertaining retro-style racing game that resembles the classic 80’s game Pole Position. It features fun and vibrant retro graphics in its over 70 race tracks. Each race starts at the back of a 20 car pack, where you need to run past your co-racers to win the game. If you keep winning, you get to unlock up to 16 different cars.
And the most fun way to play this fun game is by using the best Android game controller – it will totally take you down memory lane. You can play the app for free, but you need to pay $3.99 to unlock the entire game.
It is one of the more premium and addictive games of Android. The original game was initially released on Steam in 2015. Evoland 2 has the same level of graphics and immersive gameplay as its predecessor. But, unlike Evoland, which had quite a short storyline, Evoland 2 has more than 20 hours worth of gameplay.
The original game focused on RPGs, its sequel incorporated other video game genres into its story. The game begins like any typical RPG, but as you progress in the game, you’ll notice a subtle shift with both the gameplay and the graphics.
Evoland 2 also has a hilarious way of breaking the fourth wall, quipping several pop culture references from time to time.
You can download the game at Google Play Store for $6.99.
GTA: San Andreas
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is undoubtedly the best among all the games in the series. Its setting is a fictional model of Los Angeles and proved to be a masterpiece in graphics.
Ten years after its launch, the game was released in Google Play Store, and 100% definitely has to be played using a game controller. So if you’re feeling a little sentimental, download this game and relive the journey of CJ as you wreak havoc along the streets of LA.
Modern Combat 5 Blackout
Even in its fifth edition, Modern Combat still remains to be one of the most sought-after first-person shooter games on the market. It has impressive graphics and a wide range of options to play. Whether you are playing solo in a campaign or online, your best bet at winning is with a game controller.
The game resembles Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in many ways, so if you are an avid fan of the game, this game is the one for you.
Riptide GP: Renegade
Here’s another exciting racing game that’s so much more exciting to play using a game controller. Among all the Riptide games, we deem the Riptide GP: Renegade the best one so far.
The game is reminiscent of Jet Moto and Wave Rage 64. You can play the game on story mode, quick race, and even online racing. It features premium graphics, including motion and water blur, that give off the effect of moving at speed.
The game is packed with tons of upgrades and unlockables as you progress through its career mode. You can download and play the game for $2.99.
Unkilled is yet another first-person shooter that features over 150 missions in the single-player campaign and a wide range of multiplayer modes online. If you play online, you can even choose your character class and upgrade weapons and skills.
And if you want to have that strategic advantage, you better play this game using a game controller. It will make killing AI zombies a whole lot easier.
Skate Party 3
If you’re missing the days where you played Tony Hawk Pro Skater for hours on end, then Skate Party 3 is the game for you. It offers a somewhat similar experience to that of the classic game and is best played using a controller. It might take a while to get used to the game, but once you do, it’s going to be really addictive. You can buy the full version for $1.99, but you can also test the waters first by playing the lite version for free.
BombSquad is a collection of mini-games that you can play with friends. It features vibrant and cartoony graphics and can be played in eight various modes.
This action-filled RPG is based on Zelda, so if you’re a fan of the classic game, then you should definitely play this.
Oceanhorn was initially introduced on Steam and is now one of the most downloaded games on Google Play Store. You only need to pay once to enjoy the game – no need to pay for in-app purchases and be annoyed by those pesky ads.
The game is a combination of various genres, such as battles and puzzles. It features a ton of impressive graphics, as well. You can play the full game for $7.99.
Did you see that 2001 film, The One? It looks like the developers of this game are colossal Jet Li fans, as it’s clear that the game revolves around the final scene of said movie.
The story is simple: you are standing on top of a column with a magical sword in your hand. The goal is to kill swarms of enemies that attack in waves. It has neat retro graphics and a pretty challenging difficulty level as you progress through the game. While the game is free, you’ll be asked non-stop to buy in-app purchases.
Sega Forever Titles
Whether you’re in the mood for a good-old Sonic the Hedgehog 2 game, Super Monkeyball, or Crazy Taxi, you can play them all ad-free by paying a one-time fee of $1.99. The Sega Forever app includes over 20 games to choose from. What’s even better is that Sega adds more games to the app on a monthly basis.
Pew Pew, a classic shooting game is also now available on the Google Play Store. The retro game has five different game modes – Dodge This, Chromatic Conflict, Pandemonium, Assault, and Asteroids. Best of all, the game is free!
The Best Android Game Controllers
Now that we’ve got all of that covered, it’s time to share the best controllers out on the market today. So, without further ado, here are this year’s best Android game controllers.
Razer Raiju Mobile
- Dimensions: 9 x 8 x 3 inches
- Weight: 14.7 ounces
- Price: $150
Considering all the great things that this game controller can offer, you will surely think that its high price is worth it.
Among its plethora of features include wired and dual Bluetooth connections, for multi-function customizable buttons, hair-trigger mode, and a phone mount to boot. It’s not just any regular phone mount either – you can tilt it up to 60 degrees to promote a comfortable gaming experience.
The Razer Raiju Mobile is a controller for the pros – it fits perfectly in your hand, letting you play with 100% focus. It has over 20 hours of battery life and a super long USB-A to USB- C cable, allowing you to charge the controller as you play.
The controller is launched as an accessory to the Razer Phone 2, but it works perfectly with Android phones as well.
You can order the controller at Amazon for $150.
- Pairable via Bluetooth
- Can be used on two phones simultaneously
- Hair-trigger locks
- Comes with an adjustable phone mount
- Comes with wired cable connections
- Compatible with any app that supports Bluetooth
- Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 2.6 inches
- Weight: 4.8 ounces
- Price: $29.99
If you spent most of your childhood playing SNES, the 8bitDO SN30 is definitely a must for you. The retro controller is sure to take you down memory lane the moment you start using it.
And while it looks exactly like the original Nintendo controller, it does not lack the modern technology we know and love today. It comes with Bluetooth connectivity that allows it to be played with not just Android, but macOS, Raspberry PI, Nintendo Switch, and Windows as well. As such, this controller is perfect for you if you own several gaming consoles.
The only concern we have about it is how it does not have a power switch. You instead need to use the Start and Select buttons to pair it with a device – which would sometimes result in an accidental pairing.
The game controller also has all the excellent modern features that you can expect from any advanced wireless controller. And, not only does it come in the classic and comfortable design of the SNES controller, but it also comes in the different colors of the GameBoy Color. The controller runs on a rechargeable 480mAh battery.
You can get yours for only $29.99.
- Wireless version of the classic SNES controller
- Comes with D-pad and buttons
- Comes in various classic colors
- Compatible with Android and other consoles
- Dimensions: 4.21 x 6.14 x 2.52 inches
- Weight: 8.5 ounces
- Price: $39.98
Do not be fooled by its name, because you do not have to look all formal to use the GameSir G4s. But if you do love playing mobile games, this controller has a lot to offer. It has everything you will ever need in an Android controller – great aesthetic, including sleek chrome accents on the edge of the Start and Select buttons, lit-up keys, and the familiar joystick we all know and love.
The GameSir G4s also has ergonomic handles covered in rubber, allowing for a comfortable gaming experience. Plus, it has a bracket at the center that can be attached to your smartphone.
The game controller could connect to USB devices via its MicroUSB B charging cord. However, the primary method of connection for smartphones is via Bluetooth. It even has a Bluetooth dongle under the bracket so it can still connect to devices that do not have Bluetooth.
The GameSir G4s comes with an internal battery that you need to recharge from time to time. You can monitor its battery life via the meter located on the top-left side of the controller.
Another thing we love about the GameSir G4s is that it does not require manual remapping to function with most games. For instance, if you use it to play Shadowgun: Legends, you can play it right away without setting up the controller.
You can have yours for $40.
- Bluetooth, wireless, and wired connections available
- Keypad backlight
- Turbo button
- 600mAh battery capacity
- Compatible with Android, Windows, and PS3
Beboncool Android Wireless Controller
- Dimensions: 6.4 x 4 x 2 inches
- Weight: 7.2 ounces
- Price: $49.99
The Beboncool Wireless controller is a compact gamepad with a straightforward design. You get a button and stick layout a lot, like the Xbox controller. And considering that it’s only 50 bucks, its build quality is actually pretty impressive.
The controller comes with 12 incredibly responsive buttons and analog sticks that function smoothly. It also comes with a built-in clip that can hold phones up to 6 inches long. It also has a 350mAh rechargeable battery – more than enough for mobile games.
The Beboncool Wireless controller is compatible with virtually any game on the Google Play Store, and can even be used in Samsung VR games. With its simple design, the controller is extremely portable as well.
- Impressive battery life
- Precise controls
- Portable design
Our Final Thoughts
While Android phones and tablets allow you to play games using just your fingers, why would you want to do so, knowing that you can use a game controller instead? A game controller lets you play a game the way it is meant to be played. And, let’s be honest, games are more fun played with a controller. And considering how affordable these things are, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get one for yourself. We hope that this buyer’s guide has helped you narrow down your search for the best Android game controller. Happy gaming!