The best game controllers for Android phones and tablets

You can play games on your Android device, but if you’re looking to up your game, you’ll need a controller. Here’s our pick of the best for Android devices. …

Long gone are the days when Tetris clones, Farmville knock-offs, and Pac-Man look-alikes populated much of Android’s burgeoning Google Play Store. Now, Google’s operating system boasts a diverse games library that rivals that of some home consoles. Call of Duty: Mobile, Minecraft, and Genshin Impact are the cream of the current mix’s crop — a list that seems to grow longer every day. But if you game on your phone, you may need one of the best Android game controllers.

Not all titles work equally well with touchscreens. Few triple-A Android games actually require third-party peripherals, but there are plenty of remastered titles designed with a controller in mind that respond much better to physical buttons. As anyone who has roamed the streets of Vice City or the hallways of Croft Manor can tell you, analog joysticks, D-pads, buttons, and triggers deliver infinitely more precision than big, meaty fingers on greasy smartphone glass.

Luckily, there is no shortage of third-party Android gaming peripherals to choose from. Depending on your price range and preferences, you can pick up a model that will serve you well for years to come or one that you will feel perfectly fine stuffing into a backpack or shoulder bag. It’s worth noting, though, that there are some compatibility issues you might encounter — more on that in our frequently asked questions section at the end of this article.

Here is our list of the best controllers for Android tablets and smartphones. While you’re at it, check out our favorite gaming phones, too.

GameSir T4 Pro Wireless Controller for Android showing light-up buttons.

GameSir T4 Pro Wireless Controller

  • Adjustable colored LED-backlist action buttons and right joystick
  • Configurable M1 to M4 buttons
  • Six-axis gyroscope
  • Five-speed adjustable vibration
  • Up to 30 hours of gaming time
  • Directional pad can be a bit unreliable at times

If you’re the kind of gamer who’s used to backlit keyboards, this controller from GameSir is a great choice with its semi-transparent cover, matte finish, and adjustable colored LED-backlit action buttons and right joystick — although it does look a little strange having just one side of the controller lit up. There are lots of features we love about this controller, from the configurable M1 to M4 buttons on the base, to the six-axis gyroscope that accurately captures movements and reflects these in your game — not to mention the five-speed adjustable dual vibration.

The GameSir T4 Pro Wireless Controller boasts a 600mAh rechargeable USB-C battery. Some gamers have claimed this provides up to 30 hours of gaming time, which is a decent amount of time. Either way, its battery life is impressive, and you can choose from Bluetooth or wired connectivity. The only negative thing we have to say on this one is that the directional pad can sometimes be a little unreliable. Nevertheless, for $36, this is something we’re prepared to overlook.

GameSir T4 Pro Wireless Bluetooth Game Controller

GameSir T4 Pro Wireless Controller

MSI Force GC 30 controller.

MSI Force GC30 Controller

  • Works with Android, Windows, and PS4
  • Up to eight hours of gaming time
  • Dual vibration motors for haptic feedback
  • Construction quality doesn’t feel very durable

The Force GC30 controller from MSI is the perfect controller for all your Android games — for under $40. Reminiscent of an Xbox controller, this controller features advanced analog sticks, four action buttons, and two different D-pad covers with a magnetic design. The dual vibration motors let the controller use haptic feedback for an immersive gaming experience, and you can connect this controller to your PlayStation 4 or Windows computer as well as your Android phone or tablet, either wirelessly or with the included cable. Enjoy up to eight hours of gaming time thanks to the 600mAh lithium battery.

MSI Force GC30 Controller

MSI Force GC30 Controller

8Bitdo SN30 Pro Bluetooth Gamepad.

8Bitdo SN30 Pro Bluetooth Gamepad

  • Up to 18 hours of gaming
  • Works with Android, Nintendo Switch, Windows, and Mac
  • Cool retro design
  • Not especially comfortable for longer gaming sessions

8Bitdo’s controllers have a retro vibe that’s highly sought after, and its SN30 Pro Bluetooth Gamepad comes with a heavy hit of nostalgia. With its two analog sticks, directional pad, select and start buttons, and four action buttons, you have everything you need for retro games or the latest titles. There’s an integrated 480mAh battery for up to 18 hours of gaming, and you get a USB cable in the box too, so you can use Bluetooth or a wire connection with a variety of devices including your Android phone and Nintendo Switch. Add in a USB-C port, rumble vibrations, motion controls, and player indicator LED, and this controller’s starting to look like more than just a cool retro choice.

One negative: It’s smaller and less ergonomic than modern controllers, so you may have issues using it over long gameplay sessions. If you love the retro look, then it’s probably worth the money.

8Bitdo SN30 Pro Bluetooth Gamepad

8Bitdo SN30 Pro Bluetooth Gamepad

Android phone with PowerA Moga Hero Games Controller attached

PowerA Moga Hero

  • Bluetooth or wired connection
  • Power bank charges your phone while gaming/between sessions
  • Detachable, adjustable phone clip
  • Not compatible with all games

The Moga Hero Power controller from PowerA is one of the best controllers out there. Its familiar ergonomic design features injected rubber grips and feels super comfortable in your hands. Choose between a Bluetooth or wired USB connection, great for gaming at home or on the go, and charge your controller with the included Micro USB cable. It’s powered by a 3,000mAh Power Bank which, as an added bonus, charges your phone while you’re gaming or between sessions, and features a detachable, adjustable phone clip that fits devices up to 3.12 inches wide.

With two precision analog sticks, a directional pad, menu button, and four action buttons, you’re pretty well covered whatever game you’re playing. One of this controller’s best features is its two mappable Advanced Gaming buttons on the base, which are great for changing button assignments on the fly. The Moga Hero Power also has a battery level indicator, wireless/wired switch, and power bank switch. We also love the retractable kickstand, which makes it easy to take a break between sessions. This is definitely worth the money.

PowerA Moga Hero Controller

PowerA Moga Hero

Rotor Riot USB-C controller holding a smartphone with its adjustable bracket.

Rotor Riot USB-C Controller

  • Adjustable phone bracket
  • Comfortable design
  • USB-C port
  • No Bluetooth connection, only wired
  • Can’t charge your device while gaming
  • Doesn’t work with all games

Another controller with a very familiar design, Rotor Riot’s gamepad is a great choice if you’re looking for a wired controller with an optional phone bracket. There’s no Bluetooth connection, as it connects to devices with its USB-C connection. That obviously means there’s no internal battery, a bonus if you don’t want to keep multiple devices charged — but it does mean the controller pulls power from your phone to function, which can impair your battery life. Since it uses the USB-C port, you can’t charge your device while gaming, and if your device lacks a headphone jack, it means you can’t attach headphones either.

Those minor negatives aside, this is a great controller. There’s support for over 400 apps, though you can’t play PUBG or Call of Duty: Mobile, so make sure you check the controller’s compatibility with the games you want to play before purchasing. The plastic build is solid and feels good in the hand, and it isn’t uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time. It also worked instantly when plugged into our Red Magic Phone, and didn’t require any remapping in the games we tested.

Rotor Riot Mobile Gaming Controller

Rotor Riot USB-C Controller

iPega Android game controller wrapped around a tablet.

iPega PG-9083S Controller

  • Cool wraparound gamepad
  • Works well with tablets
  • Up to 20 hours of gameplay
  • Affordably priced
  • Doesn’t work with every Android game
  • May need to download an app to remap key functionality

Something of a unique design where game controllers are concerned, the iPega PG-9083S gamepad stretches around your Android smartphone or tablet, giving a Nintendo Switch-like experience for your gaming time. As such, it’s compatible with a wide variety of devices and is one of the few controllers to work well with tablet gaming. It connects through Bluetooth, and iPega claims the internal 380mAh battery can last for up to 20 hours of gameplay. At $40, you’re getting a lot of controller for your buck, but keep in mind that it might not work with every Android game, and you may need to download a specific app to remap key functionality.

iPega PG-9083S Mobile Gamepad Controller

iPega PG-9083S Controller

SteelSeries Stratus Duo controller for Android.

SteelSeries Stratus Duo Controller

  • Works with Android, Chromebook, Windows, Steam, and various VR devices
  • Over 20 hours of gaming time
  • Bluetooth or wired connection
  • No built-in stand

The SteelSeries Stratus boasts a plethora of buttons and features. Here, you find twin joysticks with textured surfaces, a four-way directional pad, four action buttons, a four-LED array, triggers and shoulder buttons, and three front-facing buttons that can be mapped to Android’s home and back buttons.

But it’s not perfect. The Stratus doesn’t have a built-in stand — you will have to find a wall to prop your phone against. But it does support Bluetooth pairing (or wired connectivity), and the built-in rechargeable battery offers over 20 hours of gaming time, plus you can carry on playing while charging. It’s also Steam-enabled, so you can play any controller-enabled Steam game without any additional drivers or software. As well as Android devices and Steam, this controller works with Windows, Chromebooks, Oculus Go, and Samsung Gear VR.

This controller is excellent value for money, in our opinion.

SteelSeries Stratus Duo Controller

SteelSeries Stratus Duo Controller

Razer Raiju Mobile Controller with adjustable smartphone holder.

Razer Raiju Mobile Controller

  • Up to 23 hours of gaming
  • Handy features for FPS games
  • Adjustable smartphone clip
  • Can be used with two phones at once
  • Not all that durable if dropped

It’s not too surprising that Razer, the pedigree brand behind high-end RGB keyboards, gaming laptops, and the Razer Phone 2, makes a pretty decent premium Android controller. It’s called the Raiju Mobile, and it has plenty of advanced customization options. If you play FPS games like Call of Duty: Mobile or Hitman Sniper regularly, features like hair-trigger mode for quick-firing and sensitivity clutch function, which lets you decrease the thumbstick sensitivity for more accurate aiming, are a boon.

The button layout is fairly standard — situated on the left are a joystick and a directional pad, and on the right-hand side is a secondary joystick and four action buttons. Two shoulder buttons and two trigger buttons occupy the back, along with four remappable multi-function buttons.

The Raiju Mobile has a rechargeable USB-C battery that offers up to 23 hours of battery life and feels perfectly balanced. For those reasons, it’s great for extended gaming sessions. It also has an adjustable smartphone clip with a 60-degree tilt, although with some phones the clip blocks access to the volume buttons (or presses down on the power button). Unlike most other Android controllers on our list, the Raiju Mobile can be used with two Android phones at once. A Mode switch lets you easily swap between paired devices, which comes in handy if you have multiple devices or want to share with friends.

At $50, the Raiju Mobile is definitely worth picking up for its long battery life, additional features, and compatibility with your PC.

Razer Raiju Mobile Gaming Controller

Razer Raiju Mobile Controller

BlindSpares Wireless Controller for Android.

Blindspares Wireless Controller

  • Cool wraparound design
  • All the buttons you need for gaming
  • Up to 15 hours of gaming time
  • Build quality could be better
  • Shoulder and trigger buttons not as responsive as they could be

This wireless controller design will make you feel like you’re gaming on an old-school handheld console like Sega’s Game Gear. The build quality isn’t exactly flawless, but it’s easy to use. A joystick and directional pad take up the left side, and a secondary joystick and four action buttons sit on the right. The addition of dual shoulder and trigger buttons mean it has everything you really need.

The directional pad, action buttons, and joystick are all highly responsive, but the shoulder and trigger buttons were less impressive. They’re somewhat sticky and over-complicated to navigate when playing in vertical orientations.

Throw in a 350mAh rechargeable battery offering up to 15 hours of gaming time and a $40 price, and it’s easy to see why the Blindspares Wireless Controller is a decent choice.

Blindspares Wireless Mobile Controller Gamepad

Blindspares Wireless Controller

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Android devices support game controllers natively?

Android devices running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (or Android 3.2 Honeycomb) or newer support game controllers natively. You aren’t necessarily out of luck if you’re stuck on older software — most controllers will pair to older Android devices — but you can expect them to work unpredictably, unreliably, and sometimes not at all.

How do you find out if a controller is going to be compatible with your Android device?

Most controllers should work with Android devices running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (or Android 3.2 Honeycomb) or newer. It’s always worth checking out the reviews on sites like Amazon as if others have encountered compatibility issues you’re likely to see this mentioned there.

What compatibility issues can you encounter with a gaming controller?

Before you choose a controller to use with your Android smartphone or tablet, it is important to know about the compatibility issues you might encounter. As we mentioned earlier, controllers are supported natively on devices running Android 4.0 or newer. But even if your device runs a newer version of Android, it’s not always smooth sailing — some games don’t take advantage of Android’s controller API, and so don’t respond properly to gamepads. But luckily, there is a workaround in the form of Mantis Gamepad Pro Beta, a third-party app that lets you remap the functions of keys, buttons, and more.

Note: You may need a rooted device to take full advantage.

How do you determine what controller features you need for your games?

If you’re mostly playing casual puzzle or platformer games on your Android phone, most of the controllers on this list will suit your needs just fine. However, if you play a lot of FPS games like Call of Duty: Mobile, we’d recommend investing in a controller like the Razer Raiju that has additional features suited to shooters, like hair-trigger mode (for quick-firing) and options to decrease the thumbstick sensitivity, for more accurate shots.

You’ll also want to think about whether the controller has an internal battery or pulls power from your phone. If your Android phone has a smaller battery, you’ll likely be best choosing a controller with its own battery. Other features to look out for include mappable buttons, the ability to connect with a wide variety of devices, not just your smartphone, and a built-in stand.

What are the best Android games to play?

With so many Android games out there to choose from, finding the best ones to play can be challenging. Save yourself some time and check out our roundup of the best Android games to play right now, updated monthly.

Editors’ Recommendations

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