The best portable controllers take things beyond just offering pocket thumb adjusters buttons. Today’s best gamepads can elevate your mobile gaming endlessly – whether you’re jumping into one-on-one Fortnite skirmishes or settling in with the latest Game Pass. Now that more gamers are looking for a quality portable console (thanks to the rise in cloud gaming across iPhone and Android), we’ve tested the market leaders to find the absolute best.
You’ll find that the best portable consoles really pack a punch, with some offering features that you can’t even find on professional game consoles. However, if you are looking for a more budget option, you can still find some quality portable consoles at a lower price. You can also find the best deals available for each console at the bottom of the page so you know you’re getting the best price.
Some of these portable consoles are also the best PC consoles due to their wide compatibility. Being able to use your new gadget with different hardware really allows you to get the best bang for your buck so it pays to keep your controllers in mind when you’re looking for a new set of thumb sticks.
Most portable consoles are designed to work with a specific operating system. There is a large selection of gamepads available for Android, but it can be difficult to find the ones that work with the iPhone. This guide contains options for both systems.
The best portable consoles
The HyperX Clutch Wireless Portable Controller is now my go to gamepad on both mobile and PC. For the $50 MRSP, you get a gamepad that can be used wirelessly and can also be plugged in if the battery is low or if you don’t want any latency. It’s slightly smaller and lighter than the standard console which contributes to portability, however it’s certainly not the most portable option on this list.
It is only compatible with Android and easily connects via Bluetooth. The box also includes a 2.4G connector that allows for wireless connectivity when using the console with a PC. When testing the HyperX Clutch Wireless Controller, I found it to be an easy experience to hook it up to my phone or PC—something that can be very complicated and hilarious with other consoles. You receive a removable portable clip in the box as well.
We also see regular deals on this console, which often makes it even better value for money. The fact that you get a fully wireless controller with some great features like a clickable joystick, sturdy mobile clamp and ergonomic grip, all in one console at a good price puts this controller at the top of our list.
Read more: HyperX Clutch Wireless Review
The Steel Series Stratus+ comes with some extra features you might not find on other portable consoles on the market — especially in the $70 MRSP. The battery life on this console really makes it stand out from the crowd. 90 hours of gameplay on a single charge is hard to find on wireless gamepads.
SteelSeries Stratus+ is compatible with Android but not iPhone so Apple users are warned. It is also PC compatible but must be used wired to take advantage of this. This is a little disappointing considering that it comes at a higher price than the HyperX Clutch, which can be used wirelessly in both directions. This gamepad also comes with a removable portable clip in the box, which isn’t as sturdy as the one that comes with the HyperX Clutch, but still works well.
One of the great features offered with this portable console includes clickable joysticks – an industry standard with console gamepads but hard to find on the mobile versions. Another feature is the Hall Effect Triggers, a new trigger design that allows your inputs to be captured faster and for longer periods of time until the full version.
Read more: SteelSeries Stratus + Review
Backbone One is revolutionary when it comes to gaming on the iPhone, from its first design to the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max adapters. While a bit more expensive than other options on the market, our testing showed that this is definitely money well spent. This is more than just a convenient set of responsive buttons. Combined with the Backbone app, the Backbone One portable console actually turns your phone into a console. Add Game Pass Ultimate (you get three months free in the box) and your smartphone will be unstoppable.
Bundling all your Apple Arcade, Google Stadia, Game Pass and Remote Play titles into one neat home screen and providing a place to store all your captured games (a dedicated button lets you keep videos and screenshots), this program really is the cherry on top of a cake Especially delicious.
It’s the little details that really make Backbone One the best mobile controller for iPhone. An additional lightning port allows you to keep your phone charged while gaming, and a 3.5mm jack allows you to use your wired headset as well. Everything works right out of the box, and not only feels great, but exceeds expectations with small rewards that seem so counterintuitive, it’s a wonder no one has done before. We were getting in and out of PS5 remote play sessions as quickly as we’d done on the console itself, and skipping between Sony titles and Xbox Game Pass with an ease that felt almost futuristic.
This gamepad does not currently have an Android version, but there are plenty of options for mobile gamers who don’t have an iPhone. The most similar to the backbone is the Razer Kishi.
Read more: Spine review one
The Razer Kishi is a great portable console due to its size and lack of battery. It requires no charging and runs out of charge on your phone – which means you’ll never have to worry about being messed about without juice. When testing this controller, I also found that the power drain on my phone was no different than usual, which means that so little charge must be used that it is unnoticeable.
This is a particularly small and lightweight gamepad – if you have large pockets, you can probably go straight in. It can be used with any Android phone that has a USB-C charging port. The bridge is sized to fit even the largest phones.
The Razer Nexus app lets you stream PC and console games directly to your phone – allowing you to bypass regular mobile games.
The only potential downside to Razer Kishi is the fact that it doesn’t give you the familiar console look and feel that you might be familiar with if you’ve been playing on console. Instead, it’s shaped like a Nintendo Switch console when connected to your phone – a screen in the center and controllers on the side. This might be something to consider if you’re looking for something more regular.
The RiotPWR ESL portable console allows you to play on your iPhone while still having the familiar console feel you might miss when using devices like the Backbone One. Asymmetric will be best suited for gamers who are used to playing with an Xbox console. It comes with a removable phone clip so you can mount your phone.
You can also find that it uses a wired connection which can be both a blessing and a curse. This means that you can play without any input lag and no need to charge the console, but it also means that you need to take a cord with you if you plan to play on the go.
The only element that might not appeal to the masses is the color – this portable console only comes with a white base with neon green and yellow accents. If you can get past this, this portable console is a great option for iPhone users who want to play with the familiar console.
Which portable controller is the best?
We decided after testing that the best mobile controller is the HyperX Clutch Wireless Controller because it’s the best value for money. For the best all-round mobile console, the best option is the SteelSeries Stratus+ console which packs a lot of features for a relatively low price point. If you’re looking for a more portable option, go with the Razer Kishi which packs flat for easy portability and requires no fees.
Is Call of Duty Mobile better with a console?
Playing Call of Duty Mobile with a portable console gives you an edge over handheld players. Being able to have accurate input makes the game much easier and can allow you to reach a higher skill level. Match making doesn’t match people based on whether they have a gamepad or not.
What is the best controller for PUBG Mobile?
We’ve decided that the best portable controller is the HyperX Clutch Wireless. This would make a great controller for PUBG as it allows precise inputs and is comfortable to hold.
How do we test portable controllers
We test our portable consoles by subjecting them to rigorous testing. Please be aware that we have not tested all the controllers that have accessed our buying guides. You can find information about reviews at the bottom of each console in the guide.
In short, each of our consoles is used in a series of different video games to accommodate most genres. This means we will be testing the response of the sticks, face buttons, bumpers, triggers, and any other additional features found in the unit. If the controller is wired or relies on rechargeable batteries, the lifespan will be tested as well. The same can be said for any specialized software, such as drivers, that may be built into the gamepad as well.
For more information on how we test consoles at GamesRadar+ check out our full article, and for something more representative of our comprehensive approach to the latest hardware, check out our Hardware Policy.
If you are looking for other ways to play, you can take a look at The best steering wheels for PC. And if you are looking for an opportunity to upgrade from mobile games, take a look at Best gaming laptops.