The best gaming pads for iPhone and iPad
Do you spend a lot of time gaming on iOS? It’s time to snag a game pad.
Gaming on iOS has never been more popular. From free to play games to full-blown epic adventures, there’s something for every taste. iOS gaming has become so popular that the Game Pass-style Apple Arcade subscription was introduced in 2019.
iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac all offer different experiences, but the one thing that’s consistent throughout is Apple’s intuitive user interface. To get the most out of anything you play though, you’ll need a game pad, which will make controlling games much easier. These are our favorite and most recommended picks.
What to look for with an iOS game pad
One of the first things to think about is what you’ll be using it with. If you’re only occasionally using the controller with an iPhone, you might want a grip with telescopic boom. These are usually compatible with phones of all sizes and can offer a cheaper upgrade over simple touch controls.
If you’re going to be playing a lot, or playing across all your devices, then a full game pad could be the right call. This can give a full console experience, and if you’re using the controller with your iPhone, it’s worth looking for one with an optional controller mount.
Another thing to look out for is Apple’s MFi certification. While normal Bluetooth controllers should work fine, this official program is a guarantee of quality control. If an accessory has MFi certification, you can be confident you’re getting safe and proper functionality from it.
So now you know what to look for. Onto our choices.
Best overall controller: SteelSeries Nimbus+
For all-around outstanding performance, you can’t go wrong with the SteelSeries Nimbus+. iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV users can all take advantage of a full console experience. The joysticks are satisfying to use, with L3 and R3 click functionality, the magnetic Hall Effect triggers are incredibly responsive, and it comes complete with a removable phone mount.
The weight sits slap-bang in the middle of an Xbox One and PS4 controller at 243g, so it’s light enough to sit comfortably for longer sessions, but not so light that it feels cheap. 50-hour battery life gives plenty of bang for your buck, while the dedicated menu, options, and home buttons ensure easy navigation on all your devices.
If you’re looking for something that offers full, flawless compatibility with thousands of titles on iOS, along with a familiar layout for console gamers, you can’t go wrong with the Nimbus+.
Best controller for console users: Xbox Wireless Controller
If you already have a console at home you don’t necessarily need to buy a pad for your Apple device; your current pad should do the trick. Your PS4’s DualShock 4 will work, but we’re a big fan of the Xbox One’s controller.
It sits comfortably in the hand, has an instantly recognizable layout, and is ridiculously easy to pair with your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. Xbox gamers already know how comfortable this pad is to hold over extended periods, so it’s awesome whether playing minimalist 2D games or sprawling 3D adventures.
If you’ve upgraded to an Xbox Series X, your pad won’t work just yet, although a future update will fix this issue.
Best controller for on-the-go gaming: Razer Kishi
Being able to use a full-sized pad at home is great, but it’s not really practical to take one out with you. That’s where a gaming grip comes in, and they don’t come much better than Razer’s Kishi. There are two versions available – one for Android with a USB-C connector, and one that works with iPhone Lightning ports.
The clever design pulls apart to give you two separate controllers. Plug the right one into your phone’s charging port, then line up the left side to secure the device in place. A pair of analog sticks and four face buttons, along with shoulder buttons, give you the full console experience.
When you’re not playing, the Kishi snaps back together into a more compact form that makes it perfect for taking on commutes. Pass-through charging means you can keep your iOS device topped up while playing at home. If we had to give one negative for this grip, it’s that it’s only compatible with iPhone. iPad and Apple TV users will be left in the dark with this one. You can’t use a phone case with it either, so you’ll be going unprotected.
Best budget option: GameSir F1 Grip Game Controller
Look, we all know how cumbersome touch controls can be on iOS or Android. Your thumb can slip at any time when trying to navigate your character around the map in League of Legends: Wild Rift or Genshin Impact. GameSir’s F1 grip is a fantastic budget option that completely eliminates this issue.
It does this with a conductive joystick which sits on a dismountable swing arm and offers full control over on-screen elements. A conductive piece of steel sits inside the rubber pad to make play possible even when wearing gloves. The spring inside also centers the pad automatically, so you won’t be falling off ledges or making mistakes unless you have the reaction speed of a drunk turtle.
The telescopic boom design easily slips over any phone between 5.5 and 6.7 inches in length. Ergonomic handles mean you won’t end up with gaming claw when playing for a long time, and because it’s not battery powered you can just slip it over your device and play straight away. No pairing or charging needed.
Obviously, this grip isn’t compatible with iPads or Apple TV, but it’s perfect for taking out and about, and it also gives you a little extra precision in competitive games.
Pick the right iOS game pad for you
There are lots of different pads for lots of different needs when it comes to iOS. As with any new tech, it’s worth thinking about how you’re going to use it, and how often. There’s no point in picking up a top of the range controller if you only play Candy Crush Saga once in a blue moon.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for an edge in PUBG or Raid: Shadow Legends, you’ll find your performance improving in an instant.
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