The Best Mobile Controllers for Gaming on the Go

The Best Mobile Controllers for Gaming on the Go thumbnail

Photograph: Backbone

For iPhone Gamers

Backbone One

The Backbone One (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is a delight. Plug the Lightning connector into your iPhone, stretch the controller over it, and play. The buttons and bumpers feel nice and clicky, with super-fast response times, and there’s broad support for PS Remote Play, Xbox Remote Play, and Steam Link, as well as Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Google Stadia, and GeForce Now. Essentially, even if you don’t love mobile gaming, this little controller can turn your phone into a console or PC. But the experience might change your mind about mobile games; I played Stardew Valley for so long I forgot I was playing on my phone. The built-in headphone jack is a nice touch.

What really sets Backbone One apart is its optional app. All of the features are free for the first year. I love the searchable catalog of controller-supported games and the automatically recorded and edited in-game highlights. There’s also an interface for seamless voice chat and multiplayer lobbies, as well as one-tap Twitch streaming and support for iOS Gaming Mode. (Note: As the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max have large cameras, Backbone offers an adapter for free; check the box during checkout or order one separately.) —Louryn Strampe

Officially works with iPhone, Google Stadia, Nvidia GeForce Now, Xbox and PlayStation Remote Play, and Steam Link 

★ Another alternative: The RiotPWR ESL ($70) is a more traditional controller with an Xbox layout that connects to your iPhone via Lightning cable for lag-free gaming and pass-through charging. If you can get past the unfortunate ESL brand color scheme (green and yellow), this is a solid pick for games on iOS or remote play from Xbox, PlayStation, or PC. It also has a headphone port, and there’s an Android version too.

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