More and more controller-compatible games are launching on mobile every week. What was once a minority of games is becoming a larger and larger segment of new releases, due in no small part to Xbox Game Pass and Apple Arcade. GameSir's X2 Lightning Mobile Gaming Controller is perfectly positioned as a portable controller with pass-through power through its lightning connector.
GameSir is stepping up their gameBefore we get into it too much, over the past year we've covered two other similar devices from GameSir. Their X2 Bluetooth and their X2 Type-C controllers. Fundamentally the only differences are on how the phone connects up to the device - lightning, Bluetooth or type-c connection. In the case of the GameSir X2 Lightning Controller, it's a pass-through power lightning connection so that you can still charge your phone by plugging a cable into the underside of the unit.
The pass-through power can be a lifesaver, especially if you are running Bluetooth earbuds for audio. A lot of the games in Xbox Game Pass, as well as titles like Genshin Impact and select Apple Arcade games can be quite power-intensive, and so being able to boost up your battery on the commute - or when kicking back on the sofa - does really prolong playtime.
GameSir X2 Lightning Gaming designIf you're familiar with the X2 series then you'll already understand the core of the design. It's a familiar interface layout, with dual, offset analogue sticks as well as a d-pad and four face buttons. You've also got two bumpers and two shoulder triggers. It'll be a very familiar layout if you've played on a Nintendo Switch before, but then it's also a design we've seen in other mobile controllers like the Backbone, Kishi, and MG-X. It's the current standard for a reason.
I have an issue with one of my thumbs, and so did find the analogue sticks a little on the small side, as their surface area is actually a little smaller, more discrete, than on the Switch and its competitor, but it makes up for that size in responsiveness. After a very short period of adjustment, it's easy enough to get along with.
The GameSir X2 Lightning is incredibly lightweight, coming in much lighter than most phones and also lighter than standard console controllers. This is incredibly important to the function of the device as it fits around your phone for play, converting the way you play into something similar to a PSP, Switch or Game Gear. That said, the combined weight of, for example, an iPhone 11 Pro Max and the X2 is just over that of a Gen-1 Nintendo Switch.
The backplate extends doubling its widthOne area where the X2 stands out from its competitors is how the backplate extends. In this case, the controller will double in width when you pull on it. A spring-loaded central section will extend and then clamp down onto your phone. That said, unlike the Bluetooth iteration, there's now the lightning connector to contend with.
I've broken more of these over the years than any other type of connector, mainly due to the thin, exposed design of the head fitting. GameSir's solution for mishaps is to make the connector be able to pivot 45 degrees outward of its resting place. This is a great solution and means you can align the phone before you extend the base and drop it in.
In fact, the only thing that could be a real issue here is that the connector is a fixed distance from the backplate. If your phone is over a certain depth then you might not be able to connect it up. It's around 0.5CM away from the plate, which works fine on most un-cased phones, however might not work on all of them out there. That's the main thing to check here before you pick one up.
GameSir X2 Lightning Gaming Controller review - SummaryAside from the connector's height potentially being a concern it's a really sturdy, reliable and cost-effective controller for playing mobile games. Hopefully, future iterations will feature more traditional trigger-type shoulder buttons - as currently, all four shoulder buttons have a simple bumper click - but pressure-sensitive shoulder buttons are not standard in mobile design game design and so it would almost be a vanity move to position it alongside console controllers.
Cheaper than its nearest competitors, and incredibly sturdy, the GameSir X2 Lightning Controller is almost an essential purchase for those who are putting lots of hours into MFi, Apple Arcade or Xbox Game Pass games. It feels like they are on the threshold of cracking the mobile controller conundrum.