Which iPhone and iPad controller should you get?

Picking the best MFi controller for your iOS device

Which iPhone and iPad controller should you get?
| SteelSeries Stratus XL

So you want a controller for your iPhone or iPad.

That makes sense. Because while a lot of the best games on iOS are designed which the touchscreen in mind (think Monument Valley, Threes!, and 80 Days), there are some great apps that are crying out for a controller.

It's almost impossible to play something like BioShock, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, or Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath by pawing at a slab of glass. So if you like this sort of game, a physical joypad might not be a bad investment.

But which should you get? Well, we should know having used, prodded, played with, and reviewed every MFi controller you can currently buy. Which happens to be:

Some aren't worth your cash. We can throw out the Logitech PowerShell and MOGA Ace Power straight away, for example, as these early pads have unresponsive buttons, silly design flaws, and don't work with the iPhone 6.

The others are worth a look, but there's no one-size fits all. Some are better for iPad and others for iPhone, and the bigger controllers aren't as suited for portable play as the little ones.

Oh, and you may be asking "what about the iPEGA, iON, and eForWorld pads"? These are super cheap controllers you can find on Amazon but they generally use the old iCade button set up which is antiquated and not used by major developers.

With that in mind, we're focusing on the MFi (Made for iPhone) pads which are certified by Apple and work with any game that uses the new controller support introduced in iOS 7.

The best controller for iPad Stratus X

The SteelSeries Stratus XL is a really nice controller. It's comfortable, high quality, responsive, and precise. There's no beating this thing on all the important metrics.

But it doesn't have a clip and that makes it awkward for iPhone play. You'll have to find somewhere to prop up your phone, and it will probably be too far away to see all the action.

That's why it's better suited for those who like to play on iPad. It's easier to stand the tablet up (especially with a Smart Cover or similar case) and still see it from a few feet away.

So if you're a tablet gamer, or just want the best controller available regardless of practicality, get this one.

Read the full review - buy from the Apple Store (£59.99)

The best controller for iPhone Moga Rebel

The MOGA Rebel is not quite as good as the Stratus XL. It's got all the important bits - responsive buttons, relatively nice sticks, chunky triggers, and a long-lasting battery - but it feels cheap and flimsy.

But what you do get is a nice clip. It folds out of the controller itself (unlike the Mad Catz clips which are separate bits of plastic you're destined to lose) and is easy to lock/unlock while still being as tight as a vice.

It's not perfect: the light controller becomes top-heavy when there's a phone in the clip, and the arm sits at an awkward angle that means your phone isn't facing you properly when you hold the controller at the typical gaming angle. But it works well enough.

Read the full review - buy from the Apple Store (£59.95)

The most portable controller Mad Catz

The Mad Catz Micro C.T.R.L.i has its issues. The analogue sticks are annoyingly imprecise, making 3D shooters like BioShock tough to play with any finesse. But it is wonderfully portable.

It's about 13cm wide and 9cm tall, but looks like an Xbox 360 pad and is surprisingly comfortable to use. It also has a clip for your iPhone, though it's a bugger to remove at time.

There's also the SteelSeries Stratus (not the XL) which is still an excellent, micro-sized pad. It doesn't have a clip though, so it's more suited for portable iPad play than controlling your iPhone on the go.

If you're going to use it primarily to play first-person shooters, skip the MadCatz Micro C.T.R.L.i. But if you want something small, relatively cheap, and dependable to chuck in your bag to play fighters, platformers, and racers, this is a nice pick.

Read the full review - buy from Amazon (£55.74)

You may also want our list of recommended games that work with these controllers. You can find that, here.

Mark Brown
Mark Brown
Mark Brown spent several years slaving away at the Steel Media furnace, finally serving as editor at large of Pocket Gamer before moving on to doing some sort of youtube thing.