The Gamesir X2 has arrived just in time to help turn your mobile gaming into “real” gaming. Designed to fit the majority of modern mobiles fitted with a USB-C connection, this is a handy controller that lets you forget about trying to aim for a headshot with touch controls. While that will certainly compliment your PUBG and Fortnite mobile sessions, it’s also ideal for anyone looking at Google Stadia, Xbox Game Pass Cloud Streaming and other streaming platforms intent on turning phones into handheld platforms. The question then is whether or not it’s good enough to make itself an essential purchase.
Out of the box, the Gamesir X2 is a light, plastic-shelled affair with a spring-loaded central portion that extends to allow for your phone to slot into place. Despite being listed as only supporting phones up to 167mm in length, my LG V60 – which is admittedly an absolute behemoth – does in just squeeze in despite being slightly beyond the listed specs. Still, if you’ve got something that’s more typically size like a Samsung Galaxy S20 it will fit without any problems whatsoever.
I was initially very worried about the USB-C connection, and how I was going to angle my phone into the controller without damaging it. I was impressed to find that Gamesir have come up with a clever way to make the USB-C connector pivot on an angle so you can hook it all up without any problems whatsoever. Once it’s in it draws an exceptionally low 2mAh per hour from the phone itself, so there’s no need to charge it separately, and with a USB-C passthrough, you can still charge while you play.
The X2 features every control you’d expect to find on a modern gaming controller, with the top edges playing host to left and right bumpers and triggers. Just like the Nintendo Switch, all of the buttons and triggers are digital – no analogue triggers here racing fans – and they ring out with a resounding click every time they’re pressed. It’s a little disconcerting at first, but you’ll get used to it.
The face then features clickable left and right analogue sticks, a Switch-style array of directional buttons instead of a true D-Pad, and four face buttons alongside start, home and menu buttons and a dedicated screenshot button. There’s everything you could need, but they come with at least one glaring design flaw.
The layout of the main face buttons apes the Nintendo Switch layout, meaning the A, B, X and Y buttons don’t match up to the layouts found on an Xbox or Stadia controller. This would be alright if there was a system-level tool to change the default layout, but there isn’t, meaning that the two main streaming platforms you can use right now with your Android phone don’t match up out of the box. Instead, you have to head into the custom control options for every single game to change them, which is about as much fun as it sounds.
The quality of the buttons is at least more than suitable, feeling precise and responsive, though the clicking of the shoulder controls may drive your loved ones to distraction. The analogue sticks meanwhile are perhaps just a millimetre or two too tall, making them feel ever so slightly unwieldy, though the advantage is that they allow for more accuracy in games like PUBG.
They are functional though, as is the entire package, and while the X2 has a number of hitches, it is fundamentally capable of changing the way you interact with mobile gaming and streaming. I played a good chunk of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Immortals Fenyx Rising via Google Stadia, and both played as you’d hope they would. I found I much preferred the way it lays everything out – like a DIY Switch – compared to playing with an Xbox or Stadia controller and the phone held above it in a cradle. The weight distribution makes much more sense like this, and there’s less of it as well!
There’s perhaps just one too many concessions for players to put up with though. A revamped version with quieter shoulder buttons and the face buttons laid out like an Xbox or Stadia controller would make a huge amount of difference given what platforms you’re going to be using it for. Alternatively, an overarching app where you could change the layout across everything would solve my main gripe, but Gamesir don’t currently have one in place.