Whatever certain members of the gaming community might think, mobile gaming has become a legitimate, global powerhouse. App stores on both the iOS and Android are rammed with gaming experiences that, in many cases, you can’t get elsewhere, as well as providing a platform that you can hop into at any moment; all without trying to fit a whole Nintendo Switch or Steam Deck in the pocket of your skinny fit jeans.
RiotPWR know all this, and they’ve created a batch of controllers designed to bring your mobile gaming experience even closer to your home one. The RiotPWR Mobile Controller for iOS may not have the most creative name, but this Xbox-styled full-size pad seamlessly turns your iOS device into a handheld console, albeit one that’s clumsier looking than a Sega Game Gear.
RiotPWR has cribbed from Microsoft’s homework here, and if you’ve played with any of the Xbox One or Series-era controllers you’ll instantly appreciate the ergonomic similarities. The ESL-branded version that we were provided with for review came in a funky white, lime green and neon yellow colour scheme, and personally, I think it looks great – others will point out that it’s one face away from looking like a Fisher-Price kids toy, though. They’ve gone for a wired Lightning connection for the Mobile Controller, forsaking Bluetooth, and the short cable can be hooked into a pair of catches at the back of the included device holder to keep it out of the way. The Android equivalent leans on USB-C.
The most obvious difference between RiotPWR’s offering and Microsoft’s is the central device holder stand. Tucked beneath a rubber cover in the centre of the controller is a slot which houses the extendable stand – handy for iPhone gamers more than it is for iPad players. Either way, you need to be tethered to the controller, but since it draws power directly from your device you never have to worry about any battery woes other than those of your actual phone.
Thankfully you can avoid this by using the passthrough charging port located on the bottom of the controller, which is nestled next to a very welcome 3.5mm audio socket. It really feels like RiotPWR has considered everything when it comes to latency and convenience, and all of those wired options mean that you’re as close to the action as possible; especially important if you’re trying to play competitively.
Button-wise you’ve got all the same options as an Xbox Series, thought the Xbox button replaced with a Home one instead. If you’re playing streamed Xbox Game Pass games with the ESL, which everyone should consider an option, then it does exactly the same thing. The overall button layout is only mildly different, with the key one being the rehomed Share button which, if anything, is in a better spot to the left of the D-pad.
The main inputs do a good job of selling the controller’s position as a mobile esports-centric device, and the analogue sticks and the triggers are a close approximation of the official versions, though perhaps a touch lighter. The central face buttons are similarly close, though they produce less of an obvious click and are slightly less pronounced from the controller’s casing.
The circular D-pad of a slightly different design to the official Xbox controller, and has a far more subtle digital click. It’s smoother too, and I found that it was much better suited to the quarter and half circles of 2D fighters like the classic Street Fighter IV than the Microsoft number. The weakest element are the shoulder buttons. They just feel cheaper and less precise than the official versions thanks to their lack of weight, but they do stand up to repeated use, registering inputs without any problems.
The overall build quality is very good, and while the lack of rumble or batteries means that the controller itself is noticeably lighter, it’s balanced by the additional weight of your phone. Adding in the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s hefty body pushes it the other way, but despite the stand’s position above the controller it’s still very well balanced.
It’s all about the gaming you can do though, and taking the RiotPWR for a spin with Diablo Immortal showcases how simple it all is. The controller was automatically recognised, and the correct button icons were immediately shown, with some dungeon delving action proving immediately better with actual buttons to press. RiotPWR also has the homegorwn Ludu Mapp app, which provides a curated batch of games with controller support, as well as information on how to use it in popular titles like Apex Legends Mobile.
Jumping into Xbox Cloud Gaming – other streaming services do exist – is as fantastic as it’s proven to be elsewhere, and the RiotPWR Mobile Controller is the perfect way to experience it. Playing Forza Horizon 5 here showcases just how close the whole thing feels to a traditional Xbox experience, and if you’re a subscriber to Microsoft’s platform this is a great controller to consider if you’re planning to do a lot of gaming on the go.
Looking to the competition, the Nacon’s MG-X Pro is only compatible with Android, so that’s one fewer key competitor in this iOS arena. If you’re looking for a more Nintendo Switch-style layout, your best choice is the Backbone controller, though compared to this £70 RiotPWR pad, the Backbone is an additional £30. There is of course the option of grabbing a separate stand and hooking up the via official controller’s Bluetooth to consider. You wouldn’t have to buy or repurpose a controller for this, but you’ll miss out on the precision of the wired connection, being free from additional battery concerns, and the added headphone socket which is perfect for your favourite wired gaming headset.