Previously, we made a list of the best game controllers for Android devices. This is the Apple version of that article. No matter the platform, some games are meant to be played with dedicated game controllers.
Here are the best iOS game controllers out right now.
SteelSeries is one of the most popular names when it comes to gaming accessories. The Danish company is best known for its lineup of high-end gaming headsets. But as the SteelSeries Nimbus shows, they also do a great job at creating game controllers for mobile devices.
The Nimbus is a wireless game controller specifically tailored for iOS devices. Basically, it is the Apple equivalent of the SteelSeries Stratus XL, one of the best game controllers for Android. The button layout is similar to a PS4 controller, with the two analog sticks sitting next to each other.
It has four action buttons, two shoulder buttons, two trigger buttons, a d-pad, and a big Menu button at the center, which is used for navigation. All buttons are responsive with zero delays. The large shoulder and trigger buttons are also easily accessible.
The analog sticks have excellent grip, a welcome news for people with sweaty hands. The controller handles also provide good grip, though not comparable to a controller with rubberized and textured handles. The ergonomic design of the Nimbus has a very comfortable feel, making it a great companion for long gaming sessions.
Speaking of which, the built-in lithium-ion battery is built to last for a long time. The rechargeable battery lasts more than 40 hours per charge, which is really impressive. The controller has an indicator sitting above the Menu button, which indicates the remaining battery charge. Each of the four lights represents 25 percent of the battery.
The Nimbus connects easily with compatible Apple devices. You can’t pair it with Android-powered devices, so don’t bother hooking it up with a Samsung Galaxy S7. You can use the SteelSeries Stratus XL for that. The Bluetooth is really smooth, which results in a lag-free connection.
The only downside is that the Nimbus isn’t meant to be portable. It is a full-sized game controller best used at home, preferably with an Apple TV. It doesn’t come with a built-in smartphone clip, a common feature in many portable game controllers. If you’re looking for a more portable game controller for Apple devices, we suggest looking further down this list.
The Nimbus is a great product overall. It has a comfortable design with responsive and sensitive buttons. The build quality is excellent and the price is fair especially for a SteelSeries product. In our books, the Nimbus easily takes the crown as the best game controller for Apple devices.
- Responsive and well-placed buttons
- Grippy analog sticks
- Comfortable overall design
- Over 40 hours of battery life
- Lag-free Bluetooth connection
Want to feel extra-nostalgic while playing Super Mario Run? Check out the SNES30 by 8Bitdo, a Hong Kong-based manufacturer of retro game controllers for newer gaming systems. The SNES30 is a wireless game controller compatible with both Android and Apple devices. It was based on the classic controller of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
It has four action buttons, two shoulder buttons, Start and Select buttons, and a d-pad. All of which are very responsive to input. The absence of an analog stick obviously makes this game controller not suitable for FPS games. But for platformers and endless runners, the SNES30 is excellent.
At only 290 grams, the SNES30 is lightweight, making it a great option for people who love to play games while on-the-go. The overall design is really authentic, though the d-pad feels a bit different when pressed compared to the original SNES controller. The action buttons, on the other hand, are spot on.
The SNES30 has an impressive battery life. It can run for 20 hours before needing a recharge, which only takes around two hours for a full charge. It doesn’t need a complicated setup in order to connect with iOS devices, either. It connects easily, regardless whether the iOS device is rooted or not.
One of the best features of this retro-inspired controller is that two separate controllers can connect to a single iOS device. The setup is hassle-free. Both players only need to press specific buttons to set up a two-player connection. This is best employed when running classic games using an emulator on a Mac.
Like the SteelSeries Nimbus, this game controller for iOS devices doesn’t come with a built-in smartphone holder. You will need to buy a separate clip if you want it to become even more tailored for on-the-go gaming. But we don’t recommend pairing it with a separate smartphone holder since it doesn’t have handles for a better grip. It will be too awkward and unbalanced.
The SNES30 is a really neat little product that is absolutely oozing with nostalgia and charm. The Bluetooth connection setup is simple and the buttons are very responsive. It gets regular updates as well. The lack of analog sticks prevents it from being an all-around game controller. But for simpler games, this game controller does not disappoint.
- Lightweight and easy to carry around
- 20 hours of battery life per charge
- Charge time is only minimal
- Has two-player, single-device support
- Very authentic design
Portable game controllers with built-in clips typically can’t accommodate tablets and other large devices. The clips are simply too small. Even a large smartphone with a protective casing sometimes has trouble fitting in. Don’t worry, a solution is available for this little problem. It comes in the form of the Ipega G9023 from ETTG.
The G9023 is a wireless game controller compatible with iOS devices. It is a unique game controller in this list, featuring a telescopic holder that can easily accommodate even a full-sized iPad. The overall design looks like a Batarang, a weapon regularly used by Batman. The holder is flanked by the two halves of the controller.
The button layout of the G9023 is unlike most game controllers for mobile devices. It has the usual number of buttons: four action buttons, two shoulder buttons, two trigger buttons, and a d-pad. Start, Select, and Home buttons are also included. The difference is that the dual analog sticks are located above the d-pad and the action buttons.
Analog sticks are typically located in the bottom-middle part of a game controller. Or in an Xbox One-inspired model, the left analog stick is swapped with the d-pad. But don’t worry, the button layout becomes really easy to get used to after just a couple of hours of use. For some games, the position of the analog sticks is actually more beneficial.
The overall design feels a bit flimsy due to the extending device holder. But once the holder locks into the device, it shows no hint of sloppiness. It locks the connected device securely and firmly in place, regardless of the device size. You can play games using an iPad without worrying about it slipping out accidentally.
The G9023 can run up to 20 hours with continuous use. It has a built-in rechargeable battery, which fully recharges in about two hours. The battery life is more than enough for daily use, though hardcore gamers might want to consider the SteelSeries Nimbus instead for frequent extended gaming sessions that last until the break of dawn.
Thanks to the telescopic nature of the device holder, the G9023 is also great for on-the-go use. You can easily carry it around, though we recommend placing it in a secure hard case first to prevent damages. People who play games a lot while traveling will surely love this game controller.
- Flexible telescopic device holder
- Responsive and lag-free buttons
- Onboard media controls
- Battery lasts up to 20 hours
- Excellent grip overall
The Ipega PG-9021 from PowerLead marks the first appearance of a game controller that has a built-in traditional smartphone clip in this list. It is a Bluetooth-powered wireless game controller obviously modeled after the Xbox One controller.
It features the typical button layout of an Xbox One controller, with the d-pad swapped with the left analog stick. It has four action buttons marked as X, Y, A, and B, two shoulder buttons, and two trigger buttons. All the buttons are responsive, requiring only soft presses in order to register an input.
The shoulder and trigger buttons are easy to reach as well. This makes the PG-9021 well-suited for racing games and first-person shooter games, both of which require heavy use of the aforementioned buttons. The d-pad is also great for fighting games due to the individual directional buttons being joined as one.
The PG-9021 has great build quality. The ergonomic design ensures that long gaming sessions will be free of discomfort. The controller handles also have excellent grip and fit nicely with different hand sizes. The buttons are well-placed – except the B button, which sits a little too close to the right edge.
Featuring onboard media controls, the PG-9021 connects easily with compatible Apple devices. And by “compatible,” we mean devices armed with iOS version 4.3 and above. It basically acts as a plug-and-play gaming accessory. Just pop in an Apple device, establish a Bluetooth connection, and that’s it. No need for complicated setups.
The PG-9021 includes a built-in rechargeable battery, which can run up to approximately 20 hours. Good enough for daily gaming sessions. The charge time is only around one to two hours, making it an excellent game controller for traveling. Serious grinders will find the battery life unimpressive, though. But for casuals, the 20-hour lifespan is more than enough.
The built-in smartphone holder is really sturdy. It doesn’t feel flimsy and can firmly hold larger smartphones. Obviously, the holder isn’t built to hold an iPad. For iPad users who want ultimate portability, we recommend picking up the Ipega G9023, which has a way more generous device holder, instead.
Overall, the PG-9021 is a solid option for Apple users looking for a portable game controller. The buttons are really clicky and the analog sticks provide excellent grip, which is awesome for sweaty hands. The smartphone holder is sturdy as well, and the connection is really easy to set up.
- Great build quality
- Responsive and clicky buttons
- Grippy analog sticks
- Battery has 20-hour lifespan per charge
- Sturdy and secure smartphone holder
Mad Catz is a popular manufacturer of gaming accessories such as keyboards, mice, and arcade-style fightpads. The California-based company is perhaps best known for producing custom controllers specifically tailored for fighting games. It is also well-represented in the mobile game controllers department. The Mad Catz C.T.R.L.i is the best example in the Apple category.
The C.T.R.L.i is an Apple-approved game controller. It is compatible with almost all iOS-powered devices, assuming the iOS version installed meets the minimum required. Connecting with Apple devices is extremely easy and simple. It doesn’t require a lengthy setup in order to establish a Bluetooth connection.
The button layout is similar to an Xbox One controller. It has four action buttons, two shoulder buttons, two trigger buttons, dual analog sticks, and a d-pad. The shoulder and trigger buttons are thinner compared to other game controllers. All the buttons are responsive and the analog sticks have the right amount of sensitivity.
The build quality is top-notch, as expected from a Mad Catz product. The C.T.R.L.i is notable for having an excellent grip, thanks to the well-designed handles. It can easily accommodate different hand sizes, though, for people with small hands, we recommend the Mad Catz Micro C.T.R.L.i instead, which is 20 percent smaller.
The C.T.R.L.i is perfect for multiplayer. Up to four controllers can connect with a single iOS device. Connecting all four controllers is a seamless affair, needing only a few seconds to establish a Bluetooth connection with compatible devices. Multiplayer junkies will definitely love this game controller.
This game controller also comes with a smartphone clip for on-the-go gaming. It can accommodate smartphones with a maximum width of 3.17 inches. Not exactly the most generous. The clip securely locks a smartphone in place, preventing it from slipping out even while moving around.
The batteries are also built for extensive on-the-go gaming. Featuring AAA batteries, the C.T.R.L.i can run up to 40 hours with ease. This places it in the top tier when it comes to longevity and makes it excellent for traveling. You can think of the C.T.R.L.i as the more portable version of the SteelSeries Nimbus.
- Connects flawlessly with Apple devices
- Four-player, single-device multiplayer mode
- Battery life clocks in at 40 hours per charge
- Very responsive buttons
- Has a built-in smartphone clip
For players who want nothing but Apple-approved gaming accessories, the Mad Catz C.T.R.L.i is the best choice. For players who want an extra kick of nostalgia, the 8Bitdo SNES30 is obviously the go-to option. For players simply looking for the best game controller for iOS devices, the SteelSeries Nimbus is hands down the cream of the crop. It’s all about preferences, folks.
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