Smartphones are more powerful today than they ever have been, with some devices offering a better gaming experience than even your desktop computer. On top of that, the mobile gaming platform has expanded so much that the library of games is incredible, so you’ll want to use a controller to get the best experience. If you’re not tied to a specific ecosystem, the best option for most people is the Razer Raiju Mobile, which works with both Windows and Android.
Best Overall: Razer Raiju Mobile
For those who want to get serious about mobile gaming, then you’ll have to consider the Razer Raiju Mobile. Instead of a mount that clips onto your existing controller, this is an all-on-one system as Razer has created its own gaming controller.
The controller itself has all of the necessary buttons you would expect, along with a few extras. On the top of the controller, there are two additional trigger buttons for added ergonomics, and under the left and right grip there are multi-function buttons which can be mapped. Best of all, Razer designed this with both Android and Windows in mind, so you can use the Raiju for anything gaming session that arises.
Unlike the mounts that attach to your smartphone, the Raiju limits your viewing angle to 60 degrees. This may be fine for some, but we would have liked a little bit more to suit everyone’s potential needs. Another issue is that you are unable to custom map the buttons for certain areas on your screen, meaning you may still have to reach up and tap the screen on your smartphone.
- Built-in hair-trigger locks
- Four multi-function buttons that can be programmed
- Includes short USB-C cable
- Works with Android or Windows
- Limited to 60 degrees of tilt
- Unable to custom map buttons for certain areas
Razer Raiju Mobile
- $150 from Verizon
- $150 from Razer
The perfect mobile gaming controller
Razer’s Raiju Mobile controller works great with Android and has custom buttons that can come in extremely handy.
Best for Xbox One Controllers: PowerA Moga Mobile Gaming Clip
Whether you are trying to just use your Xbox One controller to play games from the Play Store or using it for Project xCloud, this gaming clip is perfect. The PowerA Moga Mobile Gaming Clip is the only one officially licensed by Microsoft’s Xbox brand, setting apart from the rest of the competition.
The clip itself offers various viewing angles, with dual articulation points at the back of the mount and the base of the phone holder. These points can be locked into place, ensuring that your phone won’t move itself out of position in a critical moment. Plus, it folds up into a compact package so that you can throw it in your bag for that gaming session later.
As one would expect from an officially-licensed product, you won’t be able to use the MOGA Mobile Gaming Clip with any other controllers. That includes any SteelSeries controllers, along with Sony’s DualShock 4. While this clip is still affordable, it’s a bit pricier than similar options.
- Licensed by Xbox
- Perfect for use with Project xCloud
- Locking articulation points
- Fits most smart phones phones
- Not compatible with other controllers
- A bit pricier than similar options
Best for Xbox One Controllers
PowerA Moga Mobile Gaming Clip
- $15 from Best Buy
- $15 from Target
Officially licensed and flexible
This Gaming Clip is great for your Xbox One controller and will accommodate many popular smartphones.
Best for DualShock 4 Gamers: PS4 Controller Holder
For some, the sleekness of Sony’s DualShock 4 can’t be understated and is a favorite for gaming sessions. With the included Bluetooth capabilities, that means you can pair your controller to your phone and game from wherever you are. But, you’ll need a solid phone mount to do so.
This PS4 Controller Holder is compatible with smartphones measuring as wide as 3.4 inches. Plus, it can rotate from 0 to 270 degrees, allowing you to put your phone in just about any position. Then, you can lock the angle into place, helping to keep your smartphone in place.
We would have liked to see an additional articulating lock, as some of the larger phones could end up tipping back during sessions. The inclusion of a Micro-USB cable is also questionable since many smartphones have made the move to USB-C.
- Compatible with many smartphones
- Rotates from 0 to 270 degrees
- Folds up for added portability
- Only one articulating lock
- Included Micro-USB cable is outdated
Best for DualShock 4 Gamers
PS4 Controller Holder
- $12 from eBay
Great for DualShock 4 players
This Controller Holder is perfect for those who want to use a DS4 with its articulating lock and wide-range of adjustability.
Best for SteelSeries Controllers: SteelSeries SmartGrip
If you’re into the world of third-party controllers, you may have heard of SteelSeries. The company provides quite a few great options in the event that you don’t want to use an Xbox or PlayStation controller. Then, you can pair those controllers with the SteelSeries SmartGrip and get a great gaming experience on the go.
In addition to working with your SteelSeries controllers, the company thought about your phone and added a few rubber bumpers. These will help keep your smartphone free from scratches and wear if you play a lot of games. The best part is that you don’t have to worry about your smartphone being too big, as it’s compatible with devices up to 6.5 inches.
At first glance, you would think that the SmartGrip would work with an Xbox One controller due to the similar designs. That’s, unfortunately, not the case since the SmartGrip does not fit over the Xbox One controller properly. Plus, users of the Stratus XL Controller will be frustrated when having to remove the SmartGrip just to power the controller on or off.
- Fits all SteelSeries Controllers
- Rubber bumpers prevent potential scratching
- Adjustable height and angle
- Compatible with smartphones up to 6.5-inches
- Not compatible with Xbox or PlayStation controllers
- Covers On/Off switch on Stratus XL Controller
Best for SteelSeries Controllers
- $10 from Amazon
- $10 from Microsoft
Great for SteelSeries, but not anything else
If you own a SteelSeries controller, the SmartGrip is the perfect companion for mobile gaming.
Best for Cross Compatibility: Foldable Mobile Phone Clamp Holder
It can be frustrating to be stuck using just a single type of controller when gaming with one of the smartphone holders. This Foldable Phone Clamp Holder removes that frustration in compatibility. That’s because you can use this holder with all of the SteelSeries controllers, along with the Xbox One and Steam controllers.
There’s a built-in controller stand, so you can prop up your controller on a table. The holder itself works with phones as wide as 3.5 inches, meaning that even the Galaxy Note 10+ can be used with your controller. Plus, you’ll get the added benefit of having an additional holder if the first one breaks or gets lost.
Although this phone holder checks many of the boxes for controller compatibility, there’s one major option missing — the DualShock 4. You also may need to be a bit careful with the angles of your smartphone, because there are no articulation locks to keep the phone at the right angle.
- Includes thumb stick caps
- Works with Xbox One, SteelSeries, and Steam Controllers
- Built-in controller stand
- Package includes two holders
- No articulation locks
- Not compatible with DualShock 4
Best for Cross Compatibility
Foldable Mobile Phone Clamp Holder
- $8 from Amazon
Perfect phone holder for different controllers
Outside of the DualShock 4, this Phone Holder is great for any other controllers you have.
For ROG Phone II Owners: ASUS ROG Kunai Gamepad
When the ASUS ROG Phone 2 launched, it was clearly aimed directly at those who wanted a great mobile gaming experience. The only potential problem was that it was quite large and there are times where you would want an actual controller to play.
With the ROG Kunai Gamepad, your ROG Phone 2 is essentially turned into an Android version of the Nintendo Switch. What makes this even better is that you can either use the ROG Kunai as a separate controller, or split up the left and right controller and place the ROG Phone 2 in the middle. There are also built-in USB-C port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and up to seven hours of battery life when using Wireless Mode.
Surprisingly, ASUS opted to only use Bluetooth 4.2, despite the ROG Phone 2 itself being equipped with Bluetooth 5.0. Another downside to this is that you’ll only be able to use it with the newer ROG Phone 2, and not even the first iteration, let alone any other smartphones.
- Up to 7 hours of battery life in Wireless Mode
- Converts between Gamepad and Handheld modes
- Built-in USB-C port
- Built-in 3.5mm headphone jack
- Uses Bluetooth 4.2
- Only works with the ROG Phone II
For ROG Phone II Owners
ASUS ROG Kunai Gamepad
- $150 from B&H Photo
Add a controller to the ROG Phone 2
Despite only being made for the ROG Phone 2, you can use the Kunai as a standalone Bluetooth controller.
Best for Modularity: Razer Junglecat
The Razer Junglecat is an interesting mobile gaming controller due to the compatibility with both Android and Windows. What makes it interesting is that you can use it with an array of smartphones, but it’s not designed for use with all smartphones in handheld mode. That’s because the Junglecat is modular, and includes different custom-fit cases to be used with select smartphones.
Razer packed an amazing battery into the Junglecat, providing up to 100 hours of battery life. You can quickly top it off or keep it charged with your favorite USB-C charger. As for compatible games, Razer has quite an impressive list, which continues to expand. Plus, you can retract the two sides of the controller and use it as a Bluetooth controller for your Windows PC.
The downside is that if you want to use the Junglecat in handheld mode, you are limited as to what smartphones can be used. However, if you have a Razer Phone 2, Huawei P30 Pro, Galaxy S10+ or Galaxy Note 9, you’ll be fine. The Junglecat also may be a tad bit small for those with larger hands, and you may end up getting some hand cramps over time.
- 100-hours of battery life
- Works with Android or Windows
- USB-C Charging
- Vast library of compatible games
- Must have the “right” smartphone in handheld mode
- Not suitable for those with larger hands
Best for Modularity
- $100 from Razer
Impressive controller, if you have the right smartphone
The Razer Junglecat offers industry-leading battery life, along with a solid build and extensive library of compatible games.
Best for Old School Gamers: 8Bitdo Smartphone Clip for SN30 & SF30 Pro
Over the last few years, 8Bitdo has taken the controller market by storm thanks to its line of old-school themed controllers. Many of these, including the SN30 and SF30 Pro, are designed to look just like the classic controllers we grew up with, but with the added benefit of Bluetooth capabilities. Thanks to the Bluetooth onboard, you can use the 8Bitdo controllers with your favorite smartphone, tablet, or computer.
If you already have one of these controllers at your disposal, you can get the 8Bitdo Smartphone Clip, so you can just have an all-in-one gaming experience. This clip is compatible with smartphones up to 3.6-inches wide, making it possible to work with even the larger Android handsets.
On the flip side, the decision to have this clip come in two pieces is an odd one, as it adds a potential stress point if you have a larger smartphone. Another frustration is the lack of an articulation lock, which means that your smartphone could slip out of the perfect angle if used for extended periods of time.
- Works with 8Bitdo SN30 and SF30 Pro
- Compatible with smartphones up to 3.6 inches wide
- Great design for nostalgia fans
- Clip comes in two pieces
- No articulation lock
Best for Old School Gamers
8Bitdo Smartphone Clip for SN30 & SF30 Pro
- $9 from eBay
Use your old-school controller with your modern smartphone
The 8Bitdo Smartphone Clip makes it possible to use your smartphone with your old-school controller.
While there are a lot of different options to use your smartphone with your favorite gaming controller, although a lot of them aren’t cross platform. You have to figure out which controller you’ll likely use with your phone, since a lot of options only work with Xbox controllers, or even SteelSeries controllers. If you can break it down, that can make your choice easy.
For those wanting an all-in-one solution, including the controller, will need to consider the Razer Raiju Mobile. This includes the controller, along with a built-in expandable clip and programmable multi-function buttons around the controller itself. And if you want to switch over to your PC for some gaming, the Raiju works perfectly with Windows so you won’t need multiple controllers for different situations.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Andrew Myrick is a regular freelancer at Android Central and iMore. He has been a tech enthusiast ever since the original iPhone was released and continues to flip-flop between devices. You might as well hook him up to an IV filled with coffee to get him through the day. If you have any questions, you can find him on Twitter, and he’ll get back to you.