You deserve the best Android controller out there, and here’s why.

Understand this – Gaming on a smartphone is everywhere. It’s in the guy beside you in the bus, the person sitting in the queue, the teenagers grouped together in a table; when you see them holding their phones in landscape orientation while swiping and tapping constantly, you can be sure that there’s a game being played. But we must also understand that gaming, in the purest of forms, deserves to be played using the controls that have become intuitive through our years – by flicking analog sticks and mashing buttons.

Fortunately, there are game developers out there who have made their games available to be used by, yes, a game controller. Even more fortunate for Android users is that there is a growing library of downloadable games that are compatible with game controllers. There is a definitive “want” for this, which is why I am here to tell you why you deserve to have the best Android controller in your hands and for your games.

Let’s keep your fingers where you can see them.. away from the screen.


phonejoy smartphone controllerOver the years we have seen a number of Android phones that boast of larger screens capable of displaying visual content at both 720p and 1080p at absolute clarity and vibrancy. To go with that, the screens of Android phones have also increased wider to the point that front panel buttons have been pushed to the edges of the phone to give way to these glorious displays.

Yet at the same time, we cannot deny that we all have different-sized fingers, all of which, by virtue of finger width alone, will almost guarantee that 20-30% of the screen will be blocked by a finger to execute a specific command in-game – which could ultimately be a deciding factor as to why something we just did in-game may have been done wrong.

I say, let’s set those fingers somewhere else so you can see what’s going on and act accordingly.

When you have a game controller connected to your Android phone, you won’t need to block out screen real estate with your fingers. Instead, you have your fingers planted on the controller inputs and keeping your screen clear to see what’s happening in-game (and not to mention bask in your game’s full graphic glory!).

Having your fingers on the Android controller effectively increases your reactions in-game, too. The amount of travel time between your fingers’ original placement and your Android device’s screen is much shorter compared to the conventional configuration for Android games – an almost half-second disparity that makes a significant difference in gameplay execution and getting more wins in-game. The least visual distractions that you can have while you play, the better the results you will have in your smartphone gaming experience!

Our hands look like claws during and after we play!


The most optimal position of our hands when playing games on a smartphone is with the space between the index fingers and thumbs propped on the four corners of the device in landscape orientation. We use our remaining fingers in a loose grip behind the smartphone as a means of support for the makeshift “frame” that we have in our hands. And while this is the most conventional way to play on a device, there are downsides to it.

First, the adhering to game controls – depending on the game, the frame you’ve made with your hands will likely be compromised either by overextending your thumbs across the screen or by removing a hand completely from the device to use your index finger for a more precise, pen-like swiping motion. Because of this, you will lose stability in holding your device, which would also compromise what happened in-game.

Not only that, but after numerous hours of gaming, that grip is going to wear out – let’s face it, whether there’s a housing installed or not, your grip on your Android phone is not the most comfortable one for your hands as their positioning is not ergonomically designed one.

an android controller that holds the phone between the directional pad and the buttons

One gaming controller for your device is the stone that kills these two birds.

How so? Well for starters, a controller for your Android phone is designed in a similar vein as a gaming console’s – they have rounded grips to prop your fingers around as you play. This design provides a more comfortable grip that curls your fingers around in a more natural way compared to the claw effect that comes from holding your Android device on their corners.

Each input on the controller is meant to exactly capture in-game controls, and coupled with the way these inputs are positioned on the controller, gives your fingers a more defined purpose as you play. No need to overextend your fingers anymore, as directional movement and commands are constrained to respective analog stick and buttons.

As you get more used to the gaming controller with your device, you will find that with less strain on your hands while you play, the more enjoyment you get from gaming on your Android device for extended periods of time.

No more unintended drop tests!


ipega android controller with htc phone clamped onOne of the more unbearable experiences with smartphone gaming is that, after long periods of playing were sweat starts to come out of our fingers’ pores, things get slippery. And when our grip starts to take in the moisture, chances are the smartphone’s gonna fall out of your hands. Either that or you will find yourself constantly trying to wipe the sweat off your hands and frantically trying to continue your progress (you could probably pause the game first, but yeah more or less).

With an Android phone, it’s an investment. There’s a labor of love that comes with purchasing our Android device, so imagine how much heartbreak comes with each drop of your device. Imagine more grief when you see chips on the edges or the teeniest of cracks on the screen. It’s because of this that we find ourselves buying screen protectors and ultra-durable cases to ensure that it’s safe from any accidental drop.

Reality check: get an Android gaming controller. You’ll never have an accidental drop test while aiming for level 99.

Android gaming controllers have ways of securing your device using high-quality material to clamp it in place while you focus on gaming. There are a couple of variants – one where the clamp is slightly elevated from the controller, and another where it locks on either end of the device (which makes it resemble a Sony PSP, actually).

For instance, you could check out the Razer Serval – this product was once bundled with the Razer Forge TV, but has been released separately and yields amazing results!

Check out my thoughts on the Razer Serval!

The beauty of this is that the controller becomes an extension of your Android device, and it also brings about a great deal of stability like I had mentioned earlier. Most of all, you protect your device from moisture. Nothing like having a clean and moist-free Android phone in all its vibrant glory!

There are several varieties to choose from, and I hope you will continue to tune in here so you won’t miss out on my recommendations for what could potentially be the best android controller for you.

 

What do you guys think? Do you agree with me? Let me know through the comments section!

 


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17 Comments

  • Dave Sweney says:

    Hi Raphy,

    Great post you have here. The case you’ve made for purchasing and using an external gaming controller is compelling and convincing…

    I am a player and use the smartphone all the time. Until now, I have just used the buttons on the phone, but I know exactly what you are talking about…Fatigue does set in after a time…

    Also, I have dropped my phone more than once while playing, it just happens! I look forward to reading about your views and reviews on the best controller to use and the cost as well…

    Cheers!

    Dave

    • Raphy says:

      Yep, that’s happened to me, too! It’s definitely no question that smartphones were not necessarily built as gaming devices, so props to manufacturers who’ve created products to help smartphone gaming.

      Looking back, you can actually see how some phone manufacturers have delved into possibilities of merging gaming and phone functions, like with the Nokia N-Gage. While that didn’t last too long, I feel it became a good learning experience on the phone ergonomics front in order to create a phone design that will suit any orientation or purpose – from there, it was just a matter of giving the user the option to accessorize their phone for whatever use they can come up with.

      Thankfully in this day and age, everyone’s looking to spruce up their smartphones with accessories and added gadgets to suit their purpose, and a game controller for Android is definitely one that can get mileage for years to come.

      Do tune back in when I start writing my reviews, Dave! I’ll make sure to recommend any good ones that I find.

  • Ken Nickless says:

    I have an iPhone – only a 4S but it serves the purpose I need (phone calls and texting). I must admit that at 72 I’m not a gamer; But that said, even texting on a small phone can lead to lots of errors, and if you don’t check your message carefully, you can send some very wrong-meaning texts. On reading about these hand-held controllers (and i must say you have written a very comprehensive report on them), I can see why they would be an absolute must for the serious gamer. Great article and even I as a non gamer enjoyed it very much.

    • Raphy says:

      There’s a definite margin of error when it comes to executing any input on our smartphones, and a lot of it has to do with, as I’ve mentioned, the fact that our fingers are all different, hence the concentration of pressure areas from our fingertips to the phone’s screen can get shifted here and there. There are apps that help compensate for better typing precision on a smartphone screen, but for gaming it’s a practical godsend to connect a controller to provide a more precise input and control, making the gaming experience more enjoyable. Who knows, maybe something like this (with the game of your choice, of course) might make a gamer out of you. 🙂

  • Ken Nickless says:

    What a well presented and informative site.it’s easy to read and understand, although I have to admit, at 72 I’m not really into gaming. Firstly the About Me page really shows your audience that you certainly are an authority on this subject, Your pages on the different styles of controller are also very informative and give your readers plenty to think about. I also really like the subtle way you have incorporated your Amazon widget into the page. All in all a very professional looking site.

    • Raphy says:

      I’m extremely glad that, despite not being into gaming, that you are a fan of my site. For me, it means a lot to get responses from people regardless of their interest in what I write. The reason why I write as honest and passionate as possible here is because I am a gamer, and have found certain needs in gaming that would likely relate to gamers of varying levels (whether casual or hardcore).

      Gamers are always looking for something that makes their gameplay experience better, because at the end of the day, gaming is such a rich form of media that anyone can enjoy for as long as they have the proper equipment to do so.

  • Chris says:

    Hi, I stumbled upon this site, which is amazing I must say! Such useful, quality content and site layout overall .

    It’s very well written and easy to understand, especially for beginners.

    I will definitely visit your site in the future, thank you very much for sharing your knowledge with us and good luck.

    Kind regards

    Ct.

    • Raphy says:

      I’m glad that you like the look and feel of my site – I really set this up in such a way that readers will see a quick visual of each post so that they get a quick idea of what each content is about.

      I’m very passionate about gaming, particularly when it comes to choosing the right gaming controller. In this case, I’m very much convinced that any Android gamer will get a better quality experience if they use a gaming controller with their device. There’s a larger sense of comfort and feel without compromising response time and performance.

      And another value-added feature to controllers like these is that they are often multi-platform in nature – being compatible with more than one operating system assures that you can take your controller practically anywhere whether on your device or on your computer.

      It’s because of these features that products like the Razer Serval are highly-recommended must buys for mobile and pc-gaming (and sought after, too!)

  • Lee Zhi Wei says:

    Wait, did i see it right? An Android gaming controller! I didn’t even know that existed. Playing an ARPG on my smartphone was probably the most enjoyable, but at the same time hellishly tiring, task for me.. Touchscreen & all is good, but my fingers tend to tire out quickly.

    Any idea where can I get one of those?

  • Paul says:

    Very interesting article on Android controllers, Raphy. I never really knew such things existed, but I suppose their creation was inevitable given how common and widespread mobile gaming is.

    Honestly, it looks incredibly convenient and beneficial for someone like me who hates playing games through fingers on a touchscreen. You really hit home with a lot of your points — the contortions, getting the screen dirty, etc. — and I certainly have plenty of experience using controllers in general, so this is definitely something I would be interested in.

    My question is: would these things work with Android tablets?

    • Raphy says:

      Absolutely, Paul! These controller pair up with devices using Bluetooth. This type of connectivity has been one of the most stable and reliable protocols that have been used by technology over the years, and most Android devices have it, even tablets!

      A physical connection via USB cable will also do the job, and has minimal lag/maximum response because of an outright connection to your device.

      Most Android controllers provide these kinds of connectivity, which also make them ideal for use with a PC for gaming – You should check out the Razer Serval, it’s a high-quality controller with hyperresponse buttons and pairs nicely with your Android device, your PC/Mac, and even the Razer Forge. It’s great product, I guarantee it!

  • Luke says:

    Hi Raphy,

    Great info, I’m a gamer too and being from the old school (80s/90s), I’ve always preferred a proper controller to touch screens.

    As you point out having half the screen covered with your hands doesn’t do justice to the amazing amount of graphical power current smartphones can pump out.

    I remember the original Gameboy back in the late 80s and haven’t we come a long way!

    A question though: how do the Android controllers cope with advanced functions like swiping?

    Cheers,

    – Luke

    • Raphy says:

      Hi Luke,

      I believe handling of swipe functions really would depend on how they are used in-game. Some developers may be able to program controller functions to emulate swiping. And while these Android controllers may not be able to resolve all functions, it does help to either (1) augment other advanced ones like tilting screens by better securing your device when you tilt, or (2) limit the amount of actions covering the screen by assigning functions.

      I believe the PlayStation Vita has similar functions, so I think that’s great precedence.

      And yeah, look how far we’ve come from the Gameboy! Great leaps and bounds in handheld gaming.

      Cheers,

      Raphy

  • John says:

    Which one of these controllers is the best solution to play games on my Samsung phone?
    And which one better to use, bluetooth or standard controller?

    • Raphy says:

      Hey John,

      Based on the article in your URL, I would think that you are being extremely thorough in your search for the best controller for your Samsung phone. For that, I commend you!

      In terms of which one is better to use, I honestly think that a specialized Android controller with either Bluetooth connectivity (and wired provisioning, if possible), is the way to go. These products are built for the primary purposes of functioning for your Android device right from the box – no need to root (which can be a deal-breaker for those who are conscious warranty-wise) or checking for OTG compatibility.. just let the phone’s hardware do the work for you (granted you may need to update firmware or OS, but that’s not a hill to die on).

      Another reason is portability – these Android controllers have built-in clips or physical connections that hold your phone in place while you play. This makes it easy to lug around instead of dangling cables, while at the same time the near-frequency minimizes the travel time of input and signal from controller to device.

      For the controllers on the URL – if you’re looking for a fair balance between price and quality, I would say the MadCatz GameSmart C.T.R.L and the Moga Pro Power are best bets. Both sport a similar layout as the highly-lauded Xbox controllers and perform just as well, have really strong grips to hold your phone, and have at least 30 hours of battery life (the Moga even lets use charge via micro-USB, and can charge your phone, too).

      Now if you’re willing to spend more, then Steel Series Stratus XL is a great choice – similar to an iOS variant, its build is very sturdy and gets you more mileage due to its versatility across platforms. Be ready to find a way to mount it onto your phone, though. One item not on that list that is worth checking out is the Razer Serval – the response time on its buttons are excellent regardless of connectivity, plus you can use it on your MAC and PC.

      Good luck in purchasing your Android controller! I’m sure it’s a great investment to fulfill your mobile gaming needs.

  • John says:

    Thanks a lot Raphy!

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