There’s no shortage of gamepads for mobile devices, especially now that both Android and iOS have added support for the DualShock 4 and the Xbox One controller. Of course, we doubt you’ll be walking around taking those console controllers with you as you go about your day, so chances are, you’re going to be opting for one of the mobile gamepads available in the market. The Razer Kishi offers one of the more interesting options we’ve seen.
Billed to deliver “console-quality controls,” the gamepad gives you all the controls you’ve come to expect from modern controllers, from clickable analog thumbsticks and a D-pad to triggers and bumpers. That way, you can play on your phone with the same comfortable ergonomics as you do on your game console at home, elevating the mobile gaming experience to a level that’s a whole lot more fun.
The Razer Kishi consists of two separate panels that snap together when not in use, making it easy to throw in a backpack pocket for bringing along anywhere you go. For playing, they clamp to either side of a phone in landscape orientation, essentially making your mobile device look like a Nintendo Switch. An elastic band connects the left and right panels, so you can stretch it to accommodate any size of smartphone, all while coming with an adapter for fitting into smaller devices like the iPhone SE.
The gamepad layout mimics those on most modern controllers, so it gets four action buttons, two analog thumbsticks, an eight-way D-pad, two bumpers, and two triggers, along with a number of function buttons. Instead of pairing with your phone over Bluetooth like most mobile gamepads, it connects directly via the phone’s USB-C or Lightning port, ensuring there’s no latency during gameplay, so the games respond immediately to every action you perform.
The Razer Kishi comes in three models: one for Android, one for iPhone, and an Android model that meets the Designed for Xbox Game Pass requirements. The Android model should work with most games that support controllers on the platform, while the iPhone model should work with most controller-friendly games on Apple Arcade. That’s right, you can use this not just for gaming on your phone, but also when playing those same games on Apple TV. The Android Xbox model should support all the same games supported by the regular Android variant, although it’s also been fully tested to work seamlessly with Project xCloud, Microsoft’s game streaming service. That means, you can play both Xbox and Windows games on your Android smartphone, allowing you to enjoy much better games even when you’re stuck somewhere with nothing but your phone in tow.
How good is this? Based on early reviews, pretty good. The controls are nowhere near as snappy as those on current-gen game console controllers, although they are really good compared to the selection for mobile devices. On the downside, this thing will block most any ports you have on the top and bottom edges of your phones (no listening to wired headphones), although it does support pass-through charging, so you can, at least, charge your phone’s battery while you’re playing.