Best phone controllers 2024: take your mobile gaming to the next level

With the rise of cloud gaming and remote play apps, a market has emerged in search of the best phone controllers which make it easier for gamers to keep the action going while they’re away from their consoles and gaming PCs. 

Light and extendable for handsets of all sizes, these mobile game controllers stretch out over either end of your device, making it resemble a mini Switch or Steam Deck. 

Not only do phone controllers provide infinitely superior controls in supported iOS and Android games, they also drastically improve the experience of streaming games via Xbox Cloud Gaming, PS Remote Play, Steam Link and GeForce Now.

Of course, there are a number of excellent phone controllers to consider, each with their own unique selling points. Because of this, it's important to do some research to find out which mobile game controller is best for your needs.

The quick list

Below you'll find a quick overview of the best phone controllers you can buy right now based on our testing and consumer recommendations.

The best phone controllers 2024

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Best overall controller

GameSir G8 Galileo

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

1. GameSir G8 Galileo

The best controller overall

Specifications

Supported OS: Android
Connectivity: USB-C
Charging passthrough: Yes
Headphone jack: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Swappable Hall effect sticks
+
Tactile D-pad
+
Hall effect analogue triggers
+
Mappable back buttons

Reasons to avoid

-
Not recognised by some Android games

Many gamers consider the official Xbox controller to be the perfect gamepad in terms of ergonomics and build quality, and while you can game with one on your phone, it's not the most convenient option when you're on the go. 

Enter GameSir's G8 Galileo, a phone controller that feels as good as an Xbox gamepad, only with a couple of improvements of its own. For starters, it sports Hall effect sticks, so you'll never have to worry about drifting, as well as analogue triggers with Hall effect switches, which should prevent them from wearing down with extensive use. You also get a tactile D-pad and membrane buttons that feel taut and responsive.

And, while not quite to the level of an Xbox Elite controller, there is a nice amount of customization available on the G8 Galileo, with magnetic faceplates that allow you to easily swap out thumbsticks (three extra sticks of differing lengths and thumbpads are included) and a pair programmable back buttons.

Being a plug-and-play controller, we found the G8 Galileo to be perfect for Xbox Cloud Gaming and game streaming via Steam Link, as well as every emulator app we tested it on. It also worked brilliantly with most controller-supported Android games, though we did find that Call of Duty Mobile did not natively support it, forcing us to use a touchscreen gamepad mapping app. 

Of course, you will need to delve into your phone's hidden developer settings in order to enable floating gamepad overlays, which requires a minor amount of know-how.

Best plug and play controller

Backbone One 2nd Generation

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

2. Backbone One (2nd Generation)

A hassle-free option for both casual and serious gamers

Specifications

Supported OS: Android / iOS
Connectivity: USB-C / Lightning
Charging passthrough: Yes
Headphone jack: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Fits more cases than before
+
Sturdier design
+
Improved buttons and d-pad

Reasons to avoid

-
Small thumbsticks

Improving on its predecessor in almost every way, Backbone One (2nd Generation) is an excellent refinement of what was already one of the best phone controllers on the market. 

The first thing you'll likely notice about the new Backbone One is that it now fits over more phones and cases, thanks to its implementation of swappable magnetic adapters. Sure, having to take your case off before playing wasn't the worst thing in the world, but it's one problem we're glad to see eliminated.

And while the original Backbone One's extendable bridge flexed easily with every minor twist of your hands, the Backbone One 2nd Gen is far sturdier, making it feel more premium as a result. Additionally, it also sports an improved d-pad and more tactile buttons.

Other features worth noting include dedicated buttons for recording/casting your gameplay and launching the Backbone app, a much-appreciated 3.5mm headphone jack, and a USB Type-C port for passthrough charging. 

While its thumbsticks and face buttons are a little on the small side, Backbone One (2nd Generation) does so much right that it's easy to overlook any minor quibbles. Taking into consideration that it immediately works with any mobile game which supports controllers, Backbone One (2nd Generation) is the one plug and play option we're happy to recommend without any hesitation. 

Best compact controller

razer kishi v2 review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

3. Razer Kishi V2

A big improvement over its predecessor

Specifications

Supported OS: Android / iOS
Connectivity: USB-C / Lightning
Charging passthrough: Yes
Headphone jack: No

Reasons to buy

+
Improved phone compatibility
+
New tactile buttons
+
Stronger bridge mechanism
+
More ergonomic than V1

Reasons to avoid

-
A bit small for large hands
-
No headphone jack

If you know the original Kishi, then you might have trouble recognizing the Razer Kishi V2. Gone is the super-compact storage mode with the straps to hold the phone and controller together, as the V2 now sports a spring-loaded clamping mechanism. The new version can also support slim phone cases with the included inserts.

The Kishi V2's new tactile button switches are highlights, offering solid and clicky feedback on each press. This applies to the D-pad, the face buttons, four secondary buttons, two mappable buttons and the shoulder buttons. The Kishi V2 keeps the V1’s spring triggers, which we were already fans of.

While the Kishi V2 originally launched with only a USB-C connector, Razer has since released a Lightning version for iPhone users. Of course, if you have an iPhone 15, the USB-C model will suit you just fine.

Admittedly, the Kishi V2's design may be a little too compact for those with larger hands, and it's a little disappointing to see that it lacks support for wired headphones, but pretty much everything else about this 'plug and play' controller is top notch.

Best Bluetooth controller

GameSir X2 Bluetooth with Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

(Image credit: Future)

4. GameSir X2 Bluetooth

Our pick for best Bluetooth phone controller

Specifications

Supported OS: Android / iOS
Connectivity: Bluetooth
Charging passthrough: No
Headphone jack: No

Reasons to buy

+
Good option for foldables
+
Universal device support
+
Affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires charging
-
Digital triggers
-
No headphone jack

While plug and play controllers are typically the easiest option for most users, those who game on larger foldable devices will want to consider a Bluetooth option like the GameSir X2 Bluetooth.

For one, this controller's Bluetooth connectivity means your device's orientation won't be limited by its port placement. Instead, the GameSir X2 Bluetooth will connect to your phone like any other wireless controller.

That Bluetooth connectivity also means that the one GameSir X2 Bluetooth controller will support both iOS and Android devices — no need to invest in separate gamepads. You can even choose to pair it as an Xbox or Nintendo Switch controller, depending on which button layout you prefer.

Of course, you will need to keep the controller charged, and you won't find features like charging passthrough and wired headphones support here. We also wish the X2 Bluetooth offered analogue triggers, because the digital ones featured here are worthless for racing games.

Best pro controller

(Image credit: Tabitha Baker / Future)

5. GameSir X3

A great option for long gameplay sessions

Specifications

Supported OS: Android
Connectivity: USB-C
Charging passthrough: Yes
Headphone jack: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Swappable thumbsticks and D-pads
+
External device cooling

Reasons to avoid

-
Cooling requires external power

If you're looking for a pro-level phone controller that could potentially make your gameplay experience better from a performance standpoint, the GameSir X3 is hard to beat. 

The first thing you'll notice about the GameSir X3 is that it offers an external cooling solution, which is handy for playing graphically complex games at maxed out settings. One downside is that the cooling mechanism requires its own power source, whether that be from a wall socket or portable power bank. Still, if you take your phone gaming this seriously, you probably won't mind.

On top of this, the GameSir X3 is highly customizable, allowing you to swap to taller thumbsticks, switch thumbpads and d-pads, and thanks to its magnetic face buttons, you can even rearrange the ABXY layout.

Most innovative controller

Turtle Beach Atom in compact mode

(Image credit: Elie Gould / Future)

6. Turtle Beach Atom

The easiest phone controller to tuck away in your bag

Specifications

Supported OS: Android / iOS
Connectivity: Bluetooth
Charging passthrough: No
Headphone jack: No

Reasons to buy

+
Two-piece attachable design
+
Sturdy build quality
+
Compact when not in use

Reasons to avoid

-
Garish color options
-
Chunky 

A departure from the other phone controllers on this list, Turtle Beach's Atom actually comes in two pieces which can be attached to either side of your device. This design allows the Atom to be quite compact when not in use, making it easier to tuck away into your bag than many other controllers.

In terms of support, the Turtle Beach Atom is available in both iOS and Android versions. However, given that the controller connects via Bluetooth and not via USB-C or Lightning, it's a bit strange that two separate models were even needed. Anyway, you'll get about 20 hours of gameplay from a full charge.

Still, the Atom is lightweight and comfortable, making it easy to play for extended periods without your arms getting tired. Admittedly, its chunky design won't be for everyone, and neither will its garish colorways.

Most foldable-friendly controller

GameSir X2S on Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

7. GameSir X2S Type-C

A good USB-C option for foldable handsets

Specifications

Supported OS: Android / iOS
Connectivity: USB-C
Charging passthrough: Yes
Headphone jack: No

Reasons to buy

+
Tilting USB-C port for easy access
+
Port placement good for foldables
+
Hall effect sticks and triggers

Reasons to avoid

-
No headphone jack
-
Still need to take off most cases

Upon first glance, the GameSir X2S Type-C may look near identical to standard GameSir X2, albeit with a fresh new colorway. Look closer, and you'll find a number of important differences. 

For starters, the USB-C port is now on the left side, allowing for foldable devices like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Google Pixel Fold to be used in a comfortable orientation. On top of this, the USB-C port now has tilting functionality, making it easier for handsets to slot into the controller.

Additionally, the GameSir X2S Type-C now sports Hall effect analogue triggers, which is great for racing games and other titles which require pressure-sensitive buttons, and also has Hall effect sticks, meaning you'll never need to worry about stick drift.

Of course, the GameSir X2S Type-C isn't perfect — while the controller does feature an external port for charging passthrough, it lacks a headphone jack like the great GameSir G8 Galileo, meaning you'll have to rely on laggy Bluetooth or get an AUX to USB-C dongle. The X2S Type-C also has the same dimensions as the GameSir X2 before it, which could make it a bit too small for those with large hands to use comfortably.

How we test the best phone controllers

As with testing any product, we first test phone controllers by simply using them as they were intended for an extended period of time. As they are game controllers, we tested their efficacy with a variety of games, and on the operating systems they supported.

Next, our goal is to establish the differences between each product in terms of design and features. This allows us to determine which phone controllers are better than others in specific areas, such as build quality, ergonomics, connectivity, and general feel during gameplay. 

With these things in mind, we were able to separate into categories based on their highlights.

How to choose the best phone controller

When it comes to choosing a phone controller, you'll first need to decide on how you want it to connect to to your device. Depending on the controller, connectivity will occur via Bluetooth or directly via your phone's USB-C or Lightning port.

For the sake of convenience, the latter is usually the preferred option, as the controller will draw its power directly from your phone without the need for charging. Additionally, plug and play gamepads eliminate input lag, and often provide access to bonus ports, such as a 3.5mm headphone jack or extra charging port.

That said, those planning to play on tablets or foldables may want to opt for a Bluetooth option, as the port locations on these larger devices can sometimes result in awkward controller placement and/or orientation.

Another thing to consider is controller layout — if your goal is to primarily stream games via Xbox Cloud Gaming or Steam Link, a controller with an Xbox layout is the way to go. Alternatively, PS4 and PS5 gamers looking to take advantage of PS Remote Play should look into controllers with a PlayStation button layout.

Stephen Lambrechts

Stephen Lambrechts is the Managing Editor of Tom's Guide AU and has written professionally across the categories of tech, film, television and gaming for the last 15 years. Before Tom's Guide, he spent several years as a Senior Journalist at TechRadar, had a brief stint as Editor in Chief at Official Xbox Magazine Australia, and has written for such publications as APC, TechLife Australia, T3, FilmInk, AskMen, Daily Telegraph and IGN. He's an expert when it comes to smartphones, TVs, gaming and streaming. In his spare time, he enjoys watching obscure horror movies on physical media, keeping an eye on the latest retro sneaker releases and listening to vinyl. Occasionally, he also indulges in other non-hipster stuff, like hiking.