While the vast majority of Android games are designed with the touchscreen in mind, the reality is that there are certain times when using a traditional controller just makes more sense. This applies particularly to games that were ported from a console over to Android, as well as to emulators. It also rings true for games where using the touchscreen just isn’t possible, such as VR games where your phone is strapped to your face.

There are many different controllers to choose from on the market today, with all different sizes and layouts. For this list, we wanted to focus on the five controllers we think are the very best, regardless of the price or form factor. My goal was to have a healthy mix of different sizes, shapes, and layouts. Upon digging in, however, I found that most of the ‘ultra portable’ Bluetooth controllers just aren’t that great.

That means that the vast majority of the controllers here look almost identical in size and shape, with nearly all the best controllers taking on an almost Xbox-esque design. At least resembles the Playstation controller as well.

So without further ado, let’s jump right in.

MadCatz GameSmart C.T.R.L.


The Mad Catz C.T.R.L. is designed with both Android and PC in mind, and while it works flawlessly with the Android devices I tested it out on (The Shield tablet, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, Nexus 6, Nexus 6P, etc), I noticed some issues when pairing it to my Windows PC, such as the rear trigger buttons not registering correctly and other minor quirks.

Design wise, the C.T.R.L. sticks to the traditional Xbox 360 layout that has become so popular among PC and Android game controllers. The controller offers two analog sticks, a d-pad, 4 main action buttons on the face (A,B,X,Y), start, back, a button for syncing, two shoulder triggers, and two smaller shoulder bumpers. Probably one of the best extras is the built-in media buttons found on the controller’s face that allows you to play/pause, fast forward, rewind, and turn the volume up and down. This was particularly handy for use in the Gear VR and for controlling my Shield Tablet from across the room when connected to my TV via HDMI.


The C.T.R.L. also has another unique function up its sleeves, the existence of three different modes that can be toggled from a three-way sliding switch. The mode to the left is GameSmart, which is the basic mode for using this for Android. In the middle, is a mouse-mode that works with both PC and Android devices, giving you a fully functional mouse pointer controlled by your left analog stick. And to the right is the switch for making the controller play nicely with PC games.

In terms of battery power, this controller uses AAs and is rated for about 40 hours of continuous play. I haven’t used it quite that much yet, but so far haven’t run into any issues with the controller lacking juice.


For those looking for a game controller that attaches to your phone, the Mad Catz C.T.R.L. does offer this via a screw mount. When the mount is removed, you have this somewhat awkward bulge and hole at the top, which I don’t have any major love for, but it’s not the end of the world. The mount itself works fairly well thanks to jaws that pull apart with sprint tension and work well enough with all phones I threw at it, including the Nexus 6.

With that out of the way, how do I personally feel about this controller? Out of all the controllers in this list, this is the one I found myself reaching for more often than not, especially when utilizing it with my Gear VR. The C.T.R.L. not only functions great, it also feel pretty good in the hands, with enough weight to make it feel substantial and solid, but not so much that’s overly bulky. Bottom-line, I highly recommend this control if you’re looking for something that not only feels great, but adds several unique extra features like mouse functionality, PC support, and media playback.

Steel Series Stratus XL


While I really love MadCatz controller thanks to its media controls, a decent phone holder, and a reasonably solid feel in the hands — the Stratus XL is without a doubt the most impressive looking and feeling of the Bluetooth gamepads that I reviewed. With a nice black design with orange and gray accent colors, this is a great looking controller, and equally feels great in the hand, with a nice heft to it (without being too heavy) that makes me feel like it should be pretty durable.

Like the MadCatz C.T.R.L., this one looks like an Xbox controller, but with a button layout that is actually a bit more similar to a Playstation controller. That includes two joysticks that are near the bottom and lined up directly across from one another, and a d-pad to the upper left. Otherwise, you get four main action buttons (A,B, X, Y) on the face, alongside three unique buttons in the center, and at the top you’ll find two triggers and two shoulder buttons.


The SteelSeries Stratus XL is compatible with both PC and Android, and while I spent most of my time using it with Android, I can confirm it plays nicely with my PC, as I used it to run through Fallout 4 for a bit without an issue. When using with Android, it’s equally flawless and should work in every game that supports controllers — including your favorite emulators.

Battery wise, I can’t speak for how long it lasts, but with probably close to eight or ten hours of usage, I still haven’t come close to needing to change out the AA batteries. In other words, this shouldn’t be any worse than any other typical AA-powered controller like the Xbox 360 and Xbox One gamepad.


Unfortunately, this Android game controller is really geared more at tablet users, and those that want to also use it on the PC, due to the fact that there is no phone holder option. You can certainly get a phone case with a kickstand to pair with this, but that certainly limits its portability. That said, if you want a beautiful looking controller that feels high-quality as hell, you can’t go wrong with the SteelSeries Stratus XL.

Moga Pro Power


Despite being a few years old now, the Power Pro is still easily one of the best controllers offered not only by Moga, but by anyone out there. Sure, it feels a slight bit cheaper than the first two Android gaming controllers on the list, but the inclusion of a recharge Li-ion battery and built-in phone holder make it a great choice for gamers that want the most portable solution possible.

The Hero Power offers two clickable analog sticks, a D-Pad, four action buttons, start and select buttons, two triggers, and two shoulder buttons. The layout and shape is, once again, very reminiscent of the Xbox 360/One controllers and the design is mostly black with a little bit of orange as an accent.


The molded plastic sides here make this Bluetooth controller for Android easy to grip, and there’s enough heft to make it feel pretty good in the hands. Sure, it’s not as nice looking or feeling as the Stratus XL, but it’s not too far off from that mark.

Battery life should be pretty good here, and if you do run low, simply attach the controller to a microUSB slot and you can charge the gamepad back up without needing to replace the battery. The Moga Pro Power also has the unique ability to charge your phone from its built-in battery, though doing so will obviously cut back the controller’s battery life significantly.


One word of caution, don’t both with the MOGA app. You can use this as a standard Android Bluetooth game controller and bypass the software completely, and really, that’s the best way to do it. For those interested in using your Android Bluetooth gamepad with your PC, keep in mind that the Pro Power isn’t designed with this functionality in mind — so you’ll want to look elsewhere if that’s important to you.

Razer Serval


The Razer Serval is an Android game controller that also happens to work with Windows and Mac computers.

Once again, we have a controller with an Xbox-esque design in place, with 4 face buttons, 2 analog sticks, two shoulder buttons, and two triggers. You’ll also notice at the bottom is a back and home button for use with Android, and there are also three buttons in the middle that can be used for shutting off the controller and for use in certain specific games (they don’t work in all of them).

I have to tell you, compared to the other Bluetooth game controllers above, this is my least favorite in terms of in hand feel. The battery compartment juts out a bit and makes the controller feel a bit awkard in the hand, for one thing. For another, something about the plastic used makes the whole controller feel a tad bit on the cheap side. Design wise, this isn’t an ugly controller, but the snake pattern on it is a little bit tacky.


Battery life on the controller should be comparable to other AA-powered controllers, and I certianly didn’t have any issues there.

The Razer Serval is a bit on the expensive side, considering most of the others on this list are similar or cheaper priced and yet feel and look better. That said, it’s still a really good controller. It wouldn’t be my first pick, but if someone gifted this to me, I’d count myself lucky, as its responsive, has great Android OS integration in the form of back/home buttons, and has a phone holder that clips on easily.


Sminiker gamepad


I know what you are probably thinking: who the hell is Sminiker? Yes, this is an unknown Chinese brand that clearly is a Playstation controller knock-off, but don’t write it off just yet.

When creating this list, I wanted to represent the best, but also provide a solid super affordable option for those that want all the performance of the big dogs, but don’t mind cheaper build materials and other minor concessions in order to get the pricing down. And the Sminiker does this flawlessy. I’m sure there are other great ‘cheap’ controllers out there, but this was very well received on Amazon and piqued my interest enough that I had to buy one. At $20 (at time of this writing), the Sminiker Android gamepad is more than 50% cheaper than the other controllers on this list.


As far layout is concerned, you have a standard playstation design, complete with four action buttons, two analog sticks, a d-pad, start/select buttons, two shoulders, and four shoulder buttons. There’s also a clip on phone holder that works with phones up to 6-inches without a problem. Look and feel? In a word: cheap-ish. It’s super leight, which puts off the balance a tiny bit in the hand and makes it feel like it could handle too many knocks. The buttons are also a bit cheap feeling, though they work pretty well regardless. The plastic design is also made of pretty low grade material.

That might not sound like “best bluetooth game controller” material, but functionality wise, it paired perfectly, worked with Gear VR, tablets, and Android phones without an issue.
As a nice extra you won’t find on many other controllers, this gamepad has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that didn’t run out during my 3-4 hours of usage, though I really can’t say how good it’s life is — though I’ll try to update this post in a few months once I’ve had more time with the controller.


Bottom-line, the Sminiker feels like any old generic 3rd party Playstation 3 controller, just this one happens to work with Android instead. For those that do a TON of hardcore gaming on their mobile devices might want to pass this one by, but if you’re looking for a cheap controller that works for those instances where touch isn’t enough — This is easily worth $20.

So that’s a look at just five of the best Android game controllers on the market. What do you think of our list? Any others you’d recommend? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments.

Andrew Grush
Andrew is one of the three Managing Editors of Android Authority, primarily responsible for the overseeing of US team of writers, in addition to several other projects such as VR Source and more. He loves tech, gaming, his family, and good conversations with like-minded folks.
  • damnyousy24

    you should add Xiaomi Gamepad

  • Joseph Martinez

    I don’t think it is the quality of Android controllers that is holding mobile gaming back, but rather the poor implementation of controller support in most games. Have you ever tried to play a first-person shooter on a mobile device with a Bluetooth controller? It definitely feels weird. It’s almost as if there is some sort of acceleration/deadzone/sensitivity issues in every single game i have ever played. Adjusting the sensitivity in game almost never fixes the problem. I just hope that some day a developer will get wise and implement controller support in a way that actually justifies the price tag on these controller devices.

    • Jack_Package

      A first person shooter feels wrong on any controller…that’s what your old friends, keyboard and mouse are for

      • Dmonik

        controllers are terribad for FPS games. Keyboard and mouse all teh way!

        • sinn1088

          Noon not even close. Why would you want to be so limited?

  • shushant kumar

    and the best controller for android is…

    dualshock 4

    • Carlos Luis Barón Carrero

      In my opium dreams T.T

    • Jeffero

      DS4 doesn’t work with my S7 Edge :( . And it’s a global problem, not with just my unit.

    • kalyan

      Will it works for all android mobiles??

    • sinn1088

      Does it work.? I know you can connect even without rooting but heard it only works on a few games. Mostly the ones that let you manually map the buttons

  • TheSharpeMan

    The Amazon link for MadCatz takes you to the Steelseries pad!

  • John

    To be fair, I had a controller for my phone on the go and didn’t like it because of the inconviniens and bulkyness but it did work nice.

    Nowdays I only play real mobile games like Temple Run 2 or Kairosoft games, but on the go my Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita are the best AND I don’t have to think to charge my phone because I played to much games on the go.

  • Gibbs

    I’ve got an ipega classic super cheap controller other then In accurate joystick it’s nice xD (I don’t play games with consoles I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be like that or not and wow that mate 8 looks super good!

  • I would like to see the best android game for game controller

  • Carlos Luis Barón Carrero

    Which Android games are set to play witn BT controllers?

  • Jack_Package

    Weird that you left out the Shield controller. Is there a reason for that?

    • Mike Finbow

      I agree it should be here, but perhaps the clue is in the name? “Best BLUETOOTH controller…” I think the Shield controller connects via WiFi.

    • Mike Finbow

      It connects by WiFi, not Bluetooth.

  • saketh ram

    Where is NVIDIA SHIELD

  • Justin Wong

    Is MadCatz GameSmart C.T.R.L. compatible with HuaWei Mate 8 ???

  • Nick Baldeagle

    Pah! Rooted phone and Dualshock 4. Close 2nd is the Ipega 9023 controller.

  • Joshua Lathan Sr

    Check out the GameSir G3s 2.4GHz wireless game pad. So far so good with that one.

  • Jonny Khaos

    I had 3, one for my tablet one for my phone and one i just gave away.

    Ipega 9023 extending controller, i love the thing…..i love how securely it grips my 10.1″ tablet as well as my phone. Yeah it takes a little getting used to in the begining but it’s literally what prompted me to buy a dedicated gaming tablet was having that controller

    Eagle eg001 gamepad….this things awesome feels a bit cheap but have never had to map button controls works natively with every emulator and have yet to find a game that doesnt just work flawlessly. Like the ipega both have built in recharging batteries

    Moga pocket. First controller i bought….it sux…and moga’s pivot sucks more

  • Jaymi Gibbs

    I been looking at the Moga Hero Power. It’s portable and it is only $20.

  • SRQ Sid

    I bought the Stratus XL for my Samsung Smart TV and Gear VR. It pairs with my Edge7 but the tv does not recognize it as either a controller, mouse, or keyboard. Steelseries support is non-existent: 404 errors or circular reference back to the page you were just on. Does anyone have a suggestion for a keyboard for a Samsung Smart TV that you can enter terms in a browser or youtube search box?

  • Ben Kilbry

    I enjoyed this article and it really helped me choose a gamepad for my tablet. However, it bothers me to no end to see blatant spelling/grammar mistakes throughout the article. Are all Android Authority articles like this? Is a spell-check and a quick read-through tiki much to ask? Anyway, thanks for the help!

  • Gourav

    Are there any other cheap bluetooth controllers under $20 that you recommend?

    • Dany

      Everything from iPega…

  • Mcskelly

    so this 5 BT controllers is the best among all the BT controllers in the world? heha

  • tails_lol

    me?best controller for Android?ps3,ps4 ,Xiaomi controller,xbox 360 wired and Xbox one s controller… I like only high quality.

  • MakoRuu

    You should include the prices in the descriptions next time.

  • sinn1088

    Don’t buy Sminiker gamepad I bought it for my vr and got another one for the s6 vr and my friend bought one with his vr and it worked great, but then the next time no games would work on it and now none can connect. I’m trying to save you money. Don’t buy! Android or vr.

  • rarmo

    So why did you decide to review a poor quality version of the Playstation style controller? Why are they all XBox based? What was the intention here? Not many of us feel comfortable with the Xbox style of controller and prefer the layout of the Playstation style since those are the easiest to use, and have been available for PC gaming for years. It would have been better if you had review different layouts at the same pricepoint/build quality. This wasn’t exactly a useful review…..

  • Axel Lim

    Update this article, the lack of Gamesir G4 is disturbing

  • Hafiz Razif

    Im really interested in the steel stratus XL bcoz u mentioned that it goes well with both android and pc. Out of curiosity, does it have any problems while playing it on pc? And does it need any special process to connect it, on the pc n android device? Really hope u can help me out here bcoz im planning on getting one 🙂

  • Richard

    so I didn’t read ever controllers review on here I was mostly just interested in the steel status so controller but the thing is u have missed or didn’t think to include a very important detail. With most of these controllers when u connect to an android device u can also cast to a tv screen like I do And when u think about it that makes them much more useful, but that’s just a thought lol take car

  • quadeddie

    Looking for good controllers for my Raspberry Pi (which supports bluetooth). Can I assume that these would work on that system?

  • marianne

    It’d be nice if something was said about the quality of the d-pads.