Moga Pro review: level up your Android gaming

October 12, 2013
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Modern Android devices pack powerful internals and great displays that make them ideal gaming devices. But one thing prevents the gaming experience on smartphones and tablets from being truly compelling – the touchscreen controls.

Bluetooth controllers like the Moga Pro are designed to solve precisely this issue. But does the Moga Pro solve more problems than it adds or is it just a big hassle? We look at all the things that matter in our Moga Pro review.

The basics

The Moga Pro is the successor to the Moga Pocket, a largely forgettable gadget that lacked good controls and had a limited number of compatible games. Retailing for $49, the Moga Pro offers a completely overhauled experience, adding more buttons, more games, and more battery life.

The controller features an extendable arm where you can fit phones in landscape mode, up to a dimension of 3.2-inch (82 millimeters). However, we tried the Note 3 (3.12-inch), and while it does barely fit, we didn’t find it stable enough for gaming, which is why we can’t really recommend it.

Even if your device doesn’t fit the extendable arm, you can still pair to the Moga Pro, and the nifty little tripod stand that ships with the controller lets you set it up on any flat surface.

Unlike the Moga Pocket, which requires two AAA batteries, the Moga Pro has an internal rechargeable battery that you can charge via USB. The unit should, in theory, be good for 12 to 15 hours of gaming, which means that, unless you’re a hardcore mobile gamer, you should only have to recharge every few days. To spare battery life, the Moga Pro shuts down itself after a period of inactivity.

The Moga Pro can pair with any device running Android 2.3 or higher.

The controller

Console gamers will see in the Moga Pro traces of both the Xbox 360 and the PS3 controller. The biggest difference from any standard controller is the flexible arm that tucks away in the center of the device, and can be flipped open and extended to accommodate a smartphone. In the closed position, the holding arm conceals the power button/A-B switch.

On the left side, you have an analog stick, a D-pad, the Select button, and the Bluetooth pairing button. On the right, there’s another analog, the four action buttons and the Start button. One qualm we have with this setup is that the Start and Select buttons are somehow hard to reach. The Moga Pro also features shoulder buttons and triggers, as well as a backlight toggle for the action buttons. The USB charging port is located on the back in an easily accessible spot.

Overall, we like the controller quite a lot – the grips are comfortable and they fit the hand well, the entire device is firm, while the buttons are precise and have the perfect amount of give.

The tablet stand is a nice touch, though it’s not essential to the user experience. It lets you mount all kinds of devices securely. and we found ourselves using it quite often.

The gaming experience

The Moga Pocket had only a few dozen compatible games, but the Moga Pro is leaps and bounds better because it supports the Bluetooth HID profile, which is supported by an increasing number of games and emulators.

You can use the Moga Pro in two modes, that you can switch between with the A-B toggle. In A mode, you can play games available in the Moga Pivot app, which is the companion app for the controller that also lets you pair it to an Android phone or tablet. These are games that the Moga team guarantees are compatible with the controller. In B mode, the controller uses the Bluetooth HID profile, that lets you pair it with many emulators and games that support button mapping.

Pairing by Bluetooth takes a few seconds, and setting up games to work with the Moga Pro only takes about two minutes. In arcade games like Riptide GP2 or even shooters like Dead Trigger, the Moga Pro is a pleasure to use, offering precise and fast controls while exposing the display in its full glory. To wrap up, the Moga Pro is guaranteed to enrich your Android gaming experience, which is why we recommend it to any serious mobile gamer.

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