It took a while, but Samsung finally launched the Gamepad Bluetooth controller that it first teased at the launch of the Galaxy S4 back in March.
The long delay might have to do with the complete makeover that the Gamepad received. Moving away from the white Xbox-like design and layout of the original device, the new Gamepad is all black and has a completely different set of controls. You get an 8-way D-pad, two analog sticks, four action buttons, two trigger buttons, a Select button, a Start button, and a special Play button that launches Samsung’s catalog of compatible games. The new design looks much sleeker and the controls seem better placed than on the initial model.
The Gamepad is compatible with mobile devices ranging from 4-inches to 6.3-inches across, thanks to the expandable arm that folds out from the back of the controller. However, for pairing you will need Android 4.1 or higher and support for Bluetooth 3 or higher, NFC, and the HID standard. The device weighs 192 grams and comes with a worryingly small 160 mAh rechargeable battery.
Samsung released a Mobile Console companion app for the Gamepad, which currently includes a catalog of “35 dedicated games”, with more titles promised for next year. Among the highlights are Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Asphalt 8: Airborne, Modern Combat 4, Virtua Tennis, and Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame. Clicking the Play button on the Gamepad will open up the Mobile Console on the paired device. The app is only available on Samsung devices through Samsung Apps. The support for HID should make it easy to map controls from a wide variety of other games.
The Gamepad is currently available in “select European markets”, with more markets to join in the following weeks. Samsung hasn’t announced the price of the device, but British retailer Handtec lists it as available for pre-order for a pricey £65.99 (abou $108).
If you’re interested in a good Bluetooth controller for your mobile device, we recently reviewed the Moga Pro Power and Moga Hero Power, which are cheaper and arguably better than Samsung’s Gamepad. You might want to check them out.