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How to use an Xbox controller on Android devices

Got an Xbox controller laying around? Use it!
By
June 7, 2022

Mobile gaming has become a unique genre of gaming all on its own. The types of mobile games available vary greatly, from generic puzzle games laden with ads to fun shooters based on classic game series. You can play many games with a controller, making the experience so much better.

If you already own an Xbox controller, you can save money and not buy a separate controller for your mobile games. Here’s exactly how to use your Xbox controller on Android devices and enhance your gaming experience.

More: The best gaming consoles available

QUICK ANSWER

An Xbox controller can be easily connected to Android devices. If the unit has Bluetooth, you need to pair your device to the controller, as you would with any other device. Wired controllers can be connected using an OTG cable. After pairing the controller, you can use it to play any compatible games.


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Which Xbox controllers can you use with Android devices?

Asus ROG Phone 3 with Xbox Controller Citra Nintendo 3DS
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

You can use two different Xbox controllers with your Android devices: Xbox Wireless Controllers and Xbox 360 controllers. The former are controllers made for Xbox One, Xbox Series S, and Xbox Series X consoles.

Newer Xbox Wireless Controllers, particularly the Bluetooth ones, will be the easiest to use with your Android device. With Bluetooth controllers, you have to pair your device to the controller, and you’re ready to go. Google added Xbox One controller support with Android 9 Pie, so Bluetooth controllers work the best; in a pinch, non-Bluetooth controllers will also work.

If you have an Xbox One controller without Bluetooth connectivity or an Xbox 360 controller, you can still use both with your Android devices; the process is a little bit more complicated.

Check out: Microsoft Xbox cloud gaming: Everything we know so far

How to use a newer Xbox Wireless Controller on an Android device

xbox series x review controller on top
Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

Requirements:

  • An Android device with Bluetooth connectivity and Android 5.1.1 or newer
  • An Xbox One controller with Bluetooth

How to connect your Xbox Wireless Controller to an Android device:

  1. Make sure Bluetooth is on and open the settings. You can do this in a few different ways. The easiest way is to swipe down to see your quick-access menu items; you can press and hold the Bluetooth button to open up your Bluetooth settings. Or, you can also go to your phone settings and locate the Bluetooth options that way.
  2. Press the Xbox button on your controller to ensure it’s turned on; then press and hold the sync button on the controller (top left) until the Xbox button starts flashing. As soon as the light starts flashing, this means that the controller is in Bluetooth pairing mode. It’s ready to be connected to your Android device at this point.
  3. Go back to the Bluetooth settings on your Android device and pair the Xbox One controller to your device. The Xbox One controller should appear in the list of nearby devices ready to be paired. If it does not appear in this list, press Scan to search for the controller. When the device is in pairing mode, the Xbox button will be blinking; it has been paired as soon as it has stopped blinking.
  4. Depending on your phone or tablet, you should be able to see the controller working immediately. Test it out using the directional pad and the buttons to navigate your device’s system.
  5. Try out your favorite game! Many games don’t require any special configuration before they’re ready to be played with a controller. Some games might need you to switch from touch screen input to controller input in the settings of that particular game.

Also read: Everything about Xbox Game Pass Ultimate: The best value in gaming?

If you’re unsure whether your Xbox One controller has Bluetooth capabilities, there’s an easy way to tell. Your controller has Bluetooth capability if the area around your Xbox button is part of the same plastic as the rest of your controller. If the Xbox button is part of a separate piece (and color) of plastic, it does not have Bluetooth capability. A Bluetooth-capable Xbox Wireless Controller will look like the one in the image above.

How to use an Xbox 360 controller on an Android device

The process is a bit more involved if you want to use an Xbox 360 controller or a non-Bluetooth Xbox One controller. Of course, it’s still doable. If you already have the controller, it might be cheaper to configure your current controller instead of purchasing a Bluetooth controller.

Requirements:

  • A wired or wireless Xbox 360, Xbox One, or Xbox Core controller.
  • An OTG, or “on the go,” cable.
  • An Android device that supports OTG cables.
  • An Xbox 360 wireless receiver (if using a wireless Xbox 360 controller).

How to connect Xbox wired controllers to Android devices:

  1. Connect your OTG cable to your Android device.
  2. Plug your controller into the open USB port of the OTG cable. You can also plug the Xbox 360 controller’s wireless receiver into the OTG cable.
  3. Start using it with your favorite games!

The selection of games that support wireless controllers seems to be less than those that support wired controllers typically. Plus, when using Xbox 360 controllers, most games won’t have an option for button mapping; this means you’re stuck with whatever the default button layout is for that game.

Which Xbox controller should I use with my Android device?

Xbox Series S and One S contoller and console comparison angled
Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

You can easily use any Xbox controller with your Android device. But if you can get your hands on a version with Bluetooth connectivity, this would be the best option; it will make connecting to your device much more straightforward, and you won’t have to deal with pesky cables. A cabled controller will likely save you some cash, though. It might be a better option for those who don’t game as often.

Read next: The best Bluetooth gaming controllers for Android, PC, and more!

Get a gaming mount to improve your experience

Asus ROG Phone 3 with Xbox Controller Citra Nintendo 3DS Mario
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

The main issue with gaming on your smartphone is that these are both handheld products, and they both require both hands. You could prop up your phone and hold on to the controller, but the best way to experience mobile gaming with a physical controller is with a mount. Let’s talk about some of our favorites.

The best phone mounts for Xbox controllers:

  • PowerA Moga Mobile Gaming Clip: PowerA has built a name for itself in the gaming accessory market, and this clip is definitely one of the best out there. It can hold your controllers and phones with up to 3.12in in width. It’s also very affordable.
  • OtterBox Mobile Gaming Clip: You probably know OtterBox. The company makes amazing cases and portable batteries. Its gaming clip offers a premium, foldable, and even detachable design. You can use it as a stand, as well as a mount. You’ll have to pay up for this level of experience, though.
  • 8Bitdo Mobile Gaming Clip: 8Bitdo is another popular controller brand, and we like its gaming mount because of its build quality. The unit is composed partly of metal parts, and it is also adjustable to different positions. Not to mention it’s also an affordable option.

Next: The best Xbox One games available

FAQs

You can use Xbox 360 controllers and newer.

Xbox controllers are great Android controllers. Still, they are most beneficial to those who already have one, or like the ergonomics of Xbox controllers. Al things considered, it’s better to use a controller made for Android. This will ensure better compatibility, mobile features, and possibly better compatibility with other platforms.

It will, as long as the game has controller support. Not all games do.

Yes. You’ll have to go through the button remapping process, but that’s the case with any controller.