Want to jump into the cloud gaming revolution, but don’t fancy lugging around a full-sized controller? Say hello to the Razer Kishi — a universal gamepad capable of transforming your Android phone into a game streamer’s dream.
If you’re a regular at Android Authority, you may remember we reviewed the Kishi earlier this year where we dubbed it “the ultimate smartphone controller.” Now, Razer and Microsoft have teamed up to release a new version of the Kishi specifically tailored for Xbox players who want the best possible experience when xCloud launches in September.
How is it different from the regular Kishi? Does it offer any extra functionality for Xbox players? Is it just as great as ever? I went hands-on with the Razer Kishi “Designed for Xbox” edition to find out.
See also: The best Xbox deals available right now
What is the Razer Kishi Xbox edition?
Let’s start off with the basics. The Razer Kishi Xbox edition follows the exact overall design as the regular Kishi controller. You slot your phone into the right side via USB-C and slide the top of your device into the left controller with the D-pad and left thumbstick. The pressure, combined with rubber padding, keeps your phone locked in place during play.
What you get is essentially a Nintendo Switch-like handheld console using your phone, albeit on a slightly larger scale (if you have a large handset) and without detachable controllers.
Because it connects directly via USB-C it also doesn’t suffer from input latency issues you might find using a Bluetooth controller. While this helps when playing any kind of game, it’s an added boon for game streaming where latency is already impacted by your data connection speed and stability.
When not in use, the Kishi clips back together so you can throw it in your bag for later. Other features include a pass-through USB-C port for charging your phone while docked and grills on the right side of the controller to siphon in-game audio from your phone’s speakers (as long as they are of the bottom-firing variety).
Of course, this is the Xbox edition, so you’d expect some Xbox-flavored additions. Let’s talk about those.
Razer Kishi vs Razer Kishi Xbox edition: What’s the difference?
The all-black color scheme and overall design is almost identical no matter which version of the Kishi you buy. However, Razer has made some minor aesthetic and functionality tweaks to the Xbox version.
As well as the clickable twin thumbsticks and D-pad, the Kishi Xbox edition has four face buttons (A, B, X, Y) and three custom Xbox buttons that mirror a regular Xbox One or Xbox Series X controller.
The original Kishi also had three extra buttons, but the ones on the Xbox version take on the logo and features of the Xbox Nexus, View, and Menu buttons.
While you can still access these features on the regular Kishi, the integrated buttons are a more intuitive way of playing Xbox games to mobile via xCloud.
In an even more minor tweak, the A and B buttons have also color swapped to green and red, respectively, once again to resemble an Xbox controller. Bizarrely though, the two shoulder bumpers and triggers have not been changed to the standard Xbox nomenclature (LB/RB and LT/RT). A weird oversight, but not a big deal.
Another difference is the price: the regular Kishi retails for $79, while the Xbox version ups the price to $99 (or £99/€109 in the UK/Europe). That’s offset slightly by a free 14-day subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate which gives you access to a library of over 100 games ready to stream through xCloud.
Despite the branding, the Kishi Xbox edition is also compatible with rival streaming services like Google Stadia and GeForce Now, and fully supports Android games with gamepad support and various emulators for playing retro titles.
Should you buy it?
If you want the very best way to play Xbox games on mobile, then yes, absolutely. Microsoft has announced a bunch of mobile controllers designed for Xbox, and while the Kishi is the most expensive option, it’s also the most innovative.
The portable design and promise of near-zero latency is a perfect combo for game streaming, while the Xbox-specific changes fine-tune the experience further for would-be xCloud subscribers. Beyond that, it’s just a great all-round game controller for your phone too.
This special edition Razer Kishi is the best way to play Xbox games on mobile.
Is it worth the extra $20 over the regular Kishi? Arguably not, as despite the branding there’s nothing here that the standard Razer Kishi can’t do either with a bit of button remapping. For die-hard Xbox fans, though, this is as close as you’re getting to a true Xbox handheld console right now.
One final note before you rush out and buy one: be sure to check the size of your phone and the position of the USB-C port. Razer lists compatible phones on its website, but it should work as long as your device fits the dimensions below and runs Android Oreo or above:
- Height: 145.3 – 163.7mm
- Width: 68.2 – 78.1mm
- Depth: 7.0 – 8.8mm
The one exception is the Asus ROG Phone series, including the recently released ROG Phone 3. This is because Asus has positioned the USB-C port to the side of the phone, which doesn’t line up with the central port on either the regular Razer Kishi or Kishi Xbox model.
What do you think of the Razer Kishi Xbox edition?