Review: An excellent Bluetooth controller for iPhone, courtesy of GameSir
Turn your iPhone into a Nintendo Switch.
For years, mobile gaming was considered an afterthought in the greater scheme of all things gaming, but in the last decade, thanks to advancements in mini-computer technology (I.e., our smartphones), gamers and casuals alike don't have to settle for simple puzzle games, and with the advent of cloud gaming, it's never been easier to jump into a game on your phone.
So, with the barrier of processing power and game quality out of the way, the only gate left to keep is the matter of control. Touch controls have become more advanced, accessible, and accurate than ever before, but they're not for everyone — They're certainly not for me. Enter the GameSir X2 Bluetooth Mobile Controller, a Bluetooth revision of the GameSir X2 USB-C Mobile Controller.
With traditional face buttons, left and right analog sticks, and 20 hours of battery life, the GameSir X2 Bluetooth Mobile Controller turns your iPhone into a bonafide Switch and works seamlessly with Apple Arcade and other MFI games, as well as cloud services like Stadia. Unfortunately, the companion app is outdated and basically useless on the iPhone, so modifying, editing, and saving controller configurations are out of the question.
GameSir X2 Bluetooth Mobile Controller
Bottom line: GameSir X2 Bluetooth Mobile Controller is a worthy controller for iPhone users, thanks to its solid and comfortable build. Just don't expect much in the way of control customization.
- Solid build and comfortable
- Satisfying button quality
- Competitive price
- Seamlessly works with all controller supported Apple Arcade and MFI games
- Switching Bluetooth channels is a little cumbersome
- No rumble
- Crap app
GameSir X2 Bluetooth Mobile Controller: Price and availability
Right off the bat, the GameSir X2 Bluetooth Mobile Controller is available on Amazon for $60, about $40 cheaper than the MSRP for the Razer Kishi for iPhone. It is also more affordable than buying a phone clip with an Xbox or PlayStation controller, though heading the third party route can get you a cheaper controller and clip of questionable quality. The current model is black and gray, with red and blue highlights around the thumbstick, invoking an obvious Switch comparison.
GameSir X2 Bluetooth Mobile Controller: What I like
The X2 Bluetooth Mobile Gaming Controller is as simple as it gets as far as design is concerned. Of course, that's by no means a bad thing. The two sides of the controller are connected by a sliding body, which can easily hold any modern iPhone with ease — no need to swap your phone out of its case. It's not bulky, either. The Bluetooth controller can support phones up to 173mm in length, which comes in at about the length of a Nintendo Switch. I exclusively used my iPhone 11 in my testing and had no problem with it slipping out or being unwieldy.
You'll find everything else you expect from a modern controller
Both back corners of the controller are supported with a rubber grip, which gives it a nice ergonomic fit for extended play sessions. Aside from that, you'll find everything else you expect from a modern controller: Two clickable control sticks, a solid D-pad and face buttons, two shoulder buttons, and two triggers. Everything has a satisfying click when used, especially the D-pad, which is often done wrong. At first, I thought the triggers were a bit shallow, but after a few hours, they grew on me, and I think feels better than the ones on the Switch.
The controller also comes with two Joy-Stick caps that easily fold over the control sticks for added comfort. It also features up to 20 hours of battery life before it needs a charge, but there's no way to charge your phone while it's in the controller.
But what's it like in action?
X2 Bluetooth Mobile Gaming Controller features different Bluetooth signals for both Android and iPhone. It was a little convoluted to understand at first — three different combinations of buttons activate different signals that your iPhone then picks up. It's nice to have the option to use both, as there are many controllers that have you choose one or the other.
Every game worked exceptionally well — no noticeable input lag, no disconnects, and no compromises.
Strangely enough, the controller is detected as an Xbox Controller and works as such. But enough about signals and controller grip, how does it fare when actually playing games? I decided to test out Apple Arcade's offerings first: I tried World of Demons, Hot Lava, Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm, and Samurai Jack, and all of them worked seamlessly.
But you're not interested in Apple Arcade? Well, I tried Call of Duty: Mobile and PUBG Mobile as well, and both worked just fine, and while Xbox Game Pass Cloud Gaming hasn't made a public appearance on the iPhone (the service is still in invite-only beta) I did test the controller against the Stadia version of Immortals: Fenix Rising and Super Bomberman Online. Every game worked exceptionally well — no noticeable input lag, no disconnects, and no compromises.
GameSir X2 Bluetooth Mobile Controller: What I didn't like
Now while the actual hardware is great, the same can't be said about the app. The GameSir app is meant to give you access to GameSir's G-Touch Technology that helps you configure and save controller setups and other various tools for a variety of different games. It's just not intuitive to use, and it makes the whole experience of using the app feel cheap.
But maybe that doesn't matter because the most egregious thing about the app is that it doesn't even work in the current iOS. While this may be updated somewhere down the line, as of this writing, support for the X2 Bluetooth Mobile Gaming Controller is nonexistent. I reached out to GameSir for comment, but they only reconfirmed what I already knew, that G-Touch only supports iOS 13.4 and below. The app is the only way to update the controller's firmware and some electronic manuals, though, so it's useful to keep installed if only for that.
There's also a lack of vibration on the controller can take away a bit from the immersion of the game. I didn't worry too much about the smaller games, but for large-scale games like Immortals: Fenix Rising, I did miss it.
GameSir X2 Bluetooth Mobile Controller: Competition
Clearly, the GameSir's competition is directly the Razer Kishi, a very stylish and functional alternative. It does have a slicker design that makes it feel like a more premium product, as well as an app that, well, works. But it's not Bluetooth ready, and it's usually priced at about $100. The pairing of a phone clip and a game controller is also a worthy alternative, especially if you own an Xbox or PlayStation already, but if you don't, it might not make sense shelling out cash for a controller you'll only use on your phone — not to mention, phone clips aren't exactly the most attractive options.
GameSir X2 Bluetooth Mobile Controller: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- If you want a comfortable controller for your iPhone.
- If you can't stand touch controls in your games.
- If you want something similar to the Razer Kishi but don't want to spend Razer Kishi money.
You shouldn't buy this if...
- If you absolutely hate Bluetooth.
- If you like customizing your controls.
The GameSir X2 Bluetooth Mobile Controller is a great way to bypass the awkwardness of touch controls at a fair price. This is a worthwhile iPhone controller and a great alternative to the Razer Kishi. The biggest downside comes from the controller's companion app, but it's certainly not enough of a downside to detract from the more than great package.
The GameSir X2 Bluetooth Mobile Controller is a great value. It's an affordable option for gaming on your iPhone. The build is solid, it's comfortable, and it works well with Apple Arcade, MFI titles, and cloud games. It's only a shame I couldn't put it to the test with xCloud. It's definitely one of the best game controllers for iPhone available now.
GameSir X2 Bluetooth Mobile Controller
Bottom line: If you like to play games on your phone but don't want to deal with touch controls (and you don't want to pay top dollar), the GameSir X2 Bluetooth Mobile Controller is the controller for you.