The Best Game Controllers for iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV

Nenotoh Switch Controller

Take your iPhone and Apple TV gaming to the next level with a new game controller. Here are some of the best options on the market.

There is a common belief among gamers that the Apple ecosystem is not designed for “real” gaming. This is a meme that has been around for several years and claims that Apple products are not actually capable of delivering the high-quality graphics that consoles and PC games can offer.

There is some truth to this, as Apple-affiliated games mostly consist of mobile-focused casual games rather than triple-A blockbuster games. However, that's not the whole story.

Games like Genshin Impact, Call of Duty: Mobile and PUBG Mobile prove that you can have a great gaming experience on a device you can put in your pocket.

This is before looking at games that run on other platforms, including Apple TV and Mac. Additionally, if you want a full-fledged gaming GUI that is not available in the Apple ecosystem, game streaming services are worth considering.

Apple's promotion of games within its ecosystem through Apple Arcade has also helped other types of non-mobile games become more accessible to users, opening up the prospect of Apple becoming a more serious gaming platform.

The gaming experience for fans of retro games should also improve in the coming months after Apple changed its App Store rules to allow emulators of classic games to appear on the digital storefront. This change should make it much easier to watch games on the big screen in your living room using Apple TV.

There's still one element missing from what Apple offers gamers: dedicated game controllers. Gamers who are more accustomed to console games would likely feel more comfortable playing similar games on mobile devices if they had a controller in their hands rather than constantly tapping or swiping on the screen.

The same applies to gaming on a Mac: while PC gaming is dominated by the mouse and keyboard, the use of controllers is also quite common.

Despite the potential for gaming on its platforms, Apple has not actually offered users its own controllers. As a result, consumers have to buy third-party controllers to play games.

Getting the best gaming controllers can improve your overall gaming experience. It's also not as confusing as you might think.

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Take control with the best game controllers

It's actually quite easy to pick up a game controller for your chosen game platform, as there are usually obvious indicators indicating whether it will be compatible with your devices or not.

In the case of game consoles, the obvious choice to facilitate compatibility is to choose in-house accessories. Obviously, this is not possible for Apple.

This doesn't mean Apple has explored the concept: patents and rumors indicate it has been considered internally but hasn't yet become a reality.

However, gamers still have quite a few options they can buy right now and use on their iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple TV. However, you should be careful.

Let's start with the fact that Apple itself has made it possible to use third-party game controllers for major modern consoles thanks to its ecosystem. If you have a gaming console that was released in the last few years, there's a good chance it will be compatible with controllers that typically connect via Bluetooth.

Secondly, MFi accessories are a good option for working with Apple equipment, but not with everything. Made For iPhone hardware will work with an iPhone or iPad most of the time, but they will also primarily be focused on working only with mobile hardware made by Apple.

For example, an MFi controller designed for iPhone may require power from the iPhone to operate because it may not have a built-in battery. Other controllers require a wired connection to operate.

This need for a physical connection effectively rules out the use of most MFi controllers with an Apple TV, as well as the use of a Mac without a cable.

Test to see if the MFi controller works outside of iPhone and iPad if you're planning on turning your Apple TV into a TV gaming console. The best gaming controllers offer versatility, so always check for broad compatibility.

Apple's introduction of USB-C in the latest versions of mobile equipment is also significantly opening up the market for mobile controllers. Previously, users had to use mobile controllers with Lightning connections, now in many cases it is possible to use Android-centric controllers with USB-C connections.

Sony PlayStation DualSense Wireless Controller

One of the most sought-after controllers on the planet due to the rarity of the console itself, the Sony PlayStation 5 DualSense Wireless Controller is one of the essential gaming console peripherals that will also work with all Apple hardware.

Sony's design includes a left-hand control pad, a pair of low-mounted joysticks, bumpers and triggers, and four Sony function buttons shaped on the right side. Also included are additional buttons for social functions, a PlayStation power button, and a large touchpad, although you're unlikely to get much benefit from the latter.

On PlayStation, the controller has features like built-in audio and haptic feedback, but in most cases you won't necessarily be able to use these on Apple hardware.

Sony PlayStation DualSense Wireless Controller

The big benefit of using the DualSense is that you can connect it to your Apple devices and still use it with the PlayStation 5. This could potentially be a money-saving option if you already have one, and it's especially convenient if you're already used to to Sony peripherals.

Amazon sells the PlayStation DualSense wireless controller for $73, and it comes in a variety of colors.

An alternative to the DualSense wireless controller is the DualShock 4 wireless controller. Originally created for the PlayStation 4, it offers almost the same basic features as the DualSense in terms of gaming on the Apple platform.

It's also cheaper, costing $59.99 on Amazon, and again comes in a variety of colors.

Xbox Core Wireless Game Controller

Just like Sony's popular console controllers work on iOS, so does Microsoft's. Apple includes support for the Xbox Core Wireless Game Controller, Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller, Xbox Adaptive Controller, and Xbox Series S and Series X Wireless Controller.

Our pick from this group is the Xbox Core Wireless Game Controller, which provides Almost the same controls as the Sony version: a D-pad, two analog sticks, four main buttons, a pair of bumpers and a pair of triggers.

Xbox Wireless Controller

While you can use Bluetooth to connect it to Apple hardware, it also has a USB-C port allowing you to use it in a wired configuration with your Mac, which will save you from draining your batteries. Again, you can also use these with your main gaming console if you don't want to spend the money on a dedicated controller.

The Xbox Core Wireless Game Controller, available in a variety of colors, can be purchased on Amazon for approximately $54.98, depending on color and availability.

Nintendo Switch Indicators

Completing the main console controllers, the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Controllers are designed for Nintendo handheld devices, but can work with Apple hardware. Joy-Con controllers are not a single unit like many other traditional controllers, but rather two separate sections that make up one controller.

This means you can use them alone and without connecting to anything else, or connect them to another accessory for a more typical controller setup.

Nintendo Switch Joy-Con

Each Joy-Con controller has four buttons, an analog stick, and a bumper. Combined, they offer quite a few control options in games.

In addition, players have the ability to set up a pair of Joy-Con controllers as two separate controllers, which can be useful for local multiplayer games.

A pair of Joy-Con controllers costs $69.99 on Amazon.

Joy-Con QRD Stellar T3 Wireless Controller

Like the Nintendo originals, this is a pair of controller sections that are separate from the central core section, although without the symmetrical design. The larger sections of the controller have directional controls, a D-pad, face buttons, bumpers, and triggers, and the controller is backlit.

Joycon QRD Stellar T3 Wireless Controller

Although it is sold as an OLED Switch and Switch controller, it also connects to Apple hardware via Bluetooth so will work from iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple TV.

QRD Stellar T3 can be purchased on the company's website for $58.99.

Nenotoh Switch Controller

The Nenotoh Switch Controller, which AppleInsider reviewed in December, is another Switch that is a replacement Joy-Con, but has a fairly standard controller shape. Because it connects to the Nintendo Switch, it also works with iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV.

The usual selection of buttons is available, including four face buttons, a D-pad, two joysticks, bumpers and triggers, as well as some additional functions for the Home launcher, plus and minus buttons, Turbo and LED indicators.

Nenotoh switch controller

The USB-C port is designed for charging and connecting via cable instead of Bluetooth. The 550 mAh battery will last for about ten hours of use.

The Nentoh Switch Controller sells for $21.99 on Amazon.

SteelSeries Nimbus+

SteelSeries Nimbus+ is one of the most versatile third-party controllers available, supporting Apple hardware. Supporting iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and macOS, the controller offers all the core features you'd expect from a DualSense wireless controller.

The controller offers support for thousands of games on the App Store as well as Apple Arcade, so there's a good chance that most of the games you play will work with the peripheral. It features two analog sticks, four main buttons, a D-pad, bumpers, and magnetic Hall effect triggers.

SteelSeries Nimbus+

Although in its basic design it is a regular controller, it is also convenient for mobile games. An iPhone mount is available so you can attach your smartphone to the top of the controller for a better viewing angle without having to prop it up anywhere.

With a 50-hour battery life, it can easily handle a weekend of gaming.

The SteelSeries Nimbus+ retails for $50.74 on Amazon.

GameSir T4 Pro

A more budget option GameSir T4 Pro is a wireless game controller based on the classic Xbox controller. It includes identical control options, including four face buttons, a D-pad, two analog sticks, and bumpers and triggers, although it does include some additional buttons such as Home and Turbo.

Even though it is cheaper than most other devices, it still offers many useful features such as wired and Bluetooth support, MFi gaming compatibility, and a built-in 600mAh battery. .

GameSir T4 Pro

It also includes a translucent RGB backlit cover for decoration, reminiscent of one of the hardcore gaming styles.

GameSir T4 Pro costs $35.99 on Amazon.

Backbone One

Now in its second generation, Backbone One delivers unmatched hardware and software quality. This is a universal controller, designed for iPhone and connects via Lightning or USB-C, depending on the variant, but does not connect to other Apple hardware.

The iPhone sits in the middle and contains controls including a dual joystick, control pad, four face buttons, bumpers and triggers. Additional function buttons are available, as well as a pass-through charging port and a headphone jack.

Backbone One

The software side is perhaps Backbone's strong point, as the companion app is capable of handling button remapping, screenshots, and firmware updates. A Backbone+ subscription adds additional features such as product discounts, in-game rewards, game hubs, video capture, and in-app voice and text chat.

The second generation models are available on Amazon for $99.99 on Amazon in both USB-C and Lightning versions. The first generation model with Lightning is also available at a discount.

RiotPWR cloud gaming controller for iOS

Another Xbox controller-based device, the RiotPWR cloud gaming controller for iOS, is pretty close to Microsoft's standard offering. However, there are a number of changes that will make it as mobile friendly as possible.

The MFi certified controller has a top section designed to accommodate a device holder. This means you can place your iPhone directly above the controller itself.

The connection to the Lightning port uses a cable, meaning it will work on iPhone 14 and earlier models, but not on iPhone 15 or later models. The controller has a second port that is used to provide pass-through power to charge the iPhone while gaming, as well as a headphone jack.

RiotPWR Cloud Game Controller for iOS

There is also a dedicated Xbox button that opens Xbox Game Pass for quick access to console games on iPhone. It's also compatible with other gaming services, including Steam Link and PS Remote Play.

The RiotPWR Cloud Gaming Controller for iOS Xbox Edition costs $24.99 on Amazon, which is a significant discount from the original $69.99.

HexGaming Rival Pro

If you want a more premium experience, HexGaming can provide you with a customizable controller different ways. Designed for serious gamers and eSports enthusiasts, HexGaming controllers take gaming to a more extreme and expensive level.

Based on a real DualSense controller, the Rival Pro is a heavily modified variant from HexGaming. Changes include the addition of four remappable rear buttons that can be changed on the fly, switchable joysticks with variable height, and different thumb grip designs for a more comfortable gaming experience.

HexGaming Rival Pro

Because it is essentially a DualSense controller, it is also MFi certified and works the same as a regular DualSense controller when connected to hardware Apple.

HexGaming Rival Pro starts at $199.99 (5% off with promo code APPLEINSIDER), but that price can go up if you add additional customizations, like a specific color scheme.

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