Our web-portal, Gadget-reviews, continues to describe the smart phone and tablet gamepad controllers. Recently we have compared five different joysticks designed especially for Android smart phones. Now it’s time to introduce the best Apple gamepads.

It wasn’t easy to pick worthy candidates for this review. The thing is that the results of the almighty Google for the query “ios joystick” are traditionally endless. An embarrassment of riches: it turns out that dozens of gadgets for mobile gaming have already been invented, though half of them are of no interest for a high-tech journalist. Half of such joysticks are versatile mobile gamepads, and a grand majority of the rest is launched by start-ups which drew considerable attention on the Internet and which went bankrupt during an IPO. Once you drop the Chinese counterfeits and no-names as well as any entertaining emulators (such as a case which makes the iPhone look like a pinball table), you’ll have the best gamepads which you were looking for at your disposal.

We’re going to take a closer look at them. Today Gadgets-reviews will compare 4 alike gaming controllers: Logitech Powershell, Steelseries Stratus, Sony DualShock anmd EXEQ Renegade. In most cases we’ll discuss the so-called MFI-gadgets (Made for iPhone), although there will be several exceptions.

We’ll evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of these models and we’ll also observe some feedback from their loyal users so that our readers can have the information from an original source.

Logitech Powershell

Many of us associate “Logitech” with PC accessories only. On the contrary, it is this Swiss company which was a pioneer in mobile gaming. Its Powershell is the first controller case (oh yes, this gadget is officially classified as… a case) with its own battery compatible with iOs games. In the last couple of years it has consistently gained a firm foothold over the market and respect from Apple fans.

The supply of this “case” priced about $70 (now – about $15) is imposing. It is supplied with a short microUSB cable, a rubber iPod Touch 5Gen “mat” and a headphones adapter. Physical connection of a device to this controller is carried out via Lightning connector. This makes this joystick more competitive than models which use Bluetooth® exclusively (hence the slow response, connection issues and other problems).

Logitech Powershell iOs gamepad

Powershell is not the smallest gamepad, its dimensions are: 200x63x21 mm. In addition, it is neither convertible nor foldable. It is too big though, it’s it? However, judging from the feedback, it fits the hand perfectly and the ergonomics is pleasing. The weight is insignificant; the gadget only weighs 120 grams. Its own battery with the capacity of 1500 mAh is also an unquestionable advantage.

The front panel of the controller is made of opaque plastic, and the back cover is made of textured ribbed rubber which prevents the gadget from slipping out of your hands.

The gadget is compatible with iOs 7 and higher systems on Apple iPhone 5, Apple iPhone 5S ($500) and Apple iPod Touch 5G.

The advantages of this model are quality assembly, lack of gaps and squeaks typical for cheap mobile gamepad controllers. This effect is achieved with the help of a robust non-dismountable framework of the gadget. The users of this device note that all keys and all triggers run smoothly.

Brandon Gilbert gives a comment on Amazon: “It’s really cool that this device is compatible with quite a few games. Of course, we’d like it to be compatible with even more games, but things are going fairly well in comparison with other manufacturers’ joysticks.” You also may read other amazon customers' reviews about this mobile gamepad.

Another indisputable benefit of this product is the “mechanical connection” between the joystick and the mobile device, which makes it perfect for arcades or races. It’s important to mention that Logitech Powershell’s battery is so capacious for this type of electronics not in vain as it can be used as a charger for a smart phone or an MP3 player when gaming if plugged into the Lightning jack – this will add to the running time of this gadget.

As for the disadvantages of the model, we have to mention its poor mobility as you won’t be able to fit it into your jacket pocket. The price for this device is also upscale, while the rivals offer similar but cheaper goods.

SteelSeries Stratus

This joystick is another leader of the accessories market which was launched almost a year later than the gamepad by Logitech. The manufacturers of Stratus executed a dumping policy with this model: on the day of its launch the only thing everyone talked about was that it’s the same thing as Powershell, but much cheaper. The hype was only partly justified: Stratus has indeed become a worthy competitor for Powershell but it couldn’t surpass its turnover rate.

steelseries stratus gamepad

What is so interesting about SteelSeries Stratus?

First of all, it is compact and light. The dimensions of SteelSeries Stratus are 110 х 60 х 33 mm, and it weighs 75 grans, SteelSeries Stratus ($40-65) is compatible with all the gadgets running on iOs7: iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Second of all, this controller can be synchronized with other devices via Bluetooth 2.1, which makes it less favourable in comparison with the previous controller.

The battery allows this gadget to run for up to 10 hours without recharging. There are 4 keys (A,B,X,Y), two analog sticks and a D-pad crosspiece. The mini-USB port for charging the battery of Stratus can be observed from the user’s point of view. 

Some of the perks of this gadget are typical for Apple and are aimed at the most loyal fans of this brand. The joystick, for instance, is compatible with Apple TV and AirPlay protocol.

The battery charging time when charging via USB is about 2 hours.

The advantage of this model is its compactness as it can be easily carried. In addition, it is really good for arcades and races. The charging process is also quite convenient.

Speaking of the cons of this model, we should mention that according to the tests carried out, the running time before recharging is 2-3 hours less than stated. Those who are fond of regular and lengthy gaming won’t be impressed by 7-8 hours of running time.

Many users complain of the gadget being too light: it is too loose in their hands, and the buttons of this micro joystick are not so pleasant to press… and this task is nearly impossible for a well-built man. There are also some complaints of the quality of response of the buttons.

One of the customers summarizes various claims: “The triggers (l2,r2) are inconvenient, the ergonomics is poor even for a mobile gadget, the plastic is cheap and the price is unreasonably high.”

Sony DualShock

This product breaks the pattern. It is known by many as a standard mediocre joystick, but few are aware that it can be connected to your beloved iPhone without any complications (although that is relative). If you have it, then you should know that certain game developers have already begun to adapt some of the fruits of their labour to DualShock.

PlayStation DualShock 3 controller

Below we’ll look into the possibility of connecting to the products compatible exclusively with iOs7 and higher.

What do you have to have in order to connect a Sony product to an Apple smart phone? First of all, you’ll need a jailbroken iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Second of all, you’ll have to install such apps as SixPair or SixaxisPairTool for Mac and Windows respectively and have the Controllers for All tweak set up.

You’ll find more detailed instructions online, although the idea of connection is intuitively clear.

Once everything works out, you’ll have a wireless joystick with vibration and proven over the years ergonomics. And what did you expect? This device was developed especially for consoles, and all the flaws which were inevitably present in other manufacturers’ products have no excuse to be found here. One thing that Sony does well is providing a game play of high quality (the fact that Apple products’ game play is not the same as that of SPS is a different story…)

There are ten buttons, 2 mini-joysticks, own battery, a touchpad and a built-in speaker… What else could you possibly dream of? Probably, you think that Apple stores could sell more games compatible with this gadget.  But this seems to be a matter of time only, unless the bosses of Apple grow jealous of their own products and a third-party manufacturer and impose some kind of restrictions of DualShock.

Note that Sony DualShock 3 costs less than $60, and DualShock 4 isn't more expensive!

The advantages of this model are probably the perfect ergonomics suitable for games of any genre, a competitive price and the ability to combine gaming on a console and on a smart phone. Basically, you’re buying a multifunctional gadget. The assembly is also great.

The disadvantage of this model is the uncertainty of its gaming market position to some degree. This gamepad has become Apple-friendly quite recently.

Summarizing!

There is one interesting aspect to this subject: it’s not easy to find on the Internet a moderately priced alternative to the key players on the market. Judging by the Apple’s software policy, the iPhone users are expected to be content with premium price tag, which is not pleasant since at present only Sony’s product’s functionality matches its current price. Other joysticks are convenient, of high-quality, multi-functional but too expensive.

It seems like there is nothing to be done. The users will have to overpay for such pleasure as “console gaming”. We wouldn’t make any forecasts for a longer period of time. The only thing that keeps our hopes up is that the interest of the manufacturers of gaming accessories to mobile gaming is becoming consistent and is growing quarterly.

Read full review about gaming controllers for smartphone here.