RiotPWR ESL Mobile Game Controller iOS Review

Regardless of what some members of the gaming community think, mobile gaming has become a legitimate global powerhouse. The app stores on both iOS and Android are full of gaming experiences that, in many cases, you can’t get anywhere else, while also providing a platform you can drop into whenever you want; no need to try to put your entire Nintendo Switch or Steam Deck in In the pocket of skinny jeans.

RiotPWR knows all this, and they’ve created a collection of controllers designed to bring your mobile gaming experience closer to your home. The RiotPWR Mobile Controller for iOS might not have the most creative name, but this Xbox-style full-size controller seamlessly turns your iOS device into a handheld console, albeit a bit more clunky than the Sega Game Gear.

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RiotPWR copied Microsoft’s homework here, and if you’ve played with any Xbox One or Series-era controllers, you’ll immediately appreciate the ergonomic similarities.The ESL branded version we provided for our review comes in a funky white, lime green, and neon yellow color scheme, and I personally think it looks great – others will point out that it is A face that doesn’t look like a Fisher-Price children’s toy, although. They’ve opted for a wired Lightning connection for the mobile controller, ditching Bluetooth, and a short cable that hooks into a pair of clasps on the back of the included device stand to keep it out of the way. The Android equivalent relies on USB-C.

The most obvious difference between RiotPWR’s product and Microsoft’s is the central device stand. Hidden beneath the controller’s central rubber cover is a slot for a retractable stand – more convenient for iPhone gamers than iPad players. Either way, you’ll need to connect to the controller, but since it draws power directly from your device, you won’t have to worry about any battery issues other than the actual phone.

Thankfully, you can avoid this by using the pass-through charging port located on the bottom of the controller, next to the very popular 3.5mm audio socket. It really feels like RiotPWR has everything in mind when it comes to latency and convenience, and all these wired options mean you get as close to the action as possible; especially important if you want to race.

Button-wise, you have the same options as the Xbox series, but think the Xbox button has been replaced with the Home button. If you use ESL to stream Xbox Game Pass games, there’s an option everyone should consider, and it does the same thing. The overall button layout is slightly different, and the key is the relocated share button, which is in a better position to the left of the directional pad, if any.

The main input does a good job of promoting the controller’s status as a mobile esports-centric device, and the analog sticks and triggers are very close to the official version, albeit perhaps a bit lighter. The central face buttons are similarly close, although the clicks they produce are less noticeable and less noticeable from the controller housing.

The circular D-pad has a slightly different design than the official Xbox controller, and has a more subtle digital click. It’s also smoother, and I found it better suited to the quarter and half circles of 2D fighters like classic Street Fighter IV than Microsoft’s numbers. The weakest element is the shoulder buttons. They just feel cheaper and less accurate than the official version due to their light weight, but they do stand up to repeated use and have no issues with registering input.

The overall build quality is excellent, and while the lack of rumble or battery means the controller itself is noticeably lighter, it’s balanced against the phone’s extra weight. That, combined with the bulky body of the iPhone 12 Pro Max, pushes it in the other direction, but despite the stand above the controller, it’s still very well-balanced.

It’s all about the games you can do, though, and taking a spin with Diablo Immortal with RiotPWR shows how easy it all is. The controller is automatically recognized and the correct button icons are displayed immediately, some dungeon drilling actions prove that using actual buttons is immediately better. RiotPWR also has its homegrown Ludu Mapp app, which offers a curated collection of games with controller support, as well as information on how to use it in popular titles like Apex Legends Mobile.

Jumping into Xbox cloud gaming — other streaming services do exist — is just as wonderful as it’s proven elsewhere, and the RiotPWR Mobile Controller is the perfect way to experience it. Playing Forza Horizon 5 here shows how close the entire game is to the traditional Xbox experience, and if you’re a subscriber to the Microsoft platform, it’s a great control if you plan on doing a lot of gaming on the go device.

Looking at the competition, Nacon’s MG-X Pro is only compatible with Android, so one less of a major competitor in this iOS space. If you’re looking for a more Nintendo Switch-inspired layout, your best bet is the Backbone controller, although the Backbone is an extra £30 compared to this £70 RiotPWR pad. Of course, it is also possible to choose a separate stand and consider it via the Bluetooth connection of the official controller. You don’t have to buy or repurpose a controller for this, but you’ll miss out on the precision of a wired connection, no need to worry about extra batteries, and the added headphone jack, perfect for your favorite wired gaming headset.

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