Whoever thought of a controller that can charge your phone while you play is a genius
There are a lot of different controllers that can work with your phone nowadays. While most games on mobile devices are built with touch controls in mind, there are an increasing amount of titles being released that also work with a standard controller. Throw in the fact that cloud gaming services like Xbox’s xCloud, Google’s Stadia, and Amazon’s upcoming Luna are taking mobile devices by storm, (except for you iOS but don’t worry iPhone and iPad users, workarounds through web browsers are on the way) there are more and more reasons to pick up a controller for your phone.
Thanks to nearly universal Bluetooth, your typical Xbox or PlayStation controller has the potential to sync with your mobile device whether you are on Android or iOS. That being said, there are some controllers out there more suited for mobile play. Along comes the PowerA MOGA XP5-A Plus Bluetooth controller, a device that seeks to offer as many solutions for mobile players as possible. While the extra features are more than welcome, there are a few basic aspects of the controller that could have used a bit more refinement to make it the go-to mobile gaming controller.
The MOGA XP5-A Plus, which I will probably just refer to as the MOGA, is reminiscent of the Xbox controller with its offset control sticks and similar form factor. There are currently two MOGA models, the first, which this review is based on, is black with gray and orange accents, with the most recent, the XP5-X Plus, trading in the orange hue for green to match its Xbox Game Pass branding. Overall, the controllers appear similar in form and function aside from an upgraded phone clip on the XP5-X Plus. The MOGA looks very industrial and it feels that way too with its combination of sharp lines and curved edges.
At first glance, you might assume the MOGA is a typical controller, but upon further examination, you notice all of the features it has that sets itself apart from other mobile-focused controllers and even first-party console alternatives with everything you’d need for your gaming on the go and then some. The MOGA checks the boxes for most premium controllers, featuring things like rubberized grips, additional mappable buttons, and dedicated wired and wireless modes. Then, it goes a step further with a 3000mAh power bank (about 1 iPhone 12 charge) built-in to the controller that allows players to charge their phones with their controller, something I would never have considered a possibility before my experience with the MOGA. The controller has a battery level indicator as well so you get a good idea of how to manage the battery as well.
The MOGA is overall pretty comfortable aside from the rough material used for the control sticks. This is really odd especially when comparing the MOGA to PowerA’s other controllers which tend to use a more comfortable rubber. The face buttons all activate just fine and the bumpers have a very satisfying click to them, but the triggers feel hollow when activated. They operate properly, but there’s something about them that feels off, especially in comparison to a traditional Xbox controller. It feels like there is more room for them to travel but something stops them before reaching the end of their swing. The directional pad functions well, but it is a little mushy. While there aren’t any definitive clicks to let you know whenever you’ve activated a particular direction, it does have a nice concave to it along with chiseled triangles that work well to subtly let you know when your thumb has neared the end of the pad. All in all, the MOGA is a fairly functional controller that does the basics just fine, but not better than first-party console offerings.
Beyond its own functionalities, the MOGA includes a number of handy accessories inside the box to enhance your overall experience. You’ll find a variety of cables that can connect the MOGA to your computer or mobile device through wired connections for direct input and mobile charging. A phone clip is packaged in as well and is designed to take full advantage of the controller’s form factor, clicking into place when aligned properly to ensure a secure connection between your phone and the controller itself. The clip even has a small stand that lets you place your controller safely on any flat surface without worrying about applying pressure to the main clip hinge or your phone. The stand is only intended to assist with laying your devices down, however, and doesn’t assist with alleviating any pressure you might feel while holding the combined weight of the controller and your phone which definitely adds up over time.
The clip is designed to be used with phones without cases, and while this might be a cause for some concern, the rubber grips on the clip should keep your phone in place without issue. I used a Samsung Galaxy S8 to review the MOGA and it didn’t seem to move one bit, even when shaking the controller back and forth and side to side. It can fit larger phones as well, like an iPhone 8 Plus but unfortunately, the controller can’t actually work with one.
Perhaps one of the biggest knocks against the MOGA is that it does not support iOS devices. It can connect to them via Bluetooth, but it will not function. This must be because the MOGA does not meet the MFi standards necessary for full compatibility. While there are currently no cloud gaming apps on the Apple App Store due to its restrictive policies, providers are developing workarounds to become accessible through web browsers. Even with cloud gaming taken out of the equation, this feels like a real missed opportunity to benefit the entire mobile market since there are plenty of titles on iOS that are compatible with controllers. Still, once the cloud gaming situation gets worked out with Apple, PowerA will undoubtedly offer an iOS focused product for iPhone and iPad users.
While the core controller isn’t perfect, you’d be hard-pressed to find something that tries to provide as many solutions for mobile gamers as the MOGA does for $69.99. Small design quirks for the sticks and triggers, while unfortunate, don’t take away from an overall solidly built device that comes with everything you’d need to start playing games on your phone. I would say though, with everything considered, this is definitely for folks who plan on playing mobile games frequently and for an extended period of time. If you see yourself only playing mobile games casually and already own a console controller, you might be better off buying a controller clip, which is something PowerA also offers.
- Rubberized grip.
- Mappable rear buttons.
- Features built-in 3000mAh Power Bank that can charge your phone while you play.
- Includes phone clip and multiple charging cables.
- Works on PC.
- The rubber on sticks is a bit too rough.
- The triggers feel hollow when activated.
- The combined weight of the controller and your mobile device may add tension to your joints over extended play sessions.
- The phone clip has issues holding onto phones with cases.
- Does not work on iOS.
PowerA provided Shoryuken with the MOGA XP5-A Plus Bluetooth Controller for this review.