Touch controls for mobile games aren’t always great. Perhaps they’re poorly implemented, or maybe your device doesn’t support multitouch. Instead of getting frustrated about this, why not consider connecting a game controller?
You can connect many types of controllers to Android via USB or Bluetooth. Here’s how to connect virtually any game controller to your Android device to enhance your mobile gaming.
Control Android Games Over USB or Bluetooth
Your Android gaming will receive a considerable boost with the help of a controller. If you’re playing Fortnite on your phone, or even something slower-paced like Minecraft, a controller provides more stability than touch controls.
Generally, you’ll connect a controllers using either a USB cable or Bluetooth. You have five general options for connecting a game controller to your Android phone:
- Standard USB controller
- Standard Bluetooth controller
- Xbox One controller
- PS4 controller
- Nintendo Switch Joy-Con
In a moment, we’ll look at each of these in turn. Note that we’re skipping older console controllers (such as the Xbox 360 controller) due to out-of-date apps and changes to Android’s Bluetooth support.
Let’s examine how to set up each of these controller methods and use them on Android.
Connect a USB Controller to Android
If you want to grab any USB controller and start playing games on Android, you’ll need a USB-OTG cable. This is a special dongle that essentially adapts a standard USB connector to fit in your phone or tablet.
However, the OTG-USB cable does more than that, even letting you connect all manner of USB devices and drives to Android. Our guide to OTG-USB explains this in more detail.
You’ll first need to purchase a USB-OTG cable. They’re available for cheap from Amazon. Make sure you choose a USB-C or micro-USB connector depending on what your phone uses.
Simply connect the USB-OTG dongle to your Android phone, then connect the USB game controller to that. Games with controller support should detect the device, and you’ll be ready to play. That’s all you need.
Connect a Standard Bluetooth Controller to Android
If you have a generic Bluetooth game controller, you’re almost guaranteed that it will work with your Android device. It’s nearly as simple as connecting a USB controller, although of course you won’t need any dongles.
Open Settings > Connected devices > Connection preferences > Bluetooth > Pair new device, then follow the specific instructions make your controller discoverable. Look for a dedicated Bluetooth button, or check the manual for the right button combination.
Your phone should detect the controller; tap its name to establish the connection. As with USB, games that can use controllers will detect the them when you start the game. Other games might support controllers, but require additional software from Google Play.
Connect an Xbox One Controller to Android
If you have an Xbox One controller, you’ve already got a fantastic way to control Android games. But how simple is it to hook one up to your Android device?
Similar to connecting the Xbox One controller to your Windows PC, you don’t need any additional hardware with a newer model controller. A typical Android device’s Bluetooth support is all you need to connect the controller to your phone or tablet (or Android TV).
Before starting, make sure the controller is fully charged, and you’ve unplugged your Xbox One. If you don’t, the controller remains paired to it, which means you can’t pair it with your Android device.
Begin by putting Android into discoverable mode as explained in the previous section. Next, hold the Sync button on the Xbox One controller. Upon detection, select the controller on your phone and follow the instructions to pair.
Note that this will only work with newer Xbox One controllers that use Bluetooth. The original models released when the Xbox One first came out use RF, which Android doesn’t support. In the below image, the bottom controller (with no plastic around the Xbox button) supports Bluetooth.
If your controller won’t connect wirelessly, you can use USB OTG instead. This also applies if you want to connect an old wired Xbox 360 controller. It should work with most Android devices, although note that the Guide button may flash while you use it.
Connect a PS4 Controller to Android
Sony has used Bluetooth in its controllers for years, which makes it easy if you want to play Android games with a PlayStation 4 gamepad.
Make your Android device discoverable, then sync the controller by holding the PlayStation and Share buttons simultaneously. When the controller light flashes, you should see a Wireless Controller entry listed on your Android device.
Select this to complete pairing. A solid blue light on the PS4 controller means that it’s successfully connected.
Play Games on Android With Nintendo Switch Joy-Con
Amazingly, it’s even possible to hook up a Nintendo Switch controller to your Android. You can either sync one Joy-Con on its own, or as the video above illustrates, sync both as a full two-handed controller.
To sync both Joy-Con attached to the Joy-Con Grip like this, you’ll need a wireless adapter and USB-OTG dongle compatible with your phone. This convenient wireless adapter bundle from Mayflash includes everything you need.
As ever, games that have controller support will respond to this far better than those that do not. Check the accompanying video to find out more about controlling Android with Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers.
What Is the Best Android Game Controller?
You can connect any of these controllers to your Android phone or tablet with varying degrees of success. While connecting is generally easy, some games just don’t work right with a controller.
The best controller option is the one that works for you. However, despite the quality of Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch controllers, one designed specifically for mobile gaming may work better for you long-term. Whatever the case, if the games you play support console controllers, you should be fine.
But perhaps a game controller isn’t ideal for your kind of mobile gaming at all. Want something different? Try these mobile games with crazy control methods.