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Handheld gaming has always been on the periphery of the gaming industry at large. Every 10 years or so it will have its moment in the sun, but mostly it’s an outlier when it comes to mainstream gaming focus. Earlier, if you wanted to get into serious gaming, you either had to become a PCMR, or you had to buy a console. If you still wanted to game on the go, you were left with novel but objectively inferior options like Nintendo DS, the PS Vita and most recently the Nintendo Switch.

However, with the advent of smartphones able to compete with average laptops, wireless LTE connections stable and fast enough, and a horde of games available both classic and new, handheld gaming is fast becoming (in India it already is) the largest market share of the gaming pie. With the rise of smartphone (iOS/Android) as the preferred platform, a new family of accessories have also debuted, not the least of which is are mobile controller which provides you with the tactile feel of using actual buttons, while letting you use your entire mobile screen as a display. The GameSir X2 Mobile Gaming Controller is one such accessory. I have been using the controller for a couple of weeks now, and I have some thoughts. Let’s begin.

Unboxing The Controller

The GameSir X2 controller comes in a box, not unlike the one a new switch stick would come in. Inside, however, there is a hard-zip case that houses the actual controller, along with a small box of accessories that contain the literature and some stickers. There are also a couple of thumb-grips for the analogue stick for you to try on. Just open the box, unzip the case, free it from the elastic strap and the GameSir X2 is ready for use.

Connecting The Controller

The Gamesir X2 comes in 3 variations; Lightning, USB-C, or Bluetooth. While the Bluetooth version of the gamepad may sound tempting, I highly recommend you pick the one with a compatible connector with your phone, simply because you don’t need the extra drain on your battery while you are gaming.

I got the Lighting version for myself, and I was able to connect my iPhone 12 onto it right away. It was as simple as connecting it to a charger, and a LED indicator on the controller turned green as soon it was connected. The port also swivels a bit so you can bend it a bit when connecting or disconnecting it, and that small design thought goes a long way.

I was also able to fit the much larger iPhone 13 Pro Max onto the controller, and having a phone guard on didn’t come in the way at all. Plus the pad for the phone is made of rubber and has treads on it, which just feels grippy.

The gamepad also comes with a USB-C input so you can charge your phone while it is connected to the gamepad. The only flaw in this design is that while the gamepad is connected its impossible to connect wired headphones.

Using The Controller

I am happy to report that the GameSir X2 worked flawlessly with every game and service I tried it with. Games like Oddmar and Cat Quest II on Apple Arcade (side-scrolling platformer and RPG respectively), Cyberpunk 2077 and Destiny 2 on Stadia, Halo Infinite and Firewatch on xCloud and even Red Dead Redemption 2 on PS Remote Play. Everything ran as it was supposed to. Buttons mapped intuitively, and the analogue sticks worked without lag (or any more than an actual controller). Honestly, I was surprised it worked so well with xCloud while it wasn’t an approved controller by their service and I had way more trouble using a PS5 controller with it.

The analogue sticks were a little small for my large hands, but it didn’t take long to get used to them. The buttons felt clicky and while they aren’t premium they didn’t feel cheap either. The controller comes with the whole gamut of inputs, the triggers and the bumpers, and even L3 and R3. The GameSir X2 basically converts your phone into a Nintendo Switch, but with a smaller form factor, and depending on your phone a better screen and better processor.

I didn’t feel any heating issue while using the controller and was able to hold and use it for a couple of hours on end, mostly limited by my own phone’s battery.

Real Talk

For its price (69.99 USD), the GameSir X2 is one of the pricier options out there (almost as expensive as a PS4 controller). But its finish, its compatibility and its sturdiness more than make up for it. If you do most of your gaming on the phone, it’s a no-brainer. If you are a console boy trying out xCloud or PS Remote Play, this is a great option to ease you into handheld gaming. And if you are a PCMR, well nothing beats mouse and pad, but for that, you might have to wait till the Steam Deck comes out. GameSir X2 is the real deal.


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