Best Controllers for Xbox Project xCloud Game Streaming Windows Central 2021
Xbox Project xCloud game streaming brings full-fledged Xbox One titles to mobile, currently in preview for Android devices. Microsoft plans native touchscreen controls for the future, but the ergonomics of traditional gamepads support its intended experience. And while countless Bluetooth-enabled controllers work with Project xCloud today, the Xbox One Wireless Controller still offers an unmatched balance of features and affordability.
Best Overall: Xbox One Wireless Controller
Xbox Project xCloud embraces the full scope of the Xbox One platform, including Microsoft's in-house controllers, positioned as the best overall pick for game streaming. The official Xbox gamepad has seen continued refinements since the Xbox One release, among the few universally beloved for its ergonomics and features. The Xbox One Wireless Controller now settles on its third revision, providing unmatched value, and primed for Project xCloud trials.
The Xbox One Wireless Controller nails all the essentials, with its button layout, asymmetric thumbsticks, and curvature enhancing comfort. Integrated Bluetooth wireless has been standard for years, opening compatibility with many third-party devices, including phones and tablets. It's the recommended controller for Project xCloud trials on Android and already endorsed by Apple for iOS 13, ahead of Project xCloud trials on iPhone and iPad.
Project xCloud was built with Microsoft's Xbox One controller in mind, as the first formally supported by the system. It makes getting started incredibly easy for any Xbox console owner, easily pairing with your existing devices. Microsoft has also unveiled plans to build an ecosystem of Project xCloud mobile accessories, starting with the PowerA MOGA Phone Clip that mounts to any official pad. And if you're using a phone with any controller, that clip is pretty essential.
The Xbox One Wireless Controller is undoubtedly among the best controllers ever made, also extending to Project xCloud game streaming. Ease of use and affordability uniquely position the controller as the best all-round pick, including a ton of colorways and variations for a premium.
- Familiar for Xbox One owners
- Great value
- Officially supported by Project xCloud
- More portable alternatives
Best Alternative: PlayStation DualShock 4 Wireless Controller
Wait, using a PlayStation 4 controller for Xbox One games? It's a sign of the times, with the official Sony-fabricated DualShock Wireless Controller ideal for Microsoft's game-streaming platform. The PlayStation 4's included gamepad also functions as a universal Bluetooth wireless accessory, compatible with iOS and Android, and fitting for Project xCloud.
The launch of the PlayStation 4 brought this latest revision of the DualShock, embracing a slimline silhouette, and symmetrical thumbstick and button configuration. Opting between the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controller primarily lies with preference and familiarity, given similar capabilities and pricing. With PlayStation Remote Play already well-established, the DualShock also has a variety of third-party mounts and accompaniments, translating to Project xCloud.
The PlayStation 4 DualShock controller isn't formally supported by Project xCloud yet, with Microsoft pledging official backing for 2020. However, the DualShock 4 is already fully-functional on any Android device today, making it unclear what Microsoft's upcoming blessing means for the device. Certification should provide reassurance for DualShock users moving forward, but it's ideal in early preview tests regardless.
- Works with Project xCloud today
- Great value
- Unfamilar for Xbox users
- More portable alternatives
Best Mobile: Razer Junglecat Controller
Famed for gaming PCs and past Xbox peripherals, Razer demonstrates the potential of Project xCloud with its Razer Junglecat. The compact mobile controller mimics the charm of the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons, comprised of two detachable modules, affixing to a dedicated phone case. That's a much more elegant solution than a standard console gamepad, transforming your phone into the form factor of Nintendo's best-selling handheld.
Comparable to the Nintendo Switch, two standalone controllers are the crucial differentiator, decked out with thumbsticks, buttons, and other essential Xbox inputs. Those clamp on the included phone case, or a small block to create a detached controller, improving the convenience and portability of streaming. It hooks into Bluetooth wireless and charges over an included USB-C cable, with battery life spanning intermittent gaming for a couple of weeks.
The most significant limitation of the Razer Junglecat is the requirement for a particular phone case, which enables mounting the controllers onto a smartphone. But the initial case offering is limited to Razer Phone 2, Samsung Galaxy S10+, Samsung Galaxy Note 9, alongside the Huawei P30 Pro in the UK. It's otherwise an unmatched approach – just a shame it's tied to a fraction of the Android ecosystem.
All this comes with a $99 price tag, doubling the asking price of the standard Xbox One or PlayStation 4 controller. The benefit of a Nintendo Switch-style Xbox device is clear, but only for a select few lucky flagships.
- Easy to use
- Completes the Project xCloud vision
- Supports only four phones
- Expensive compared to standard gamepads
Microsoft's Project xCloud game streaming platform remains in its infancy, yet to ship a publicly accessible service, riding almost exclusively on the low-latency technology. Early days mean limited hardware, with a slim offering of devices that consider the portability and accessibility game streaming allows. While Razer has shipped a peripheral that teases that vision, an Xbox One Wireless Controller offers a universally robust experience, with official platform endorsement.
The Xbox One Wireless Controller marks the latest of Microsoft's triumphs in ergonomics and capabilities, without a high price tag. While there's a choice of alternatives for specific use cases and preferences, the sole official solution covers most Xbox One converts exploring cloud gaming. Those using any gamepad should also consider picking up a phone clip, which mounts the accessory to your smartphone for a more viable gameplay setup. However, keep in mind third-party clips may experience issues with Microsoft's new Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2, given its larger footprint.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Matt Brown is a staff writer at Mobile Nations for Windows Central. Following years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he's focused on the world of Xbox and Windows PCs. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.
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