Windows Central Verdict
The PowerA Nano is a fantastic choice of spare controller if you have small children who want to hog your Xbox, but they both struggle with a full-size controller, and you don't trust them not to break the pricy standard Xbox unit. The only improvement for this controller would be if it came in a wireless version.
Comfortable mini form factor and ergonomic design
Satisfying clicky buttons
Sturdy enough for children
Programmable rear buttons for extra inputs
Cumbersome long cable compared to the joypad.
No wireless option.
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I'll preface my review with the caveat that PowerA has not explicitly stated this controller is for children. Still, given its smaller stature, it seemed like a no-brainer, at least for me, to test this controller with my youngest child, who, at the tender age of two, is showing interest in gaming like the rest of the family.
The PowerA Nano Enhanced Wired Controller is about three-quarters of the size of the standard Xbox Series X|S controller and mimics the capabilities of the standard Xbox unit, from the rumble capabilities to the capture buttons. The controller also includes two mappable buttons at the rear to customize your gameplay experience.
PowerA Nano Enhanced: Price, availability and specs
The PowerA Nano Enhanced Wired Controller is available directly from the PowerA website for $39.99 and comes in classic black or lilac. Third-party retailers, including Amazon, also offer it at the same price in both colors.
|Category||PowerA Nano Controller|
|Connectivity||USB-C cable (3m included)|
|Customization||Two rear re-mappable buttons|
|Compatibility||Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows 10/11, Android, and iOS|
|Audio||3.5mm stereo headset jack|
PowerA Nano Enhanced: What's good
Growing up in a household full of gamers, it was inevitable that my youngest son would become interested in gaming. This, coupled with his infatuation with vehicles, means he's already reaching out for the Xbox controller when he sees the Forza logo flash up on the dashboard. While I've let him hold the standard Xbox Series X|S controller and zoom around the tracks, he has found it quite heavy and cumbersome in his tiny hands and often needs quite a bit of assistance using the triggers and joysticks.
The appeal of the PowerA Nano is that it is considerably lighter than the standard controller, and as you can see from the photo, the smaller size and more compact arrangement of the buttons means my son can tap them much easier.
Also exhibiting the typical toddler temperament, he is prone to going from being completely enamored with his current activity to wanting to yeet the controller across the room. Standard Xbox controllers do not respond well to being dropped or even thrown at the nearest cat. The PowerA Nano, being much lighter and cheaper, gives me more peace of mind when my catching reflexes can't quite keep up with my toddler's.
I also tested the controller extensively myself, and though I don't have dainty little hands (they are decidedly average) I do find smaller controller layouts more comfortable. In fact, PowerA had a miniature version in neon green for the Xbox 360, which I originally purchased for my now teenager to play Skylanders, and ended up preferring it for myself when playing so my interest was already piqued when I saw that PowerA had a new generation version on the market.
My main gripe with third-party controllers is that the buttons can sometimes feel unsatisfying and almost spongy to use, and that's not the case with this controller.
The bumpers and buttons have a thoroughly rewarding click and feel incredibly responsive. Side by side, the functionality of this controller feels identical to the full-size Xbox controller, with the PowerA even adding two rear mappable buttons, which I found invaluable for mapping abilities in Overwatch 2 and Diablo.
I've never played games competitively to justify the purchase of something as extravagant as an Elite Controller but having the customization options of the extra buttons was definitely a perk and something I've found myself missing when returning to the standard Xbox controller. The customizable buttons can change at any time by holding the top program button on the rear, clicking the ability you want to map, and then the back button you wish to assign.
The dual rumble motors are solid, and while they don't vibrate quite as much as a standard Xbox controller, I actually found that positive since rumble feedback isn't something I enjoy. I found the milder vibrations more pleasing, but if rumble is something that's important to you in a controller, this may be a counterpoint.
PowerA Nano Enhanced: What's not so good
My only negative critique of this controller is that it doesn't come in wireless for the Xbox. It's an unfortunate critique as this is highly likely out of PowerA's control being that Microsoft won't allow third-party wireless controllers.
Sources familiar with Microsoft's hardware partners told us, under the conditions of anonymity, that Microsoft is the reason that there are practically no third-party wireless Xbox controllers on the market. PowerA certainly has the capability to make a wireless version of the Nano, as the Nintendo edition does come in a wireless option.
Microsoft's unwillingness to lend its proprietary wireless technology to third-party peripherals is certainly holding PowerA back here from a home run. I'm not adverse to wired controllers in general, but with the Nano being such a light accessory, the long USB-C cable feels rather cumbersome.
I'm also not sure why they chose to make it removable considering the controller doesn't work without it plugged in, and USB-C doesn't really anchor into ports as reliably as micro-USB. The long ungainly wire also means I have to supervise my son's play even more attentively due to the potential trip hazard.
I'm sure there is demand for a miniature wireless Xbox controller, in fact when I posted the size comparison photo on Twitter the majority of the comments were if the controller was wired or not, specifically from parents. I'm sure if Xbox were to make the technology more available or indeed make their own version of the Nano it would sell like hotcakes. A sizeable portion of Xbox console gamers are parents raising our next generation of gamers, it would be profitable to market more accessories specifically to that demographic.
PowerA Nano Enhanced: The Competition
If you're looking for a smaller Xbox controller, there are a couple of other varieties out there but it's not a market brimming with options. A casual glance on Amazon unearthed the Hyperkin X91 and the RIG Nacon PRO Compact which are both wired and in the same price bracket but don't offer the novelty factor of being an identical but compact version of the standard Xbox Series X|S controller. These two controllers have their own unique shapes and designs and personally, I prefer that the PowerA is more in keeping with the Xbox aesthetic.
PowerA Nano Enhanced: Should you buy?
You should buy this if ...
- You want a sturdy, reliable controller for young gamers
- You want a smaller form Xbox controller with all the functions of the original
- You appreciate extra buttons for in-game abilities
You shouldn't buy this if ...
- Wired controllers are a deal breaker for you
- You lave large hands and may find the compact arrangement uncomfortable
PowerA has always been a strong competitor in the console accessory market, with the majority of their products coming in at the lower end of the price scale they've always been a no-brainer brand for purchasing spare controllers for me and my family.
This controller hasn't just been a welcome addition for my children, but I've found myself gravitating towards it for most play sessions too due to its pleasing size. The only thing preventing this from being one of the best Xbox controllers is its lack of wireless technology, but I am not placing PowerA at fault for this.
The PowerA Nano enhanced wired controller for Xbox Series X|S packs a punch in a mini package, boasting all the functions and aesthetics of the standard Xbox Series X|S controller.
Jen is a News Writer for Windows Central, focused on all things gaming and Microsoft. Anything slaying monsters with magical weapons will get a thumbs up such as Dark Souls, Dragon Age, Diablo, and Monster Hunter. When not playing games, she'll be watching a horror or trash reality TV show, she hasn't decided which of those categories the Kardashians fit into. You can follow Jen on Twitter @Jenbox360 for more Diablo fangirling and general moaning about British weather.