Nacon MG-X Xbox mobile controller review: A spectacular failure

The pursuit for the perfect Xbox Cloud Gaming controller continues.

Nacon Mg X Xbox Xcloud Review
(Image: © Windows Central)

Xbox Game Pass with Xbox Cloud Gaming is good — very good in fact. However, the accessories ecosystem for it is not. Even the best controllers for Xbox Cloud Gaming often come with notable downsides and drawbacks, although the situation is gradually improving over time. Unfortunately for Nacon, it's very much not part of that improvement story.

It's a shame, because the MG-X controller looks the part. Eyes-on, it seemed like it would be a good, high-quality controller complete with a powerful clamp to fit various phones and tablets. However, the hands-on reality betrayed those first impressions.

I could only use this Nacon MG-X controller for about 20 minutes before I had to stop due to how offensively uncomfortable it is. This feels more like a torture device than a gamepad. Avoid the Nacon MG-X at all costs.

Nacon MG-X: Price and availability

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The Nacon MG-X is only available in Europe as of this writing, but fear not worldwide friends since you probably won't want to buy this anyway. The Nacon MG-X retails for £99 on the mainland and £75 in the U.K., and it's nowhere near worth the asking price given the competition out there.

Nacon MG-X: What's good

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

This is a frustrating product, because, at first glance, it looks like it could be a very good controller. The visual design aesthetic is nice and very "Xbox"-like, with dark accents, textured plastic, and the classic ABXY buttons. It even sports an Xbox nexus home button on the bottom right, with a Bluetooth pairing button hidden underneath.

It supports Bluetooth 4.2+BLE, which gives it a solid signal for Xbox gaming. Bluetooth always introduces some noticeable milliseconds of latency, which you don't really want when already adding latency from cloud gaming, but it's passable, and is at the very least, stable. I didn't have any issues actuating commands where the signal was concerned, and pairing the controller was as simple as holding down the Bluetooth key as you might pair any other device.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Another impressive aspect is the battery life. This thing holds 20 hours of playtime, complete with USB-C charging capabilities that make it readily compatible with other charging devices in your life. It doesn't come with its own power supply, but does come with a USB-C cable so you can hook it up to one of the various other charges you no doubt already own.

Finally, we have the clamp, which lets you fit even the biggest phones with ease. You could even potentially push it up to mini-tablets as long as they don't exceed 6.7 inches diagonally. This made it a potentially great option for cloud and Android gaming on my Samsung Galaxy Fold 3. However, I found quite quickly that all of those was simply not going to be enough.

Nacon MG-X: What's bad

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The first thing I noticed was how odd the triggers felt. They feel as if they had some kind of marshmallow stuffed between the button and the actuator, making you fight it for activation. They activate with relatively little effort, to be fair, but it's just hard to tell when you've actually activated the button because they're so squishy, for lack of a better phrase.

Secondly, the controller just feels awkward in the hand. The "Joy-Con" style controls are oddly shaped, with lengthy joysticks. As such, when you're reaching to press ABXY with your thumb, it's almost impossible to avoid accidentally moving the right stick. This got me killed multiple times in Minecraft Dungeons, with misplaced dodge rolls putting me into explosions or even rolling me off a cliff at one point. To avoid this, you have to angle your hand in a claw-like way, which just plain hurts after a while.

Given how resistive and squashy the triggers are, it's a bit odd then that the joysticks would be super sensitive. Simply blowing on them would likely shift your movement in unwanted arcs, which is less than ideal on a gamepad.

Nacon Mg X Xbox Xcloud Review (Image credit: Windows Central)

Nacon Mg X Xbox Xcloud Review (Image credit: Windows Central)

Source: Windows Central

There are a few other smaller problems here and there. The clamp itself is clearly designed for the thinnest phones, and doesn't account for tablets, phones with cases, and thicker devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note. The clamp's sides are very, very shallow, and despite the MG-X's claims of "universality," I feel as though the controller wouldn't be able to keep a thicker phone held properly at certain angles.

It's a shame because at a bird's eye view, this controller looks great, and ticks all of the right boxes: universal Google Play compatibility, full out-of-the-box compatibility with Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming, standard Xbox buttons, and support for a wide range of devices. It's a shame, then, that it doesn't feel like Nacon did any form of user testing before committing to manufacturing. It feels horrible to use, and is oozing with bad design decisions.

Nacon MG-X: Competition

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

While this is slightly cheaper than the Razer Kishi and GameSir X2 in some cases, it's nowhere near as good. There's not a universe that exists where you should choose this over the Bluetooth version of the GameSir X2, or if your phone is compatible the USB-C version.

Nacon MG-X: Should you buy it?

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

You should buy this if ...

  • You like wasting money.

You shouldn't buy this if...

  • You are a human being that exists on planet Earth.

No. Nobody should buy this. Ever.

It's horribly designed, with almost zero attention paid to ergonomics. The buttons are awkward to use, the triggers fight you for control, the joysticks activate erroneously if you so much as look at them funny, and the price just isn't right for the quality. Considering there exists far better controllers for Android at a similar price, Nacon really, really screwed up here.

This is one of the worst products I've ever reviewed, owing to its contempt for even the most basic forms of usability. Nacon should take this one back to the drawing board.

Nacon looked like it was onto something here. The aesthetics are great and the universality is the right goal to strive for. But to fail so spectacularly at the bottom basics is unforgivable. This controller belongs on the scrap heap.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!