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.
Bottom line: From poor ergonomics to oversensitive sticks and undersensitive buttons, the Nacon MG-X is a confused and overpriced product that nobody should buy.
- Bluetooth connectivity is strong
- Great 20-hour battery life
- Oversensitive joysticks will get you killed in games
- Strange, marshmallow triggers are horrible to use
- Button placement interferes with joystick placement on the right side
- Clamp grip is too shallow for thicker phones
- Clamp worryingly bends, hinting at poor longevity
Nacon MG-X: Price and availability
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
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.
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
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.
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
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?
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 is a Senior Editor for 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 caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!
Thanks for this review Jez was considering buying this as it looked good but looks can be deceiving. I love my Razer Kishi but its not compatible with the Surface Duo 2. I hope Razer brings out a new version or I might go with the Gamesir controller instead.
The best for the Duo is probably the GameSir Bluetooth version, but the USB C version is okay too. I may do some testing on that tomorrow
Thanks Jez. Would be good to see your feedback on the Gamesir. I was thinking about the USB C version but wasn't sure if it will fit the surface duo 2 with the bumper.
I second a review for this model and thank you.
I thought the point of the Duo was that you didn't have to have another device. Jez, what ever happened to the idea of an accessory that went over the screen that gave the buttons a tactile feel?
I think that was a Surface Neo thing with the keyboard? Or I might be getting things mixed up.
Maybe you are right, I certainly get those two mixed up. Maybe that wouldn't even work on that size screen. I'm sure they would need to stop altering the design because they could do something like that.
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