SteelSeries Stratus Duo review: A comfy Fortnite-ready controller for Android and PC

Windows Central Recommended Award

Gaming is a serious business, even on mobile. Fortnite has captivated the minds of millions and when you grow tired of using the touchscreen on your small device, it's time to upgrade to a gamepad. There are some budget-friendly controllers available for Android, but you'll want the SteelSeries Stratus Duo if you also play on PC.

Here's why you should consider buying this controller.

The last thing you'll want to do is spend upwards of $70 on a controller for just smartphone gaming, which is where the SteelSeries Stratus Duo comes into play. Not only does this controller work with Android through Bluetooth, but also Windows using either a USB cable or the included wireless receiver.

For the price, it's an excellent choice for smartphone and PC gamers.

Here's what you'll love when using the Stratus Duo

SteelSeries Stratus Duo

The biggest advantage the Stratus Duo has going for it is the feel and build quality. SteelSeries produces some killer hardware and this latest gamepad is no exception. The plastic shell is incredibly durable with zero flex and no creaking when attempting to warp the controller.

It'll be tough to find a controller that feels better to wield.

The all-black design is striking yet subtle without looking cheap. It reminds me much of the Nintendo Switch Pro controller, which isn't a negative either. It's a great-looking gamepad that doesn't scream for attention. The joysticks, buttons, d-pad and shoulder triggers are all placed to match that of the PlayStation controller.

It takes a little while to get accustomed to this different layout when coming from a traditional Xbox controller, but given a bit of time it becomes a non-issue, especially if you plan to mainly play Fortnite. All the controls feel sturdy enough too. A bar of LED lights in the middle show which player you are and that's about everything there is to the gamepad.

SteelSeries has made the Stratus Duo is a joy to use, which is the main factor you'll consider when choosing a new controller. Even after a few hours of use in a session, it was still comfortable to continue for a further few rounds in Fortnite's battle royale mode.

SteelSeries Stratus Duo

How connectivity is handled depends on the platform you'll be playing games on. For Android smartphones, you can simply connect the gamepad using Bluetooth and you're good to go, while Windows will rely on the included 2.4GHz wireless dongle. You may think Bluetooth would work on PC too, but that's not the case.

While I would have preferred to have the choice of using Bluetooth on PC too, I do understand the reasoning behind this design choice. When switching between an Android smartphone and PC, you can make use of the wireless mode toggle on the rear and continue playing, instead of having to re-establish a Bluetooth connection or turn Bluetooth off on your smartphone.

Things you'll dislike about the Stratus Duo

SteelSeries Stratus Duo

There's no support for Bluetooth on Windows 10 PCs, which sucks when you'd rather just use the commonplace wireless technology for both smartphone and PC gaming. While the receiver is small enough to carry around with you, there's also no place to store the receiver inside the controller, which would have been a nice touch. Also, it's 2019 and this controller charges over Micro-USB.

When you have the controller connected to your PC running SteelSeries Engine, there doesn't seem to be any support for the controller inside the software suite as of this review. You won't be able to control various functions from within. This isn't a deal breaker as you can manage button mapping and more on a per-game basis.

Should you buy this controller?

SteelSeries Stratus Duo

If Fortnite is your favorite game to play on both Android smartphones and PC, then you should absolutely buy this controller. Even if you only play PC games, the Stratus Duo is still a very capable controller that feels great to use for extended gaming sessions. SteelSeries offers excellent value with the Stratus Duo, making it one of my favorite gamepads.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.