How to use Xbox Series X controller with your iPhone or Android phone

A woman holds an xbox wireless controller with a phone clip for mobile gaming
(Image credit: Microsoft)

The new Xbox Wireless Controller added a new button and some quality-of-life improvements but otherwise didn't change much from the Xbox One controller. Despite that, it wasn't officially supported at launch on some mobile phones.

Thankfully, that's now changed. Any iPhone updated to iOS 14.5, or any Android phone, should be compatible with the new (and old) Xbox Wireless Controller.

Whether you're looking to play iOS games or Android games with controller support, or more interested in game streaming services like Game Pass Ultimate, here's how to connect the Xbox Series X controller to your iOS or Android phone.

Xbox Wireless Controller

(Image credit: TechRadar)

How to connect the Xbox Series X controller to your iPhone

Before you start, update your iPhone to the new iOS 14.5 OS. Otherwise, it may not register the controller's presence, even in pairing mode.

Open your Settings app and the Bluetooth menu. Toggle Bluetooth On if it isn't active already.

Next, pick up your Xbox Series X controller and turn it on by holding down the center Xbox button. If it's already paired to your new console, it'll turn that on, but that isn't a problem. Otherwise, the Xbox button will slowly blink.

Next, look on the back of the controller next to the USB charge port, where you'll find the Pair button with a '(((' symbol next to it. Hold the Pair button down for several seconds until the center light blinks rapidly.

Look back on your iPhone screen. 'Xbox Wireless Controller' should have appeared in the section 'Other devices'. Select this device, and it will move into 'My devices'. The controller will now be connected to your iPhone!

Xbox Series X controller

You can see the Pair button on the back of the controller above. (Image credit: Future)

How to connect the Xbox Series X controller to your Android phone

In theory, you can connect the Xbox Wireless Controller to any Bluetooth-compatible Android device. If your device is having difficulty detecting it, however, then consider updating to Android 11 or the nearest equivalent of which your phone is capable.

Otherwise, the steps are fairly similar to those above. Start by swiping your finger downward from the top of the screen to open the Notification Shade. Find the Bluetooth icon and turn it on if it isn't already activated.

Next, tap and hold the Bluetooth button, which will take you directly to the Settings menu for connecting devices. You can also reach this page manually in Android 11 by navigating to Settings > Connected devices, or on Samsung's One UI 3.0 via Settings > Connections > Bluetooth. Other OSs or OEMs may place these settings elsewhere.

Turn on the controller by holding down the center Xbox button. It will either turn on your Xbox Series X and stay lit up, or blink slowly if it isn't paired to anything. Press and hold the Pair button – the small '(((' button on the back of the controller next to the charging port – for several seconds without letting go. The center light will begin to flash rapidly.

Look back at your Android phone. Your controller should have appeared under 'Available devices' as 'Xbox Wireless Controller' or something similar. Tap this option, then tap Pair to connect it to your phone. You're ready to game!

Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Future)

How to switch between your Xbox Series X and Bluetooth device

One of the coolest tricks with the Xbox Series X controller is that it remembers both your console and your synced iPhone or Android phone. Because of this, you won't need to follow the above steps every time.

Once your Xbox Wireless Controller is connected to your phone, double-tap the Pair ((( button. Your controller's central light should briefly flicker, then turn solid again as it reconnects to the Xbox Series X.

Ready to switch back to mobile gaming? When your controller is paired to your console, hold down the Pair ((( button until the center light starts flashing. This time, so long as your phone is nearby and has Bluetooth activated, the Xbox controller will remember and sync to it automatically.

If the controller doesn't detect the old phone, it will stay in pairing mode, allowing you to connect a new phone to it if you wish.

Michael Hicks

Michael Hicks began his freelance writing career with TechRadar in 2016, covering emerging tech like VR and self-driving cars. Nowadays, he works as a staff editor for Android Central, but still writes occasional TR reviews, how-tos and explainers on phones, tablets, smart home devices, and other tech.