Each new generation of consoles heralds another battle in the never-ending war for supremacy in the gaming space. And if Microsoft’s Xbox wins the next with its Xbox Series X vs PS5 from Sony, it will probably be down to Xbox Game Pass.
For a low monthly fee, you play 100-plus games, including plenty of new releases. And you don’t even need to own an Xbox; you can play them from your Android phone or iPhone, thanks to Xbox Game Pass Streaming.
This is the public face of the Microsoft xCloud game-streaming project. We’ve been waiting for something like this since we tried OnLive back in 2011.
You can use an Xbox One Controller or PS4 DualShock 4 pad. However, no matter the gamepad you choose, we recommend buying either a clip that holds your phone in place above the pad, or a gamepad specifically made for the job. Some of them turn your phone into a device akin to a Nintendo Switch.
Microsoft has confirmed the pads officially supported by Xbox Game Pass Streaming at launch – these feature the classic “Xbox” button. However, there are plenty of other pads available that will also work, so long as they have the right sticks and buttons.
These are some of the best Xbox Game Pass Streaming Accessories to check out.
The Kishi is Razer’s universal follow-up to the Junglecat controller, which was only really designed to work with a handful of phones. Two halves of a controller joined by a back support turn your phone into something that isn’t a million miles from resembling a Nintendo Switch.
When not in use it folds up into a package that’s smaller than an Xbox controller.
Unlike most gamepad accessories, the Razer Kishi connects to your Android via USB-C (iPhone version available), getting rid of the latency of a wireless connection. Usefully, there’s a pass-through USB-C port on the outside of the Kishi for mid-play charging.
It’s a neat design that fits almost all phones, and it doesn’t suffer the weight distribution issue associated with a console controller clamp.
On the downside, the Razer Kishi will affect your phone's sound quality, despite having gaps in the design to cater for the areas in which most primary phones house their speakers. You won't be able to plug in wired headphones, either; you’ll need to remove your phone’s case if you use one.
Unsurprisingly, button quality doesn’t quite match that of an Xbox Controller or DualShock 4 either, although by the standards of third-party kit in general, it’s great.
Factoring in the Razer Kishi’s issues, this is still one of the best Xbox Game Pass Streaming controllers available.
- Razer Kishi review: one of the best mobile gamepads
There are stacks of Xbox One Controller clips available that clamp the pad to your phone. In fact, such hardware was around long before Xbox Game Pass Streaming was a thing. But the PowerA Moga Mobile Gaming Clip gets the official nod from Microsoft.
This means you can expect better quality than the clip you’ve spotted on eBay that has a price of $1.39 and an estimated six-week delivery time from China.
There isn’t a great deal we can say about a piece of plastic that holds your phone at an angle, except that the PowerA Moga Mobile Gaming Clip has all the features we’d expect of such an item.
A dual-hinge design allows for 220 degrees of screen rotation, and the clamp itself is finished in a layer of rubber to help keep your phone in place without leaving a dent in your device’s plastic sides.
The PowerA Moga Mobile Gaming Clip will fit phones with a width up to 79mm, which should cover the majority of handsets. With larger phones you may need to remove their cases, however.
The PowerA Moga XP5-X Plus looks like an Xbox One Controller, but is 100% a pad for mobile and PC gaming.
It’s a Bluetooth controller with a clip-on phone holder that offers 220 degrees of rotation. This effectively means you can angle the screen as you like, thanks to the dual hinge mechanism in the phone stand.
It accommodates phones up to 79mm wide, which covers the majority, including some housed in their cases.
So why opt for the Mega XP5-X when you could pick up Xbox’s official pad and a clip-on accessory for less? Because it comes with a 3,000mAh power bank, so you can play without killing your phone’s battery.
A couple of programmable rear buttons take their cues from Microsoft’s Elite Series 2 Controller,
but if ergonomics and absolute parity with button quality to an Xbox One pad are a priority, then we’d still recommend opting for the standard Xbox One Controller and clip instead.
8Bitdo is a purveyor of fine third-party pads for all manner of platforms, which bear resemblance to SNES controllers.
All use the same core hardware, but hunt down the specific “for Xbox Cloud Gaming” unit to pair with Xbox Game Pass. It features the iconic Xbox button, an (almost) all-black paint job, and comes with the 2-axis clip that connects the pad to a phone.
Other than some remnants of retro charm, its size is a key appeal: the 8Bitdo SN30 Pro For Xbox Cloud Gaming is smaller than an Xbox pad. This makes it handy for portable use.
In addition, it weighs just 111g, which is less than half the weight of an Xbox One Controller without batteries, and the 8Bitdo SN30 Pro For Xbox Cloud Gaming has an 18-hour lithium rechargeable battery built in.
Again, that’s great for bag-stashing, but not ideal if you want the pad to balance a larger phone, which could easily weigh 200g on its own.
Despite its small size, the 8Bitdo SN30 Pro For Xbox Cloud Gaming makes room for all the primary Xbox pad buttons, including dual triggers on each side. Check out the “plus” version, too, which has a PlayStation pad-style grip. Note that the latter model doesn’t come with a phone clip included, though.
Stadia is made for Google stuff, right? True, but the Google Stadia Controller will also work for Xbox Game Pass because it has Bluetooth and features the right sticks and buttons.
Simply pick up a Power Support Claw – designed for Google Pixel devices, but which works with almost all other phones, too – to physically connect the pad to your phone.
The obvious question is why you’d buy a Stadia to play Xbox Game Pass streaming. It wouldn’t be our top choice, but it’s your best bet if you want to dig into multiple game streaming services to see which is the best.
The Google Stadia Controller supports Wi-Fi, allowing it to connect to Stadia servers directly. This lets you see Stadia at its best.
But we're talking about Xbox Game Pass here, where the Stadia might take the place of the DualShock 4 or Xbox One controller. The Stadia Controller feels like a mix of the two, with grips shaped like those you’d find on the DualShock and a button layout closer to an Xbox pad.
We still prefer the consoles’ controllers for button feel, but the Stadia isn’t too far off.
The Razer Raiju controller originally appeared in 2016 as a “pro” PS4 controller. And now there’s a version for Android phones.
It looks similar to an Xbox pad, but has a phone clamp built into its top. It’s a neat design, which makes it look and feel just like a standard console controller. And since today the Raiju series has been designed to compete with advanced pads such as the Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller, it comes with some extra features.
For example, competitive gamers will appreciate the switches on the rear that let you alter the sensitivity of the primary trigger buttons, in order to reduce the travel required.
Further down the back you’ll find the Razer Raiju Mobile’s other bonus buttons, which can be used to temporarily reduce the sensitivity of the analogue sticks for precise aiming. All the bonus buttons can be customised.
In terms of negatives, the minimalist design of the phone mount means the screen can only tilt in a 60-degree arc, not the 220 degrees you get with a dual-hinged design, and at $149.99 the Razer Raiju is expensive. However, it also makes a great general-use pad for PC gamers.
The Razer Raiju can work as a wired or wireless Bluetooth controller – handy if you find the (now minimal) lag of Bluetooth bothersome.
- Xbox Game Pass Streaming: what you need to know