Smartphone game controllers come in two typical shapes: a Nintendo Switch-esque frame that stretches across your phone like the Backbone One or GameSir X2 Pro, or a traditional controller with a frame mounted on top.
The MOGA XP5-i falls into the latter category, but brings some additional party tricks with it, such as a built-in 3,000 mAh power bank to charge your battery and programmable back buttons for pro players.
But does it deliver on being a convenient controller to whip out and play on long commutes, and is the move to wireless Bluetooth control detrimental to the latency? Let’s find out.
MOGA XP5-i Plus price
$79.99 stands between you and securing a MOGA XP5-i Plus, which converts to just over £69 in the UK.
That is $20 less than the BackBone One and exactly the same price as the GameSir X2 Pro. The XP5-i is made for Apple devices only — such as iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. If you want an Android version, consider the MOGA XP5-X Plus (opens in new tab) instead.
MOGA XP5-i Plus design
Unlike its competitors that we’ve reviewed, the XP5-i Plus takes a more traditional approach, which makes it more ergonomically sound to use for extended gaming sessions.
Buttons have a nice tactile feel, the analog triggers have finite degrees of responsiveness and the joysticks have a reliably fluid snap to them. All of this pairs with a plastic frame that doesn’t creak under pressure and rubberized grips that your hands will love. Plus, let’s not forget the big benefit over the Switch-style controllers,now that the phone is elevated in a holder, case support is basically infinite.
However, it does raise questions regarding that trade-off. A full-size controller is not as portable as the likes of a Backbone One — that much is obvious. So, it is up to you whether that hit on portability is worth the additional size, and personally, I wouldn’t say it is.
Don’t get me wrong; this is a damn good controller. Maybe the addition of a case in the MOGA XP5-i package would remedy this blemish, but the GameSir X2 Pro or Backbone One are comfortable enough for gameplay, while being almost pocketable and far easier to throw in your backpack’s front pocket.
MOGA XP5-i Plus connectivity and support
MOGA opted for a bluetooth connection for the XP5-i Plus, which rang some alarm bells in terms of controller latency. However, I’m happy to report that the lag was not noticeable at all — even across games where lightning reactions are required like shooters and rhythm games.
Strangely, there are a couple of ports on here, even though there is no wired connection option. But it does reveal the secret weapon: a 3,000 mAh battery inside, which you can use to charge your phone whilst playing, or even when you’re not. Simply put, this is a super convenient feature that I hope other companies emulate in future products.
Gaming significantly drains your phone’s battery, so to have a backup for this is a very user-friendly addition. It means you can play on commutes without fear of losing juice for the rest of your working day.
Unfortunately, there is no 3.5mm headphone jack. Sure, you can connect a pair of the best true wireless earbuds and call it a day, but it will never be truly latency-free, which can make rhythm games virtually impossible.
MOGA XP5-i Plus software
This is an easy section to write, primarily because there isn’t an app. That does cause some problems when switching games on the fly, as you need to awkwardly go back to the home screen, rotate your controller and pick a new game.
Backbone still stands heads and shoulders above the competition with its app that transforms your iPhone into a fluid gaming UI for your controller. Something like this would certainly have been preferable for the XP5-i Plus.
When in its element, the MOGA XP5-i Plus really shines as a great iPhone game controller — packing a comfortable design for gameplay, a sturdy frame to hold your phone, virtually latency-free bluetooth-based controls, and a built-in 3,000 mAh battery that makes it more useful in clutch times than its competition.
There are some unfortunate omissions that make it a little awkward to use, though. The lack of a companion app makes it awkward to get into your games and the absence of a 3.5mm audio jack means you’re relying on the built-in speakers for true lag-free audio. Plus, the full-size controller with frame is simply not as portable as the Backbone One or GameSir X2 Pro.
But its price and convenience do make these issues an easier pill to swallow in what is a solid option for gamers looking to take their iOS playtime to the next level.