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This controller turns your Android phone into a portable Xbox

This controller turns your Android phone into a portable Xbox

It doesn't look like Microsoft will ever make a portable Xbox. Between Sony's failure with the Vita, Nintendo's dominance in the market with the Switch, and Microsoft's device-agnostic business model, there really isn't much need for such a product.

That doesn't mean there's no demand for portable Xbox games, though. Microsoft is pushing cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass, as well as the ability to stream games directly from your Xbox console to your phone. And even though a surprising number of players are doing this with touchscreen controls—I know people who swear by the touch version of Hades, believe it or not—it's not a perfect setup for most Xbox games.

That's why I was interested in trying out the RIG MG-X, a mobile controller from Nacon. This is an officially licensed Xbox controller that works with any Android phone, giving it all the buttons you'd find on a standard Xbox One pad. This should make it suitable for Game Pass games on the go.

Mobile controllers aren't a new idea, and there are already solid options for Android like the Razer Kishi — including a recently released Xbox-specific version. However, the RIG MG-X has an attractively straightforward design for the product category that can be a bit awkward, which combined with the Xbox button creates a sleek outlook. It's not a good idea to think about which icons map to which commands; You can naturally use the same buttons you would have on a traditional Xbox setup.

The controller has a gap in the middle that extends to clamp around your phone, which connects over Bluetooth. Nacon says it should work with any phone running Android 6 and above with a screen up to 6.7-inches; I used it mostly with the Vivo X70 Pro Plus, which is a massive phone with a massive 6.78-inch screen, and it worked fine. (However, it doesn't work with iPhones at all.)

It's a fairly chunky device, and it's already bigger than an Xbox controller before you can extend it to put your phone. That's not necessarily a bad thing – it feels well built and I'd have no problem throwing it in a bag while traveling. The use of Bluetooth instead of a USB-C connector is a trade-off I'm okay with, as it creates a more compatible design and ensures that the controller can be used with the phone in a case. This means you'll have to pair it with the phone manually, and charge the controller itself over USB-C from time to time; Naikon delivers around 20 hours of battery life.

Overall, the RIG MG-X's controls are small but effective. Analog sticks aren't as big as a full-size Xbox controller, but they're larger than the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con and feel more satisfying to use. The face buttons are also quite small, but tactile and clickable, while the D-pad is fairly accurate, albeit a bit mushy than I'd like. I have big hands and found the RIG MG-X to have fairly good ergonomics over time for most games.

However, there is an exception when it comes to triggers. For some reason they are unusually difficult to press all the way down, which is a big problem for games like racers where you need to hold them down a lot. A game like Halo Infinite where you're regularly making different squeezes to fire weapons is fine, but I was wondering why I was losing so many races in Forza Horizon 5 before I found out. That I had not pressed my foot firmly to the gas. You can do it, but it takes more force than any other controller I've used, and it's not at all comfortable for extended play sessions.

It's unfortunate that this isn't a good Forza Horizon 5 controller—you may have heard it's a pretty cool game—but it works well for most other genres. You can use it for non-Xbox games, of course, whether they're from the Play Store or elsewhere - I've played a lot of Fortnite with it, and you even get the native Xbox button indicator in the menu.

The RIG MG-X is a good controller with one major drawback, so if you're a fan of racing games just know what you're getting into. I happen to be one, so this was disappointing for me, and I personally would go with the Xbox version of the Razer Kishi for that reason. But for many other Xbox games, it's a solid solution that gets you closer to a portable Xbox than ever before, and the addition of triggers I prefer its design to the Kishi. This month Nakon also announced the MG-X Pro, which looks like a standard Xbox controller - hopefully the triggers will be better.

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