How to pair and customize a PS5, Xbox Series X controller in iOS 14.5

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Pair PS5, Xbox controllers with iPhone and iPad
A better way to play your games on iPhone and iPad.
Photo: Microsoft/Cult of Mac

PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S/X controllers can finally be used to play games on iPhone and iPad in Apple’s newest iOS and iPadOS 14.5 betas, seeded to developers on Monday.

We’ll show you how to set them up so that you’re ready to go as soon as iOS 14.5 rolls out to everyone.

Support for PlayStation and Xbox controllers was first added in iOS and iPadOS 13 — much to our surprise — negating the need to buy pricey MFi controllers just to play games on your Apple devices.

However, when Sony and Microsoft dropped their newest consoles last fall, players quickly discovered their new controllers could not be used with iPhone and iPad out of the box.

Apple promised it was working to change that, and in iOS and iPadOS 14.5, the issue has been addressed. So, we’ll show you how to get your new controllers connected in no time at all.

How to pair a PS5 controller

  1. Hold down the PS and Share buttons on your controller until its LED light starts flashing.
  2. Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad, then tap Bluetooth.
  3. Look for your controller, which should be named DualShock 5, and then tap to pair it.

How to pair an Xbox Series controller

  1. Power on your controller by pressing the Xbox button
  2. Hold down the Connect button on the top of your controller for three seconds.
  3. Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad, then tap Bluetooth.
  4. Look for your controller, which should be named Xbox Wireless Controller, and then tap to pair it.

Once your controller is connected, simply fire up a game with controller support and you’re ready to play. Any game that previously worked with MFi controllers will work, while most Apple Arcade games also have controller support baked in.

Customize your controller layout

Also new in iOS and iPadOS 14.5 is the ability to customize your controller layout for the first time. You can remap almost any button, toggle vibration feedback, and more. What’s more, you can do this on a per-game basis, so the changes don’t have to apply to all titles.

To customize your controller layout, follow these steps after pairing your controller:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap General, then tap Game Controller.
  3. Toggle Enable Customizations.
  4. Tap any button you want to change and remap it.

Note that controller customization is available with any gamepad you can use on iPhone and iPad — not just PS5 and Xbox Series S/X controllers.