RiotPWR Controller for iOS (Xbox Edition) review: Meant for cloud gaming

This iPhone game controller is designed for Xbox Cloud Gaming [Review]

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This iPhone game controller is designed for Xbox Cloud Gaming [Review]★★★★
You're ready to play Xbox Cloud Gaming on your iPhone with the RiotPWR Controller for iOS (Xbox Edition).
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

RiotPWR teamed up with Microsoft on an Xbox-licensed game controller for iPhone. It’s nearly identical to one of Microsoft’s own but the RiotPWR Controller for iOS (Xbox Edition) connects through a Lightning cable and includes a mount to hold your handset. And it comes with a month of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to get you started playing console games online.

I’ve enjoyed a couple of weeks of gaming on RiotPWR’s iPhone controller. Here’s why.

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RiotPWR Controller for iOS (Xbox Edition) review

Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs screwed up decades ago by neglecting gaming. The result is that top tier titles are released for consoles and PC, not Mac.

Fortunately, cloud gaming is here to save us. This allows games designed for consoles to be played on almost any computer. There are multiple options – Microsoft’s version is Xbox Cloud Gaming.

The RiotPWR Controller for iOS (Xbox Edition) is designed for iPhone users to enjoy Xbox games on their Apple handset. And it can be used with a wide variety of other games, too.

To prove it’s a licensed product and not a cheap knockoff, the controller includes the Xbox logo and comes in the official color scheme. And a month of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, too.

Better than an Xbox controller

RiotPWR Controller for iOS (Xbox Edition) vs. Microsoft Xbox wireless Xbox controller
RiotPWR’s controller is almost identical to Microsoft’s. But the RiotPWR one has iPhone-friendly features.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Let’s address the elephant in the room: if you want to play Xbox Cloud Gaming on your iPhone, you can use Microsoft’s own Xbox wireless controller. It is one of a variety of wireless game controllers supported by iOS.

But the RiotPWR version includes useful features not available in Microsoft’s. The most obviously is a wired connection. You don’t have to hassle with pairing the device with your iPhone, or worry about lag from the Bluetooth connection. It’s plug and play.

What’s more, RiotPWR also included a Lightning pass-through charging port. I can plug the controller into an external power source and charge my iPhone while I’m playing. I love not ending long gaming sessions with a dead iPhone.

The Lightning connector is at the end of a 25-inch cable. That is more than enough to reach the iPhone mount. It’s designed so you can put your iPhone in a cradle on a table in front of you while playing. This reduces the weight of the controller a lot.

You won’t be sacrificing playability by using the RiotPWR Controller for iOS (Xbox Edition) instead of an official Microsoft one. I’ve spent a few hundred hours holding an Xbox controller over the years, and the RiotPWR one feels like a standard one. All the buttons, sticks, bumpers, triggers, etc., are right where they’re supposed to be.

I did a hands-on comparison of an official Microsoft Xbox wireless controller with the RiotPWR one as I looked for differences in the controls. The only one I found are ABXY buttons on the third-party controller are slightly harder to press, but I don’t consider that a flaw. I didn’t notice while I was using the controller – only when I was looking for differences.

That said, the mount is an obvious difference… and a big advantage for the RiotPWR Controller for iOS (Xbox Edition). It holds your iPhone where you can easily see it. A padded, adjustable clamp can handle iPhones in a variety of sizes. And you don’t have to remove your handset’s protective case to play.

A hinge in the mount allows you to change the angle the iPhone screen is pointing. It works fine. But rival mounts have two hinges giving more flexibility in how the handheld is positioned when gaming. It’s not a major flaw, but I did miss the second hinge.

The mount plugs into a slot on the front of the controller. It’s easily removable when carrying the device around, or if you want to put to your iPhone on a table notepad.

Just so there’s no confusion, you don’t have to charge RiotPWR’s controller. It runs off power from your iPhone.

Let’s fire up some games

Old school Xbox gaming on the RiotPWR Controller.
I played an old Xbox favorite on my iPhone when testing RiotPWR’s controller.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Xbox Cloud Gaming doesn’t require developers to port their games to iPhone. They run on remote servers instead, and the action is streamed to players. All your handset needs to do is display video from a remote session and send commands from the gaming controller to the server.

What this means in real-world terms is that almost any computer can run console games. That definitely includes iPhone.

I used RiotPWR’s free trial of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to access the online service on an iPhone 13 and the RiotPWR Controller for iOS (Xbox Edition). It definitely works, and performs pretty well.

It’s not 100% the same as having an Xbox in your living room, but the differences have nothing to do with the controller. That works perfectly. There’s no lag or any other problems.

You can game with on-screen virtual controls but I very, very strongly recommend using a controller instead. I played a game that required me to simultaneously hold down the left and right trigger while steering with the left stick and pressing the X button to jump. I think that’s physically impossible to do with on an iPhone touchscreen. It was no problem with RiotPWR’s controller.

You won’t have problems with the controller, but Xbox Cloud Gaming isn’t perfect. In my testing of it and other cloud gaming services, all problems are Wi-Fi related. Online gaming is wonderfully fun if your iPhone uses a fast, stable connection. If your Wi-Fi is weak, your screen will occasionally stall and then return, during which the game keeps going and your character possibly dies because you can’t see what’s going on.

RiotPWR bundles a free month of Xbox Cloud Gaming with this accessory, so you can try before committing. If you need help getting started, I wrote a “how to” on setting up an iPhone to play Fortnite, one of the many games available via Xbox Cloud Gaming.

Head over to Microsoft’s site to see a list of the 100+ other titles available.

And you’re not locked into Xbox. Just about all the Apple Arcade games also support external controllers. And there are other third-party games, too.

RiotPWR Controller for iOS (Xbox Edition) final thoughts

RiotPWR Controller for iOS (Xbox Edition) review
The RiotPWR Controller for iOS (Xbox Edition) is an outstanding way to enjoy Xbox Cloud Gaming on an iPhone.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Cloud gaming services are a lifeline to Apple gamers. With Xbox Cloud Gaming you can play console games on an iPhone in your dorm room or on a break at work. But for the sale of your sanity, don’t try to do this with on-screen controls. It’s a miserable, frustrating experience.

Try RiotPWR’s controller instead. It’s nearly identical to a Microsoft Xbox controller but with an iPhone mount and Lightning cable added.

★★★★

Pricing

The RiotPWR Controller for iOS (Xbox Edition) is $69.99. For comparison, an official Xbox controller is $59.99 but it lacks features RiotPWR’s does.

Buy from: RiotPWR

If you’d prefer a version in basic black, not official Xbox green and white, the RiotPwr Rotor Riot iOS Controller RR1852 PWR Plus is essentially the same product for $49.99.

RiotPWR provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out more in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.