With cloud gaming becoming an increasingly viable option for gaming on the go, there’s never been a better time to pick up a controller specifically designed for mobile gaming. Services like Xbox Cloud Streaming do offer touchscreen controls to get you by, but for an ideal experience, you’re going to need a physical controller.
That’s where the MOGA XP5-X+ from PowerA comes in. It’s a controller for Android devices that’s targeted directly at gamers on the go. If you’re someone who’s serious about jumping on the cloud gaming hype train, this controller is a serious contender for a daily driver.
What’s in the box?
Unboxing the MOGA XP5-X+ can be an overwhelming experience due to the sheer amount of items that come with it. There’s, of course, the main controller unit in all of its glory. Then there’s the mobile phone clip that attaches to the controller separately.
On top of that, PowerA supplies you with a bunch of cables. First up is a length USB A to Micro USB cable for charging the controller. There are then an additional two shorter cables. Both of these have detachable heads that transform one end into either USB C or Micro USB. One of them ends in USB A, while the other ends with Micro USB. Confused yet? Don’t worry, I’m holding them in my hand right now and so am I.
The purpose of these shorter cables is so that you can easily take advantage of the 3,000mAh battery pack that resides inside the controller itself. The short cables enable you to plug in your phone to charge without having a massive long cable draping over your lap. The swappable adapters are a useful feature given that not all Android phones use the USB C standard charging port just yet.
Let’s get to the controller itself. The MOGA XP5-X+ is designed much like an Xbox controller with offset joysticks, a D-Pad, four face buttons, two bumpers and two triggers. A Bluetooth pairing button resides on the top of the pad, while a battery indicator button and accompanying LEDs sit towards the bottom. Those are adjacent to a switch that enables the battery pack, while a power switch sits in the centre of the face plate. To the rear of the controller are two paddle buttons, and another button to customise those paddles sits on the bottom-most face.
My first impression upon picking up the controller is how light it felt. Especially compared to something like the PS5 DualSense, the XP5 is certainly on the trim side weighing in at just 215g. It’s actually rather impressive for a controller that’s the same size as a normal Xbox One pad. Especially given that there’s a whole powerbank somehow squished into here, too. PowerA has achieved this by constructing the unit out of mostly plastic, besides some rubber grips where your palms sit.
I’m personally a fan of weightier controllers, but given the targeted use case of the XP5, I can understand why it’s lean. When carrying a controller on your travels, the last thing you want is for it to be weighing you down. This one can be thrown in a backpack and you’ll barely know it’s there.
What’s it like to play with?
For the most part, playing games with this controller is a breeze. The joysticks are smooth to gyrate under the thumb, and the face buttons are suitably clicky. The D-Pad feels less tactile than a normal Xbox controller, but it’s still perfectly serviceable. If you’re used to an Xbox controller, you’ll feel right at home here.
Sadly, the top-end of the MOGA XP5-X is let down in some rather big ways. The triggers feel incredibly light to feather with a finger. That would be fine if the resistance was linear right the way down to bottoming out the press. Unfortunately, pressing the triggers all the way in is met with an unpleasant mushy feeling. You can never quite tell where you’re completely bottoming out the lever.
The bumper buttons are also a slight disappointment. If you press them towards the outer edge of the controller, they feel fine. However, if you have long fingers and try pressing them further towards the centre of the controller, you’ll find them more difficult and less satisfying to depress.
Despite these drawbacks, the MOGA XP5 holds up well when actually playing games. It’s responsive when connected to a phone via Bluetooth with no perceivable input lag at all. The additional rear buttons work a treat, too. They’re super easy to bind to any face button with no additional software required. A satisfying click is felt with each press and the additional functionality is useful in fast paced action games.
In addition to the controller, you also get a mobile phone clip in the box. This attaches to the MOGA XP5 by snapping into place. It’s constructed entirely of plastic, but stays firm when positioned on the controller. The grip can cater to pretty much any mobile phone size with a clip that expands and contracts to fit any model of phone. Thumb screws on the size loosen and tighten the hinges that can position the phone at almost any angle.
The phone clip is what sets this controller apart as it makes the mobile gaming experience seamless. Positioning the phone above the controller means almost any gaming space becomes comfortable. You almost forget that you’re playing on a phone because the experience is so immersive. It’s like playing on a Nintendo Switch but with an infinitely more comfortable controller layout.
The MOGA XP5 is let down in the compatibility department, sadly. It’s advertised as an Android Bluetooth controller, which is true to its functionality – I could only get this controller to connect to an Android device. As a Bluetooth device, I thought that I’d also be able to use this as a Bluetooth device for other usecases. Sadly, I couldn’t get the XP5 to work on an iPhone, nor would it send an input to my PC via Bluetooth.
It’s not a deal breaker as this device is clearly advertised as an Android-focused controller. However, it is disappointing to see that there’s no support for iOS or Windows devices when standard Xbox and PlayStation controllers can connect just fine.
Should you buy one?
While it has its drawbacks, the MOGA XP5-X+ Pro is easily the best mobile-focused gaming controller that I’ve used. The included mobile phone grip is a gamechanger for getting comfortable in tight places like public transport. In addition, the integrated power bank and included cables are an excellent feature that mobile gamers will surely appreciate.
However, some mushy button inputs and compatibility issues might let this hardware down for some. You’ll definitely want to make sure that you’re running an Android device and don’t mind that it won’t work with your Xbox or PC platforms. If you already have an Xbox controller that you don’t mind lugging around, you might be better off with the MOGA Mobile Gaming Grip 2.0 which is sold separately. This will bring the mobile gaming functionality to your standard Xbox controller, sans the built in battery pack and rear paddles.
Overall, MOGA brings some excellent ideas to the table that heavy duty mobile gamers will surely appreciate. However, for the more casual audience, the mediocre build quality might not justify a dedicated purchase. If you have a preferred controller for cloud gaming, let us know on our social channels!
Featured Image: PowerA
The controller was provided by PR for review purposes.