Did you know it’s possible to use an Xbox One controller with your Android device? That’s because as of the release of the Xbox One S, Microsoft started outfitting its Xbox One controllers with Bluetooth radios. While this feature was made mostly for PC gaming, you’ll be happy to know that it works surprisingly well with Android phones.
While there may be more appropriate controllers for mobile gaming available, this is a nice trick to have in your back pocket if you already have a compatible Xbox One controller and don’t want to spend money to buy something you’ll only use for your phone. We’re here to show you how.
What you’ll need
For starters, you’ll want to ensure the Xbox One controller you have uses Bluetooth. As a general rule of thumb, newer versions of the Xbox One S and Xbox One X come with Bluetooth by default. If you’re buying the controller new, Amazon has them for $49.95.
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For those looking to use their existing controllers, the easiest way to check is to look at the controller itself. If the area around the Xbox button is part of the same piece of plastic as the rest of the controller, it has Bluetooth. If your Xbox button is recessed within a separate piece of plastic, it does not have Bluetooth. Reference the image below if you need help — if your controller has Bluetooth support, it should look like the bottom one.
Beyond that, you’ll need your Bluetooth-capable phone, and that should be it. Samsung phones work best with the Xbox One controller thanks to a partnership Microsoft has with Samsung and Oculus, as they push the controller as the best option for Gear VR users. Even if you aren’t using it for Gear VR purposes, it works quite well in the selection of games which properly support Bluetooth controller support at Google Play.
Don’t have a Samsung phone? Your mileage may vary, but there’s still a chance the controller will work properly. We’ve seen reports of some LG, HTC, and even generic Vodafone devices being compatible, though there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to the whole ordeal as some devices from the same manufacturer reportedly act differently.
The best thing to do for those who already own the controller is to simply try it. If you don’t own it, be sure to search around for your specific phone to see if others have had success, as you don’t want to be dropping cash for something that doesn’t work. (Of course, Amazon’s return policy is awesome, so if you’re buying from them then it may be worth the hassle.)
How to pair an Xbox One controller with your Android phone
Assuming the phone you have works just fine with the Xbox One controller, the pairing process is pretty painless. Here’s how to get connected:
- On your Android phone, open Settings and head to the Bluetooth menu. Make sure Bluetooth is enabled.
- Turn on the Xbox One controller by holding the Xbox button.
- Look for the sync button on the top left of the Xbox controller. Hold it for a few seconds until the Xbox button begins blinking.
- On your Android phone, scan for nearby Bluetooth devices. After some time, you should see the Xbox One controller appear in the list of nearby devices. Tap it to pair.
- If all goes well, your phone should show a connection to your Xbox One controller, and the Xbox button will stop blinking.
For some phones, you’ll see evidence of the controller working right away, with the directional pad and buttons being used to navigate the system UI. To test further, fire up your favorite game with Bluetooth controller support to see how it all works out.
I’ve tried several games with the Xbox One controller, including Modern Combat 5, Riptide GP, and BombSquad. Not only did the games work with the controller flawlessly, they even show proper on-screen control prompts appropriate for the Xbox One controller. And for emulators, you should have no problem mapping the buttons however you prefer.
Some games may not be as polished, so you’ll have to do some experimenting to see which buttons correspond to the controls in your game of choice. Looking for some cool games to check out with this new love connection? We’ve rounded up the best Android games with Bluetooth controller support for you at the jump.
Best Android games with Bluetooth controller support