Hardware Review: NACON MG-X Android Controller

I’ve always had one big gripe with mobile gaming – I’m rubbish at keeping my fingers in the right place on the screen to use virtual analogue sticks. As such any kind of “proper” shooter such as Fortnite or PUBG have been off the menu, as have any kind of racing game, 3D platformer… basically my mobile gaming isn’t really a thing. And forget about doing anything useful when connecting to the Xbox or Playstation through their respective remote play options, that’s for admin tasks only.

Or at least, it was. Then I was sent the NACON MG-X, and it’s opened up a whole new world.

Taking the form of an Xbox controller (complete with Xbox button labelling and Xbox power button) it’s clear what this is aimed towards: either games on your actual phone, or those running remotely off your Xbox Series S/X. Getting started it easy: pull the sides of the controller outwards, drop your phone into the middle and it’ll happily shrink back to grip your phone in a satisfyingly tight hug. From then it’s just a case of pairing the Bluetooth (which you only need to do when you first use it) and you’re good to go. Android recognises it as a controller, so most games that are set up to allow controller use will work as you’d want them to.

We tested it with a few mobile games, remotely playing through the Xbox Series S and also GeForce Now – plenty of variety to get a good feel for how well this will work. It’s incredibly slick all round. Everything we tried happily picked up the controller and there was no input lag or connection issues. The buttons and sticks feel good, although being a controller designed for mobiles the sticks are slightly smaller than average which limits your absolute accuracy of moment, but it’s not difficult to get used to them and adapt your playing accordingly. The rear trigger buttons are very stiff though which is OK for racing games needing some intricate trigger input, but does give a slight question of how hard you need to hit them in order to shoot at someone in a FPS title. The stiffness also means giving them 100% is quite rough on your index fingers, and you might find yourself only pulling them 80% of the way without realising – not ideal for hitting top speed on the straights!

It works nicely as an ordinary Bluetooth controller as well, and paired with our Samsung tablet in the same way, just without clipping it into the controller itself. I had great success playing games like Outer Worlds, Fortnite and Planet of Lana through my tablet, and having that slightly larger screen makes quite a big difference when it comes to reading text or seeing more intricate details. Generally it felt great in these games though, and it’s such a shame that those rear triggers are as stiff as they are. Lighten them up a little and this would be an absolute winner.

But, that aside, this is still a brilliant option if you enjoy gaming on your phone or like to use various remote or cloud gaming options through one of your smaller devices. It is, overall, the best controller of its type I’ve used, and definitely worth a look if you’re in the market for this kind of thing.