If you’re getting a Gear VR, you might want to get your hands on a controller.
Gaming on the Gear VR is a fantastic experience, right until you feel like your arm is going to fall off from holding it up to the D-Pad on the side of the headset for an hour. There’s only so much Gunjack you can play in that position, and beyond shooting enemies from your space turret there are several games that require a gamepad to start playing. There’s no shortage of Bluetooth gamepads for Android, but with your eyes unable to see your fingers you should be a little pickier about what you are gripping when gaming in VR.
Here’s a quick look at our top choices for Gear VR gamepads.
This post was previously published in April 2016. It was updated in June 2016 with current products and links.
Xiaomi Bluetooth Gamepad
This is the best all-around gamepad for the Gear VR. It’s compact enough to toss in a bag with your Gear VR but not quite compact enough to slide in a pocket. The buttons are easily identifiable when playing in VR, which is important since you can’t look down to see the buttons. It’s a great all-around gamepad for the Gear VR, and for $30 you aren’t spending a whole lot for the addition to your experience.
Beboncool mini controller
If portability is the most important thing to you, Beboncool is where you want to look. This controller can be clipped onto your keyring, and when you want the controller for the Gear VR you’ll have everything you need. The buttons are etched so you can feel them with your thumb, but the icons aren’t uniform so it’s less obvious which button is where. You’re compromising comfort for portability, but the end result is a controller that is always on you when you want to game.
Portability and easy key location are important, but if you’re used to a specific look and feel to a controller that may be the most significant part of the experience for you. The controller design of the GameSir G3s is undeniably similar to the PS4 controller, and that familiarity is significant when you can’t just look down at the controller. This controller also includes a bracket to hold your phone when not using the Gear VR, so you can use it for just about everything.
SteelSeries Stratus XL
The folks at SteelSeries have a long history of quality controllers for mobile platforms, and the Stratus XL kicks that up a notch. It’s an Xbox One-style controller for just about everything, supporting Steam Big Picture and the Gear VR at the same time. It’s not exactly portable compared to the other controllers SteelSeries makes, but the comfort and capability of this controller makes it an incredible choice for just about anything.
Forget portability, comfort, battery longevity, or tactile response when in the Gear VR. This controller looks like an amazing hybrid of a classic Nintendo controller and a Wii Pro Controller (not to be confused with the much better Wii U Pro Controller). It looks neat, and is compatible with Android. That’s basically the only reason to consider this controller over the others. For some folks that’s enough, and that’s okay!
- Gear VR review
- Five Gear VR games that shouldn’t be missed
- Inside Samsung’s Gear VR web browser
- Gear VR vs. Google Cardboard
- Where to buy Gear VR