While many Gear VR games work just fine with the built-in D-pad found on the headset itself, what if you are craving a slightly more interactive experience? The latest Gear VR now offers a motion controller filing that itch at least a little, but did you know there are dozens of games for both Gear VR and even headsets that are Google Cardboard compliant that actually work out of the box with a gamepad? The trick is finding the right one.

See also:

Samsung Gear VR (2017) review

April 18, 2017

Neither Google Cardboard or Gear VR have an official gamepad (with the exception of the new Gear VR motion controller), and that means you have to turn to existing 3rd party Bluetooth controllers in order to get the job done. The good news is that a quick visit to Amazon or your other favorite e-tailer will show that there are dozens of options out there.

In this list we take a look at just a handful of controllers we personally recommend. Many of these also were seen on our “Best Bluetooth controller” guide over at Android Authority. So without further ado, let’s jump right in.


MadCatz GameSmart C.T.R.L.

Designed for use with Android and PC, the Mad Catz C.T.R.L. is an excellent controller that works flawlessly with the Gear VR and Google Cardboard. Design wise, the C.T.R.L. sticks to the traditional Xbox 360 layout but hte addition of media buttons is extremely helpful in VR. Without having to look around or remove the headset, you can now use the controller to quickly play/pause, fast forward, rewind, and even turn the volume up or down.

Pros

  • Media controllers are great for VR
  • Feels good in the hand and is easy to use
  • Has PC modes for controlling the mouse and more
  • Offers a screw mount for when you want to use it in non-VR games

Cons 

  • Uses AA batteries instead of rechargeable (though provides 40+ hours)
  • Looks a bit cheaper thanks to a very plastic-centric design
Buy on Amazon for $40

Steel Series Stratus XL

Like the C.T.R.L, the Stratus XL is inspired by the Xbox 360 controller, but this time around it comes in a black metallic form that features nice orange and gray accents. Without a doubt, this controller is the sexiest on offer, it’s also has exceptional in-hand feel and appears to be pretty durable. You don’t get as many extras here — no mount or media controllers — but this feels the most like a professional “console quality” controller out of all the options on this list. It’s worth mentioning that at press events like E3, Gear VR developers typically pair their games with this particular controller, so it’s well respected among developers.

Pros

  • Feels great in the hand
  • Excellent design and build quality
  • PC support, if you need it

Cons 

  • Uses AA batteries instead of rechargeable
  • No media controllers
Buy on Amazon for $33

Moga Hero Power

The Moga Hero Power takes a slightly different design angle, one that’s meant to be very light weight and hlighly portable. The feel in hand here is pretty decent and there’s an 1800 mAh rechargeable battery so you can leave those AA-batteries at home for a change! Other extras include a built-in holder for your phone when you want to use it with non-VR games, and the ability to even charge up your devices (a little) using the Power’s built-in battery.

Pros

  • Feels good in hand
  • Reasonably durable design
  • No AA batteries needed!

Cons 

  • No media controllers
  • Feels a tad on the cheap side
Buy on Amazon for $24

Matricom G-Pad

Yes, this is an unknown Chinese brand and looks ultra generic, but at just $18, it’s an extremely affordable proposition. Sure the buttons and feel are a bit of the cheap side, but if you only plan to occasionally use the controller for some casual mobile VR sessions or even for non-VR Android gaming, this could be worth picking up. It’s also worth noting that despite a cheap price, this one uses a built-in battery instead of requiring you to provide AA batteries all the time.

Pros

  • It’s only $20
  • No AA batteries needed!
  • A phone holder is included.

Cons 

  • Feels and looks cheap
  • A bit bulky, despite being ultra-light
  • Certainly isn’t going to impress anyone

 

Buy on Amazon

So that’s a look at just some of the best game controllers on the market for pairing with your mobile VR headset of choice. What do you think of our list? Any others you’d recommend? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments.

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