How to Connect a Controller to an Android Phone or Tablet

Touch controls for mobile games aren’t always great. Perhaps they are poorly implemented, or maybe your device doesn’t handle multitouch well.

Solution? Play Android mobile games with game controllers!

Wired and Bluetooth game controllers can be connected to your Android phone or tablet. The Xbox One, PS4, PS5 or Nintendo Switch Joy-Con wireless controller and USB controller both work with Android.

Here’s how to connect a game controller to an Android phone or tablet, and an explanation of what controllers can be used with Android.

Can I connect the controller to my phone?

You can connect the controller to your phone using a USB cable or Bluetooth. Here are the specific controllers that work with Android phones and tablets:

  • Generic USB Controller
  • Generic Bluetooth Controller
  • Xbox One Controller
  • PS4 controller
  • PS5 . Controller
  • Nintendo Switch Joy-Con

Generic controllers are those that are not created for a specific console. GameSir, Redgear, and Motorola are all examples of high-quality game controllers that you can use with your Android device. Android phones and tablets can both sync with the controller via Bluetooth or USB connection.

In a moment, we’ll look at each controller type in turn. Note that we’re ditching older console controllers (such as the Xbox 360 controller) due to outdated apps and changes to Android’s Bluetooth support. Generic controllers designed for use with PCs may also not work. Finally, controllers won’t work if the game you’re playing doesn’t have controller support built in. You can sometimes circumvent this by mapping the controls to a third-party Android game controller app.

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Let’s see how to set up a game controller on Android.

How to Connect a Wired USB Controller to Android

If you want to play games on Android using a USB controller, you will need a USB OTG cable. This is a special tool that adapts a standard USB connector to fit your phone or tablet.

However, the OTG-USB cable does much more, even allowing you to connect all your devices and USB drives to your Android – controllers too! Our guide to USB-OTG explains this in more detail.

First, you need to buy a USB OTG cable. They are available cheaply from Amazon. Make sure you select the USB-C or micro-USB connector depending on what your phone uses.

Once you have the USB OTG adapter, just plug it into your Android phone and connect the USB game controller to the other end of the adapter. Next, open the game you want to play. Controller-enabled games will detect the device and you’ll be ready to play.

Connecting a Standard Bluetooth Controller to Android

If you have a generic Bluetooth game controller, you are almost guaranteed that it will work with your Android device. It’s almost as simple as connecting a USB controller, though of course you won’t need any special adapters.

Start by making sure your phone is discoverable by Bluetooth devices. Open Settings > Connected devices > Connection options > Bluetooth and make sure Bluetooth is turned on.

From the same menu, select New device pairing, then follow the specific instructions to make your controller discoverable. Look for a dedicated Bluetooth button, or check the user manual for the right button combination if there isn’t one.

(If you normally turn on Bluetooth, just go to Settings > Connected Devices > Pair New Device.)

Your phone should detect the controller; Click on its name to establish a connection. As with USB, games can use controllers that will detect them when you start the game. Other games may support the controller, but require additional software from Google Play.

Can you connect an Xbox One Controller to Android?

If you have an Xbox One, you’ve got a great way to control Android games. But how simple is it to connect an Xbox One controller to your Android device?

Similar to connecting an Xbox One controller to your Windows PC, you don’t need any additional hardware with a newer model controller. The Bluetooth support of a typical Android device is all you need to connect the controller to your phone or tablet.

Before you begin, make sure the controller is fully charged and that you’ve unplugged your Xbox One. Otherwise, the controller will still be paired with it, which means you won’t be able to pair it with your Android device.

Start by putting Android into discoverable mode as explained in the previous section. Next, hold Sync on the Xbox One controller. When detected, select the controller on your phone and follow the instructions to pair.

Note that this will only work with newer Xbox One controllers that use Bluetooth. Early models (released when the Xbox One was first released) used RF, which Android did not support. If your controller doesn’t connect wirelessly, you can use USB OTG instead with a USB charging cable.

Connect PS5 or PS4 Controller to Android

Sony has been using Bluetooth in its controllers for years, which makes it easy to play Android games with your PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 gamepad. Instructions are the same for both consoles as both use Bluetooth.

Make your Android device discoverable, then sync the controller by holding PlayStation and Repost buttons at the same time. When the control light is flashing, you will see Wireless controller the entry is listed on your Android device.


Select this option to complete the pairing process. Your phone or tablet will then ask you to confirm the pairing, do so and you’re done! The uniform light on the PlayStation controller means it’s connected successfully.

Play Android Games with Nintendo Switch Joy-Con

You can also connect a Nintendo Switch controller to your mobile Android device. You can sync one Joy-Con or, as the video above illustrates, sync the two as a fully two-handed controller.

To sync both Joy-Cons attached to the Joy-Con Grip, you’ll need a wireless adapter and a USB OTG adapter that’s compatible with your phone.

Watch the accompanying video to learn more about controlling Android with the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controller. And be sure to learn how to share your Nintendo Switch games online.

Remember that in addition to Joy-Con, you can connect a Nintendo Switch Pro controller to your Android device.

What is the best Android game controller for phones?

Now that you know how to connect your game controller to your phone, you’re ready to play.

You can connect any of these controllers to your Android phone or tablet with varying degrees of success. While the connection is generally easy, some games do not immediately work with the controller.

The best controller option is the right one for you. However, despite the quality of Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch controllers, a controller designed specifically for mobile gaming may work better for you in the long run. Either way, if the game you play supports console controllers, you should be fine.

Of course, some games have such innovative controls, you might not even want one!


5 mobile games you control in a crazy way

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Sarah Ridley

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