The enormous popularity of cloud-based gaming has spawned an entire market of peripherals and accessories designed to make our smartphones perform more like dedicated gaming consoles. RiotPWR is no stranger to this increasingly competitive landscape, as it has spent the last several years churning out console-quality controllers specifically made for iOS and Android devices.
Its latest offering — the RiotPWR Xbox Cloud Gaming Controller for iOS (Xbox Edition) — doubles down on this specificity, as it’s laser-focused on attracting Apple device owners with an affinity for Xbox gaming and hardware. The result is a third-party gamepad that attaches to your iPhone and looks — and plays — a lot like an Xbox Series X or S controller, complete with a dedicated Xbox button sitting at its center. While RiotPWR’s latest generally delivers on its intended purpose, it also suffers from a limited scope as well as an overall design that can’t quite keep up with competitors like Backbone and Razer.
RiotPWR's Xbox Cloud Gaming Controller is perfect for iPhone gamers who want to play mobile and cloud games using a console-quality peripheral. That said, it still feels like an imperfect solution with a limited scope, especially when compared to competing options from Backbone and Razer.
What we liked about it
Eclipsing the clip competition
The mobile gaming market is flooded with controllers that connect to smartphones as well as clips designed to attach our existing console accessories to our iOS and Android devices. Unfortunately, many of these options are cheaply made and poorly designed, resulting in on-the-go gaming sessions that just can’t match the console experience. RiotPWR’s Xbox edition controller rises above this sea of wannabe solutions, utilizing a solid, sturdy, adjustable clip that firmly roots your device into the controller.
More than just not feeling flimsy or unstable, though, the clip sports some additional perks. For starters, it’s removable, so whether you’re taking a quick subway commute or traveling across the country, packing up the device is a breeze. The clip can also be used as a smartphone stand when unattached from the controller, offering a second setup option for mobile gaming sessions. In fact, while I clipped the controller to my phone when gaming on the couch or in bed, I actually preferred the secondary method when space permitted.
Finally, regardless of how you’re using the clip, it has enough play to fit most iPhone cases. It’s a simple, no-frills feature but a welcome convenience I especially appreciated after testing the Backbone, which couldn’t accommodate my device when it was armored up in its chunky OtterBox case.
Wires for the win
The RiotPWR trades wireless connectivity for a direct Lightning connection, ensuring you needn’t worry about the potential lag that can come with a Bluetooth-enabled controller. But the more stable connection doesn’t come at the cost of your smartphone’s power, as a pass-through charging port on the controller’s underside means even marathon gaming sessions won’t abuse your battery. There’s also a headphone jack to the right of the pass-through, allowing you to plug in your gaming cans while you play.
If you’re looking for a mobile option that mimics the feel of an Xbox controller, you’re not going to do better than the RiotPWR. In addition to the identical layout of the inputs, all sticks, triggers, buttons, bumpers — and even the difficult-to-replicate D-pad — perform on all fronts, providing the finger-pleasing responsiveness you’d get from an Xbox gamepad. The RiotPWR also has a dedicated social button to the left of the D-pad, inviting convenient screenshot sharing.
Microsoft enthusiasts should also appreciate the inclusion of a dedicated Xbox button as well as the view and menu inputs being in their expected spots. These three oddly sit flat against the controller rather than adopting the first-party peripheral’s convex design, but this never posed any sort of problem during my testing. In fact, playing across a variety of genres — from shooters and RPGs to turn-based strategy and sports — I never felt like any of the inputs were inferior to those of a first-party controller.
I also took the RiotPWR for a spin with Apple Arcade and PlayStation 5 games, and enjoyed a similarly satisfying experience. You will need to call on muscle memory for the latter’s button layout, but that’s certainly not a knock against this Xbox-focused controller. I should also note that the RiotPWR gets the job done when utilizing your console’s remote play feature. While it’s marketed as an Xbox Game Pass cloud companion — whether you own Microsoft’s platform or not — I mostly used it in bed, upstairs, while remote streaming from my Xbox Series X located on the floor below.
What we didn’t like about it
Too light, too heavy
While the controller’s inputs nicely replicate the feel, feedback and responsiveness of an Xbox gamepad, I did find its weight to be slightly off. Without a smartphone attached, it seems too light, lacking the familiar heft of a first-party peripheral. More specifically, it feels about the same as an Xbox controller with the batteries removed. Clipping a smartphone in place makes it feel more solid but also a bit too heavy. Not nailing the exact weight of an Xbox controller is by no means a deal breaker, but it’s worth noting for those who might be expecting a 1-to-1 experience.
While I appreciate the controller’s no-lag Lightning connection, pass-through charging port and headphone jack, there’s no getting around just how awkward the device looks and feels when you’re using even just a couple of these features simultaneously. At 27 inches, the permanently attached Lightning cable is just too long. Using the included Velcro strap and built-in fastening point contains some of its unruly slack, but it’s still a sloppy solution at best.
Plugging in headphones and/or using the pass-through port only adds to the mess, potentially tethering the controller to three separate points. Even if all these wires don’t interfere with your gaming, the tangle of cords trailing in three different directions doesn’t exactly make for the most aesthetically pleasing cloud streaming setup.
Behind the competitive curve
If you want to game on your smartphone without sacrificing the look and feel of your favorite Xbox controller, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option than the RiotPWR. That said, after being spoiled by both the $99 Backbone One (pictured above) and $99 (but often discounted) Razer Kishi, I really don’t even want to pair my iPhone with a more traditional gamepad.
The aforementioned competition has made significant strides in this space, crafting all-in-one devices that essentially turn your phone into a dedicated gaming platform. Where these more intuitive, streamlined options feel similar to gaming on a Nintendo Switch or Steam Deck, using the RiotPWR — for all it does right — still feels like an awkward, shoehorned workaround by comparison. These competing options are also more platform agnostic, both offering Android variations for those not on team iPhone.
The RiotPWR’s shortcomings extend to its app support as well. The RiotPWR works with Ludo Mapp, which conveniently lists controller-supported games by category. But its content and integration is behind the times, as it hasn’t embraced the growing popularity of cloud-based gaming and remote play. Select Ludo Mapp’s PS Remote Play widget, for example, and it awkwardly takes you to a YouTube video on how to use the feature. This isn’t to say the app isn’t helpful, but it is lagging behind the competition, especially when compared to Backbone’s slick app integration.
The RiotPWR’s intentions are right on its packaging’s spine: “Xbox designed for iOS.” While it certainly works as advertised, its limited scope definitely decreases its value. While I can live with the fact that it’s not compatible with Android devices and PCs, I find it a bit baffling that I can’t use it with my Xbox Series X. It is, after all, an Xbox controller. Even the addition of an optional, wired connection to my home console would have been welcome, making it a nice backup for busy gaming nights with friends and family. By contrast, my first-party Xbox Series X controllers can be paired with my iPhone with little effort.
How it compares
Full-size controller with phone clip
Clamp-on controls for your phone
Clamp-on controls for your phone
iOS, Android (coming soon)
Xbox Game Pass
Xbox Game Pass, Google Stadia Pro, Discord Nitro, Apple Arcade
Viewed in a vacuum, the RiotPWR Xbox edition checks all the right boxes. It’s an Xbox controller that attaches to your iOS device, allowing players to enjoy a variety of cloud gaming services, remote play and gamepad-supporting Apple Arcade titles. But when measured against superior (albeit more expensive) options from Backbone and Razer, it looks a bit behind the times in both its design and features.
That said, if you prefer a traditional controller to the competition’s more handheld-like builds, you won’t find a better third-party Xbox controller to slap onto your smartphone. Of course, that also comes with the caveat that you don’t already own an Xbox controller. If you do, you’re better off investing in one of the more affordable, better-reviewed game clips on Amazon and pairing it with your first-party peripheral.
With all that in mind, RiotPWR’s latest is best suited to those who want to game on an Xbox controller using Xbox Game Pass and other cloud streaming services that don’t require a physical console. On that note, the RiotPWR does include a free 30-day membership to Xbox Game Pass, allowing you to kick off your cloud gaming journey with ease.