Hands-on review: GameSir X2 Type-C mobile gaming controller
Image credit: Dreamstime
Spring is coming and lockdowns are easing, so get outside more and take your pro-gaming skills with you.
Mobile gaming has become huge, as major internet players such as Google and Microsoft leverage the potential of the cloud to keep gamers logged in and locked on wherever they happen to be.
Standalone handheld consoles, such as the breakout Nintendo Switch handset, are another popular mobile gaming option. Regular smartphones are increasingly horning in on the action and for the serious mobile phone gamer, a dedicated console-style controller is an essential purchase.
We've spent some diverting leisure time with the Gamesir X2 mobile gaming controller recently. Fitting a compatible phone into the expandable handset area, connected to the X2's controls via the built-in USB-C plug, that's essentially all there is to it in terms of setup: stretch, connect, play. Phones up to a maximum length of 173mm and maximum thickness of 10mm can be accommodated. The X2's handset controls can then be used in games instead of the multiple onscreen finger-taps you've been used to thus far.
The USB Type-C connector in the X2 is in fact a patented design, with a 51-degree adjustable angle of movement upwards, so you're not constantly straining the connector when you insert and remove your phone. A small point, but pretty crucial for longevity. Another nice design touch is that there is a narrow air gap left between the phone and the handset, which helps with thermal dissipation.
The X2 doesn't use a battery: instead, it draws power from the connected phone. GameSir claims that the X2 has extremely low power consumption (approximately "2mAh ultra-low power consumption") and using calculations based on a mobile phone battery of 3,000mAh, GameSir says the X2 will only consume six ten-thousandths of the handset's power per hour. In other words, almost nothing. We didn't notice any marked difference in battery life, day to day.
The USB-C charging port at the base of the controller should enable you to charge your phone at the same time as gaming. Not all phone designs allow the user to charge their phone at the same time, though. That's the over-arching caveat with the X2: you should find out if your phone is supported by the controller and to what extent. Popular models from Google, Samsung, OnePlus, Huawei, Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo and Sony, and more, are supported.
There is a comprehensive list on the GameSir website, although it's not always bang up to date, so your preferred gaming forum or subreddit might also be good alternative places to ask around. Luckily, we had access to an Android phone that was supported, so we were up and running pretty much straight out of the box.
Note that the Apple iPhone is not supported at all. GameSir has plans for another handset that connects to a phone via Bluetooth, rather than USB-C, which would enable iPhone support. However, a wired connection is arguably optimal for gaming, reducing the send time of instructions from the buttons to the phone/game by those crucial milliseconds that can often be the gaming difference between life and death.
Talking of Bluetooth, you'll also need a pair of wireless headphones or earbuds if you want to enjoy the full immersive gaming experience, as the X2 will cover any ports on your phone once it's inside the handset and the X2 itself does not have a 3.5mm wired headphone jack.
With a suitable Android handset in place, the X2 opens the door to more effective and enjoyable gaming interaction, with support for cloud gaming platforms such as Xbox/Project xCloud, Google Stadia, Vortex and more. The X2 also supports native app games directly installed on the phone, such as 'Fortnite', 'Modern Combat 5', 'Implosion' and many more.
On the subject of popular mobile games, GameSir explicitly recommends that users should not play 'Call of Duty Mobile' ('CoD') using the X2, as the specific requirements and configuration of this title and handset won't deliver a satisfactory playing experience. As with the smartphone compatibility issue, you should research your specific gaming needs before considering the X2. It's a great addition to mobile gaming when everything works, but make certain that it will fulfil your needs. That said, other users online have apparently been using the X2 to play 'CoD' without too many issues; your mileage may vary.
In terms of build quality, the X2 feels nice in the hand. It's plastic, of course, but just about as tactile and robust as an Xbox or PS5 controller, with soft rubber grips. The buttons feel good, with a projected service life of three million presses. There's also a dedicated screenshot button, so you can capture your finest gaming moments.
The buttons on the X2 are arranged like a Nintendo Switch. GameSir says the future Bluetooth handset will use the familiar Xbox layout. There are also left and right bumper and trigger buttons, so you have full control over games. Another pro touch is that the X2 has an e-sport class thumbstick, plus covers, which GameSir says is comparable with professional-level controllers. Buttons can be custom mapped to suit certain games in 'G-Touch' mode, if this is supported by the game. You simply put the controller into Button Mapping mode, then pair your button presses with on-screen touches and save as a preset.
The GameSir X2 has its rivals in the smartphone handset console space, such as the highly regarded Razer Kishi, as well as a slew of cheaper 'clip-on' controller devices, but this is a well-specified, decent quality option.
If you take your mobile gaming sufficiently seriously, and you want something that gives you console-style control and keeps your jabbing fingers away from the screen and out of the way of the action, a dedicated controller like the X2 could be just the ticket to take your gaming to the next level. Just make certain that it is compatible with your setup and intended gaming use before buying.
Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.