How to connect a controller to your Android phone [Video]

The sheer quality of many Android games and the growing library of cloud-based game services like Stadia and GeForce Now mean that you may feel the need to gain an advantage over online competitors or just improve your overall experience. Fortunately, many Android games support Bluetooth controller input, so this is how to connect to your favorite gamepad.

Since the launch of Android 10, it has been possible to natively connect a PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch console if you want to use your existing gamepads. Since then, we’ve seen Android 11 and Android 12 arrive on eligible devices. Microsoft and Sony have also launched brand new consoles, and even Google has Stadia – which has a dedicated gamepad as well.

Although the new console generation can still be difficult to purchase, you can now connect PS5 DualSense, Xbox Series S, and X controllers to your Android phone. You have a plethora of choices of Bluetooth gamepads that will work with your smartphone, and this guide will take you through the connection process step-by-step.

Prior to Android 10, using a Bluetooth controller or wired controller worked fine, but it would have been recognized as a “generic” controller. This means incorrect in-game prompts or strange keylinks. Since Android 10, the mobile operating system can fully recognize the specific gamepad button layouts on all three gamepads – giving you a much better and more coherent experience.

If you want to play cloud gaming services including PS4 and PS5 Remote Play, Xbox Game Pass, Google Stadia or Nvidia GeForce NOW, using the official gamepad will help ensure that all the platform-specific features are available on your favorite titles.

This native support also means that all of your existing Bluetooth gamepads should work with Google Stadia if you prefer to use something you feel comfortable and familiar with. It’s also important to note that each gamepad offers its own style of gaming action, plus you get nifty extras like the ability to use the touchpad on the DualShock 4 and 5, which provides mouse input on your Android phone or tablet.

How to connect a controller to your smartphone

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Using a dedicated controller on your Android device also means that you get more screen real estate to gain a tactical advantage in competitive multiplayer titles like Player Unknown: Battlegrounds, Call of Duty Mobile, Genshin Impact, and the ever-popular Fortnite. You can even play a whole bunch of classic games with a familiar console layout using the number of emulators on your smartphone.

DualShock PS4

  1. Turn on the PS4 DualShock 4 console.
  2. Press and hold the “PS” and “Share” buttons to enter pairing mode.
  3. The light bar will flash white to confirm that pairing mode is activated.
  4. Open your Android phone’s Bluetooth connection settings.
  5. Select Pair New Device > Wireless Controller.
  6. The light bar will now change to solid blue to indicate that it is connected.

PS5 DualSense

How to Connect PS5 DualSense Controller to Your Android Device
  1. Turn on your PS5 DualSense controller.
  2. Press and hold the “PS” and “Create” buttons at the same time to enter pairing mode.
  3. The lights below the touchpad will now flash blue to confirm that pairing mode is activated.
  4. Open your Android phone’s Bluetooth connection settings.
  5. Select Pair New Device > Wireless Controller.
  6. The touchpad side lights will now change to solid blue to indicate that it is connected.

Xbox One

  1. Turn on your Xbox One console – Note: The original Xbox One console may not work.
  2. Press and hold the Xbox and Bluetooth “Sync” button.
  3. The Xbox logo will flash to confirm that pairing mode is activated.
  4. Open your Android phone’s Bluetooth connection settings.
  5. Select Pair New Device > Xbox Wireless Controller.
  6. The Xbox logo will light up in solid white to indicate that it is connected to your device.

Xbox Series S and X.

How to connect an Xbox Series S or X controller to your Android device
  • Turn on your Xbox Series S/X controller.
  • Press and hold the Xbox and Bluetooth “Sync” button.
  • The Xbox logo will flash to confirm that pairing mode is activated.
  • Open your Android phone’s Bluetooth connection settings.
  • Select Pair New Device > Xbox Wireless Controller.
  • The Xbox logo will light up in solid white to indicate that it is connected to your device.

Nintendo Switch Pro

How to Connect a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller to Your Android Device
  1. Turn on your Nintendo Switch Pro console.
  2. Press and hold the Bluetooth “Sync” button.
  3. The Player LEDs will flash to confirm that pairing mode has been activated.
  4. Open your Android phone’s Bluetooth connection settings.
  5. Select Pair New Device > Pro Controller.

google stadia

Pairing the Google Stadia controller with your Android phone is a little different in that it doesn’t connect directly to the phone – instead of a cloud gaming session. It’s also worth noting that this process is the same for iOS pairing.

  1. Open the Stadia app on your Android device.
  2. Click on the console icon on the top right menu.
  3. Enable location access and activate Bluetooth if prompted.
  4. Click “Connect Console”.
  5. Follow the setup process to connect the Stadia console to your Wi-Fi network.
  6. Enter the pairing code on the screen to connect to your session on the device.

How to connect generic Bluetooth controllers to your Android phone

SteelSeries Stratos +

You can use a whole lot of other Bluetooth gamepads with Android that don’t usually work with Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft consoles. This process is the same regardless of the manufacturer of the controller:

  1. Turn on your gamepad.
  2. Find the Bluetooth “Sync” button and tap or hold depending on the controller.
  3. You may see an LED or other indicator flash showing that pairing mode has been activated.
  4. Open your Android phone’s Bluetooth connection settings.
  5. Select “Pair a new device” > select Gamepad.

How to connect to your Android phone via USB cable

Some controllers, such as the original PS3 DualShock gamepad, have issues when trying to connect via Bluetooth. Sadly, you need a rooted device to pair with the six-axis controllers but as with all of the above, you can simply connect via a USB cable and play games on the go.

Simply plug your console then into the USB-C port on the bottom of your Android phone and the system will recognize the input. This also works with many accessories and peripherals including keyboards and mice.

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