SteelSeries’ Status+ Controller Isn’t the Best Mobile Experience

A photo of the SteelSeries Stratus+

The SteelSeries Stratus+ seems to be and looks like a console controller.
Photograph, Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Not even the greatest smartphone is a alternative for a full-blown console, however it may well develop into a succesful gaming machine with the correct accent. Now that there’s a technique to play huge, AAA first-person shooters and story-driven RPGs with the assistance of cloud providers like Amazon Luna and Microsoft Recreation Move, it is time to contemplate whether or not you need to seize a controller for gaming on the go . The SteelSeries Stratus+ is one such choice, and whereas it is loads versatile, it would not all the time really feel as pure because the extra targeted competitors already in the marketplace.

Take the Razer Kishi, a tool I already personal that is made particularly for telephones. It expands to suit snuggly round both aspect of my cellphone, letting me play it like a Nintendo Swap. One of many Kishi’s drawbacks is that it solely works with smartphones, an issue the Stratus+ avoids due to a extra conventional design and the power to work on PC. You is likely to be in search of one thing like this in case you dwell a multi-device life, however you will should dwell with some awkward design decisions when in your cellphone, like a wonky cellphone mount. And once you’re not on cell, it is not just like the Stratus+ would not have loads of competitors among the many greatest recreation controllers which are already out and are purpose-built for consoles and PCs.

All of that leaves this little Bluetooth-compatible controller that works with smartphones, tablets, and PCs of all sorts (together with Chromebooks) in an ungainly center floor. It is not the primary controller with a cellphone clip, and a few firms even promote cellphone clips individually, anticipating you to make use of them with the extra customary console controllers you most likely have already got laying round. However the reputation of the format would not make it much less awkward, and solely emphasizes how a lot the painfully generic Stratus+ wants some specialised options to assist it stand out.

After spending a while with the Stratus+, I used to be certainly impressed by the machine’s versatility, however nonetheless not bought on shopping for a jack-of-all-trades controller versus a extra specialised machine particularly fitted to the job I would like it to do.

Bizarre little cellphone mount

A photo of a person holding the SteelSeries Stratus+

The SteelSeries Stratus+ comes with a cell mount that works in case you can determine methods to insert it appropriately.
Photograph, Florence Ion / Gizmodo

The SteelSeries Stratus+ seems to be like a gamer’s controller. It is black with angular edges and bulbous buttons. It additionally has a row of white LED lights on the entrance that blink in particular methods to indicate the controller’s connection standing and battery meter.

The Stratus+ has customary current-gen console controls, together with an 8-way directional pad, again and choose buttons, two analog joysticks, and the requisite A, B, X, and Y buttons. There are 4 shoulder buttons on the highest of the controller, plus a wi-fi pairing button and a battery stage button.

The Razer Kishi has the identical button structure, besides it is cut up throughout the machine. When expanded, the Kishi has the same configuration because the Nintendo Swap, a console that I revere a lot I’ve one stationed in the lounge and a Swap Lite upstairs in my bed room. A part of what drew me to the Kishi within the first place was that when it is arrange, it is like leaping to a different Swap. It is an excellent format for cell gaming, and it is one thing that Stratus+ would not have.

A photo of the Razer Kishi

A take a look at the Razer Kishi paired with an iPhone.
Photograph, Hudson Hongo / Gizmodo

On the high of the SteelSeries Stratus+, there are little silicon inserts the place the smartphone holder’s retractable steel prongs go. That is the place issues begin to get dicey. It’s a must to rigorously slide out the steel prongs after which shov the cellphone holder into the 2 slots till you suppose it may well’t go in anymore. I used to be slightly annoyed determining methods to use this a part of the controller, and it made me need to surrender and return to the simplicity of the Razer Kishi, which expands round my cellphone and plugs in by way of USB-C. Nonetheless, I persevered.

As soon as I received the cellphone mounted in place within the corresponding slots (or so I believed), I took my OnePlus 9 out of its case and inserted it into the expandable mount. Then, it fell to the bottom, with my cellphone in tow. It took me a number of occasions to grasp methods to get the mount to remain contained in the silicon inserts. However even as soon as I managed, it nonetheless did not make sense. All I’ve picked up up to now is to not make sudden actions when the cellphone, the mount, and the controller are all put collectively.

The smartphone mount comes off the Stratus+, so it's not around when you don't need it.

The smartphone mount comes off the Stratus+, so it is not round when you do not want it.
Photograph, Florence Ion / Gizmodo

I do not need this drawback with the Kishi. In truth, essentially the most awkward a part of the controller is placing it again collectively—the Kishi has slightly latch the place you may clip the controller collectively to hold it in your bag or stow it away. To that finish, as a result of it is a smaller controller, it takes up much less room in my nightstand drawer than the Stratus+. One other profit for players on the go.

The opposite awkward a part of the SteelSeries Stratus+ is that my specific cellphone mannequin is off-center when it is within the expandable mount as a result of my quantity and energy buttons are on both aspect of the machine. It is the identical concern with the large Samsung Galaxy S22 Extremely, which has an influence button virtually precisely on the midway level on the chassis. If the cellphone is slightly dense, the controller additionally tends to wiggle in direction of the heavier a part of the machine, making handheld playtime really feel unbalanced. The Kishi would not have this drawback.

When you get the cellphone to remain put, the Stratus+ connects by way of Bluetooth. It is easy and straightforward—long-press the center button to pair a tool. If it is advisable pair to a different machine, long-press the pairing button and look ahead to the LED standing lights to point they’re scanning for brand new {hardware}. For this take a look at, I paired the Stratus+ with my Android cellphone plus my Home windows PC.

Double-duty recreation controller

A photo of the SteelSeries Stratus+

When you get the cellphone cradled in there, the SteelSeries Stratus+ might help you play every part from puzzle video games to first-person shooters.
Photograph, Florence Ion / Gizmodo

As I discussed, what drew me to the Razer Kishi is that it turns into part of the machine as soon as it is snapped on, primarily remodeling your cellphone right into a handheld. The SteelSeries Stratus+ is just not that form of smartphone accent. It is a controller first and a cell phone management pad second. However that additionally implies that for $60, which is across the identical value because the Kishi, you should buy a double-duty controller for numerous appropriate gadgets.

I attempted the Stratus+ with my OnePlus 9. I performed the demo of Resident Evil Village on Google Stadia and the complete model of Lumines on Amazon Luna. I additionally performed Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on Android. As a aspect observe, discovering apps within the Google Play Retailer that enable for controller enter is just not a straightforward feat.

However as soon as I received going, I discovered the Stratus+ is slightly stiff, notably when pushing down on the joystick controllers. It was arduous to press down with my thumbs with out gripping the perimeters of the controller with my different fingers and bracing myself for the push. This made crocheting in Resident Evil Village tedious. The Kishi, alternatively, has softer joysticks, and I did not really feel like I needed to barrel down to maneuver my characters round.

I additionally performed Lumines, certainly one of my favourite puzzle video games of all time, with the Stratus+ utilizing Amazon Luna. I performed it for about half an hour with the Stratus+ on my Android machine, after which one other half hour on my PC. The controller felt much less stiff with a puzzle recreation, and so did I when racing in opposition to the neverending barrage of blocks that I wanted to line up. Nonetheless, the Stratus+ requires me to cradle it a bit on the perimeters, and since it’s kind of massive for my fingers, it is arduous to make the form of speedy maneuvers wanted to assist clear a row.

Lastly, I performed by means of Inexperienced Hill Zone on Sonic 2, which solely requires the D-pad and any one of many four-lettered buttons. I did not thoughts enjoying the easier, classic video games with the Stratus+, although I nonetheless most popular the Kishi.

I had extra enjoyable enjoying by means of Luna and Stadia’s libraries as soon as I paired the Stratus+ with my PC as a result of I may extra freely articulate my fingers throughout playtime. I additionally appreciated having the ability to bodily tether the controller to my pc by way of USB-C moderately than relying solely on Bluetooth. However I do not play PC video games for a purpose, and that is as a result of on the finish of the day, I need to be horizontal and nothing extra. The Razer Kishi is far more attuned to that form of laying-around type of gameplay, just like the Nintendo Swap it mimics, whereas I had a tough time with the Stratus+ as a result of I am nonetheless not sure about that mount.

Think about the Type

A photo of the Stratus+, surrounded by other controllers and some books

After a while with the Stratus+, I spotted this is not the controller for me.
Photograph, Florence Ion / Gizmodo

The principle factor to contemplate once you’re looking for a smartphone controller is whether or not it is one thing that can entice you to arrange your machine for a play session. I just like the SteelSeries Stratus+ as a result of it is multi-platform, however its kind issue is just too huge for me, sufficient that I am exhausted by the concept of ​​choosing it up on the finish of the day. I a lot desire the simplicity of the Razer Kishi, which is in-built a approach that facilities the cellphone and total cell expertise, even when it is not one thing that I can use with different gadgets.

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