Review cover Flydigi JOYONE (Hardware)
Official GBAtemp Review

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Getting the review treatment today is Flydigi’s latest mobile gaming controller: the Flydigi JOYONE. Packing a minimalist aesthetic, does this one-handed controller deliver on the functionality aspect though? Let’s find out in this review!

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Flydigi has been steadily churning out  mobile gaming peripherals and has done so with an innovative streak; especially with the dedicated touch control mapping app for its controllers. The latest device in their growing catalogue is the Flydigi JOYONE which is an interesting, cute-looking one-handed controller that we’ll take a closer look at in this review.

Retailing for $37.49 on the official AliExpress store, the Flydigi JOYONE comes with the following accessories:

  • Flydigi JOYONE mobile controller
  • Rubber keychain
  • USB-C charging cable
  • User manual

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After the Wee 2T, it is impressive to see the significant improvement of Flydigi’s newer products’ hardware. The JOYONE looks and feels like a premium device with its sleek white body, rubber back cover, hard transparent shell front cover and rubberized thumbstick cap. It just feels great to hold in your hands and to game with, given that the rubberised back and thumbstick add to the comfort.

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Flydigi implemented an easy and clever way to activate the device and attach it to your phone/tablet (max thickness of 12mm). By pressing on the spring-loaded phone holder, it will not only firmly grip the JOYONE to your device but also turns on Bluetooth; no extra button presses required to activate the latter. Moreover, this clamp-like attachment enables the user to freely adjust the gamepad along the phone’s width to their liking. This 2-in-1 approach of the JOYONE is simple and elegant and shows a great deal of attention paid to designing this product. And I’m a fan of Flydigi’s approach as it is also a minimalist one.

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Image courtesy of Flydigi

As with other products from the company, you’ll want to download the Flydigi Game Center app on your device to make full use of the controller. This will help you map the JOYONE’s physical controls to touch screen actions on games that don’t natively support controllers. With the version downloaded from Google Play, I could not find the JOYONE model to pair with in the app. But after uninstalling and re-installing the app from the Play Store, the issue was fixed. You might want to try this trick if you come across the same issue.

In use, the buttons are all responsive and deliver accurate in-game commands. Of course, since the JOYONE is pairing over Bluetooth, there is always the potential issue of latency but I haven’t come across connectivity issues in my experience with this gamepad. It’s a joy to use and hold the JOYONE; and having physical controls always enhances the experience over touch controls for me.

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Given that this is a one-handed controller, buttons will be lacking and you will also have to rely on using the touch screen to some extent. However, this is more so with the JOYONE as it bears a grand-total of two keys (a shoulder button and clickable joystick) and a joystick. This might be sufficient for some games but not for most, especially for emulators. 

Personally, this utter lack of physical buttons is a downer as it goes against the whole purpose of having a dedicated controller for mobile gaming. Flydigi seems to have taken the minimalist approach a bit too much to the extreme as it impedes on the JOYONE’s functionality. I’m very much for a minimalist aesthetic and I’m in love with the portability that the JOYONE offers but there should be a balance between form and function; and this gamepad leans more towards form to the detriment of its functions.

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Flydigi could have taken cues from their excellent (yet lacking) WASP 2 Elite one-handed gamepad and implemented it in the JOYONE. For example, a back paddle would have been very handy in this device as would have been a face button. The JOYONE has enough real estate to accommodate at least one face button and could have concealed another one under the Bluetooth indicator.

But maybe I’m asking too much of a device that wants to do more with less; and maybe what I find missing will be implemented in Flydigi’s next mobile gamepad. But for the time being, the JOYONE is a mobile controller that will deliver on the build quality and premium feel but ultimately feels more lacking than most one-handed controllers do.

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Verdict

What We Liked ...
  • Minimalist and highly pocketable
  • Build quality and feel
  • Dedicated app for touch control mapping
What We Didn't Like ...
  • Lack of buttons is a major downer
7
out of 10

Overall

Even with its premium build and feel, the Flydigi JOYONE ultimately feels lacking with its blatant lack of available physical buttons.
That's a really interesting idea for a mobile controller. All of those other clip style ones have the problem of being ugly and bulky, but I could actually see myself clipping something like this onto my keychain or bag in case I ever have a gaming emergency.

The lack of buttons doesn't seem like a big deal to me for mobile native games, but yeah it'd be a problem for emulation. Still, it's better than nothing.
 
A bit off-topic, but an android version off the Backbone One Controller is finally coming soon.
Can't wait to play the Skyline emulator with that controller
:yay:
 
a tad off topic but how the heck did you get half life 2 and portal running on your device...? I thought those where exclusive to shield devices
 
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What is the thing in the picture that looks like it has ABXY buttons, and a rubber hose hanging off of it?
I thought that was the accompanying right-side attachment, for games that need more buttons, but it wasn't mentioned in the review once. Would've made sense to have a second piece that goes onto the right side.
 
@jt_1258 someone modified the shield versions to run on almost all modern android devices. I have them running on my Galaxy Note 20 and they play perfectly.
 
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What is the thing in the picture that looks like it has ABXY buttons, and a rubber hose hanging off of it?
I thought that was the accompanying right-side attachment, for games that need more buttons, but it wasn't mentioned in the review once. Would've made sense to have a second piece that goes onto the right side.
The video on the Aliexpress page shows it. It’s just a rubber keychain thing.
 
What is the thing in the picture that looks like it has ABXY buttons, and a rubber hose hanging off of it?
I thought that was the accompanying right-side attachment, for games that need more buttons, but it wasn't mentioned in the review once. Would've made sense to have a second piece that goes onto the right side.
it's listed in the contents as the rubber keychain. Not much use to it except to use it as... a keychain but I wouldn't really want this device hanging exposed on my bag
 
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