- Official Store: https://www.nacongaming.com/en-GB/mobile-controller-mg-x
I have been quite vocal about my disappointment in the state of smartphone gaming. After the excellent (and by now very outdated) Xperia Play, I have yet to come across a gaming smartphone that packs an actual controller and can be used as a daily driver. Even modern “gaming phone” like the Black Shark 4 and Red Magic 5S favour performance over physical controls. That’s why, if you are like me and prefer physical over touch controls, we have to make do with Bluetooth peripherals. A couple of months ago, I reviewed the Flydigi Wee2T, which while it does work well as a controller, felt wanting on the hardware side of things. As such, I was yet to get hooked on mobile gaming. My curiosity was again piqued when gaming peripheral manufacturer Nacon recently launched the MG-X telescopic Bluetooth controller for Android gaming. Given the company’s track record of delivering quality products, I was curious to test its first mobile gaming peripheral and see if it brought its controller expertise to mobile gaming. Would it make me a mobile gaming convert?
Retailing for €100, the Nacon MG-X comes with the following items out of the box:
- Nacon MG-X controller for Android phones
- 80 cm USB-C cable
- Quick IB
- Quick start Guide
- Warranty insert
- Precautions for use
- Regulatory compliance information
As for the technical specs, you can find them below:
- Dimensions: 185 x 94 x 35 mm
- Cable length: 80 cm
- Compatible with Android 6.0 and later
- Bluetooth connection to your smartphone (Bluetooth 4.2+BLE)
- Universal compatibility up to 6.7”
- Maximum opening size 163 mm
- Consumption: 5V 500mA, DC power supply
- Battery life: 20 hours
- Charging time: >2 hours
- Battery capacity 600mA
- The maximum operating temperature of the controller is 35°C
- Information on the emission power of the product:
- - Frequency band: (2.402 ~ 2.480) GHz
- - Maximum radio frequency transmission power: 7.26dBm lever
Once unpacked, I was quite impressed by the quality of the MG-X that Nacon delivered. It feels very sturdy and premium, akin to something you would expect of a full-fledged gaming controller. Even the D-pad is essentially the same that Nacon uses in its other controllers like the Revolution X, and while the other buttons are smaller to accommodate for the form factor, they do deliver a nice feedback to the touch. One divisive factor in this regard will inevitably be the trigger buttons. The LT/RT buttons feel rather spongy and might not lead to the appropriate feedback to be registered to the player, especially in heated competitive gaming sessions.
That said, the MG-X sits very nicely in the hands, with every button easily within reach. The back of the device where your fingers rest feels comfortable with the soft, textured rubber padding. The latter is even slightly raised to offer better grip.
Fitting your phone into the MG-X involves pulling on the left side of the device and it will extend telescopically. It is large enough to fit devices with up to 6.7” (152.4 mm) screens and extends to 163mm; so any phones within those boundaries will slot in just fine. I tested the controller with the Black Shark 4 and the Oppo Find X and both fit in just fine. I was concerned with the Black Shark 4 as it is on the thicker side of the smartphone spectrum but was happy to find that the MG-X handles it with no issues. However, I would advise against using any bumper/casing on your phone while slotting it in the MG-X. This is because the extension mechanism is pretty tight but a bumper might exceed the thickness threshold that the controller can hold and it can snap off the grooves. This can even pose a minor health hazard as my finger got pinched when the telescopic mechanism retracted. Maybe a physical lock mechanism could have addressed this issue to fix the controller in place.
On the plus side, when the device is retracted, it is pretty compact and portable. The tight telescopic mechanism also ensures that the phone is held securely in place. But don’t worry about the grooves scratching your precious phone as Nacon has well designed this portion of the MG-X by generously coating it with a textured rubberized padding where the top, bottom and back sides of your phone gets in contact with the device.
Once fitted in, you can pair your phone easily to the controller via Bluetooth (Bluetooth 4.2) and enjoy up to 20 hours of gaming on a single charge. Of course, this will depend on individual settings and the games you play, but I haven’t come across the device dying on me before my phone did. In case the battery is dying (an LED light indicates the battery level), you can plug in the included USB-C cable to charge the controller up.
Save for the divisive feedback delivered by the triggers, the MG-X works as intended. Inputs are responsive and the quality of the hardware delivers a premium feel, akin to a full-fledged controller. If you are looking for a controller to play Xbox games via the cloud as advertised, then the MG-X will deliver a more than decent experience.
However, Android gaming is more than that and here lies my main gripe with the MG-X: it lacks a dedicated software that allows you to map the physical keys to touch input for games that do not natively support controllers like Genshin Impact or NieR Re[in]carnation. It’s a real shame as the experience of those games would very much be elevated with such a controller. But since the MG-X is Android-compatible, there are workarounds for this purpose. I’m using Mantis Gamepad Pro and, although it’s a bit fiddly, it fixed my woes and enabled me to use the controller with touch-based games.
Thankfully, games that do support controllers like the Android versions of Half Life 2 and Portal are a joy to play with the MG-X. The same can be said of emulators which do recognize input from this peripheral.
While you could find cheaper alternatives with USB-C connection with less input lag, the MG-X controller is still a decent option for Android gaming. The triggers might be divisive but the build quality and the overall experience it delivers does enhance the mobile gaming experience. It won’t make me a full mobile convert yet but does make the experience much more bearable.
- Premium build quality
- Battery life
- Compact and portable design
- Holds phone securely
- No dedicated companion app to support games without native controller input support
- Spongy feel of LT/RT might be divisive
- Abrupt telescopic retraction mechanism