Gaming

Turn your Android smartphone into a gaming controller

The Razer Kishi feels ergonomic, has virtually no lag and works like a charm. It should fit any Android 8 smartphone with a centre-aligned USB-C port that falls within its specified dimensions.
The Razer Kishi feels ergonomic, has virtually no lag and works like a charm. It should fit any Android 8 smartphone with a centre-aligned USB-C port that falls within its specified dimensions.

If you often play games on your Android smartphone, you might want to check out the Razer Kishi.

It is a universal mobile gaming controller with a familiar console-like layout of buttons, joysticks and triggers, to convert your smartphone into a portable gaming console.

The Kishi consists of two grips connected by a rubber strap with a plastic plate at its rear. The right grip has the A/B/X/Y buttons, a function button and a joystick, while the left grip has an eight-way directional pad, a joystick, a home button and a function button. Two triggers are sited at the top of each grip.

The two grips clip togetherfor easy storage and detach when the release latch at the back of each grip is pressed.

When detached, you will find a USB-C connector (Lightning version coming later) on the right grip's inside. Attach your Android smartphone's USB-C port to it, mount the left grip on the top of the smartphone, and you get a Nintendo Switch-like gaming console with your smartphone.

Your smartphone has to have a centre-aligned USB-C port on its base and run at least Android 8.0. Officially supported smartphones include the Google Pixel 2 and later, Samsung Galaxy S8 and later (the S20 Ultra is not supported though), Galaxy Note8 and later, and Razer Phone 1 and 2.

However, the Kishi should fit any Android 8 smartphone with a centre-aligned USB-C port that falls within these dimensions - a height between 145.3mm and 163.7mm, a width between 68.2mm and 78.1mm, and a depth between 7mm and 8.8mm. For this review, I used a Google Pixel 4 and a Samsung Galaxy Note10+, with the Note10+ just fitting the Kishi.

You can download the Razer Kishi app, which allows you to update its firmware and also offers a long list of compatible games. But you do not need the app for the Kishi to work.

If a mobile game supports external controllers, it should be compatible with the Kishi. Some popular mobile games, such as PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Mobile, Fortnite and Call Of Duty Mobile, are not supported though.

But the supported games I tried work like a charm.

For instance, with the mobile racing game Asphalt 9, I was able to use the Kishi's triggers to drift and activate nitro boosts right from the start.​

  • FOR

    • Turns your smartphone into a portable gaming console

    • Works with most Android smartphones 

    • Great ergonomics 

    • USB-C connectivity allows for lag-free gaming

    AGAINST

    • Not all games are supported 

    • Blocks the USB-C port for headphone use 

    • Drains the smartphone battery

    SPECS

    PRICE: $129.90

    CONNECTIVITY: USB-C

    WEIGHT: 164g (excluding phone)

    RATING

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 3.5/5

Playing the action role-playing game Dungeon Hunter 5 with the Kishi's joysticks and buttons feels much more intuitive than using the smartphone's touchscreen to move my character and perform attack moves.

The Kishi also feels as ergonomic as console controllers, allowing me to play more comfortably for longer without suffering finger cramps.

Furthermore, with its direct USB-C connection, there is virtually no lag with its controls, unlike with a wireless Bluetooth connection. However, this means you cannot use wired USB-C headphones.

Also, I found my smartphone's battery draining faster when using the Kishi. Thankfully, there is a USB-C port on the right grip's bottom that allows for pass-through charging.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2020, with the headline 'Turn your Android smartphone into a gaming controller'. Print Edition | Subscribe