It seems unlikely that Microsoft will ever make a portable Xbox. Between Sony’s failure with the Vita, Nintendo’s dominance of the market with the Switch, and Microsoft’s device-agnostic business model, there isn’t really much of a need for such a product.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t a demand for Xbox portable games, though. Microsoft has pushed cloud gaming hard with Xbox Game Pass, as well as the ability to stream games directly from your own Xbox console to your phone. And while a surprising number of players do this with touchscreen controls, I know people who swear by the touch version of HadesBelieve it or not – it’s not an ideal setup for most Xbox games.
That’s why I was interested in trying the RIG MG-X, a mobile controller from Nacon. It’s an officially licensed Xbox controller that works with just about any Android phone and offers all the buttons you’d find on a standard Xbox One pad. This should make it suitable for Game Pass games on the go.
Mobile controllers aren’t a new idea, and there are already solid options for Android like the Razer Kishi, including a recently released Xbox-specific version. However, the RIG MG-X has an attractively simple design for a product category that can be a bit clunky, making for a sleeker approach when paired with the Xbox buttons. It’s nice not to have to think about which icons belong to which commands; you can of course use the same buttons you would on a conventional Xbox setup.
The controller has a hole in the center that extends to clip around your phone, which connects via Bluetooth. Nacon says it should work with any phone running Android 6 and above with a screen up to 6.7 inches; I mostly used it with a Vivo X70 Pro Plus, which is a giant phone with a 6.78-inch screen, and it works fine. (It doesn’t work with iPhones at all, though.)
This is a pretty sturdy device, and it’s wider than an Xbox controller, even before you extend it to insert your phone. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – it feels well built and I wouldn’t mind throwing it in a bag when traveling. Using Bluetooth instead of a USB-C connector is a trade-off that I like, as it makes for a more compatible design and allows the controller to be used with the phone in a case. It does mean that you have to manually pair with the phone and charge the controller itself via USB-C from time to time; Nacon quotes a battery life of about 20 hours.
Overall, the RIG MG-X’s controls are small but effective. The analog sticks aren’t as big as a full-size Xbox controller, but they’re bigger than a Nintendo Switch Joy-Con and feel more satisfying to use. The face buttons are also quite small but tactile and clicking, while the D-pad is accurate enough despite being a bit mushier than I’d like. I have big hands and I found the RIG MG-X to have pretty good ergonomics over time for most games.
However, there is one exception when it comes to the triggers. For some reason they are unusually hard to press all the way in which is a big problem for games like racers where you have to hold them down a lot. A game like Halo Infinite where you regularly squeeze individually to fire weapons is ok but i was wondering why i lost so many races in Forza Horizon 5 before realizing I hadn’t pressed my foot firmly enough on the gas. You can do it, but it takes more power than any controller I’ve ever used, and it’s not comfortable at all for extended gaming sessions.
Too bad this isn’t right Forza Horizon 5 controller – you may have heard it’s a pretty good game – but it works well for most other genres. You can of course use it for non-Xbox games whether they’re from the Play Store or elsewhere – I’ve played a lot Fortnite with it, and you even get native Xbox button indicators in the menus.
The RIG MG-X is a decent controller with one major flaw, so if you’re a fan of racing games, know what you’re getting into. I happen to be one, so that was disappointing for me, and for that reason I would personally go for the Xbox version of the Razer Kishi. But for many other Xbox games, this is a solid solution that gets you closer to a portable Xbox than ever before, and the triggers aside, I prefer the design over the Kishi. This month, Nacon also announced the MG-X Pro, which looks a lot more like a standard Xbox controller – hopefully the triggers are better.