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Let’s face it, touch controls are terrible for many games. Have you ever tried playing a platformer game on a touchscreen? It’s an exercise in frustration. The good news is that you can connect a game controller to your Android device and play games the way they were meant to be played, whether they’re controller-enabled Android games or old games played via an emulator RetroArch Emulates NES, Playstation, Gameboy Color/Advance And A Whole Lot More [Android] RetroArch Emulates NES, Playstation, Gameboy Color/Advance And A Whole Lot More [Android] Stop messing around with various emulators for your Android and get RetroArch. This single app – a front end for multiple emulators – can run games designed for anything from the NES to the Sega... Read More .

We’ll be using a wired Xbox 360 controller for this. It’s the most popular controller used by PC gamers for a reason, as it offers a standard USB connection and can be used with both Android devices and PCs with no additional configuration required — just plug it in and go. We’ll also offer some tips for using other types of controllers you may have lying around, including Wiimotes, PlayStation 3 Sixaxis gamepads, wireless Xbox 360 controllers, and Bluetooth controllers.

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Connecting an Xbox 360 Controller to Android

Using a game controller with Android is actually pretty simple. All you’ll need is:

  • A wired Xbox 360 controller.
  • A USB OTG cable, which can be purchased on Amazon and elsewhere for under $2.

USB OTG stands for “USB on the go.” It’s essentially a tiny adapter cable that contains a full USB plug at one end and a micro USB connector on the other end. It allows you to plug standard USB devices into your Android phone or tablet, including USB drives, mice, keyboards How To Connect a USB Keyboard To Your Android Phone How To Connect a USB Keyboard To Your Android Phone While I’m a big fan of Swype, SlideIT, and other advanced keyboards for Android, there’s something to be said about a keyboard with keys on it. I mean the physical-type keyboards – you know, the... Read More , and Xbox 360 controllers.

connect game controller to android

This should be plug-and-play on newer devices. We did this on a Nexus 7 Get Your Tablet On: 11+ Epic Android Apps Optimized For The Nexus 7 Get Your Tablet On: 11+ Epic Android Apps Optimized For The Nexus 7 When Apple released the iPad Mini – jumping on board the 7" tablet trend pioneered by Amazon and Google – they said Google’s Nexus 7 lacked good tablet apps. While Android may not have the... Read More , and everything worked with no additional configuration required. On an older device, you may need to use USB/Joystick Center to make this work — see the last section of this article for more details.

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Playing Games

You can now fire up games that support controllers and play them with the controller. Some games may have a settings screen where you can select between controller and touch controls, while some games will respond to the controller immediately. For example, Riptide GP Race To Your Smartphone Or Tablet's Limits With Riptide GP [Android & iOS] Race To Your Smartphone Or Tablet's Limits With Riptide GP [Android & iOS] Riptide GP shows just how much graphical power modern smartphones and tablets have. This game offers more than just great graphics, however – there’s a great racing game here. It even uses realistic water physics... Read More offers such a configuration screen, while Sonic games respond to the controller immediately.

connect controller to android

The controller works surprisingly well with Android. You can even use it to navigate through your home screen and launch games and other apps, something that can’t be done with an Xbox 360 controller on the Windows desktop. Some games won’t respond to the ABXY buttons and will require you to depress the right thumb stick to perform an action — such as jumping in Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 — while some games work fine with the A/B/X/Y buttons — such as Sonic CD for Android, which allows you to jump by pressing A.

connect controller to android

The controller even works with many games that offer no indication they support controllers. For example, the controller works well with Super Hexagon, which was a pleasant surprise. Be sure to experiment with the controller in your games — you never know what games it will work with. You can also look for lists of games that support controllers online.

connect game controller to android

Using a Controller with Unsupported Games

It’s possible to use an Xbox 360 controller with unsupported games on Android, just as you can use a controller with unsupported games on Windows How To Make Your USB Joystick Mimic A Keyboard How To Make Your USB Joystick Mimic A Keyboard Read More . To do this, you’ll need to be using a rooted device How To Root Your Android Phone With SuperOneClick How To Root Your Android Phone With SuperOneClick Read More . Most people recommend the USB/BT Joystick Center app as the most convenient solution for setting this up, although it will only work on certain devices and certain ROMs. Be prepared for some tweaking if you opt to go this route.

Wireless Xbox 360 Controllers

Using a wireless Xbox 360 controller is also possible, although it isn’t quite as easy. To do this, you’ll need the same Xbox 360 Wireless Controller Dongle that you’d use to connect your wireless controller to a PC. You can then plug this wireless dongle into the USB OTG cable and connect the dongle to your tablet.

This will be enough to make many emulators and games work. However, some games won’t work with this setup. You can find a solution to make the wireless Xbox 360 controller work with more games on the XDA Developers forum. The solution is intended for the Nexus 7, but may work with other Android devices. View it here.

Bluetooth, Wii, and PlayStation Controllers

For some great Android games to try your controller with, check out our list of the best Android games.

Have you connected a game controller to your Android device? Did it go this easily, or did you need to do more tweaking? Is there a controller that works better than the wired Xbox 360 controller? Leave a comment and share your experiences!

  1. Doug McKinnon
    November 30, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Will this work with a wireless Xbox 360?

  2. chris
    November 7, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    I have the RCA 11 Maven Pro Tablet, and the PS3 Sixaxis works fine out of the box, but not the 360 controller.

  3. vipin
    July 5, 2016 at 7:46 am

    I am using oppo R7 handset. I have installed fifa 2015/2016 in my handset and i have a game pad controleer with me. when i connect the game pad with handset and try to play am only able to move the player, not able to pass or shoot or any other key is not wotking. Please help me to resolve the issue.

  4. Der
    June 30, 2016 at 3:49 am

    Can this work for Xbox orginal controller

  5. vaibhav
    February 5, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    If you use the wired xbox 360 controller with a smartphone, how will the controller charge? Do the batteries get charged from the phone? Or how does it work? I have no idea about these things. I just bought a xbox 360 wired controller, and I use it with samsung galaxy s5.
    Any help regarding the charging of the controller would be highly appreciated. Thank you!

    • dzmax
      February 20, 2016 at 9:21 am

      The wired controller doesn't have a battery!

  6. Daniel
    January 17, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    how about connecting a xbox 360 controller to rca maven pro 11.6

  7. Brandon B.
    May 24, 2015 at 2:30 am

    Hi names PuttyMac I was wondering I've got an pc wired controller from radio shack an usb otg small cord, will that work on anything. Its a macro wired controller from radio shack. And I have an fierce android from metro pcs. Can I you these items to work with each other. If not is there something for it. And my phone not rooted I think.

  8. Mark
    May 17, 2015 at 3:54 am

    When I plug my controller in all the lights flash green and it doesn't work. Any suggestions?

    • Duane
      December 3, 2016 at 5:13 am

      Did u figure this out mark? Ive just given it a go and i have the same issue with the flashing lights!

  9. Pawel
    May 4, 2015 at 10:31 am

    On the Xperia Z series it's a stock function that make available to connect ps3 and ps4 controllers.You can also stream the game on the device from the ps4.

  10. lalrinfela
    April 9, 2015 at 4:21 am

    is otg cable support hid game controller?

  11. Joe
    February 28, 2015 at 6:49 am

    Hey man, I have a problem. I know this was tested in Nexus 7 but would you happen to know why my Galaxy Note 10.1 (2012 edition) can't recognize my controller? It's a wireless controller, I have the wireless receiver and the OTG cable. Both of them work, I've tested them separately (the wireless receiver with the pc) but when they are plugged together into the tablet, the controller seems to respond and connects, however, nothing in the screen reacts :( Help please.

  12. nick
    January 8, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Anyone know how to get the XBOX 360 controller to work on a UHOST 2 android TV box? I plugged it in and all I got was a flashing light on the controller.

    UHOST2 is an android device that connects to your TV through HDMI. It works exaclty like a tablet but has no screen. Getting emulators to work with a controller would be great. Could make an entire arcade on your tv~!

  13. nick
    January 4, 2015 at 6:44 am

    I have a samurai wireless Bluetooth controller from gamestop. It pairs with my HTC FIRST . but it does not work. I cannot set controls for emulators I can't control nothing. It pairs but won't connect . please help me set this up. Is there an app or driver or something I can configure so I can get this controller working. I really wanna play my old school games. It worked fine on my galaxy s3 but I don't have it anymore so I really need to make it work on this phone. I'm not rooted and I have no computer. So if anyone can help and get my controller working properly. I will send them some PayPal money . depending on the timelyness of the responses and fix . determines how much I will reward . thanks and I hope someone can figure this out. Pce

  14. Zeke
    January 3, 2015 at 10:36 pm

    Yep, works perfectly on my HTC One M8. Vice City the controls are the same as the hacked ones on the Windows version, Mega Drive emulator needed a bit of configuring but is acceptable, SNES emulator worked straight away.

  15. Laisan
    January 3, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    I got a game like Japanese Taigo, there are 9 places on screen and you can touch one or two at the same time.

    I want to play it by external joystick, game pad or something. Is it possible to map the 9 places on screen to keypad, like you said?

  16. Aarav
    January 1, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    is it works in htc desire 820. ? coz today i purchase a usb remote which is not working in it.. any solution.. ?? plz help

  17. Rishabh
    December 26, 2014 at 6:12 am

    It does not. work onmy mObile. What To do

  18. Rishabh
    December 26, 2014 at 6:12 am

    It does not. work onmy mObile. What To do

  19. Rishabh
    December 26, 2014 at 6:08 am

    it does not on my device Nokia X give suggestion

  20. don
    October 20, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    Nice love your website very informative though i know i would find your site much earlier if you had you tube videos better optimization, looking forward to see some videos with quick game play examples everyone loves videos thanks.

  21. Yami Genesis
    October 11, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Yeah there are some gba games that are hard to play with a touch screen configuration... The xbox controller should definitely do the trick

  22. Anonymous
    September 23, 2013 at 10:30 am

    I'm using a $5 usb game controller intended for pc, With Galaxy Note 2 running Android 4.1.2 and usb otg cables. Working great for ppsspp v. 0.91, no noticeable lag nor glitch. Haven't had a chance to try the wireless controllers but planning to.

  23. hellas22
    July 13, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    i connected the wired xbox 360 controller to my acer iconia a1-810 and at first it worked very well. but somehow the connection got lost during playing some games. when trying to reconnect it i need some tries to get a new connection which does again only last for a certain time. does someone have the same problem or know a solution?

    • Shrey
      March 4, 2016 at 2:30 am

      So does this works properly with local controllers?

  24. Jarom Ort
    June 22, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    You can use your PSP as a wired controller with the USB OTG if you have CFW (CFW is possible and 100% safe on all PSP models) and the FuSa GamePad homebrew app.

  25. aka kywildcat
    June 2, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    Thanks gonna order a wired controller and otg cable, and give this a try

  26. El Shiftos
    May 18, 2013 at 1:30 am

    I tried this with a wired xbox360 controller, on a galaxy tab 8.9 running 4.0.4, with a known good OTG adaptor. The green light on the controller flashed continuously but didn't show any signs of working in the OS or any games.
    I tried a usb mouse with the same OTG adaptor and that worked fine.

    Bah!

  27. Nevzat A
    May 3, 2013 at 11:04 am

    I'd more than happy if I could use my force-feedback wheel with Asphalt 7. It would be fabulous. I'm waiting for Asphalt 7 -or 8?- PC (Windows 8) version for my dream to come true :)

  28. Humpster Sameasabove
    May 2, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    that's soo cool

  29. Nevzat A
    May 2, 2013 at 8:57 am

    Time to try this on my phablet! Many thanks for the article.

    • Chris Hoffman
      May 3, 2013 at 10:58 am

      You're welcome! It actually works really well -- I played through Sonic 4 episodes 1 and 2. I previously bought them in a sale but the touch controls were too terrible. They were great to play with an xbox controller.

  30. Gideon Waxfarb
    May 1, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    AFAIK, some of this functionality won't work in Android 4.2, due to changes that Google made to the bluetooth stack and (I believe) USB OTG as well. Friends tell me that Wiimotes and other HID-compatible controllers still don't work, as of 4.2.2. PS3 controllers work if you're rooted, due to the sixaxis app using its own bluetooth stack.

    • Chris Hoffman
      May 3, 2013 at 10:57 am

      Worked fine for me on Android 4.2.2 with a wired Xbox controller + USB OTG cable.

      I hear there are big problems with Bluetooth though. All the more reason to go wired xbox controller + USB OTG cable -- seems like the best supported option.

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