How To Connect a PS3 Controller to Your Android Phone or Tablet

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connect a ps3 controller to androidDespite not currently owning a PS3, I do have a few DualShock 3 controllers lying around – one of the few things I shipped back from Japan. You can never have enough controllers, right? These wonderful little devices can be used with more than just an actual Playstation 3 of course – so today I’d like to show you how you can play all those awesome Android games with a PS3 controller. The process is easier than I thought, and you don’t need a special OTG USB cable – we’ll be using Bluetooth. We’ve also previously published instructions on how to plug a controller into your Mac, use a game controller with a jailbroken iPad, and finally how to use one with Windows 7.

Here’s what you do need, though:

  • An official PlayStation 3 controller. Support for unofficial ones is not guaranteed even if the initial detection works.
  • A rooted and compatible Android phone (see below).
  • A standard mini-USB to USB cable (comes with a PS3, any pretty much every digital camera ever sold).
  • A Windows PC.
  • A Google Play account with payment details.

First up, this isn’t compatible with all Android phones, and you will need to be rooted (no idea how to root your phone? Click here). Before you do anything else, go download the SixAxis Compatibility Checker, you’ll get a definitive answer. Launch the app, click start, and it’ll attempt to interface with your Bluetooth driver. If all is successful, a message will pop up with the Bluetooth address of your phone. Note this down.

The second thing to be aware of is that the SixAxis Controller app costs real money – about $2.50 to be exact. That’s why you’re checking compatibility first, so you aren’t wasting your hard-earned cash. But we’re not there yet, so let’s continue testing first.

Pairing Your Controller

On a PC, download the SixAxis Pair Tool from here (there’s alternative links there for Linux and OSX command line tools, but I’m going to assume you’re using Windows). It needs to be installed first, along with a VC runtime from Microsoft (included in the download), and finally run with Administrator permissions.

connect a ps3 controller to android

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On first run, it’ll go through SEARCHING… then installing a driver. Finally (assuming your controller is plugged in, if not then do so now), you’ll be shown the current paired master – that is, the Bluetooth address of the PS3 it was paired with before – and the option to Change Master.

connect ps3 to android

Enter the address that the compatibility app gave you – putting colons between the hex codes, and click Update to change it. If successful, you can safely uninstall this app, you won’t need it again until you get a new phone.

Connect to Android

You can now disconnect the controller from the USB cable, and go back to your phone. If the driver has stopped in the meantime, click start again and get that success message back. It should now be in a listening state. Press the central PS button on your controller and it should pair successfully. Congratulations, you can go ahead and buy the full app.

Once you’ve purchased the full app, there’s one final step needed – to make your controller into the current input method. The app will prompt you on first launch, so just hit Yes, and turn on the SixAxis keyboard; then tap Change IME and select the SixAxis. Finally, remember that this replaces deactivates your regular keyboard – so when you want to go back to normal on-screen keyboard typing, you’ll need to change the IME back again.

connect a ps3 controller to android

Playing Games

To test this out, I used Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, a classic that fully supports gamepads natively. For retro gaming, try RetroArch (all old consoles), FPse (Playstation), Mupen64Plus AE (N64). Most games will work to some degree by default, by you can also use the controller app to change key mappings where needed.

For unsupported games – such as those with on-screen controls, the process is quite ingenious. Simple take a screenshot of the game and create a new profile, then proceed to create “hotspots” on the screen for the buttons to map to. Here’s a quick guide from someone else.

Of course, this whole process becomes ridiculously trivial if you have a tablet with a full USB socket, at which point you can simply plug the controller into the device directly. You’ll still need this app though, but can just hit the “pair controller” button.

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Comments (14)
  • abdulmajeed

    I did everything the guide said to but when it gets to listening for controllers, nothing happens, ps controller just keeps flashing for a while and the app doesn’t pick up the contoller. Any ideas??

  • Biamcs

    I sucessfully connected my controller in the compatibility checker. But when I tried to connect in the actual app, first it doesnt say the local bluetooth address, even after i click start. Then after it says “Driver Starting…” it goes “Segmentation fault” and it doesn’t connect. Any tips? I am using galaxy s5 btw

  • seriousguy23

    Can somebody please help me my controller is supported on my nexus 7 but I cannot adjust left and right stick in order to normally play games.

  • jan

    Hi there. i found problem.
    i have rooted device, sixaxis checker ok, then i run it in full app, Start, successfully configured BT, controllers listening, pressing ps button, unplug, chnage IME but there is no activity from my bluetooth, so its not working without cable and with cable it works badly. what iam doing bad?
    (sometimes – cause i tried it 1000X – its ask for password for connect on bluetooth, but there is no password…)

  • roberto

    1- Connect pad via cable and use for 1 min. It will pair the pad without you knowing

    2- Disconnect pad and turn on Bluetooth. Press power on pad and will come up Ps3 controller connected

    3- Enjoy ps3 native without cables and without paying for strange apps.

    • James B

      And how exactly does it emulate on-screen controls in games that don’t natively support the controller without some “strange app”?

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.