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One of the features of iOS 7 that didn’t get enough attention when it was announced is native support for physical controller for playing video games. One model that quickly jumped to the forefront is the Logitech PowerShell. The company is known for making high-end gaming peripherals, among plenty of other products, so going into our tests with this device, our expectations were certainly high. Does it stack up?

We purchased a Logitech PowerShell iPhone 5/5s controller for this review. Now, we’re giving it away to one lucky reader! Read through to find out how you might be able to be the one to take this $99.99 iPhone 5/5s game controller home for free.

Introducing the Logitech PowerShell iPhone 5/5s Controller

When Apple first announced that it was bringing native gamepad support to iOS 7, I honestly expected the market to be absolutely flooded with devices aimed at bringing physical controls to the phones and tablets, but that didn’t really happen. In fact, there’s only really two major players in the space, Logitech’s PowerShell Logitech PowerShell Controller Review And Giveaway Logitech PowerShell Controller Review And Giveaway We purchased a Logitech PowerShell iPhone 5/5s controller for this review. Now, we're giving it away to one lucky reader! Read More and the MOGA Ace Power, at least as far as devices that actually lock around the phones go.

logitech powershell controller review

Both devices come with the same price tag of $99.99, which is pretty expensive when you compare that to the cost of a controller for a major home game console, or even to the subsidized cost of the iPhone itself.

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Looking at both products side by side, MOJA’s Ace Power crushes the Logitech PowerShell, with more buttons, a collapsable, more portable design, and a bigger battery. Can Logitech’s reputation for quality overcome the fact that its device is lacking some features, most notably the inclusion of joysticks and the standard number of shoulder buttons?

Initial Impressions

The Logitech PowerShell comes with everything you need to get started; the charger, a headphone adapter, documentation, and of course, the controller itself. One disappointing issue I noticed right out of the box is how short the micro USB cable actually is. Now, if you own many of today’s devices you probably already have some of these cables sitting around, but it would have been nice if Logitech included a cable that is more than just a couple of inches long.

logitech powershell controller review

The other thing you can’t help but notice right away is how long the PowerShell is. Unless you have some rather strange pants, carrying this thing around in your pocket is going to range from difficult to impossible. It’s not a heavy device, so throwing it in a backpack won’t mess with your flow, but seeing as it’s a device that is made to use with your smartphone that you carry around with you on a daily basis, the large size definitely limits the ability to truly take it on the go with you. It actually about the same length a Sega Game Gear from back in the day, which was a juggernaut, even all those years ago.

logitech powershell review

Overall, I was not in love with the Logitech PowerShell on first glance. While it feels balanced and light in the hand, the large size immediately turned me off. Of course, that’s only the first impression, and it could certainly change my mind as we get to actually playing games.

logitech powershell review

Design

The PowerShell features the minimum controls for iOS controllers. It has an 8-way directional pad, four face buttons, and two shoulder buttons. The d-pad is on the left side of the space where the iPhone or iPod touch goes, and the face buttons are on the other side. As you might expect, the shoulder buttons are on the top. It’s a very standard layout, so if you’ve used a video game controller before, you should feel right at home.

powershell controller review

The controller features a simple matte black finish, which looks quite nice. The area under the phone is a little more vibrant, but of course, when your device is clipped in, you will not see that. Other than size, Logitech did a great job of making a subdued device that doesn’t draw a lot of attention while still looking stylish.

powershell controller review

The back of the PowerShell has a textured finish, which provides a little bit of extra grip during intense gameplay sessions. It’s a small touch, but one that I definitely appreciated, especially knowing my expensive iPhone was plugged into it.

logitech powershell iphone controller review

The iPhone 5/5s fits nicely into the PowerShell, and putting it in is as simple as sliding it in bottom first and pressing down. The back of the controller has an opening, which, in addition to allowing camera access while the phone is plugged in, is also where you will push on the back of the device to remove your phone when you are done playing.

logitech powershell iphone controller review

One thing I don’t enjoy about the design is the switch that grants access to the sleep button on the top of the phone. It’s extremely stiff, and pushing it is not nearly as easy as I would have liked. It’s nice that Logitech figured out a way to give you access to said button, but it could have been done better.

Playing Games On The Logitech PowerShell

As this is a device built for playing games, let’s jump right into how that experience is. Overall, it’s pretty solid, but it’s far from perfect. The four face buttons are spaced out comfortably, and they have a solid feel when pushed. The 8-way d-pad is accurate, and it works as you might expect it to. The same is true for the shoulder buttons. The d-pad is analog, which means how hard you push it can alter how a character moves in a game. Push it harder for quicker movement; and the opposite is true.

logitech powershell review

The drawback to playing games on the Logitech PowerShell compared to other models is the missing buttons. It only has two shoulder buttons, while most video game controllers have four. It’s also missing joysticks, which will make playing any kind of first-person shooter impossible. Additionally, for gamers who play most of their games on home consoles, or even on the Playstation Vita, the feel of a joystick is what they are used to, and while the d-pad does feel good, it will never feel like a joystick.

The biggest drawback of the PowerShell is actually not Logitech’s fault at all. There just aren’t enough games. There’s a list of iOS 7 controller-supported games on Logitech’s website, but it leaves much to be desired. Many of the supported games are a little older, and looking over the list, very few will fire you up. For a more detailed look at the iOS 7 controller scene overall, check out this article from Tim about the issues it has Game Controllers & iOS: Here's What You Need To Know Game Controllers & iOS: Here's What You Need To Know Read More .

logitech powershell review

In the end, playing games on PowerShell is enjoyable. As more games add controller support, this is a device that will do the job, but at the same time, more controllers are scheduled to be released in the near future, including one from gaming accessory maker SteelSeries, which will work with iPad and iPhone wirelessly.

Other Features

The PowerShell features a 1500 mAh battery that can be used to extend the life of your iOS device by flipping a switch. It can still be used to play games whether you are using the battery to power the phone or not, and of course, not sharing the battery will extend the life of the controller.

Only the latest iPhone models are supported, so if your device does not have a Lightning connector, then you are going to have to sit this one out. Additionally, as you can probably tell from looking at the controller, iPads are not going to work here, as it doesn’t support wireless connections.

iphone powershell controller review

The PowerShell does not feature its own speakers. Instead, it simply plays your iPhone speaker through cutouts on the front. It does amplify the volume slightly by pushing the sound forward, but it’s not loud enough that it becomes a notable reason for buying it.

For using headphones, an adapter is included. This is a minor annoyance, as it’s another thing you have to carry around with you, which further hurts portability.

iphone powershell controller review

Living With the Logitech PowerShell

The Logitech PowerShell controller feels pretty durable, like it could make it through the long haul. Reports of the MOGA Ace Power cite poor build quality being a major drawback, and while I’ve heard similar claims from some on the PowerShell, it feels plenty durable to me. Of course, I wasn’t throwing the controller on the ground in an attempt to break it, but in our testing, the build quality seemed solid.

While the battery life is pretty good, the amount of playing time you can expect will vary based on the device you are using and whether or not you are sharing the battery with your phone. Still, you can expect a few hours, which isn’t bad for fairly small battery.

powershell review

However, there is a pretty annoying drawback to the battery. It doesn’t have a proper indicator, instead, it simply has a “G” that lights up on the back. When the battery is low, it lights up red; when it’s charging, it blinks. Let me say this again though, the light is on the back — where you would have no reason to look at while you are busy enjoying your favorite game. Even with the poor placement, not having an indication of how much battery is left until its almost flat is a pretty serious drawback, and it’s a design choice that just makes no sense to me. It simply makes using the device on a daily basis more annoying than it should be.

powershell review

Wrapping Up

In the end, the Logitech PowerShell is average. It doesn’t really excel at anything, but it’s also not terrible at anything either. The buttons feel good, the controller looks nice, and it feels pretty well built. However, Logitech has made some poor design choices that really hold the controller back. A lack of supported games hurts it even more.

Still, if you really want a controller for your iPhone 5/5s, the PowerShell will do the job, even if it won’t blow you away in the process.

Our verdict of the Logitech PowerShell:
MakeUseOf recommends: Wait until the next generation of iPhone controllers are released. If you’re impatient, the PowerShell will do the job, but it does have some serious drawbacks.
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The Winner

Congratulations, Curtis Lu! You would have received an email from jackson@makeuseof.com. Please respond before March 16 to claim your prize. Enquires beyond this date will not be entertained.

Send your products to be reviewed. Contact Jackson Chung for further details.

  1. Nero T
    February 22, 2014 at 10:57 am

    I prefer on-screen controller now, it suitable for the most of puzzle games l'm currently playing. But if I play FPS or RPG games, physical controller would be great.

  2. Morrison
    February 22, 2014 at 5:45 am

    Physical controls, because of the tactile feedback.

  3. Vic L
    February 21, 2014 at 5:29 am

    If I have a budget, much prefer to use physical controller.

  4. DAN JU
    February 21, 2014 at 1:24 am

    I like onscreen...but hand controlers are a plus.

  5. Debra Sauvageau
    February 20, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    I want a physical controller..I like to feel it in my hands

  6. Urko
    February 18, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Physical controllers for sure. More control and precision.

  7. doe
    February 17, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    physical game controller - like the feel of buttons

  8. Michael B
    February 17, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Physical controllers for sure. More control and precision.

  9. Anthony N
    February 16, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Physical because I prefer the feedback.

  10. Gaurav Bhargava
    February 16, 2014 at 3:21 am

    Physical for simplicity and better control.

  11. Alessio A
    February 15, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Physical. As you have better control and the system doesn’t miss commands or swipes.

  12. ?????? ?
    February 15, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Physical, because it is more simple!

  13. Giuseppe P
    February 14, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    I prefer a physical game controller, and this one is great!

  14. Yash S
    February 14, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Physical Gaming Controllers are much easier to control the game !!

  15. Edmund S
    February 14, 2014 at 9:11 am

    I prefer physical controls because my fingers tend to shift around the screen and lose track of the virtual controls. Plus I'm old school like that.

  16. Jenny E
    February 14, 2014 at 8:55 am

    I really love games and Im very satisfied on using physical controller. It makes my game more interesting <3

  17. Roman S
    February 14, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Cool controller

  18. Lauren A
    February 14, 2014 at 6:35 am

    Physical controller - I'm a hands on sort of person.

  19. Janina Talitha T
    February 14, 2014 at 4:52 am

    I prefer a physical controller because of the more natural grip :)

  20. Marko G.
    February 13, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    a physical one - its easyer for gaming

  21. faith C
    February 13, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Physical, only because that's what I'm used to.

  22. Treen Goodwin
    February 13, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Physical Controller is better !!

  23. Jeff H
    February 13, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    I'm an old timer so traditional physical game controller fits me the best.

  24. Denis K
    February 13, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    a physical controller

  25. Tomasz
    February 13, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    physical

  26. Dementia D
    February 13, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Physical controller

  27. Mat S
    February 13, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    I prefer the physical as you have better control and the system doesn't miss commands or swipes....

  28. MikeB
    February 13, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    A physical controller. I get a better and more natural feel.

  29. biancie F
    February 13, 2014 at 11:14 am

    I love Games, and I Love to win the Logitech PowerShell for iPhone 5/5s.
    Fingers Crossed!!

  30. drazen mestrovic
    February 13, 2014 at 4:52 am

    I prefer physical controller because it gives me more in-game experience

  31. Sean M
    February 13, 2014 at 2:20 am

    I like physical game controllers. They're more intutive

  32. Ken P
    February 13, 2014 at 12:09 am

    on screen cuz that is what i am used too

  33. Dave Wells
    February 12, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    Definitely a controller for console ports, some games are designed with touch in mind and are fine.

  34. Charlita M
    February 12, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Physical controller for the fact that it's more familiar -- I suppose after enough practice & conditioning one could get used to on screen.

  35. Ruven
    February 12, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    A physical controller.It's just better.

  36. Mihir C
    February 12, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    I'd prefer a physical controller for the sake of the amazing gaming experience it provides!

  37. John P
    February 12, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Definitely physical controller. More tactile experience.

  38. Mitch T
    February 12, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Haven't ever really had a handheld and am anxious to try one.

  39. Amy Flores
    February 12, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    I would prefer a physical game controller. I cannot get my fingers in the right places on the phone. I always press the wrong area.

  40. Al
    February 12, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    I prefer a physical game controller. It allows me to concentrate on the gameplay instead of trying to find the right button to hit.

  41. Isaac C
    February 12, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    I prefer physical controller as I am old school

    • John C
      February 12, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      I'm with this guy ^

  42. Wes W
    February 12, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    i prefer physical controls, there are so many more things that can go wrong with virtual controls on top of taking up part of the screen anyway

  43. Erik
    February 12, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    I dont game but would with this

  44. Frederick V
    February 12, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    I prefer physical controllers.. sweaty hands :D

  45. Jerome Guay
    February 12, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    I'm not a big fan of touch screen controls, this is a great tool to use!

  46. Beh H
    February 12, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    I would prefer physical game controllers, because I can play the game without any on screen controllers affecting the gameplay.

  47. John D
    February 12, 2014 at 8:46 am

    I prefer physical controllers to feel the buttons

  48. Adly A
    February 12, 2014 at 5:59 am

    Prefer physical game controller because it is more precise and give maximum control than on-screen game controller.

  49. Muhammad Hadi N
    February 12, 2014 at 5:40 am

    i'll prefer to use physical game controller. Because it help me to play without locking at what button that should I push.

  50. Suky
    February 12, 2014 at 2:17 am

    I prefer the in phone game controller. I have gotten used to using my finger to do motion jestures like jumping ad ducking and left/right moving.

  51. dee
    February 12, 2014 at 2:07 am

    physical controller preferred as I began my gaming journey with them

  52. Travis Faulkner
    February 12, 2014 at 12:14 am

    physical controller

  53. Cindy M
    February 11, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    The Physical Gamepad

  54. Curtis L
    February 11, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    Physical so I can get more responsive control.

  55. Charles B
    February 11, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    I do prefer physical controllers because of the tactile feedback. I hope someone comes with a haptic feedback controller for mobile devices. Thus far, I don't think any of the controllers hit all the necessary specifications to being excellent peripherals.

  56. Endracion
    February 11, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Definitely prefer physical controllers - the major thing with on screen is that there's no tactical feedback and you're obstructing part of the screen, which also hinders experience in my opinion.

  57. Stephen
    February 11, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    I would definitely prefer an actual controller and buttons I can use and feel! Makes the experience that much better!

  58. Ryan C
    February 11, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Most games are fine with the on-screen controls. But some that I have played on my iPhone (First Person Shooters, etc.) are pretty difficult to play without a physical controller.

  59. Jasmin
    February 11, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    I would like to give it a try, see if it works just as it is suppose to work :)

  60. mandar jadhav
    February 11, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    i'll prefer physical game controller.... because it is much more easier to use and also it has some extra features... i would love to have 1....

  61. Nick Odemus
    February 11, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Physical controls are the way to go

  62. Sam K
    February 11, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    I prefer physical game controller, as it gives real gaming experience.

  63. alan parker
    February 11, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    it definitely depends on the game, i would like to try both

  64. paulie
    February 11, 2014 at 11:14 am

    the Physical Gamepad

  65. Tomas P
    February 11, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Physical, as it keeps the screen for its primary purpose.

  66. Antonio R
    February 11, 2014 at 9:54 am

    I think they are for different kind of games...

  67. Julian
    February 11, 2014 at 9:41 am

    off screen. screen real estate is valuable! fingers get in the way for many things

  68. Laura An
    February 11, 2014 at 9:03 am

    Physical controller because it is more simple to use.

  69. Serg
    February 11, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Screen controllers.

  70. Mark Arthur
    February 11, 2014 at 8:28 am

    Physical controller, I tend to fumble less and I think they have better precision

  71. Csanad SZOVERFI
    February 11, 2014 at 8:25 am

    I never used a physical game controller on Android or iOS, but I think they are much more effective and precise than using the on screen controller. You will have this way access to your full screen, and a more ergonomic control.

  72. Zivar R
    February 11, 2014 at 8:24 am

    no this one looks great mainly for the bed time

  73. moorandro
    February 11, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Physisca because it's easier to handle with it

  74. ann
    February 11, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Either....

  75. Ionut Baciu
    February 11, 2014 at 7:10 am

    Physical one, because I like to be in complete control

  76. Ramon Miguel Canillas
    February 11, 2014 at 6:48 am

    A big screen will suffice. But if it's like an iPhone with a game that requires complex buttons/actions, then the game controller would be useful. Otherwise, it's a bit gimmicky. :)

  77. Jasper John
    February 11, 2014 at 6:48 am

    Physical controller, because its much more easier to use

  78. Milos D
    February 11, 2014 at 6:05 am

    Screen controllers.

  79. Mac Christensen
    February 11, 2014 at 1:13 am

    A physical controller is mainly useful to me when playing games that weren't originally designed to be played on a phone, especially emulated game systems.

  80. Francis
    February 10, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    I prefer an actual screen

  81. Gian
    February 10, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    I'm for on screen controllers that are seamlessly integrated

  82. Dan D
    February 10, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    Physical controller since touch screen buttons takes up screen focus and lacks the responsiveness and feedback of real buttons.

  83. Va D
    February 10, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    Physical controller. It has better control, handling, and precision.

  84. Vitaliy P
    February 10, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    No use

  85. Igor S
    February 10, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    I hope

  86. Ed
    February 10, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Physical controllers.

  87. Denis K
    February 10, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    Physical ones, cause ...I really don't know why :)

  88. Daniel
    February 10, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Physical

  89. Francesco Fiorino
    February 10, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    I think that a physical gaming controller is more intuitive to use instead of tapping compulsively on the touch screen :D so I prefer the first one ;)

  90. Keith W
    February 10, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Depends on the type of game.

  91. Dmitriy S
    February 10, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Physical gaming controller!

  92. Dany B
    February 10, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    I prefer physical game controller when its possible for games.

  93. Alexei Petrov
    February 10, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Physical controller

  94. Jo-anne P
    February 10, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    Physical controllers all the way for me but then I am old and trust me you cannot teach an old dog new tricks (not me anyway). I want it in my hand so I can shake it, yell at it, throw it (kidding or not!) and press the buttons really hard hoping that it will go even faster lol.

    Don't get me wrong on on-screen is nice for some people but I have clunky fingers so I die a lot and I go where I am not supposed to. I have been know to kill things I shouldn't too but maybe I did that on purpose :). Great review and thanks for the effort and info.

  95. Tony V
    February 10, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    I definitely prefer a physical controller. I still have not gotten used to screen controls.

  96. Nicholas S
    February 10, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Sometimes it's convenient to use a physical controller.

  97. Thiagu
    February 10, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Cool gadget

  98. Dan Vaughn
    February 10, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Physical gaming controller for sure.

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