When it comes to mobile gaming, sometimes adding a controller into the mix is ideal. Let's face it: Not every mobile title is a great candidate for touch controls, particularly many of the games you can download and play via Apple Arcade. Several of the titles available there are far better suited to controller play than they ever would be for virtual controls.
Enter solutions like SteelSeries' Nimbus+. It's a full-featured controller for iOS users that's been refined over the years since the original Nimbus debuted. It's one of the most comfortable ways to kick back, relax, and enjoy a mobile game without relying on less accurate, occasionally frustrating touch controls. If that sounds like something you're in the market for, read on for how it performs. Spoiler alert: You may be on the hunt for one after you finish reading.
Built for success
The Nimbus+ resembles a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller or a slightly thicker DualShock 4. It's comfortable, and you can get a nice, secure grip without worrying it'll slip out of your hands or quickly become riddled with oily fingerprints.
Right away, you'll notice that it has all the buttons you'd typically expect on a traditional game pad: A, B, X, and Y buttons, dual analog joysticks (they can be pressed in for additional functionality), a directional pad, and a home button with both menu and option buttons.
Above the home buttons and whatnot you have a string of LED lights. These act as important indicators depending on the game you're currently playing. It can show you how much battery you have left, which is represented by how many lights are lit, and it will flash when in pairing mode or when letting you know which controller is in use if you play multiplayer games with additional Nimbus+ gamepads.
Moving from the front to the top, the Nimbus+ features four shoulder buttons, the button to make the controller show battery life on the front LEDs, and holes for the bracket you can mount your phone with. The controller also features a Lightning charge port, which should be useful for anyone already charging up an iPhone on the regular.
The form factor is great, comfortable, and sturdy. It's familiar, reliable, and feels good in the hands even for extended playing sessions.
The Nimbus+ looks and feels great in the hands and includes features that should work well for any iOS gaming enthusiast. It's nearly identical to the SteelSeries Stratus Duo and of course the Nimbus that came before, but this version is MFi certified. With that in mind, it connects and remains so like a dream. I had zero issues with drops as I played games like Sneaky Sasquatch and Sayonara Wild Hearts.
While I originally tried the controller out with my iPad Pro, I opted to go with the included mount to use my iPhone 11 Pro Max. Both were simple to get going and incredibly responsive, no matter which games I chose. Buttons felt clicky and had no input lag. Everything I did immediately translated to the screen, even during more fast-paced game segments.
With everything working as well as it was, I had hoped there would be rumble support of some sort, but unfortunately there was not. However, perhaps that was a good trade-off for how long the battery seemed to last per charge. I ended up getting at least 30 hours of game time between charges, and there were long stretches when I'd play more intensive games to really push it.
The phone mount is also sturdy and reliable. Even playing in bed with my phone connected to the controller and laying back propped up with pillows, I never felt as it was going to fall or break. It does get a bit heavy playing this way depending on what kind of phone you have, but that's the device's issue, not the controller, as it's very lightweight.
On cloud nine
The SteelSeries Nimbus+ is a fantastic controller for mobile play. It's sturdy, features a familiar button layout, and connects easily and readily to MFi-enabled games, with no input lag. My only real complaint was that I couldn't really use it with much else beyond iOS devices, and that it didn't feature rumble – though that would have made it heavier. All in all, though, if you're looking for an affordable way to get more out of your favorite mobile titles, this is certainly the way to do it – and do it in style.
This review is based on the SteelSeries Nimbus+ controller, provided by the publisher. It's currently available to purchase for $69.99.
- Solid, lightweight design
- Easy to connect and remain connected
- MFi support which is available across a wide variety of games
- LED indicators on front of controller
- Included phone mount is useful
- Lengthy battery life
- No rumble feature