Gear: MOGA Pocket Bluetooth controller

PowerA-Moga

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After reviewing the SteelSeries Free Mobile Wireless Controller Josh has gone Bluetooth crazy and takes a look at the MOGA Pocket. With a solid following and strong library of playable games, does it deserve the crown? Check out the review below.

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In all its glory

It is an interesting change to go from a universal controller like the SteelSeries Free Mobile Wireless to the MOGA Pocket. On the one hand, the tech guy in me liked the ease of connecting the Bluetooth by simply pairing it like any other device, making swapping devices quick and painless. However, the MOGA system offers you something more focused. The idea is to give you the applications and the controller to turn your phone into a gaming portal, then all you have to do is pick your games and you’re off. Sound great? Well, yes and no. Allow me to explain.

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Your phone, transformed

Design

Design is something you cannot fault the MOGA controllers for. The Pocket fits snugly in your hands, resting the control sticks and button comfortably within reach, no matter your hand size. The construction is solid, both of the analog sticks feel stiff at first but once you find the right positioning your hands will adjust to it. The Pocket offers you two styles of use, one is with the clamp shut (see the top image), useful for 7″ and 10″ tablets and the other, featured above, is its intended use as a phone cradle for portable gaming. Though both work perfectly fine, the cradle feels more natural, using the weight of your phone to counterbalance the controller, with it feeling not unlike the Nintendo DS. The buttons are all well placed and easy to reach plus the triggers are angled outwards which is perfectl for shooting games.

So many choices

So many choices

Software

Having your own propitiatory software can be a double edged sword and the MOGA Pivot App cuts both ways. It is easy to navigate and can be started up almost entirely via the controller itself. All of the supported games are presented as soon as you boot up the application, allowing you to find the right kind of game for your mood and a quick button press will take you to the Google Play store to purchase your chosen title. All of your installed games can be seen via a tab allowing you to see immediately which titles are being playing and which ones are being neglected. This actually made me dig through my untouched apps, though I wish it could let you know of the titles you own but haven’t installed. Even in the store purchased titles will tell you to pay until you go to outside of the app and to the Google Store, not exactly user friendly.

There is one other annoying flaw with the controller. If you want to play a controller supported title not in the Pivot store, the controller requires third party software. This software requires you to close all Pivot programs, disconnect the controller and then set up the controller as a keyboard, removing the ability to type until you put it back. This is more of a technical interface issue but never the less it does make some titles problematic to switch in and out of this mode. However, as a counter point I will say that having to download a few outside applications is a small price to pay for a store offering you all of its universally compatible software.

Performance

Once you commence any game the controller shows it strength. Most of the titles I played required no set-up at all and enabled me to launch straight into the fun much like any PlayStation or Xbox game. The controls are responsive, and while it doesn’t quite compare to the performance of a proper console controller it still offers solid gameplay experience considering its size. Shooters and racing games are much more captivating, platformers become more engrossing and role-playing games are easier to get lost in when you have a decent controller in your hands.

Different Strokes for different folks

Different strokes for different folk

Overall

With a few hiccupy exceptions involving buttons not working or games crashing, the MOGA system is surprisingly smart technology. The MOGA Pocket is almost a console in itself working as intermediate between the controller and your phone/tablet, creating its own gaming hub no matter which Android system you’re using. Though there are a few small gripes over connecting and external drivers, this is arguably the best way to experience Android titles, period. The controller is robust, simple and even using AAA batteries it maintains a decent battery life as well. If you’re after a relatively easy to use controller, without any painful set-up or compatibility issues, then the MOGA Pocket is the controller for you.

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Joshua Philpott

Tech MacGyver
Games writer, podcaster and tech wizard. Obsessed with obscure horror films, crazy gadgets and caffeine. Passionate, argumentative and open minded. Freelance writer and co-founder rawDLC.

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  • Chad Wheeler

    This is a really cool idea, I like that the option is out there to turn your smartphone into a near completely functional handheld gaming device without taking up much time or effort.

    Between this device and that steelseries controller you reviewed, which would you consider is better?

  • skaterguy845

    My only concern would be how it fits in your pocket with your smartphone, it looks like it isn’t that slim, and combine that with the phone, may be a bit much. And it’s not like I carry a man bag around to store my stuff in , i just have pockets…