Mobile gaming has been a huge thing for a decade now but it’s only recently that accessory makers like Razer and Logitech have taken it seriously, offering gaming headsets made especially for phones. On the controller front, however, SteelSeries has been ahead of the curve for some time, selling the Stratus line of gamepads for Apple devices, and Stratus for Android and everything else. Today the latter gets a big upgrade with the addition of the $60 Stratus+.
At first glance it doesn’t seem like a big change for the gamepad; once again we’re looking at a matte black, Xbox-style controller. But this time around, the Stratus comes with a phone grip in the box: no more buying a separate accessory. The clip is thin when folded, with two long metal prongs that you can push out to plug them into the top of the gamepad. It’s kind of satisfying to slide the clip and not difficult — which is good, because if you screw up you’re likely to scratch the finish on the gamepad, and the matte texture can only do so much to hide it.
In hand, the Stratus+ is solid and doesn’t feel heavy, even with a phone attached to the top. The clip holds the phone securely, though placement is an issue since I have a Pixel 3, meaning the volume control sits midway on the right side, putting it right under where the clip would grip the phone. So yes, I ended up turning my volume down a lot if I wasn’t careful. That’s probably the hardest part of using the Stratus+, since connecting via Bluetooth is super easy now.
I fired up Brawlhalla on my device and started punching and kicking my way through levels. The buttons had satisfying bounce and were incredibly responsive; it’s always nice when the character does what they’re supposed to, especially in a fighting game where timing matters. Poor responsiveness is generally why I shy away from playing most action games on a touchscreen.
Which gets to the bigger question of whether I actually need something like the Stratus+. I play games on my phone, sure, but it’s usually the kind of stuff I can play one-handed and that doesn’t require a lot of nimble finger work. (I had to download Brawlhalla for testing.) But at least for PC gaming it’s a solid option if you prefer Xbox-style wireless controllers.