Razer Kishi Review : The best mobile gaming controller yet

  • Pass-through USB-C charging for phone, ports for audio
  • Works with most USB-C Android phones
  • Lag-free control
  • Plug-and-play, requires no setup
  • Folds up to compact size
  • Blocks headphone port (for few phones that still have said port)
  • Controllers a little small for adult hands
  • Not made to fit tablets
  • No wireless connectivity

Razer makes solid gaming hardware. They've made a lot of gaming-centric devices over the past two decades, and I've not always been a member of Razer's target audience. With the Razer Kishi, I find myself excited by a smartphone accessory for the first time in what feels like forever. Razer Kishi is a gaming controller that connects to Android devices via USB-C and folds up to a compact size when not in use. This is about more than gaming – it's about the future.

The Razer Kishi is a plug-and-play sort of accessory that's made to fit the vast majority of Android devices that work with the last several generations of Android and USB-C. Right out the box, this device comes in a compact form, locked by two plastic switches. When unlocked, the device is held together by a strong rubber strap.

One side of the device has Face Buttons, a Status Indicator (LED light), a clickable analog thumbstick, a function button, a power port (USB-C), trigger (R2), bumper (R1), speaker ports, and a phone connector (USB-C).* On the left, you'll find another clickable analog thumbstick, 8-way D-pad (directional buttons), another function button, a "special" function button (usually a Home button), a trigger (L2), and a bumper (L1).

*NOTE: The USB-C parts here will appear as Lightning port and plug when the iPhone-compatible version of the Razer Kishi is released.

To connect this controller to a phone, you'll need to plug in the USB-C connector first. Once the USB-C side is connected, you'll expand the entire contraption (the rubber back bit) until the other half of the controller fits around the top of your phone.

Rubber bumper bits surround the top and bottom of your phone to protect the hardware while you play games. Because there's a USB-C port at the bottom of the controller, you can charge through to your phone whilst gaming. The controller itself has no battery – that's all provided by your phone.

No additional software is needed to get this controller working. Upon plugging the controller in, the buttons immediately start to function. If you WANT to expand your experience beyond the basics, there's a Razer Kishi smartphone app that acts as a game launcher and provides suggestions for games that operate at a higher level when controlled with hardware controllers like this.

I wish the Razer Kishi was a little bigger. Like I suggested in our first feature on the Razer Kishi (first released earlier today), this smartphone gaming accessory does not seem to be trying to replicate the Xbox controller or the PlayStation DualShock controller experience. But I wish it was – not least of all because the games I tend to play on a phone that require a physical controller also tend to be games I play for long periods of time.

The controller feels a bit like the Nintendo Switch. The controller parts are a little bit shorter than the full-sizes Switch, right around the size of the Nintendo Switch Lite. Again – a little short for extended gaming sessions.

The Razer Kishi universal game controller was released on June 9, 2020, in its USB-C (Android) iteration. There'll be an iOS version later this year. This version of the controller has a price of approximately $80 USD and can be purchased from the Razer Store online now.