Released late 2019, Razer’s Junglecat offers (on paper, at least) the perfect solution to mobile gaming: it essentially turns your smartphone into a Switch-like device.
The Junglecat is made up of two separate controllers, very similar in appearance to Nintendo’s Joy-Cons. They attach to either side of a smartphone case, and connect to your device via Bluetooth. The device can also be used as a standalone controller by connecting both sides to a small, plastic dock. You know, just like you can with you Switch controllers, too.
In this day and age where streaming is becoming a Very Real Thing, an easy solution to play games on your phone is needed more than ever. With Microsoft’s xCloud and Google Stadia, you simply cannot use your smartphone’s touchscreen controls (not that you’d want to anyway). And while brackets that allow you to mount your phone to an Xbox One controller or similar are inexpensive and effective, they’re not the sleekest solution, especially if you plan to game on your commute. I don’t know about you, but I’d be rather self-conscious about whipping out a standard console controller on the train.
That’s why the Razer Junglecat seems like the ideal solution. Attached to your phone, it’s a beautiful device; sleek, easy to use, and it’ll easily fit in a pocket. There’s only one downside: it only has official support for four smartphones. And they’re all Android.
Knowing just how many Android handsets are on the market, it instantly makes the appeal of the Junglecat very limited indeed. In the UK, it ships with cases that fit Razer Phone 2, Huawai P30 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S10+. In North America, the Huawei case is replaced with a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 case. Officially, unless you own one of those handsets, you can’t use the Razer Junglecat.
Of course, the Junglecat merely relies on a Bluetooth connection, so you can pair it with literally any device and use it. But unless your phone fits in one of the supplied cases, you’ll not be able to use it to its full potential.
I get why Razer made the decision it did: the Junglecat controllers are obviously a fixed size, and therefore aren’t going to sit flush with every single handset on the market. Therefore the compatible cases need to be limited to a small number of phones. It’s just a shame it limits its reach so drastically.
We’ve actually found that the Junglecat works perfectly with numerous more handsets. If you’re fine with button and camera holes of a temporary phone case not quite lining up properly, you’ll be able to use the Junglecat as intended. We checked out the dimensions of each of the handsets that Razer supply cases for and found that plenty of other phones are more or less the same size. My Google Pixel 3a XL fitted perfectly in the Razer Phone 2 case, for instance – the only issue was it didn’t properly house my volume button or camera. But that’s not an issue: when I’m gaming, I’m not going to want to use my camera. And if I need to change volume, I can get around it by doing it through the phone’s options.
Still, we can agree it’s not the most elegant of solutions. It’s a shame, because the actual usage of the Junglecat is fantastic. It’s a great device; once paired to my Pixel 3a XL, it works flawlessly. I can load up my xCloud beta account and fire up a game of Forza Horizon 4. The Razer Junglecat basically gives me the portable Xbox I’ve always dreamed of having, and if you imagine yourself playing a lot of games either via xCloud or Stadia, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this – especially if you have one of the officially-supported mobile devices.
And that’s a big however: Razer’s pretty much just killed the Junglecat in its recent reveal of a new device at CES. The Razer Kishi is basically the same thing – except it works with pretty much any modern Android device or iPhone. Rather than being split into two separate Joy-Con-like devices, the Kishi is connected by a stretchy tether which is adjustable depending on the size of your device. It doesn’t use Bluetooth, either; it connects to your phone via its charging port (to reduce lag). Presumably then, the only barrier to entry with the Kishi is whether or not your phone has a supported charging port (USB-C or Apple Lightning, which the vast majority of smartphones now have).
Having just purchased a Razer Junglecat, I’m annoyed that a new device has succeeded it so quickly (although a release date is still TBC). Though similar in design, it’s got to be said the Junglecat has the edge on sleekness; fitted onto a compatible device, it really does look like a stylish all-in-one handheld device. But its narrow market limited to only a handful of Android devices instantly makes the Kishi a much better option for most people.
We’ll have more on the Razer Kishi once more has been revealed. In the meantime, you can purchase a Razer Junglecat for £100/$100 from numerous retailers, including Amazon.