Gaming on your phone just got a whole lot better.
The X3 is Chinese peripheral company GameSir’s latest mobile gaming controller. It’s a successor of 2020’s X2, which we heaped praise onto in our review. With more bells and whistles, the X3 might pack in some features you don’t really want – but it also offers a much more premium, easy to use experience. And frankly, we can’t imagine gaming on our mobile phones with anything else.
The GameSir X3 is a USB-C powered controller. It plugs into your phone, drawing power from your handset’s battery. While it means that your phone will run out of juice a little quicker, it does mean that the X3 is good to go whenever; you don’t have to worry about it being charged before you play. In our experience, that’s a trade-off worth making.
While the X2’s buttons were fixed, the X3 has interchangeable thumbstick covers and d-pad. The thumbsticks in particular are much nicer to use than its predecessor; attach the included covers and they become much larger and more comfortable to rest your thumbs on. The only downside is that the triggers remain rather clicky, and they’re still digital meaning they’re either pressed or not. No nuanced acceleration if you’re playing a racing game, for example.
But that’s a small compromise to make for what is otherwise a fantastic mobile gaming controller. Not only is the GameSir X3 convenient, it’s also incredibly comfortable to use. Its grips at either side are improved over the X2, providing extra shape and support for your hands.
There’s one major caveat, however, that may make the X3 less desirable to some: it comes with a built-in cooler. A fan attached to the back of the controller, it’s designed to keep your handset ice-cold even when you’re pushing the processor to its limits. It’s essentially a built-in GameSir F8, which we reviewed last year.
Now, not everyone is going to be interested in a cooler for their phone; it’s a rather niche accessory, after all. It adds a substantial amount of weight to the controller, and extra bulk at the back. And, as with the F8, it needs to be connected to a USB power source to work. You can’t power the cooler from your phone or charge it to hold power. In other words, it needs wired power at all times, rendering your portable device no longer portable.
You could pair it with a USB battery pack to ensure it remains portable, but to us, that feels like an unnecessary faff. If you desperately want to use the functionality of the cooler, though, we suppose it’s the best way of going about it.
It would be nice to have the option to draw power from your phone for the cooler. Yes, it’d be much more power-hungry than the controller itself, but since the unit is already connected, it seems silly not to at least give users the option. It’s also a shame that the cooler isn’t completely detachable or an optional extra.
But still, even with the extra bulk of a cooler we’re probably never going to use, we’d still pick the GameSir X3 over the X2 – or indeed the vast majority of other mobile controllers – any day. The convenience of simply plugging it into your phone’s USB-C port and being instantly powered and connected is priceless. It’s also such a pleasure to hold and use thanks to its expertly-shaped grips and premium-feeling buttons.
It’s a little pricey with an RRP of $99.99, but if you’re in the market for an Android phone controller, the GameSir X3 is well worth considering.
The X3 is available from GameSir’s website, and will be available on Amazon from mid-July. With thanks to GameSir for providing us a unit for the purposes of this review.