“RiorPWR Xbox Edition is a well-made cloud gaming controller, but one that's outclassed by the competition.”
- Great Game Pass companion
- Solid build quality
- Flexible mount
- Handy share button
- Dated design
- Awkward menu buttons
- Strange cable dynamic
The RiotPWR Xbox Edition controller is a great cloud gaming solution that you probably shouldn’t buy. On paper, it’s a perfect companion for Xbox Game Pass subscribers who want to turn their phones into a portable cloud console. It’s an all-around strong mobile gaming device anchored by a sturdy, aesthetically pleasing controller. If it were still 2020, it would be the best cloud gaming device on the market.
However, it’s 2022 and that market has changed rapidly in just two years. After a few years of companies experimenting with flimsy controller clips and overly complicated phone contraptions, attachable gamepads like the Backbone and Razer Kishi have found the perfect formula for turning your phone into a handheld console. It’s hard to go back to the old ways, even if RiotPWR makes an incredibly strong case for its admittedly dated approach.
If you want to use a familiar controller for your cloud gaming experience, the RiotPWR Xbox Edition is a well-thought-out option that perfectly pairs with the Xbox Game Pass app. Its design quirks and price tag make it a tough sell, though, considering how stiff the competition currently is.
Rather than creating phone clips or controller attachments, RiotPWR creates all-in-one products that turn a phone into a portable console. Their products come with a custom controller and a built-in clip that different devices — from phones to tablets (sort of) — can easily snap into. The Xbox Edition is the most appealing product in the line yet though, as it duplicates the design of a traditional Xbox Wireless Controller.
It’s hard to shake the feeling that the company’s core design philosophy is a little dated by today’s standards.
In a vacuum, it’s a slam dunk. If you use the Game Pass mobile app for cloud streaming, it’s about the best piece of portable tech you could hope for. The dedicated Xbox button layout means that you can easily play games from the platform without having to remap a more generic gamepad layout. Something as simple as having an Xbox-branded home button negates the “workaround” feel of a lot of cloud gaming devices, including some of RiotPWR’s own controllers (the tradeoff is that you might end up feeling a little confused if you try to use it with, say, PS Plus).
As part of my testing, I went back and forth with playing some games on my Xbox Series X and then switching to portable play with the RiotPWR. The transition was seamless. I was able to load up my save files and adapt to on-the-go play with no friction since I was using virtually the same layout. I’d just have to account for the extra weight that a device like this brings when it’s weighed down by a phone, but that’s expected.
The value of the device gets cloudier the more you put it in context. At $70, the RiotPWR is pricier than a regular Xbox controller. If you already own an Xbox, you could just as easily buy a $20 or $30 clip (like the Xbox-ready one Otterbox offers) and build the same product for less money. It’s more of a value if you don’t own an Xbox controller at all, but not by much.
The biggest challenge, however, is that the RiotPWR is competing against the Backbone and Razer Kishi V2. Both attachments are positively graceful, turning your phone into a Nintendo Switch by just strapping on some lightweight side grips. I don’t really know why you’d want to go for a heavier, full controller setup when both options are available. RiotPWR is $30 cheaper and its Xbox gamepad makes it more familiar (though Backbone is getting into console-specific variants), but it’s hard to shake the feeling that the company’s core design philosophy is a little dated by today’s standards.
With that key caveat out of the way, let’s focus on what the device actually is. RiotPWR is very good at what it does, even if it feels one step behind the curve currently. The controller itself feels as good as a standard Xbox controller, with some minor nitpicks. It’s lightweight with responsive buttons that almost click like a mouse switch. This isn’t a cheap reproduction; it almost feels like Microsoft made this, not a third-party company.
I’m especially fond of the overall aesthetic here. Rather than using the Xbox’s standard black color scheme, the RiotPWR is white with some bright-green accents under the thumbsticks and on the top. It’s almost a Nickelodeon slime look, but it’s one that feels like a nice match with the Xbox brand.
The only thing that throws me off is its menu buttons which are laid into the controller flat rather than jutting out. It can be a little hard to hit them, especially when a phone is clipped in. It tends to hang over those buttons at just about any angle, meaning you have to wedge your fingers under it and feel around for the groove. On the plus side, it does contain a dedicated share button on the left side, which is a nice touch that goes beyond what a proper Xbox controller offers.
I’m impressed by the overall quality of the RiotPWR, which almost feels like a first-party device.
The mobile clip itself is particularly well designed. It’s a separate piece that can be firmly slotted into the front of the controller (the slot has a rubber capper when it’s not in use), so it’s easy to disassemble it and pack it up for a trip. The mount feels rather sturdy, clamping down on my phone with a pressure that makes it feel secure. It gets a good angle range too, as I can bend it to have my phone nearly perpendicular to the gamepad or snapped so far back that I can’t see the screen.
I’m impressed by the overall quality of the RiotPWR, which almost feels like a first-party device. I do think it’s something I’ll likely end up using from time to time, but likely more as a go-to office cloud controller than something I take on the run.
The RiorPWR starts to really lose some points when it comes to a few notable design quirks. The biggest of those is its approach to connectivity. Rather than attaching to your phone wirelessly, it only connects via lightning cable — specifically, one that juts out of the back of the controller. The wire is excessively long and awkwardly hangs down when playing. The mount has a little groove to clip the wire in place, but it can’t fit more than one pass of the wire. Mine coils around at least twice, so there’s always a loop hanging off even when clipped.
With your phone’s lightning port in use, you can’t use that to charge it while playing. To solve that, the controller itself has a lightning port at the bottom, which allows for pass-through charging. It can feel a little annoying to have a charging wire dangling between your hands, especially since it’s next to the headphone jack (though it’s weird to have a headphone jack at all when your iPhone’s lightning cable port will always be in use while playing).
The range of the mount is also a little limited. While the box says it supports iPads, I have no earthly idea which one would fit. I have an iPad Mini and the clip does not extend nearly enough to fit it. My iPhone 12 can fit in the clip with its thin case on, but a little rubber bumper means that I wouldn’t be able to fit my phone if it were just a bit wider. If you use a thicker case, you might need to remove it before slotting it in.
I just don’t know how to justify a full recommendation no matter how many ways I slice it.
Quirks like that put a dent in the overall value, which is something RiotPWR can’t really afford to lose here. Considering how stiff the competition is, any otherwise small annoyance turns into a much bigger knock against it. On some level, I really do love the RiotPWR Xbox Edition. It’s a smart device that compliments the Xbox ecosystem well. Anyone who strictly plays console-quality games on their phone could likely benefit from it. I just don’t know how to justify a full recommendation no matter how many ways I slice it.
The RiotPWR Xbox Edition is a well-built cloud gaming controller that almost feels as good as a first-party device. It’s an excellent Game Pass companion thanks to its Xbox gamepad layout and a sturdy mobile mount. It’s just a matter of competition. It doesn’t really compete with something like the Backbone or even just a regular Xbox controller with a mount — especially due to its $70 price tag. It’s a great mobile device, just not a great mobile device for 2022.
Is there a better alternative?
Theand are pricier, but more graceful cloud devices. If you already have an Xbox controller, just get something like Otterbox’s mobile clip and save some cash.
How long will it last?
The clip itself feels sturdy, but it’s at the mercy of phone manufacturers. If the iPhone gets thicker, for instance, it might not fit down the line.
Should you buy it?
No. It’s a great device for what it is, but it’s hard to justify the purchase at this price point when there are better solutions out there.
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