The many ways we can play games these days is almost an embarassment. Gone are the days where you’d be tied to a console (say, an Atari or Nintendo) wired into your TV, and wired controllers. Even at-home consoles rely on wireless controllers. Mobile gaming has really taken off, though on-screen controls don’t give you quite the same feel, as well as obscuring some of your screen real estate. That’s where SteelSeries Nimbus+ comes in.
Now, to be clear, the SteelSeries Nimbus+ is intended for Apple devices. It’s certified for Apple Arcade (another sign that mobile gaming is a solid category), works out of the box with Apple devices (iPhones, iPods, Apple TV, and Macbooks) and charges up with a – what else – lightning cable. Sure, USB-C would be a bit more future-proof, but this way you’re only carrying on cable to charge your phone and controller, I suppose.
In terms of the inputs you’ve got from the SteelSeries Nimbus+, it slots right in with most other modern controllers. You’ve got the D-pad, two thumbsticks (which are clickable), four finger triggers up front, and then four buttons for your right thumb. In other words, whatever input configuration you want to setup – or a game is expecting – you’re going to be covered. For me, it almost felt like too many buttons, but perhaps that just due to the last era of console that I actually played regularly on (the PS2, for those keeping score at home).
In the hand, the SteelSeries Nimbus+ has a nice heft to it, and it fits comfortably in. All the controls and buttons are in easy reach, making things feel natural. Oh, that’s worth mentioning – there are some other buttons on the controller I didn’t mention. Those are specific for Apple devices (obviously) helping you to interact with the device without actually needing to take your hands off of the controller.
For those who are going to pair their SteelSeries Nimbus+ with an iPhone or iPad, there’s a phone holder that comes with the controller to keep the phone right where you need it. This connects to the controller with two metal rods, and gives a solid (though friction-fit) connection. For loading the phone in, the grip is spring loaded, so it can adjust to differently sized devices, whether or not you’ve got a case on your device. This is going to be your ultimate portable setup here, keeping the screen clear.
Of course, the SteelSeries Nimbus+ also works with larger devices, and I found myself testing this out the most on an iPad. I appreciate the larger screen that it affords, but it’s still a portable setup. Playing racing games felt just like it did back in my PS2 days, and it was quite a good deal of fun (now I just need to find a solid RPG to play to complete the time warp). The controller works just as you’d expect, with no lag on the inputs messing up your game. In terms of how long you can play, you should be able to get around 50 hours of playtime on a single charge, so a good long time.
While I may not have considered a stand-alone controller for iPhone/iPad gaming in the past, the SteelSeries Nimbus+ certainly makes a solid case for it. And if you’re not an Apple Arcade subscriber, no worries. The controller also works across other apps in the AppStore, and it comes with a free four months of Apple Arcade, so you can try out the offerings there before signing up for yet another monthly subscription. You can pick up the SteelSeries Nimbus+ for $69.99 directly from steelseries.com
Details from SteelSeries
- Official Apple-licensed wireless connectivity for all Apple products including iOS, iPadOS and tvOS devices
- Built-in rechargeable battery for 50 hours of gameplay on a single charge
- Compatible with Apple Arcade and thousands of titles across the App Store
- Tactile D-pad buttons, new Hall Effect magnetic triggers, and clickable L3/R3 joysticks
- Included Nimbus+ iPhone Mount so you can easily attach your iPhone to your Nimbus+
- For optimizing compatibility with all iOS devices we strongly suggest that you update the controller by downloading SteelSeries Engine