Mobile gaming has evolved from a time-killing distraction into a legitimate way to enjoy AAA games on the go or while at home, even on a competitive esports level. SteelSeries has recognized that mobile gaming is here to stay and is looking to further enhance the experience with its Nimbus+ wireless gamepad. This is our review of the new Apple controller.
SteelSeries Nimbus+ Review | Made for Apple
The SteelSeries Nimbus+ is compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac, and Apple TV, and it’s listed directly on the Apple.com website. This official backing puts it high above other solutions out there that are often janky and unreliable.
In the Nimbus+ box you get a controller and a phone holder. The wireless controller is recharged using a Lightning cable, which isn’t provided, but you’ll no doubt have one lying around for your existing Apple devices. Being able to recharge the gamepad with Lightning is very convenient, when compared to having to carry around a dedicated USB-C or Micro-USB.
The pairing process is super simple, with the controller quickly syncing via Bluetooth. I switched between my iPhone 11 and iPad with ease, like you would expect from any other Bluetooth device.
SteelSeries Nimbus+ Review | The iPhone experience
The controller itself has some heft to it, helping to counterbalance the weight of the phone that can be attached to the phone mount. This lessens any hand fatigue and allowed me to game in comfort for multiple hours. It’s not just the weight of the gamepad that hints at quality, as the controller’s analog sticks and buttons feel legitimately console-like, which is fantastic to see. The thumbsticks can also be clicked in as additional inputs which is, again, console-like.
The phone mount is easy to attach and detach, with metal rods that are inserted into the gamepad. It’s clear that SteelSeries had to think a lot about how to attach the phone mount without making it a permanent addition, and the solution works well enough, provided you attach it properly.
Once the Nimbus+ has been charged up, it is rated to last for up to 50 hours. In my two weeks of testing, I haven’t been able to fully drain the battery. This thing just keeps on going and going. And, when you do need to eventually recharge, as mentioned before, it’s easily done with a Lightning cable.
SteelSeries Nimbus+ Review | It’s game time!
Of course, a mobile gamepad is only as good as the games that support it. Having a high-quality controller isn’t going to get you far if your favorite game doesn’t recognize it. Thankfully, super-popular titles like Call of Duty: Mobile and Fortnite work flawlessly with the device, and are where I spent most of my time testing.
The analog sticks, buttons, and triggers are all super responsive, clearly giving me the edge in many gunfights. Where other players were no doubt just using their fingers to navigate the battlefields in a hunched over position, I was sitting back and relaxing with the Nimbus+. With screens becoming hot over prolonged use, I often find touch controls to quickly become uncomfortable. That is one more advantage of using a controller like this.
Games on the App Store and the (awesome) Apple Arcade that feature controller support also work great with the Nimbus+. Highlights include Butter Royale, Sneaky Sasquatch, and Crossy Road Castle.
SteelSeries Nimbus+ Review | Console-like competitor
To help solidify its spot as the go-to Apple gamepad, the Nimbus+ meets Apple MFi standards for wireless connectivity and pairing, with it also taking full advantage of features available to MFi game controllers including controller-supported game discovery, optimized button mapping, and fast re-connections.
The elephant in the room for this review is Apple’s support for official Xbox One (later models) and DualShock 4 controllers, which are both good options. Of course, those don’t come with a phone mount and they are less convenient to recharge. With the SteelSeries Nimbus+ coming in at $69.99, it finds itself sat amongst those console pads, making it definitely worth considering.
For me, especially when using my iPhone 11, the SteelSeries Nimbus+ is the most convenient way to play on Apple devices so far, without suffering from any compromises. It feels like quality, is supported by a growing number of games, and allows you to get a truly console-like experience. It’s products like this that force you to take mobile gaming seriously!
Nimbus+ review unit was provided by SteelSeries.