Nacon MG-X Pro Review – Handheld Happiness

It almost seems a little bizarre that you can play Xbox games on your smartphone in 2022, but here we are. Thanks to the introduction of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, it’s now possible to access Game Pass titles on your phone through the magic of cloud streaming, allowing you to play even graphically demanding games without needing to worry about your device’s horsepower. This can be a great way to enjoy some of the best games on the service without destroying your processor.

Of course, playing games without a controller is pretty gruelling, especially those that don’t have native touch support (which Xbox is expanding, but which still isn’t part of every game in the Game Pass lineup). That’s where devices like the Nacon MG-X Pro come in. This handy little controller houses your phone between its two constituent parts and allows you to play games on Game Pass without needing to grapple with fiddly touch controls.

First off, it’s worth saying that the design of the MG-X Pro is almost as baffling as it is ingenious. It’s basically an Xbox controller that’s been chopped in half to accommodate your phone. When you unbox it and attach your device, you’ll almost certainly do a double-take, as it genuinely looks like someone has simply cut an Xbox controller in two. You’ll get used to this, of course, but it can feel a little jarring at first, especially when it comes to grip.

Once you do adjust to the slightly odd stylings of the MG-X Pro, however, it’s a truly excellent smartphone controller. The fit is sturdy and secure; it managed to hold a variety of our Android devices with ease, and there’s a lip along the bottom so that even if your phone doesn’t quite match the contours, it should be completely safe. Some of the bulkier cases might give it pause, but on the whole, whether you’ve got a big case for your device or not, you should be fine here.

So, on to the actual controller itself. It connects to your device via Bluetooth, so you won’t need to worry about any finicky cable connections. We found the connection to be extremely stable; even when in an area with plenty of other devices connected, there was no wobble, allowing us to game uninterrupted for hours at a time. Of course, you’d expect that from a controller that’s right next to your phone, but it can be surprising just how many of these devices have unstable connections.

The build quality of the MG-X Pro is sturdy and satisfying. It feels weighty to hold in your hands; sometimes, non-official controllers can have a cheap, plasticky feel, but that’s not the case here. Nacon has managed to make something that genuinely feels like an official Xbox controller, even though we know it isn’t one; we constantly found ourselves thinking we were playing with a Microsoft peripheral rather than a third-party alternative, which is high praise indeed.

That premium feel does fall down slightly when it comes to the buttons themselves. The face buttons are nice and chunky, although they have a slightly excessive click to them that we would have liked to see reduced. The D-pad, which is often where controllers like this are let down, doesn’t feel great, either. It’s got a plastic feel to it that makes it less satisfying to use than it should be, especially when considering how good the controller feels overall.

Despite this slight drawback, the MG-X Pro’s triggers are nice and responsive, and the analogue sticks feel good to use as well, so we’ll forgive the D-pad transgression. You probably won’t be resorting to the D-pad much during an average play session, after all, so there’s really no need to worry about it too much. In terms of build quality, there’s very little to complain about, and even some tips we’d like to see integrated into the official Xbox controller (the face buttons are a particular highlight).

We do have a couple of gripes with Nacon’s controller, although they aren’t necessarily gripes that relate to the quality of the device itself. First and foremost, it would have been nice to see a physical connection between the controller and the phone. While we didn’t experience any dropouts during our time with the MG-X Pro, we can imagine that if the connection was just a little weaker, it would be immensely frustrating, and a USB-C connection would have fixed that. However, we suppose Nacon might think you’re still using a Micro USB phone, and this controller is compatible with those too.

There’s no power pass-through on this controller, either, which means that if your battery starts to run low, you’ll have to stop gaming in order to charge your phone. This is perhaps a bigger deal-breaker than any other issues we’ve mentioned so far. Gaming can be a hugely battery-draining pastime; your phone won’t thank you for extended gaming sessions without charging it, so you’re going to be limited to just a few hours at a time between charges. It would have been good to see some kind of charging solution implemented here.

All in all, though, we have very few complaints about the MG-X Pro. Nacon has done it again; the company has created a satisfying, clicky controller that can sometimes err on the plasticky side, but that feels weighty and chunky enough for that not to matter. If you’re looking for a Bluetooth grip controller to play your Xbox Game Pass titles on your phone with, then this will more than fit the bill.

Official: Nacon Gaming

Review sample was kindly provided by: Virtual Comms.

 

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