The GameSir X2 exists to facilitate mobile gaming. Whether we like it or not, gaming on smartphones is a major pastime for a lot of people. With the arrival of Xbox Cloud Gaming on phones, there's a market for external controllers. You can go with an Xbox or PS5 controller and a phone mount, or something more integrated like a Razer Kishi.
In fact, the Kishi is my default recommendation for people who want a controller experience on their phones. I have a USB-C Kishi and use it very frequently, despite a physical fit issue with my Pixel 6 Pro. But GameSir, another mobile gaming accessory maker, recently launched the Lightning version of its X2 controller for iPhones.
It's obviously an attempt to challenge Razer, but the GameSir X2 fails to match the Kishi. The X2 feels cheaper in many ways, such as in the button clicks and the size of the thumbsticks. And, considering that there's now a Lightning variant of the Kishi, competition for iPhone controllers is pretty fierce.
Read on for our full GameSir X2 Lightning review.
GameSir X2 Lightning review: What it gets right
The GameSir X2 looks pretty good and functions as you'd expect. My iPhone 13 Pro Max had no trouble recognizing it and accepting its input. I played through several hours of The Ascent on Xbox Game Pass and Pascal's Wager (a Souls-like for iOS) with the X2, although I had some connectivity issues.
I'll address the negatives in a bit, but the X2 feels pretty sturdy and supports passthrough charging. Some gamers might appreciate the X2's very clicky buttonsas opposed to the softer actuation on the Kishi. To me, though, the X2's buttons felt cheap.
GameSir added rubberized grips to the back of the X2, as well as where the phone sits to ensure your device doesn't slide around.
GameSir X2 Lightning review: What it gets wrong
While it gets some things right, the GameSir X2 Lightning has its faults. First, the Lightning jack feels very flimsy. It swivels on an axis to ensure easier phone installation and removal, but its lack of strength leaves me very concerned. The X2 is also not long enough to work with most iPhone 13 Pro Max cases I tried.
Granted, the Kishi doesn't work with most cases, either, but the X2 could have solved that problem. I had hoped to see this notable Kishi weakness addressed in what amounts to GameSir's attempt to replicate it.
Speaking of the iPhone 13 Pro Max, because of the X2's flat-backed, extending arm design, the phone does not sit flush in the controller. It comes down to the camera hump. The right side of the X2 has trouble gripping the top of the iPhone. This led to the controller losing its hold and the whole thing snapping closed, startling me and stressing that poor Lightning connector.
In fact, if you have an iPhone 13 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro Max, I strongly caution against the X2 Lightning for this reason. I did not think it was a good experience, and it turned me off of using the controller altogether.
Although the Razer Kishi has trouble with my Pixel 6 Pro's camera bar, the controller hasn't ever seemed like it would come loose. Furthermore, the Kishi doesn't sport a spring-loaded grip design like the X2 does.
My iPhone 13 Pro Max simply stopped recognizing the X2 sometimes, too. I'd be in the middle of a game, Game Pass or local, and the phone wouldn't register any controller inputs. I'd have to disconnect the X2 from my phone and try again. It'd work for a little while, then stop again. I encountered this problem on iOS 15.1 and iOS 15.1.1.
GameSir X2 Lightning review: Verdict
I wanted to like the X2 Lightning, but the flimsy connector and the inability to handle the iPhone 13 Pro Max's camera bump soured the experience for me. The connectivity issues also lowered my opinion, but I'm willing to give the X2 the benefit of the doubt and consider that iOS was the culprit.
As it stands, the X2 Lightning appears to be fine for phones other than the 13 Pro. I tried an iPhone 12 Pro and didn't have the fit issue, even though I still had trouble with inconsistent connectivity and the the flimsy connector. With a big phone like a Pro Max, the spring-loaded grip design concerns me a bit, as it takes some effort to install the iPhone in the controller.
The GameSir X2 Lightning isn't a bad product. In fact, I'd consider it merely average. But I would still suggest a Razer Kishi Lightning instead.