It’s far from a perfect peripheral – on the iPhone, at least – but it is a worthwhile investment for anyone who takes mobile gaming seriously.
Given the current state of the world, it’s unlikely that you’re traveling as much as you used to (if at all). But that doesn’t mean you should be any less inclined to be at your very best when gaming on a mobile device – even if you’re doing so from your couch. Available now, the Razer Kishi provides an additional layer of control when it comes to playing your favorite mobile titles. It’s far from a perfect peripheral – on the iPhone, at least – but it is definitely a worthwhile investment for anyone who takes mobile gaming seriously.
Originally unveiled at CES 2020, the Razer Kishi is the popular lifestyle brand’s most universal controller to date, with the iPhone version of the device allowing you to connect an iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, XR, XS, or XS Max. The Kishi was designed to complement mobile devices by making it compact enough to take on-the-go, while being powerful enough to make it worth bringing along. For the most part, it succeeds in what it sets out to achieve.
Upon unboxing, the Razer Kishi looks like one of those old-school handheld gaming systems from the 90s. That is, until you actually unlatch the bands that allow the Kishi to extend to the size of your phone. I used my iPhone 11 XS Max for this review, and connecting the Kishi was a breeze. Just plug the side with the lightning bolt adapter into your phone’s charging port, then stretch the elastic band to attach the other side of the controller to the top of your phone, and you’re good to go.
For the most part, the Kishi feels good in terms of its fit on the phone and position in your hands. The fit is nice and snug, which is great for the more intense moments of a game during which dealing with a flimsy controller would not be ideal. The Kishi also feels nice while holding it, feeling similar to the flatter design used on the Nintendo Switch. Personally, I use the Satisfye SwitchGrip Pro when playing my Switch in handheld mode, which makes me wonder if there was a missed opportunity to add a bit more of a grip or handle on the Kishi. This is especially true since I happen to have fairly large hands.
Ultimately, the Kishi isn’t much wider than the phone itself, meaning you’re still playing with a relatively small device. In fact, from top to bottom (and excluding the trigger buttons), the Kishi is about half an inch shorter than the Switch. You’ll likely struggle a bit if you have larger hands or long fingers. With the iPhone 11 XS Max, the elastic bands extend all the way, revealing a sharp plastic corner that holds the bands. More than once, my finger slid across the corner, and while it wasn’t sharp enough to break skin, it didn’t feel good and was enough to make me lose grip of the controller.
The buttons on the Kishi are fine, but feel a bit too loose for my liking. They don’t necessarily feel cheap, but I feel like a little tightening up – especially on the trigger buttons – would go a long way. That said, the Kishi is more than capable of providing a great experience while playing mobile games – the compatible titles on the iPhone, that is.
Since the Kishi is plug-and-play directly out of the box (a Razer Kishi app is available to keep your device up to date), I initially tried to jump into PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty: Mobile. Unfortunately, neither game was compatible with the Kishi on iOS, which was pretty disappointing – especially considering the Kishi’s compatibility on Android devices with Xbox Game Pass. Currently, it seems that Apple Arcade is the only option for iPhone users wanting to use the Kishi. Hopefully, this changes, but if you’re an avid Apple Arcade user, you’ll be quite pleased with what the Kishi has to offer.
I gave Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm a try using the Kishi, and, control-wise, it was a night and day difference from my time spent playing the game earlier this year. Oceanhorn 2’s on-screen controls were some of the best I’ve experienced on a mobile device, but with the Kishi, I felt like I had so much more control while battling enemies, especially while aiming.
I also tried out Lego Brawls, which I haven’t touched since it first released due to my lack of wins (and, apparently, overall lack of skill). Incredibly, the first game I played, I not only won, but also took the crown as MVP. This was pretty much the case for the following matches as well, and I attribute every bit of success to the Razer Kishi. I’ve admittedly never been keen on mobile on-screen controls, so the Kishi provided me with a highly-effective alternative catering to my preference for a physical controller.
While at first, I wasn’t overly impressed with the device, the Razer Kishi provided a surprisingly solid in-game controller experience. I would love to try out the Kishi on my Razer 2 mobile device, especially with the possibility of using it to play Xbox Game Pass. I hope that other games will become compatible with iOS devices besides the ones found in Apple Arcade, but for what it is, the Razer Kishi definitely comes recommended for gaming on mobile devices.
A Razer Kishi was provided to TheGamer for this review. The Kishi is available now for $99.99 at Razer.com, Apple.com, and other authorized retailers.
Sam has been writing for TheGamer since early 2018, earning the role as the Lead Features & Review Editor in 2019. The Denver, Colorado-native’s knack for writing has been a life-long endeavor. His time spent in corporate positions has helped shape the professional element of his creative writing passion and skills. Beyond writing, Sam is a lover of all things food and video games, which – especially on weekends – are generally mutually exclusive, as he streams his gameplay on Twitch (as well as TheGamer’s Facebook page) under the self-proclaimed, though well-deserved moniker of ChipotleSam. (Seriously…just ask him about his Chipotle burrito tattoo). You can find Sam on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as RealChipotleSam.
iPhone, Apple, Game controller, iOS, Razer Inc., MFi Program, Mobile phone
World news – US – Razer Kishi Review: Now You’re In Control