Should you get a wired or wireless controller for Apple Arcade?

Posted:
in General Discussion edited December 2019
With Apple Arcade coming soon, we're checking out two controllers to see whether you should pick up the wireless SteelSeries Nimbus controller or if you should opt for the RotorRiot wired controller.

SteelSeries Nimbus next to Rotor Riot's Wired gaming controller
SteelSeries Nimbus next to Rotor Riot's Wired gaming controller

Apple's gaming service is almost here

Apple Arcade, if you're not aware is Apple's upcoming game subscription service that will introduce over 100 groundbreaking new games that are exclusive to Apple Arcade. The subscription also means there will be no ads or in-app purchases like some of the freemium games that are available on the App Store currently. Apple Arcade will also work across Apple's devices, whether it's on your iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple TV.






So with all of that being said, should you opt for a wired controller or a wireless controller? Today we're checking out two controllers we've been using the past several months, and that's the SteelSeries Nimbus, and Rotor Riot Wired Controller.

What are the differences?

One of the biggest differences between the two controllers is obviously how you connect them to a device. One being a wired connection with a Lightning cable means that the Rotor Riot controller is limited to just iOS devices that have a Lightning port. Unfortunately, the Rotor Riot doesn't have a USB-C variant that can connect to the 2018 iPad Pro line, or Apple's current MacBook lineup.

The SteelSeries Nimbus is a wireless gaming controller, perfect for all of Apple's devices. Whether you're on your iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, or a Mac, you'll be able to connect to your devices seamlessly. The controller connects via Bluetooth so you don't need to plug it into a device, and it features a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 40+ hours.

Rotor Riot Wired Controller vs SteelSeries Nimbus

The controllers themselves feel good in the hand. Both controllers feature the same control layouts except for the analog sticks, which are different for both Rotor Riot and SteelSeries.

The Rotor Riot controller is using a similar layout as the Xbox's controller with the left analog stick above the d-pad whereas the Nimbus is similar to the PlayStation 4 controller, with the analog sticks sitting side by side. We prefer the SteelSeries Nimbus's layout because it's what we've been accustomed to. However, the Rotor Riot's analog sticks click down for L3 and R3 input which the Nimbus doesn't offer.

Steelseries Nimbus is one of the best wireless controllers for iOS
Steelseries Nimbus is one of the best wireless controllers for iOS


L3 and R3 support became available after iOS 12.1 but developers, such as Epic Games who created Fortnite haven't had the chance to update their game to support this functionality just yet. Hopefully, when iOS 13 comes out, we'll start to see more developers update their game to support this functionality.

SteelSeries Nimbus connected to an iPad Pro: Playing Fortnite Season X
SteelSeries Nimbus connected to an iPad Pro: Playing Fortnite Season X


Rotor Riot controller  connected to an iPhone XS Max: Playing Asphalt 9
Rotor Riot controller connected to an iPhone XS Max: Playing Asphalt 9


Other than that, both controllers perform well on our iPhone XS and iPhone XR. When we're playing Fortnite, we didn't notice a difference in input lag or latency between the wired or wireless controller. It is nice to have the L3 and R3 option with the Rotor Riot controller in applications that support it, but you are limited to devices that have Lightning ports.

When Apple Arcade comes out this fall, you'll have access to those games on all of your Apple devices, so if you're looking for a universal controller that can connect to everything, you should pick the SteelSeries Nimbus.

When Apple announced iOS 13 earlier this year, they also opened up support for Sony's Dualshock 4 controllers and Microsoft's Wireless Xbox One controller. So if you already have these two controllers at home, you'll be able to connect these controllers to your Apple devices when Apple's new OS goes live in a couple of weeks.

Where to buy

The Rotor Riot Controller is available on Amazon, and it's only available for iOS devices with Lightning ports. The SteelSeries Nimbus is on Amazon and B&H, and it's compatible with almost all of Apple's devices, including Macs.

Spec Comparison

Rotor RiotSteelSeries Nimbus
ConnectionWired (Lightning)Wireless (Bluetooth)
Battery LifeN/A (Wired)40+ Hours
PortsLightningUSB-C
CompatibilityiPhone, and iPad (Lightning)iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad (Pro), Mac, Apple TV
L3 and R3 SupportYesNo
Price$49$49

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,720member
    When Apple announced iOS 13 earlier this year, they also opened up support for Sony's Dualshock 4 controllers and Microsoft's Wireless Xbox One controller. So if you already have these two controllers at home, you'll be able to connect these controllers to your Apple devices when Apple's new OS goes live in a couple of weeks.
    I have to disagree some here, and advise to just buy a Sony DS4 or Xbox controller and wait a bit (unless you really, really just have to get playing now). While I do like my Nimbus, it isn't a DS4 (in feel, or possibly even quality). It's hard to describe, but it just isn't quite as responsive or ranges/engagement-zones aren't as well designed as the DS4.

    So, instead of 'if you have already' I'd say you're more likely to just want to start there.
    razorpitsupadav03uraharalolliverapplesnoranges
  • Reply 2 of 18
    These look hideous! I'm gonna wait to see what titles start rolling out after iOS 13 and probably buy a PS4 controller.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 3 of 18
    robjnrobjn Posts: 263member
    It’s got to be wireless. How else would you use it with Apple TV?

    Unless you know you’ll never own and Apple TV, get a wireless controller and probably consider a PlayStation or XBox one.
  • Reply 4 of 18
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    cgWerks said:
    When Apple announced iOS 13 earlier this year, they also opened up support for Sony's Dualshock 4 controllers and Microsoft's Wireless Xbox One controller. So if you already have these two controllers at home, you'll be able to connect these controllers to your Apple devices when Apple's new OS goes live in a couple of weeks.
    I have to disagree some here, and advise to just buy a Sony DS4 or Xbox controller and wait a bit (unless you really, really just have to get playing now). While I do like my Nimbus, it isn't a DS4 (in feel, or possibly even quality). It's hard to describe, but it just isn't quite as responsive or ranges/engagement-zones aren't as well designed as the DS4.

    So, instead of 'if you have already' I'd say you're more likely to just want to start there.
    Agreed. I'm a PS4 player and plan to just repurpose a controller, with that said Xbox has routinely been praised as the standard of controllers. I think either of the two would be a better feel and function. A good follow up to this article would be to introduce these controllers to the 'AppleInsider Universe'.
    CloudTalkinlollivercgWerks
  • Reply 5 of 18
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,260member
    cgWerks said:
    When Apple announced iOS 13 earlier this year, they also opened up support for Sony's Dualshock 4 controllers and Microsoft's Wireless Xbox One controller. So if you already have these two controllers at home, you'll be able to connect these controllers to your Apple devices when Apple's new OS goes live in a couple of weeks.
    I have to disagree some here, and advise to just buy a Sony DS4 or Xbox controller and wait a bit (unless you really, really just have to get playing now). While I do like my Nimbus, it isn't a DS4 (in feel, or possibly even quality). It's hard to describe, but it just isn't quite as responsive or ranges/engagement-zones aren't as well designed as the DS4.

    So, instead of 'if you have already' I'd say you're more likely to just want to start there.
    I'm not a gamer, so my knowledge is limited.   But I thought that PS & X-Box controllers used some different type of communications protocol rather than bluetooth.   If that is correct, how would they connect to an Apple Device?
  • Reply 6 of 18
    cgWerks said:
    When Apple announced iOS 13 earlier this year, they also opened up support for Sony's Dualshock 4 controllers and Microsoft's Wireless Xbox One controller. So if you already have these two controllers at home, you'll be able to connect these controllers to your Apple devices when Apple's new OS goes live in a couple of weeks.
    I have to disagree some here, and advise to just buy a Sony DS4 or Xbox controller and wait a bit (unless you really, really just have to get playing now). While I do like my Nimbus, it isn't a DS4 (in feel, or possibly even quality). It's hard to describe, but it just isn't quite as responsive or ranges/engagement-zones aren't as well designed as the DS4.

    So, instead of 'if you have already' I'd say you're more likely to just want to start there.
    I'm not a gamer, so my knowledge is limited.   But I thought that PS & X-Box controllers used some different type of communications protocol rather than bluetooth.   If that is correct, how would they connect to an Apple Device


    Not sure if there was anything 
    proprietary about it but  iOS 13 makes them compatible. I’m using a Dualshock 4 now with iOS 13 beta on my backup iPhone 7 as well as on my Apple TV. Hooks up just as easily as any other Bluetooth device now. If your going to invest in a controller, just get a PS4 or Xbox controller. They are miles better, quality-wise, than any of these MFi controllers. The only way I’d recommend something different is if you wanted something like a Gamevice that give you that PSP/Switch type form factor. 
    edited September 2019 razorpitGeorgeBMaccgWerks
  • Reply 7 of 18
    razorpit said:
    cgWerks said:
    When Apple announced iOS 13 earlier this year, they also opened up support for Sony's Dualshock 4 controllers and Microsoft's Wireless Xbox One controller. So if you already have these two controllers at home, you'll be able to connect these controllers to your Apple devices when Apple's new OS goes live in a couple of weeks.
    I have to disagree some here, and advise to just buy a Sony DS4 or Xbox controller and wait a bit (unless you really, really just have to get playing now). While I do like my Nimbus, it isn't a DS4 (in feel, or possibly even quality). It's hard to describe, but it just isn't quite as responsive or ranges/engagement-zones aren't as well designed as the DS4.

    So, instead of 'if you have already' I'd say you're more likely to just want to start there.
    Agreed. I'm a PS4 player and plan to just repurpose a controller, with that said Xbox has routinely been praised as the standard of controllers. I think either of the two would be a better feel and function. A good follow up to this article would be to introduce these controllers to the 'AppleInsider Universe'.
    I play on both consoles.  Both controllers are great.  the XB1 controller is a bit more comfortable - especially over longer sessions.  I have no proof but I think it's because it's fatter and spreads the players hands better.  Plus the offset joysticks seem -probably in my head- to lead to less cramping.  The good thing is regardless of which you choose, you really can't go wrong.  One thing though.  I think people with smaller hands would enjoy the PS4 controller better. 
     GeorgeBMac said:
    cgWerks said:
    When Apple announced iOS 13 earlier this year, they also opened up support for Sony's Dualshock 4 controllers and Microsoft's Wireless Xbox One controller. So if you already have these two controllers at home, you'll be able to connect these controllers to your Apple devices when Apple's new OS goes live in a couple of weeks.
    I have to disagree some here, and advise to just buy a Sony DS4 or Xbox controller and wait a bit (unless you really, really just have to get playing now). While I do like my Nimbus, it isn't a DS4 (in feel, or possibly even quality). It's hard to describe, but it just isn't quite as responsive or ranges/engagement-zones aren't as well designed as the DS4.

    So, instead of 'if you have already' I'd say you're more likely to just want to start there.
    I'm not a gamer, so my knowledge is limited.   But I thought that PS & X-Box controllers used some different type of communications protocol rather than bluetooth.   If that is correct, how would they connect to an Apple Device?
    Used to.  Both are BT now.
    edited September 2019 urahararazorpitGeorgeBMacargonautcgWerks
  • Reply 8 of 18
    Since I'm already familiar with using a keyboard to play games, and I don't own a controller, will I be able to use my keyboard to play on my iMac? 
  • Reply 9 of 18
    Since I'm already familiar with using a keyboard to play games, and I don't own a controller, will I be able to use my keyboard to play on my iMac? 
    If the game dev includes a M/KB control scheme... yes.
    razorpit
  • Reply 10 of 18
    cgWerks said:
    When Apple announced iOS 13 earlier this year, they also opened up support for Sony's Dualshock 4 controllers and Microsoft's Wireless Xbox One controller. So if you already have these two controllers at home, you'll be able to connect these controllers to your Apple devices when Apple's new OS goes live in a couple of weeks.
    I have to disagree some here, and advise to just buy a Sony DS4 or Xbox controller and wait a bit (unless you really, really just have to get playing now). While I do like my Nimbus, it isn't a DS4 (in feel, or possibly even quality). It's hard to describe, but it just isn't quite as responsive or ranges/engagement-zones aren't as well designed as the DS4.

    So, instead of 'if you have already' I'd say you're more likely to just want to start there.
    Agreed. I don't own a PS but I went out and bought a DS4 as soon as I had installed the TVOS13 beta on my AppleTV. Very happy with it and it was far less expensive than the Nimbus. 
    razorpitCloudTalkinapplesnoranges
  • Reply 11 of 18
    Once Apple Arcade releases, there will be a whole wave of mounting accessories to connect the iPhone to a controller like this:
    Rotor Riot controller  connected to an iPhone XS Max: Playing Asphalt 9
    Rotor Riot controller connected to an iPhone XS Max: Playing Asphalt 9


    And just like that, Apple would have created another opportunity and market for accessory makers.

  • Reply 12 of 18
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,216member
    cgWerks said:
    When Apple announced iOS 13 earlier this year, they also opened up support for Sony's Dualshock 4 controllers and Microsoft's Wireless Xbox One controller. So if you already have these two controllers at home, you'll be able to connect these controllers to your Apple devices when Apple's new OS goes live in a couple of weeks.
    I have to disagree some here, and advise to just buy a Sony DS4 or Xbox controller and wait a bit (unless you really, really just have to get playing now). While I do like my Nimbus, it isn't a DS4 (in feel, or possibly even quality). It's hard to describe, but it just isn't quite as responsive or ranges/engagement-zones aren't as well designed as the DS4.

    So, instead of 'if you have already' I'd say you're more likely to just want to start there.
    I'm not a gamer, so my knowledge is limited.   But I thought that PS & X-Box controllers used some different type of communications protocol rather than bluetooth.   If that is correct, how would they connect to an Apple Device?
    Sony uses a different protocol for it's wireless headsets, but the controllers are definitely bluetooth.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 13 of 18
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,246member
    cgWerks said:
    When Apple announced iOS 13 earlier this year, they also opened up support for Sony's Dualshock 4 controllers and Microsoft's Wireless Xbox One controller. So if you already have these two controllers at home, you'll be able to connect these controllers to your Apple devices when Apple's new OS goes live in a couple of weeks.
    I have to disagree some here, and advise to just buy a Sony DS4 or Xbox controller and wait a bit (unless you really, really just have to get playing now). While I do like my Nimbus, it isn't a DS4 (in feel, or possibly even quality). It's hard to describe, but it just isn't quite as responsive or ranges/engagement-zones aren't as well designed as the DS4.

    So, instead of 'if you have already' I'd say you're more likely to just want to start there.
    I'm not a gamer, so my knowledge is limited.   But I thought that PS & X-Box controllers used some different type of communications protocol rather than bluetooth.   If that is correct, how would they connect to an Apple Device?
    The Playstation controller has always been Blue-Tooth since the PS3. So if you wanted to control it with a Remote, you had to get Sony's Bluetooth Remote. For things like Watching a Blue-Ray. Or there are adapters that with do IR to Bluetooth, so yo could for example use your Harmony Remote.

    The Xbox has been using a custom wireless format. But at some point for the Xbox One, Microsoft added Bluetooth so that those controllers could also work with PC's. In the past to do that, you would have to buy a PC version as that came with a small USB thing to plug into your computer so that the controller could talk to that. MS did away with that and just added Bluetooth support so it would work with PC's that way instead.

    So you can get this Xbox One controller here at Amazon for $46.99 with free Same day shipping, at least if you're a PRIME Member. That is the White version. Black is cheaper at $43.99. There are other color options for more money. It lists them as compatible with the Xbox One's and Windows 10. So they'll work with AppleTV. My Original Xbox One controllers won't. They don't have Bluetooth. https://www.amazon.com/Xbox-Wireless-Controller-White-one/dp/B01GW3H3U8/?tag=imoreb-20&ascsubtag=UUimUdUnU41279YYwYg&th=1
    GeorgeBMaccgWerks
  • Reply 14 of 18
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,260member
    jcs2305 said:
    cgWerks said:
    When Apple announced iOS 13 earlier this year, they also opened up support for Sony's Dualshock 4 controllers and Microsoft's Wireless Xbox One controller. So if you already have these two controllers at home, you'll be able to connect these controllers to your Apple devices when Apple's new OS goes live in a couple of weeks.
    I have to disagree some here, and advise to just buy a Sony DS4 or Xbox controller and wait a bit (unless you really, really just have to get playing now). While I do like my Nimbus, it isn't a DS4 (in feel, or possibly even quality). It's hard to describe, but it just isn't quite as responsive or ranges/engagement-zones aren't as well designed as the DS4.

    So, instead of 'if you have already' I'd say you're more likely to just want to start there.
    I'm not a gamer, so my knowledge is limited.   But I thought that PS & X-Box controllers used some different type of communications protocol rather than bluetooth.   If that is correct, how would they connect to an Apple Device?
    Sony uses a different protocol for it's wireless headsets, but the controllers are definitely bluetooth.
    Thanks for the clarification.
  • Reply 15 of 18
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,260member
    jbdragon said:
    cgWerks said:
    When Apple announced iOS 13 earlier this year, they also opened up support for Sony's Dualshock 4 controllers and Microsoft's Wireless Xbox One controller. So if you already have these two controllers at home, you'll be able to connect these controllers to your Apple devices when Apple's new OS goes live in a couple of weeks.
    I have to disagree some here, and advise to just buy a Sony DS4 or Xbox controller and wait a bit (unless you really, really just have to get playing now). While I do like my Nimbus, it isn't a DS4 (in feel, or possibly even quality). It's hard to describe, but it just isn't quite as responsive or ranges/engagement-zones aren't as well designed as the DS4.

    So, instead of 'if you have already' I'd say you're more likely to just want to start there.
    I'm not a gamer, so my knowledge is limited.   But I thought that PS & X-Box controllers used some different type of communications protocol rather than bluetooth.   If that is correct, how would they connect to an Apple Device?
    The Playstation controller has always been Blue-Tooth since the PS3. So if you wanted to control it with a Remote, you had to get Sony's Bluetooth Remote. For things like Watching a Blue-Ray. Or there are adapters that with do IR to Bluetooth, so yo could for example use your Harmony Remote.

    The Xbox has been using a custom wireless format. But at some point for the Xbox One, Microsoft added Bluetooth so that those controllers could also work with PC's. In the past to do that, you would have to buy a PC version as that came with a small USB thing to plug into your computer so that the controller could talk to that. MS did away with that and just added Bluetooth support so it would work with PC's that way instead.

    So you can get this Xbox One controller here at Amazon for $46.99 with free Same day shipping, at least if you're a PRIME Member. That is the White version. Black is cheaper at $43.99. There are other color options for more money. It lists them as compatible with the Xbox One's and Windows 10. So they'll work with AppleTV. My Original Xbox One controllers won't. They don't have Bluetooth. https://www.amazon.com/Xbox-Wireless-Controller-White-one/dp/B01GW3H3U8/?tag=imoreb-20&ascsubtag=UUimUdUnU41279YYwYg&th=1
    Thnaks!  That makes sense!
  • Reply 16 of 18
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,720member
    robjn said:
    It’s got to be wireless. How else would you use it with Apple TV?
    Maybe it will make a comeback, but Apple kinda botched gaming on the Apple TV. I think the controller support will more benefit people with iPads and phones.

    GeorgeBMac said:
    I'm not a gamer, so my knowledge is limited.   But I thought that PS & X-Box controllers used some different type of communications protocol rather than bluetooth.   If that is correct, how would they connect to an Apple Device?
    No, they are Bluetooth/USB devices. Apple just (purposely?) didn't support them (my guess, to push MFi). They are basically just adding some drivers, I'm pretty sure. (For example, I've been using PS3/4 controllers with my Mac via USB or Bluetooth for years.)

    What is a bit odd, at least in my experience with Sony, is how crazy responsive and stable their controllers have been via Bluetooth (especially considering we're talking what, a decade and a half, plus?). It must be just really low-level and priority support, at least compared with some other BT stuff I've used. They never seem to lag, glitch, get interfered with, etc.

    With the PS4 (and DS4 controller) you now even plug your headset right into the controller for sound and voice chat. You can even have multiple people doing that, and again, it's just rock solid.
    razorpit
  • Reply 17 of 18
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    @cgWerks I bought in to the hype when they announced games on the AppleTV. But like a lot of things they launch like this they made some key mistakes, the biggest being controller support. Requiring every game to work with that stupid little remote was a terrible idea. They should have let developers develop games which required a proper gaming controller. Like you I hope this is the beginning of something that should have happened ‘X’ years ago.
    cgWerks
  • Reply 18 of 18
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,720member
    razorpit said:
    @cgWerks I bought in to the hype when they announced games on the AppleTV. But like a lot of things they launch like this they made some key mistakes, the biggest being controller support. Requiring every game to work with that stupid little remote was a terrible idea. They should have let developers develop games which required a proper gaming controller. Like you I hope this is the beginning of something that should have happened ‘X’ years ago.
    That is the thing I've learned about Apple over the years. They do a few things really, really well. The rest they kind of half-heartedly do a 'me too' move into whatever market. I feel like, unfortunately, they are putting a bigger percentage of their products in the latter category, or into categories where there are already super-strong players where their effort is too minimal to really compete.

    Why even do something like this without setting some kind of reasonable bar? If they do want to eventually succeed, then they are also fighting re-winning those they burned in the initial efforts.
Sign In or Register to comment.