On Friday we got our hands on one of the first of Apple’s new MFi game controllers for a full review of the Logitech PowerShell. Today we’re taking a look at that controller’s only real competitor: the Ace Power from Moga.
Does Moga’s controller improve on the few nitpicks we had with Logitech’s? What controller is the better buy for the $100 asking price? Head below to find out.
Moga and Logitech took slightly different approaches with their controllers and both designs come with a couple of their own trade-offs and benefits. If Logitech’s is essentially a standard Super Nintendo style controller in both design and button layout, Moga’s controller is clearly an Xbox controller clone. Moga is using Apple’s “Extended” layout, which adds dual joysticks and a second set of left and right shoulder buttons compared to the “standard” layout used on Logitech’s controller.
My first impressions of the Moga is that the whole unit felt rather cheap and plasticky, the exact opposite of the much more solid Logitech controller that sports a rubberized grip along the back of the controller. Things get a little better for the device’s rigidity after docking the iPhone in the controller, but there’s no denying the whole controller feels a little bit too much like a toy opposed to a serious game controller, especially at the $100 price point. It’s about the same length as the Logitech, but it’s much bulkier. That’s not exactly a bad thing, though, as it’s mainly because of the Xbox-style palm rests/grips that I find a little more comfortable to hold for longer periods of time compared to the SNES-style controller. However, the build-quality of the controller’s body is just about the only area Logitech has Moga beat.
Before even getting to the buttons, Moga’s design has a few other key advantages over the Logitech design. A built-in headphone jack will let you avoid that ugly blue rubber adapter used on Logitech’s, while the switch to hit the iPhone’s power button isn’t a pain to use on Moga’s. It’s also got the advantage of a spring loaded design that stretches to accommodate multiple devices. While Logitech’s has a snug, pressure fit for iPhone 5 & 5S much like your standard iPhone case, Moga’s expanding design stretches to fit an iPhone 5S, 5, 5C, and 5th gen iPod touch. That also means the whole controller contracts to a more manageable size when traveling (pictured above). Unfortunately, for every device but the iPhone 5C, you’ll have to insert finicky plastic inserts. Mine came with the iPhone 5S/5 inserts preinstalled.
BUTTONS | TRIGGERS | D-PAD
While the buttons themselves aren’t much better than what you’ll find on Logitech’s, I’m happy to report they are slightly larger and more spaced out on the Moga and didn’t rattle around as much. The d-pad too feels more substantial, but it suffers from feeling a little bit sticky and clicky rather than stiff. The shoulder buttons (especially the extra second set) feel quite stiff and springy, but it’s all not enough to hold me back from using the controller. For a while I rarely had to use the d-pad as for many games I opted for the dual analog sticks for character, menu and camera movements. But the dual joysticks are noting to brag about either– They are quite small and shallow– and for games that didn’t require the joysticks I found myself preferring the d-pad. The joysticks feel small and cheap on first impression (and they are), but its not something that really interfered with gameplay or reliable input.
Apple has for the first time introduced a standardized game controller specification alongside iOS 7 making it easier for developers to support all game controllers made for iPhone. The new framework makes it possible for developers to update their games once with support for controllers and automatically support all controllers manufacturers develop using Apple’s MFi program. But it’s up to developers to embrace Apple’s new controller program and update their games with support, and that’s the number one thing holding back both the Moga and Logitech controller.
The good news is Moga’s controller currently supports a much longer list of games compared to Logitech’s. That’s mainly thanks to the dual analog sticks (as I mentioned in my Logitech review), which allow the controllers to support newer 3D titles like Grand Theft Auto that require the joysticks to control both camera and character movement at the same time. While you can still use Logitech’s with GTA, the compromise is you’ll have to use the touch display for some functions not available on the physical controls. For at least hardcore gamers excited about finally using a real controller, that will surely take away from the experience and plain doesn’t work for some games.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT |
For people like myself that grew up gaming with physical controllers, the new MFi controllers represent a huge opportunity for gaming on iOS. Sure we’ve had game controllers before for iPhones and iPads, but it’s mostly a market that has catered to retro gamers with mostly only support for arcade-style games. In a year from now when just about every developer bakes in controller support, and some even begin developing games specifically for the controller, I predict there will be a huge ecosystem of game controllers just like with Apple’s other MFi programs. Here’s to hoping the controllers (at least the buttons) improve along the way, but until then I’ve had a great time with Moga’s new Ace Power controller.
The asking price for both Logitech’s and Moga’s new controllers is a little on the high side as far as controllers go— $100— but you’ll also get a large battery built-into both that can be switched on to get around 50-60% of your iPhone’s battery life back. For the bonus of the “extended” layout, and in my opinion a better design, the Moga gets my vote despite the Logitech’s body sporting a better overall build quality. Some comparison shots with both controllers below: