Review: Rotor Riot RR1825A Controller
Rotor Riot has released a few controllers in the past, but the new RR1825A offers up something completely different: a wired connection. Both Rotor’s own controllers and things like the Xbox One or Xbox Series controllers worked fine before, but a Bluetooth connection can be imperfect and a wired connection is always best when it comes to avoiding input lag. If you’re in a home with a lot of Bluetooth devices, it can take a while to actually find your controller in your device settings. This isn’t a huge deal individually, but taken on the whole with every single mobile gaming session, the time wasted re-syncing devices can add up.
Rotor Riot’s newest offering keeps the familiar Xbox One-style layout, but optimizes everything for mobile usage. The controller does away with needing to worry about a controller clip by having a screw-on clip that is sturdy and has a base that screws right into the top of the controller. The base allows you to put pretty much Android phone in without a case, but it’s too small in its depth on the top and bottom to work with phone cases. Fortunately, it holds things in snugly — so even without a case on it, you don’t have to worry about the phone falling off. This is aided by a rubberized texture on the front, top and bottom of the holder as well.
The hardwired connection is something that may take some getting used to, but it’s a fantastic idea and one that allows the RR1825A to be more versatile in terms of when and where it can be used. The controller itself is also lighter due to the lack of motors, making it easier to hold in the hand. The design of the grip is also nice as it’s made of a thick, sturdy metal and acts as a counterweight for the phone. With a normal phone grip alongside an Xbox One controller, I would have to use the grip’s kickstand to hold the setup in place, but that isn’t needed here. It’s surprisingly easy to just put the controller down on a desk or table and game away.
The Xbox layout works well and when compared to an Xbox One pad, the RR1825A holds up nicely when it comes to build quality. While it’s lighter, the buttons feel sturdy and don’t feel cheap. The bumpers and triggers are also fantastic, which is something Microsoft itself has struggled with. The original Xbox One pad had horrible bumpers that could only be pressed with your hands in a single position, which was a massive step back from even how it was on the Xbox 360 where you could hit the bumpers from pretty much any angle. That kind of bumper style has been used for the RR1825A and it’s even better here than it is on the Xbox One pad, where it can still be a bit rigid from angles that aren’t right above the buttons.
The controller works fine with a lot of controller-compatible Android games and works out of the box with Game Pass Ultimate Xbox game streaming too. It also includes a download of the Ludu Mapp app that showcases a lot of native controller-supported games that are both paid and free. There are a lot of listings for games that have been delisted, but it’s nice to have something of a directory of controller-supported games if you’re looking to get older games archived online. It’s surprising how many games work with controllers given how few are truly noted on the Google Play Store as working with them, but there are big name games that do including Dead Cells, Contra Returns and even Call of Duty Mobile alongside lesser-known high-quality games like the auto-runner take on Mega Man Jump’n Shoot Attack or the isometric action game Meltdown.
The controller works flawlessly for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate streaming and this is another area where the Rotor shines brightly. There are so many kinds of games available to play on that service and they all work perfectly with the RR1825A. Going from Dodgeball Academia to Gears 5 is seamless and it works exactly like a wireless controller would — if not a bit better due to the wired connection. In going through Dead Cells via streaming, there were no issues using the d-pad to move around and button presses were 1:1 with what I expected them to be. This is fantastic because even when using controllers like the last-gen Steelseries pad that works for most Android devices, there would be issues with button mapping and input lag. That isn’t the case with the RR1825A and it makes for a better experience overall.
The d-pad works well for platformers and the analogue sticks are comfortable and have a nice rubberized texture on them. The texture is just the right mix of grippy and comfortable and shouldn’t wear off over time. In terms of feel, they’re very much akin to the Xbox 360’s with a larger surface area and the concave shape makes it easier to keep your thumbs on them at all times. The triggers are also good and playing shooters and racing games doesn’t cause any issues. With EA Play games now including a lot of classic Codemasters releases, this controller shines with all kinds of racing games — whether they’re arcade-style like Hotshot Racing or sim-style like Forza Horizon 4.
The Rotor Riot RR1825A will be launching this fall and is a fantastic controller option for those who want something wired and less weighty than a normal Xbox One pad. It’s light, but comfortable and does a fine job of balancing the weight of everything with the sturdy metal bracket to the point where unlike using an Xbox One pad, you don’t need a kickstand in order to keep it in one position. The company has a whole line of controllers as well, including some for iOS, but their USB-C Android controller option is a great choice and has become my default controller solution for mobile gaming.