Xbox Cloud Gaming (also known as Project xCloud) has proved highly popular since it was introduced as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for Android users back in September, but if you want to really take advantage of it, you're going to need some kind of controller or controller clip for playing your games on the go.
The folks over at 8BitDo recently sent us a review unit for the new Xbox branded SN30 Pro Bluetooth Controller for Android, and after getting hands-on with it over the past couple of weeks, we're pleased to say we're finding it to be a great way to enjoy our favourite xCloud titles.
The setup process for the SN30 Pro is really simple - attach the included clip to the controller (it makes a satisfying *click*, so you know it's stable), and adjust the positioning of the holder to suit your needs. Then, it's just a case of fitting your phone to that holder, which stretches to accommodate devices of varying sizes.
There's a dedicated button on the top for pairing the controller via Bluetooth, so the process is quick and easy. And crucially, the SN30 Pro ensures your phone is locked in tight, so you needn't worry about it slipping during gameplay. Everything feels safe and secure, so you can quickly get on with enjoying your games.
You also get some extra bells and whistles, including integration of the standard Xbox Guide, Menu and View buttons which work as expected, along with the ability to change the triggers from analog inputs to digital, button mapping options and even stick sensitivity adjustment via some downloadable software. We rarely found the need to use most of these, but it's nice to have some advanced options all the same.
In terms of how the device actually performs, it certainly doesn't look like a purpose built controller for playing Xbox games at first glance due to its PlayStation style analog stick placement and fairly rigid triggers. But in practice, we never found this to be much of a hinderance due to its excellent build quality.
In particular, the two thumbsticks give off a very premium feel, and the d-pad is arguably an improvement on the standard Xbox One controller - great if you also like tinkering around with emulators like us!
As a result, playing games with the SN30 Pro feels comfortable and intuitive, ensuring that even despite its compact size, you never feel like it's putting you at a major disadvantage even in competitive multiplayer. The only real downside relates to those two triggers, which still do a commendable job but require you to stretch your fingers a little further than that of a conventional Xbox One controller.
Admittedly, we also had concerns about the weight (or lack thereof) of the SN30 Pro, which is definitely at odds with how heavy some modern phones tend to be. But again, we were pleasantly surprised by how little of an issue this proved in practice when using a somewhat chunky Samsung Galaxy S8.
There's an obvious shift in weight when you attach the phone to the clip, but even during extended play sessions, the comfort levels remain pretty consistent. This is dependent on how you hold the device and position your phone, but we never found ourselves aching or wanting to put the controller down due to the weight difference.
You'll also be pleased to know that the rechargeable battery included with the SN30 Pro is excellent, providing easily over ten hours of playtime on a single charge. There's a handy battery indicator which blinks red when you're running low, although it's easy to miss due to being placed on top of the device.
For those times when the battery does run out, 8BitDo also offers a separate, lower-priced clip alternative for your standard Xbox controller. It functions in the same way as the clip for the SN30 Pro, attaching with little effort, and comes with two swappable designs to fit different generations of Xbox controllers.
It's definitely a more natural and precise way of playing your games, but it speaks volumes that we preferred using the SN30 Pro on most occasions due to its added portability and overall ease of use.
Ultimately then, we've come away very impressed with our experiences with the 8BitDo SN30 Pro, which boasts excellent build quality and is generally very enjoyable to use for playing Xbox games on the go. It's also priced reasonably at £44.19 (the alternative Xbox Wireless Controller clip is £14.99), so if you're planning to spend a fair bit of time with Xbox Cloud Gaming over the coming weeks and months, we'd definitely recommend checking it out.
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Have you bought the SN30 Pro? Give us your impressions and feel free to ask any questions down below.