Nacon RIG MG-X Pro Wireless Mobile Controller Review

Nacon RIG MG-X Pro Wireless Mobile Controller Review
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Nacon RIG MG-X Pro Wireless Mobile Controller
Company: Nacon
Type: Mobile Gaming Controller
MSRP: $111.99
CGM Editors Choice

Right off the jump, let’s address the elephant in the room: The Nacon RIG MG-X Pro Wireless Mobile Controller is easily the most audacious-looking smartphone gaming grip I’ve ever encountered, and as an Xbox gamer, I LOVE to see it.

Here’s why: Up until this point, Android device owners who prefer to use the traditional offset analog stick layout made popular by Microsoft’s official line of Xbox controllers have either had to settle for a mobile clip that awkwardly bolts their smartphone directly to their Xbox controller itself or use a mobile phone grip that tends to compromise ergonomics for a more compact and portable design.

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Case in point, the MG-X Pro’s closest competitors in the market, i.e. the Razer Kishi, the Gamesir X2, and Nacon’s own first edition RIG MG-X either reduce the Xbox controller’s comfortable grips to a shallower profile that is harder to hold onto, or ditch them entirely for a flat, slippery surface. Naturally, such trade-offs in exchange for portability are understandable, as one of the main selling points of any mobile grip should be how easy and convenient it is to toss into your bag or backpack along with your phone, right? Of course, right!

It’s the MG-X Pro’s defiance of this trend however that immediately makes it stand out. Full size controller grips and face buttons. Premium finish. An identical layout and design that matches the official Xbox One and Xbox Series line of controllers. Compatibility with Android smartphones up to 6.7 inches. Simply put, the MG-X Pro only does “big”, makes no apologies for itself. It doesn’t get more OG Xbox than that!

“The Nacon RIG MG-X Pro Wireless Mobile Controller is easily the most audacious-looking smartphone gaming grip I’ve ever encountered, and as an Xbox gamer, I LOVE to see it.”

Nacon’s decision to model the MG-X Pro’s design closely after that of the Xbox controller sold me on the device immediately, despite its width being more than two standard gamepads placed side by side with my LG Velvet phone inserted. The form factor of the grip’s two halves literally looks like Nacon split an Xbox One controller down the middle, shifted the View Button to the left half, moved the Nexus (Xbox) button and Menu button to the right and called it a day.

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On closer inspection though, one will notice the inclusion of shoulder buttons and triggers that are only slightly shallower than those on a standard Xbox controller and a similar non-slip texturing all along the rear of the device, not just on the handles. The analog sticks, face buttons and D-pad are identically spaced out on their respective halves as they are on the standard controller, and aside from the circular chrome detailing on the analog stick gates and an original D-pad design, the MG-X Pro will immediately give Xbox players who behold it a comfy, familiar feeling (apart from the smartphone sitting smack dab in the middle of it of course). For an Xbox-themed grip, it just looks right, and to be honest, I can’t help but find the MG-X Pro downright attractive in that regard.

I fully expected my infatuation with the device to fall apart completely once I actually held it in my hands for the first time, but from a build standpoint, the MG-X Pro fully lives up to its “Designed for Xbox” seal of quality. The grip is weighty, feels sturdy in-hand and its spring-loaded, telescopic adjustment clamp is easy enough to pull apart yet tensile enough to securely accommodate just about any modern smartphone, provided it’s not too thick or in a bulky case.

“… from a build standpoint, the MG-X Pro fully lives up to its “Designed for Xbox” seal of quality.”

The MG-X Pro even affords users a bit of wiggle-room when it comes to that max-dimension 6.7-inch limit; my LG Velvet has a 6.8-inch screen but still fits comfortably in the grip despite having a Spigen Slim Armor case on. Even more impressively, the phone did not dislodge even after I turned the grip upside down and gave it a light shake (I, of course, did this directly above a pillow, I’m not a madman).

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Mimicking the design of an Xbox controller so faithfully in the form of a mobile grip is bound to set high expectations for comfort and ergonomics, and I’m happy to say that the MG-X Pro lives up to them. The travel distance on the shoulder buttons and triggers are close enough to feel just like the genuine article, the face buttons click firmly and spring back as they should, and the analog sticks feel identical in terms of tension and throw. The D-pad sports a different design that of the stock Xbox controller and is a tad mushier when registering cardinal directions, but it gets the job done in the end.

Just like all other grips of this type, the MG-X Pro doesn’t offer vibration, but if you have a smartphone with a powerful built-in speaker or two, some games that pack an audio punch can still provide a faux sensation of haptic feedback. Due to its full-sized handles and considerable width, the MG-X Pro is best played while seated in a chair, either propped up by one’s elbows at a table or across one’s lap. Since the weight of the inserted smartphone is distributed evenly across the device, the MG-X Pro is comfortable to hold in one’s hands and doesn’t require players to expend additional energy just to hold the screen up as one has to do with the majority of controller clip-on solutions out there.

So, how well does the MG-X Pro play games? Unsurprisingly, locally-installed titles on my Android phone like Asphalt 9: Legends, Dungeon Hunter and Modern Combat 5 all played nice with the grip and felt just as responsive as if using a physically connected controller (though it should be noted that the latter game had complete garbage controls and poor aiming sensitivity options that can’t really be blamed on the device).

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I then tested the device with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (XGPU) Cloud Streaming, which let’s be honest is the MG-X Pro’s main raison d’être. I sampled four different games, Halo: Infinite Multiplayer, Forza Horizon 5, Yakuza 5 and Octopath Traveler, first over my phone’s LTE/5G network and then over my local 350Mbps Wi-Fi connection, and overall, I was genuinely impressed by how playable the majority of those experiences turned out.

Forza Horizon 5 consistently proved to be the odd one out, thanks to a crippling input lag of up to half a second that made any sort of competent driving impossible. Aside from that, the familiar feel of the MG-X Pro’s controls allowed me to get into the groove of playing the other games in mere minutes, and in the majority of cases, I quickly forgot I was actually on my smartphone.

Finally, since I own an Xbox Series X console, I once again tested out all four games using the Remote Play feature of the Xbox App for Android, which streams installed games directly from one’s Xbox to one’s mobile device without requiring any paid membership. Over my local network, these games were even more responsive and produced smoother framerates (though Forza was still a write-off).

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Obviously, factors such as lag and input latency are ever-present realities of game streaming and are never fully under one’s control, but the important takeaway from all these tests was that when the internet behaved, and I managed to get a stable, low-latency play session going, using the MG-X Pro to play these games was virtually indistinguishable from using a standard Xbox One or Xbox Series controller in terms of feeling. That’s probably the highest form of praise that I can bestow on an accessory such as this.

Certainly, the other big selling point of the MG-X Pro has to be its “wide” (pun intended) physical compatibility with most Android devices (Android 6 or later). Ironically, this comes by virtue of the grip’s biggest weakness; the lack of a direct USB-C connection to one’s smartphone. The MG-X Pro only supports connection to Android via Bluetooth only (4.2 Low Energy or higher), which technically means users won’t be getting the lowest input latency that a direct connection would afford, nor any possibility of pass-through from the device’s own USB-C port for charging one’s phone as the Razer Kishi can.

“Certainly, the other big selling point of the MG-X Pro has to be its “wide” (pun intended) physical compatibility with most Android devices (Android 6 or later).”

But it’s the very absence of said connector that broadens the selection of devices that the MG-X Pro can work with, since the lining up of the smartphone’s USB-C port with a physical connector isn’t required. Also, like the original MG-X before it, as well as the Gamesir X2, Nacon’s latest grip features an open-top as well as a narrow “lip” at the bottom of the smartphone compartment that serves as a kind of shelf or cradle for one’s Android device. This means that while the bottom of the smartphone is always in line with the bottom of the device, the top isn’t restricted by any sort of frame and thus can support Android devices with wider or more irregular dimensions, such as the Galaxy Z Fold3.

Of course, there’s no 100% guarantee that any compatible phone will work with the MG-X Pro. For example, my previous phone, the LG G8 ThinQ, for example, would crash and shut down when connecting via Bluetooth despite being well above the minimum required specs (hence my upgrade to the LG Velvet), and there’s always a chance that some irregular, more experimental flagship phones out there might not physically fit, but all in all the MG-X Pro seems to have its bases covered.

There are a couple of small, additional cons to consider with the MG-X Pro, however. As mentioned previously, the device doesn’t support USB-C pass-through of any kind, so support for wired headsets is a no-go. This isn’t really that big of a problem, as most smartphones these days can easily handle two simultaneous Bluetooth connections to both the grip and a compatible headset. However, in the event that there is an audio delay caused by lag issues between the game and the headset (which I experienced during one of my Yakuza 5 play sessions), playing the game via your phone’s built-in speakers might be the only lag-free workaround.

“The device doesn’t support USB-C pass-through of any kind, so support for wired headsets is a no-go.”

And while the MG-X Pro has a robust battery life of 20 hours, the lack of a wired headset option ultimately means users will need to worry about having three devices charged and ready rather than just two (if they plan to game politely, that is).

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Bearing in mind that Xbox Game Pass Cloud Streaming is a perk exclusive to Ultimate tier subscribers only, it seems to me that the MG-X Pro is ideally suited to Xbox console owners who intend to invest in an XGPU subscription, are already invested in it, and/or have a sizeable library of owned digital Xbox games that the MG-X Pro can take advantage of via Xbox App Remote Play at no additional cost.  

The sheer selection of great titles on Xbox Game Pass alone, combined with the MG-X Pro’s faithful Xbox controls, the brilliant, premium screen of a flagship smartphone (not included) and a reliable high-speed internet connection, is probably the closest thing to a Nintendo Switch that Xbox gamers are ever likely to get, so why not get your mobile Xbox gaming on loud and proud?

Final Thoughts

REVIEW SCORE

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