EVALUATION

Nacon MG-X Review: The Essential Controller for Android Gaming

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Nacon MG-X

8.50 / 10

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Nacon's MG-X is an excellent Android controller, turning your smartphone into a gaming console powerhouse whether you're at home or on the road.

Specifications

  • Brand: Nacon
  • Platform: Android
  • Battery: 20 hours
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
Pros

  • Easy to use and setup
  • Compatible with heaps of Android devices
  • Official Xbox license
  • Very good battery life
  • You can use it for gaming anywhere!
Cons

  • Shoulder triggers are clunky
  • Slotting phone in can be tricky – watch your fingers
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The Nacon MG-X is a compact universal Android game controller that can turn your device into a portable console, no matter where you are. With support for devices up 6.7 inches and up to 20 hours of playback on a single charge, the MG-X is the perfect travel companion for any Android gamer, turning your smartphone or tablet into a gaming platform on the go.

So, is the Nacon MG-X the portable Android controller you've been waiting for? Can it turn any Android device into a games console to match a Nintendo Switch?

Find out in our hands-on Nacon MG-X review.

Nacon MG-X Features

Cloud gaming started as a bit of a buzzword, with many users unsure about making the jump to streaming games through your internet connection. There's a lot that can go wrong, of course. But now, cloud gaming services like the Xbox Live Pass have made playing games from your PC and consoles on a portable device easier than ever.

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As such, the time is right for products like the Nacon MG-X to take center stage as part of a small gaming revolution, where gamers aren't bound just by the limitations of Google Play and the games and ports waiting there.

The Nacon MG-X supports Android devices up to 6.7 inches (running Android 6.0 or later), although you can squeeze it right out to around 6.8 inches, then squish your device into the controller. I tested the MG-X with several devices, including a Samsung Galaxy S8, OnePlus Nord, Google Pixel 2, and a Nexus 6, all of which fit comfortably, with or without a case.

Once you slot your phone in the MG-X controller, it feels fairly secure. The slider mechanism is strong enough to hold your phone in place when you turn the controller upside down and move it around a bit, but I wouldn't bank on it surviving a fall from height. On the mechanism: it really is powerful, so watch out for those with small and delicate fingers, like your kids. If you don't hold the spring mechanism in place while removing your smartphone, it can and will spring back and catch your fingers.

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The Nacon MG-X has around 20 hours of battery life, which I found fairly accurate between gaming sessions. Tracking overall time between sessions isn't easy, but I only had to charge the MG-X unit once during testing, so my general feeling is that Nacon's stated power on time is correct. Charging comes through a USB Type-C port located at the bottom of the controller.

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In terms of connectivity, the MG-X uses Bluetooth 4.2 Low Energy, which does reduce the overall power footprint of the controller. Despite using a slightly older Bluetooth standard, you don't notice any particular issues with input lag, something you might expect or experience with audio systems using the same Bluetooth standard. Adding to that, the controller connects almost instantly with your device, meaning you can turn the MG-X on, connect, and be back within a game in seconds.

Adding to the portable package is the weight of the MG-X, coming in at a lightweight 205g (7.2oz). The final operating weight will vary depending on your device, but the actual Nacon MG-X controller itself is delightfully compact, making it easy to use for a long period of gaming.

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For comparison, a Nintendo Switch weighs 300g (10.56oz) on its own, ramping up to 400g (14.08oz) with Joy-Cons. So, the Nacon MG-X plus a OnePlus Nord weigh-in for a total of 389g (13.72oz), while the MG-X plus a Google Pixel 6 will weigh 413g (14.56oz), similar to the Switch with Joy-Cons, but with a much better screen.

Nacon MG-X Joysticks, Buttons, and Shoulder Pads

The Nacon MG-X is an officially licensed Xbox product, meaning Nacon's relationship with Microsoft means that the buttons, pads, and joysticks are of really good quality, while the other features such as the Xbox Nexus button are also licensed and, therefore, look the part.

Starting with the joysticks, you'll find them positioned asymmetrically, as you would with a regular Xbox controller. In addition, each joystick is covered with soft rubber, good for grip, aiming, and swift movements. Under the left trigger, you'll also find a D-Pad, while the ABXY buttons are arranged in the standard Xbox configuration and carry the matching colors and input letters, as you would expect.

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The shoulder pads are just about okay, but definitely the MG-X's weak point. For games that require some nuance with the shoulder pads, specifically the trigger buttons, the MG-X rear pads are a weird mixture of clunky and soft and don't offer the same precision as you'll find with a proper Xbox controller.

Playing something like F1 2019 via the Xbox Gaming Pass, and you might find yourself struggling to apply throttle or brake without spinning out or destroying your tires.

With so much else on the MG-X crafted and created with skill, it does seem odd that there is one feature letting the package down.

What Games Can You Play on the Nacon MG-X?

For the best results, pair the MG-X with an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription. That way, you'll have access to any Xbox Game Pass games suitable for cloud gaming, which unlocks a substantial number of games for the PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and even original Xbox.

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Slipping my phone into the MG-X and firing up Octopath Traveller, a game I've wanted to play for a long time (but don't own a Nintendo Switch), was an excellent experience. Similarly, launching newer titles like Back 4 Blood via the Xbox Game Pass and it working seamlessly with the MG-X was another brilliant experience with the portable controller.

The range of games on offer from the Xbox Game Pass makes it the perfect companion for the Nacon MG-X, especially as all games on the platform are configured for Xbox controllers.

But, the caveat of advising the Xbox Game Pass is the cost. At the time of review, a Game Pass Ultimate subscription will set you back $15 per month. There are often sign-up deals that give you a one-month subscription for a dollar or so, but a subscription is required if you want to experience the latest and greatest games.

All is not lost, though, if you don't want the Xbox Game Pass. The Nacon MG-X works with heaps of Android native games, working perfectly once you download the app and configure the controller.

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Furthermore, the Nacon MG-X is a great option if you play emulated games on your Android device. You can easily turn your Android device into a portable PlayStation, Nintendo 64, or any number of GameBoy variants available on Google Play, adding another dimension to this portable controller.

The Nacon MG-X Is an Excellent Android Controller

For $100, the Nacon MG-X is a top-notch portable Android controller with outstanding battery life, great connectivity, and an overall comfortable approach to the format.

The grippy rubber textures on the back of the controller are great for using the MG-X when you're out and about, and the lightweight design means you can use it anywhere, anytime, without feeling encumbered.

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While some potential users might be put off by the $100 price tag, it does seem that this is the going rate for Android controllers carrying official Xbox branding. For example, the official Xbox version of the Razer Kishi retails for the same price, which makes the Nacon MG-X its direct competitor.

So, is the Nacon MG-X worth the money? As someone that doesn't own and will never buy a Nintendo Switch, yes, the MG-X is absolutely worth the money. You don't have to use the MG-X Android controller for long to realize that its potential to turn your existing device, with its powerful hardware and awesome screen, into a proper portable gaming machine, is awesome.

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