As my colleague, Jason Bouwmeester, said in his Razer Kishi for Android review: “mobile gaming is here to stay.” Mobile gaming has been surging in popularity. And a lot of that is due in part to the capabilities of smartphones. These days, the phones we have in our pockets have more than enough power to be real gaming solutions. Like its Android counterpart, the Razer Kishi for iPhone gaming control pad is part of that solution.
Jason took the Kishi for Android for a spin and found it was so good that it deserved an Editor’s Choice award. This time around, I have the Razer Kishi for iPhone, and I have to concur with Jason’s choice. The Kishi is undoubtedly worth an Editor’s Choice award.
I’ve used a few off-brand gaming control pads for the iPhone in the past, and they’ve mostly been horrible. These types of gaming control pads can be found on Amazon for US$10 to $30 reasonably quickly, but they’re mostly junk. The Razer Kishi for iPhone takes the idea and refines it and makes it feel a bit more natural in both feel and gameplay — as one would expect from a company like Razer.
The Razer Kishi for iPhone will give you that familiar feeling of sitting on your couch playing your Xbox. It’s almost perfect. It’s good enough to provide you with the experience you’ve been looking for in a mobile gaming control pad. Read on for the full review of the Razer Kishi for iPhone.
The Razer Kishi for iPhone has the following features and specifications:
- Ultra-low latency gameplay
- Clickable analog thumbsticks
- Compatible with iPhone:
- iPhone XS (Type A Grips)
- iPhone 11 Pro (Type A Grips)
- iPhone XR (Type B Grips)
- iPhone XS Max (Type B Grips)
- iPhone 11 (Type B Grips)
- iPhone 11 Pro Max (Type B Grips)
- Ergonomic design
- Two clickable analog thumbsticks, one 8-way D-pad, four face buttons, two triggers, two buttons, three function buttons, status indicator light
- Cloud gaming compatible
- Supports Lightning pass-through charging
- Requires iOS 9 or higher
- Dimensions (collapsed): 94.3 x 134.1 x 37.3mm (3.71 x 5.28 x 1.47in)
- Dimensions (expanded): 94.3 x 267.7 x 37.3mm (3.71 x 10.54 x 1.47in)
- Weight (collapsed): 160g (0.36lbs)
- Weight (expanded): 384g (0.85lbs) depends on phone model
What’s In The Box
- Razer Kishi for iPhone
- Extra bumpers to hold various iPhone models
- Product information guide and stickers
- 1-year limited warranty
When the Razer Kishi for iPhone is in the collapsed position. It looks nearly identical to an Xbox controller, and that’s on purpose. This look is something many users are used to, and it gives you a good feeling of familiarity.
The build quality is much better than most cheap Amazon controllers I’ve used in the past. While the Kishi is all plastic, it does feel sturdy and well made from solid materials. For the rest of the description, I’m going to quote Jason’s review, which you can read here, with a few modifications due to this being an iPhone and not Android.
The left side has a clickable analog thumbstick on the upper left with a plus-style eight-way directional pad (D-pad) below it. Towards the right of these is an options button between the two and a home button towards the bottom.
The right side of the controller features four colored buttons in the upper right marked X, A, B, Y. Interestingly enough, even though they are marked with Xbox-style letters, the colors don’t match those on the Xbox controller. Personally, I’m glad Razer went with the Xbox-style layout on the Kishi, it was one of my minor complaints about the Razer Junglecat. Then again, the button and thumbstick layout is totally a preference thing.
Below the button array is your right clickable thumbstick. A menu button sits below the lower left of the thumbstick. On the far right is an LED status indicator. In addition, the right side also has two small oblong oval cutouts on the left side. These ports allow the sound from your smartphone’s bottom speakers to leak through. It also has a Lightning passthrough port on the underside for charging your smartphone.
Looking at the top of the controller, you’ll find two shoulder and two trigger buttons. These are marked R1/L1 and R2/L2 respectively. On the back of the controller is a rectangular retaining plate with the Razer snake logo on it. Above and below the retaining plate are two release latches. When these latches are pulled away from the center, they release the plate, allowing you to expand the controller.
When you expand the controller, you’ll notice each controller side is attached to the retaining plate with an expandable band. The backside of each controller has a piece that juts out a bit. On the right side, it’s the top half, on the left it’s the bottom half. These pieces help hold your phone as well as fit together when the grip is collapsed. Each side has a recessed cavity with a rubber insert that grip your phone when inserted. In addition, the right-hand side has a Lightning connector centered in the recessed cavity. The back of the retaining plate (the side that goes against your iPhone) has four plastic pins of sorts that rest against your phone when it is in use.From our Razer Kishi for Android review.
I tested the Razer Kishi for iPhone with my iPhone 11 Pro Max, which uses the pre-installed grips. The phone slips in just fine, and the grips are an excellent soft material that isn’t supposed to scratch your screen. I did feel a little bit of play when you pull the controller grips towards you, but that’s not a massive deal as during gameplay that rarely, if ever, happens.
As for comfort, the Razer Kishi for iPhone feels nice in hand. Not exactly like an Xbox controller but better than other gaming control pads. I do wish the triggers were slightly more prominent. I have relatively large hands, and I felt I needed some more support in that area. Not a huge deal, and I am sure Razer wanted to keep things as slim as possible for portability.
Overall, the design is excellent. It’s familiar, and you can fall right into using it without too much effort. It has a reliable build quality, it’s super portable, but I do wish the trigger area was just a bit thicker for larger hands.
Ease of Use
OMG, this is super simple to use. No Bluetooth required as the Razer Kishi for iPhone uses the Lightning port for data transmission. No need for charging, but it does have Lightning port charging passthrough in case you want to charge your iPhone while using the controller.
To use the Razer Kishi, just insert your iPhone Lightning port end first and pull the other end over and slide that end on the top of the iPhone. Voila! You’re in the game!
To remove the Razer Kishi for iPhone, complete those steps in reverse order and then snap the controller closed. On that note, it is worth checking out Razer’s instruction on how to collapse this gaming controller. It’s sort of finicky at first and takes a bit of practice to get it right. After all, you don’t want to go breaking it.
Overall, this is dead simple to use with a small learning curve on collapsing it down.
There’s not much to say about the Razer Kishi for iPhone app. Unlike the Android version, the iOS version will only perform firmware updates. There’s not a way to download games or anything from it. Still, I do like that they provided the app to do this rather than making you plug your phone into a computer for updates. So kudos for forward-thinking.
Razer Kishi for iPhone Gallery
I’ll echo Jason once again, “performance is key when gaming with a controller, whether on a console, computer, or mobile device.” Latency can be a big problem with a lot of those cheap controllers that use Bluetooth. With a direct connection to the iPhone, I experienced no latency that I could detect.
All of the games I tested were from Apple Arcade, and most of them worked just fine. Some titles still do not support gaming controller pads like the Kishi, so you’ll have to test it out as you go. Some portrait games do work with the controller, but the controls are a bit strange, so I don’t recommend portrait titles. Also, some games support gaming controllers, but not every function is useable, and I had to tap the screen for specific menus or choices in some cases.
Here are just a few titles I played using the Razer Kishi for iPhone:
- Sneaky Sasquatch
- Punch Planet
- Sonic Racing
- LEGO Brawls
- Skate City
- Oceanhorn 2
- Agent Intercept
- Patty Pursuit
- GRID Autosport
- Ballistic Baseball
- Horizon Chase
As for battery life, the Razer Kishi for iPhone doesn’t add any extra drain on your battery. So you’ll see the same battery life as before when playing games on your iPhone. It does have the Lightning port on the bottom right side, which will charge your iPhone as you play.
Overall, the performance of the Razer Kishi for iPhone is by far the best performance I’ve experienced on a gaming controller pad for my iPhone. Add the fact that it doesn’t need to be charged or use Bluetooth, and the Razer Kishi is the best performing mobile gaming controller on the market right now.
The Razer Kishi for iPhone is priced at US$99.99, which is US$20 more than the Android version, that Apple Tax is real! While you can use an Xbox controller, the Kishi offers some distinct advantages. It never needs charging, it’s super small and portable, and there is no lag at all.
If you’re looking for a portable, lag-free, well-built, and no batteries needed mobile gaming controller, look no further. The Razer Kishi for iPhone is currently the best choice on the market…period.
Our review of the Android version echoes what this review has to say. The Razer Kishi for iPhone joins its brother in winning a Techaeris Editor’s Choice award.
Now, enough reading and go order your damn Razer Kishi straight away!
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Last Updated on February 3, 2021.
Razer Kishi for iPhoneUS$99.99
- Familiar design, easy to get used to
- No latency that I could detect
- Lightning port for charging iPhone while playing
- Performs well with great tactile feedback
- Has two different bumpers to fit most iPhones
- Nice that you can update firmware with the app and not worry about plugging into a computer
- Takes a bit of work at first to open and collapse it properly
- Can't use cases with it
- I wish the triggers were a bit bigger for better hand comfort