Mobile gamers looking to upgrade their ability to control in-game characters with a great mobile controller have no shortage of options to choose from. But HyperX seems to have realized one big thing missing from the market: a controller that mimics the excellent ergonomics of an Xbox controller while still having the versatility needed for a mobile controller.
That’s where the HyperX Clutch Android controller comes into play. While the best game controllers for Android all offer plenty of different ways to play and lots of different form factors, none of them are quite as close to an Xbox controller as the Clutch. For me, this means the HyperX Clutch is not only immediately comfortable but also familiar. That’s certainly not always something that can be said about other controllers, no matter what features they offer.
On top of sheer comfort, the HyperX Clutch makes it easy to switch between wired, RF, and Bluetooth modes, meaning you can quickly and easily use the same controller for your console, PC, and mobile phone with the simple flick of a switch. Folks looking for a controller that integrates their phone more like a Nintendo Switch probably should stick with something like the GameSir X2, but for folks wanting a more Xbox-like experience, the HyperX Clutch is about as good as it gets.
Price and availability
The HyperX Clutch Android controller was introduced at CES 2022 and is available at Amazon, the HyperX website, and a few other online retailers. The MSRP for the Clutch controller is $ 50.
HyperX ships the Clutch controller with a phone holder attachment and a USB RF adapter. This USB adapter can be plugged into a PC or another compatible system and used for wireless play with the Clutch controller.
What makes the HyperX Clutch so great
Folks familiar with any modern Xbox controller – by that, I mean Xbox One and newer – will feel right at home with the HyperX Clutch. The general shape and ergonomics are nearly identical to Microsoft’s excellent controller, and it always feels like a joy to use. The biggest differences you’ll notice immediately are the palm grips on each side and the elongated triggers around the back.
Those palm grips are important while using the controller with a phone attached because the weight balance becomes quite uneven. There’s not much HyperX can do about this from a controller size / shape perspective, so adding in the grips better ensures the heavier and off-balance combo doesn’t easily slip out of a player’s hands. I wonder how these will hold up over time, but, for now, they’re quite comfortable.
Those elongated triggers make it easier to press and hold for longer periods of time – think mining in Minecraft, for example – but I found they also could make it so that pressing the bumpers above takes a split second longer if your fingers naturally gravitate towards the longer portion of the trigger. Not a huge deal, but for games that use the bumper buttons a lot, you might need to regrip slightly.
All the buttons and even the D-Pad felt wonderful to use. This is a proper connected D-Pad, not one of those awful PlayStation-like separated D-Pads, so playing games that require diagonal movement with a D-Pad is quite comfortable and easy to use. Similarly, the joysticks were nice and tight and have a lovely grip texture on them. They’re slightly tighter than the Xbox’s joysticks, but I found I liked that as it gave me more control over small movements in games like Fortnite.
My absolute favorite part of the controller is the mode switch on the bottom. While it’s nice to have a phone holder that can easily dock in the slot around the top, that mode switch means switching between the function of a mobile controller and one that works perfectly with a PC is a literal flick of a switch. All you need to do is tap the home button after flicking the switch, and the controller is instantaneously transformed.
Using the included 2.4GHz RF USB adapter for controlling games on my PC in my living room was as perfect as it gets, too. I had no range issues or noticeable latency while playing any game, and that’s from a good 10ft range away from the receiver.
The phone clip itself is surprisingly versatile, as it can be used to both hold a phone while attached to the controller or folded up and used as a stand for tabletop play. Think something like a Nintendo Switch on a table with its kickstand, and you’ll get the idea.
I really liked the springs HyperX used in this clip, as well. Some phone holders are incredibly tight and slightly worrying to use sometimes – I’m looking at you, GameSir X2 – but the springs used on the HyperX Clutch were easy to open and place my phone inside. There’s also a nice arch on the inside of the holder that accommodates volume buttons, so phones with different volume rocker placements won’t see those buttons constantly pressed while in the holder.
The controller comes with a built-in 600mAh rechargeable battery and even has power LEDs right on the front, making it easy to know when your controller batteries are getting low and need a top-up. I’ve been using the controller for nearly two weeks now and have only seen that battery gauge drop down one notch (out of four), so the battery life seems to be quite excellent. It’s a simple USB Type-C port on top so most chargers should work just fine.
What could be improved
Right off the bat, my least favorite thing about the controller’s design was the brightness levels of the power LEDs. Even taking pictures in a well-lit environment shows some pretty noticeable glow from the overly bright LEDs. I’d love a way to turn these down a notch, as they really are just obnoxious.
Second to that was my inability to use a larger phone like a Galaxy Z Fold 3 with the included phone holder. While controllers like the GameSir X2 – my other personal favorite design – can stretch to accommodate larger devices like this, the HyperX Clutch is clearly made for normal phone shapes. You’ll have no problem fitting a big-screen phone like a Pixel 6 Pro or Galaxy S22 Ultra in here, but smaller tablets and larger foldables need not apply.
I’d be remiss to mention that since the included controller holder can transform into a tabletop mount, you could use these larger devices in that position. Indeed, that way worked just fine for the Fold 3 but having the phone attached to the controller is irreplaceable for proper mobile play.
The phone’s turbo and clear buttons are great for folks who like to employ more automated controls – like if your thumb is feeling mining fatigue from holding the triggers too long in Minecraft. However, I would have also liked to see a screenshot or other type of media share button somewhere on the controller. I’ve become spoiled by this option on other controllers, and it’s tough to not have it for recording great moments during a game.
Lastly, I found the hole cut into the phone attachment isn’t large enough for most of the USB Type-C cables I have in my employ. It’s possible that people using a wired setup won’t have a phone attached, but it seems like an oversight not to have made this hole slightly larger to accommodate a wider range of cable sizes and shapes.
The Razer Raiju is a bit more full-featured and even has an app that lets you customize the stick sensitivity and other options. Typically, it retails for three times the price of the HyperX Clutch, but, as of this writing, sites like Walmart and Amazon are listing it for around $ 45-50. That makes it an excellent alternative, even if it has much worse ergonomics than the HyperX Clutch.
Folks looking for a more Nintendo Switch-like experience where the phone docks between a pair of controller halves might want to check out the GameSir X2 USB-C or the Razer Kishi. Personally, I prefer GameSir’s design better because it fits my Galaxy Z Fold 3 in it nicely and makes for an amazing mobile experience. If you’ve got a more standard smartphone size or type, the Razer Kishi might offer more favorable ergonomics, though.
Should you buy the HyperX Clutch Android controller?
You should buy if …
- You love the Xbox controller’s feel.
- You want one controller for mobile, PC, or something else.
- You’re someone who plays first person shooters and needs tight joysticks.
You shouldn’t buy if …
- Rubber grips annoy you.
- You want a more Switch-like design.
The HyperX Clutch is my new favorite traditional mobile gaming controller. The Xbox-like ergonomics make it impossibly comfortable all the time, and both the excellent D-Pad design and tight joysticks make it a joy to use for a wide range of games. In fact, first-person shooter fans will find these sticks are superior to most on the market because of their feel.
While the power LEDs are annoyingly bright, and I wish there was a media share button, those small shortcomings are made up by the controller’s incredible versatility and built-in rechargeable battery. All in all, this is extremely close to an ideal Xbox-style mobile gaming controller.
If you’re looking for a controller with great Xbox controller-like ergonomics and the ability to work with a phone or a PC, HyperX Clutch is the controller for you. Wonderful button and trigger tactility meets tight joysticks, a d-pad that actually works properly, and a nice rubbery grip so your heavy phone doesn’t slip.