Casual games like Angry Birds and Where's my Water? are fun and work well on smart phones and tablets. But more complex games (such as Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour) that we used to see only on larger platforms are also being released for mobile devices, and touch-screen controls aren't really adequate for playing those games. The Moga Mobile Gaming Controller for Android (version 2.3 and up), is a fine solution to that problem.
Design. The Moga ($50), which runs on AAA batteries, looks much like an Xbox 360 controller, albeit a small one. It's very light and comfortable to hold for most, though those with larger hands may find it a bit cramped [edited 1/25]. At the center of the controller is an extendable arm that flips open to hold a smart phone (not a tablet) in place. I tried it with several phones, and they all fit snugly.
On the front of the device are two joystick-like slider pads [edited 1/25], four face buttons, Start and Select buttons, and a Sync button (for pairing the devices0; on the back of the Moga are two trigger buttons. All the buttons felt very responsive and worked well during game-play.
Highs. The Moga's solid design is a big plus, as is the simplicity of setup. It requires the Moga Pivot app, which is available for free download at the Google Play app store. Once it is installed on your mobile device, the app walks you step by step through the syncing the Moga with your phone via Bluetooth and setting it up to play. The Moga Pivot app also handily organizes the games that the controller is compatible with and directs you to where they are available for download. A storage pouch is included in the package, too.
Lows. The beauty of mobile gaming is that you can do it anywhere—but the Moga controller is another device that you'll need to carry. It's light, though, and fits into a pocket with no problem (providing you have a spare pocket!).
Bottom line. The Moga is a great portable controller for Android smart phones and tablets. Anyone who plays complex games on their mobile device should give it a try: It's a big step up from touch-screen controls.
For more information on gaming hardware, check our Video games, consoles, & tech toys page.