A while back I reviewed the SteelSeries Stratus – basically the XLs little brother which scored a disappointing 6/10 due to its £60 price tag and awkward handling. I’ve recently been testing out the XL version of the Stratus which has the same functionality as its predecessor but a completely new design.
At first glance the Stratus XL looks incredibly similar to an Xbox One controller in terms of both design and button layout, with the only difference being the D-Pad and left thumbstick placing. The controller is made from plastic but has more of a console controller build quality, the matte finish also helps with grip.
On the back of the controller, you’ll find a small removable hatch which houses two AA batteries to power the unit. SteelSeries actually include two batteries in the box so you won’t have to worry about rummaging through your draws to find any. On the front, you’ll find four LEDs which indicate the remaining battery life.
Connecting the device to your iPhone, iPod or iPad is simple and uses a Bluetooth connection. Simply find it listed within your device’s settings and the two should pair. However, this isn’t always necessary and within some games/apps you can connect straight to the Stratus without visiting the settings.
I decided to test the controller out with the popular racing game Asphalt and I was very impressed. Controlling the car was extremely easy using the external device, and I much preferred this way of playing rather than tilting my iPhone in the different directions. The buttons all had good feedback and the triggers sprung back into position without any problems.
One feature I would’ve liked to see is an iPhone clip on the controller. On similar products, you’ll find an arm which will allow you to attach your mobile device for easy viewing when gaming. The Stratus XL doesn’t have a grip of any sort and therefore you’ll have to make do with propping your phone up or lying it flat on a surface. Obviously this only applies when gaming on your iPhone/iPod and not your Mac.
The SteelSeries Stratus XL is a solid controller that feels well built and is incredibly comfortable in the hand. The button/trigger feedback is good and the analogue sticks are well placed to ensure easy reach whilst playing. For those who game a lot on their portable devices however the lack of an iPhone clip to hold your device maybe a big let down.
At the time of writing the Stratus XL costs just over £65.00 on Amazon UK. I’m still not sure if I’d want to dish out this much for an iOS controller, but it does offer a good gaming experience and improves massively on the original Stratus.