Home / Gaming / 8Bitdo SN30 Pro for Xbox Cloud Gaming on Android Review – PCMag.com

8Bitdo SN30 Pro for Xbox Cloud Gaming on Android Review – PCMag.com

8Bitdo has made several excellent gamepads that work well with phones, so it makes sense that it’s a name you should seek if you want to play games via Xbox Game Pass Ultimate’s cloud gaming feature. In fact, 8Bitdo has released a gamepad specifically for this, the SN30 Pro for Xbox Cloud Gaming on Android. This $44.99 gamepad is based on the SN30 Pro, but is designed specifically to play Xbox games on Android phones. The controller feels good and comes with a phone clip, but its small size and limited connection options prevent it from matching the SN30 Pro+ or, specifically for cloud gaming, PowerA Moga XP5-X Plus.

8Bitdo SN30 Pro for Xbox Cloud Gaming on Android front shot

Design

The SN30 Pro for Android looks downright sinister compared with the standard SN30 Pro and its various color combinations. The controller is all-black, with matching black analog sticks, direction pad, triggers, and glossy A/B/X/Y face buttons. The control layout is mostly identical to the SN30 Pro, though the face buttons are arranged Xbox-style with the A on the bottom rather than Nintendo-style with the A on the right. The system buttons are overhauled to match an Xbox controller, replacing the thin rubber Start and Select buttons with small, round Menu and View buttons, and slapping a big Xbox Guide button between them. The Guide button doesn’t light up, but an indicator light above it glows to show it’s connected to a phone. It looks like Microsoft assimilated a SNES controller.

A USB-C port sits on the top edge of the controller along with a pairing button, just like the standard SN30 Pro. The port is used for charging the controller with the included cable. According to 8Bitdo, the controller can last up to 18 hours between charges.

Phone Clip

A phone clip is included with the SN30 Pro for Android, so you can attach your phone and play Xbox Game Streaming titles. The clip is made of sturdy black plastic, with a metal back for the phone holder and metal knobs for the two adjustable hinges. It snaps securely onto the SN30 Pro and can hold phones up to 3.3 inches wide.

The SNES-style dog bone controller feels a bit small and light when using it with a large phone like my Google Pixel 3a XL. I found myself missing the heft of the Xbox Wireless Controller, or at least the much more easy-to-hold grips of the SN30 Pro+. Fortunately, the two hinges on the phone clip makes it easy to adjust where the phone sits to make it feel a bit more balanced. After some tinkering, I put the phone holder down close to the top of the controller and tilted it up slightly, which felt pretty comfortable.

Connection Options

Because it’s designed specifically for use with Android phones and the Microsoft cloud gaming service bundled with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, the SN30 Pro for Android lacks the standard SN30 Pro’s multiple connection options. Instead of holding a face button while turning it on to put it into DirectInput, XInput, Nintendo Switch, or Mac modes, the controller powers into a mobile-friendly DirectInput mode designed for use with Xbox cloud gaming.

This doesn’t mean you can’t use the controller with your PC, but you might have to wrestle with Steam compatibility modes or XInput wrappers to get it to work. I also discovered that the SN30 Pro for Android maintains a Bluetooth connection with a phone while connected to a PC via USB-C, and sends inputs to both. This gamepad is really designed to be specifically used with a compatible Android device, and anything else you can use it with is an afterthought.

8Bitdo SN30 Pro for Xbox Cloud Gaming on Android hands-on

This doesn’t mean there’s no reason to plug your controller into your PC, though. The 8Bitdo Ultimate Software lets you remap inputs and adjust analog stick and trigger sensitivity on the SN30 Pro for Android, letting you set tweaks for when you unplug it and play on your phone. It’s a nice little extra, but alternative connectivity like on the original SN30 Pro would have been a bigger benefit.

Performance

I played some games on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate’s cloud gaming feature using the SN30 Pro for Android. Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid felt very good, with responsive controls from the gamepad. Forza Horizon 4, however, felt a bit sluggish to steer, and while the L2 and R2 triggers are analog, their shorter pull made them feel less precise than the triggers on the Xbox Wireless Controller.

The SN30 Pro also works with non-Xbox Android games, if they have proper controller support. I played Asphalt 9 Legends using the gamepad, and all controls worked fine. Gamepad support on Android games can vary from game to game, though, so you can’t be certain the controller will work with everything you want to play (a standard issue with all Android controllers).

8Bitdo SN30 Pro for Xbox Cloud Gaming on Android mount

Limited Use

I really like the SN30 Pro for its combination of nostalgia and functionality, which is why I rated the original version so highly. It works with PCs, Macs, Android phones, and even the Nintendo Switch, which makes it an ideal controller for playing retro games.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and its cloud gaming feature aren’t really about retro gaming, though. They’re about Xbox games, so the SN30 Pro for Xbox Cloud Gaming on Android’s SNES-style dog bone doesn’t hit as hard. The controller’s small size makes it easily pocketable, but also harder to get a good grip when a phone is attached to it. The Xbox buttons are nice additions specifically for use with Xbox cloud gaming, and the included phone clip is useful, but they don’t make up for the lack of other connection options.

If you’re serious about cloud gaming on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, consider the PowerA Moga XP5-X Plus, which feels much more like a standard Xbox controller. Alternatively, you could simply use an existing Xbox controller and purchase a phone clip (8Bitdo sells a clip for $15).

8Bitdo SN30 Pro for Xbox Cloud Gaming on Android

The Bottom Line

The 8Bitdo SN30 Pro for Xbox Cloud Gaming on Android is designed specifically for use with an Android phone and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Unfortunately, that makes it much more limited than most other 8Bitdo controllers.

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