REVIEW – Cloud gaming has given us the ability to play AAA games on our cell phones and tablets, but gaming with touch screen controls leaves a lot to be desired. The SteelSeries Stratus+ aims to solve this problem with an Android/PC gaming controller that incorporates a mount for a mobile phone, so you can take your game on the go.
What is it?
The SteelSeries Stratus+ is a twin stick gaming controller which has a removable mounting system for a mobile device. Compatible with Android devices via Bluetooth, the Stratus+ can also connect to a PC via USB. Borrowing the stick layout from a PlayStation controller, this Stratus+ has a standard layout with an 8 way D-pad, four action buttons, dual shoulder bumpers and triggers, and dual clickable thumb sticks. Dedicated back/select and forward/start buttons flank the center home button, with an LED indicator across the center at the top.
What’s in the box?
- SteelSeries Stratus+ gaming controller
- USB-A to USB-C play-and-charge cable
- Travel-Slim Phone Holder
Features and Specifications
- Android, Chromebook and PC compatibility
- Detachable phone mount
- Nvidia GeForce Now Recommended gamepad for cloud gaming
- Connectivity: Bluetooth LE v4.1, or Wired USB
- Compatibility: Android 4+ (Wireless), PC (Wired)
- Battery: Lithium-ion, 90+ hours
- Weight: 244 g
Impressions and Performance
Out of the box, the SteelSeries Stratus+ gaming controller has a good weight to it, and feels natural in the hand. The buttons are comparable with a basic Xbox controller, and don’t feel mushy as you’d sometimes experience with a third-party controller. As shown below, the size of the controller is very similar to an Xbox controller.
As expected from SteelSeries, the Stratus+ gaming controller performs on-par with the first-party mainstays. The triggers have a shorter travel than expected, and good responsiveness – a compliment to the Hall Effect magnetic sensors. From the joysticks we observe minimal dead zones. Gameplay with the Stratus+ is very fluid with no discernible lag between input and execution.
The phone mount attaches by sliding into rubber grommets affixed in the controller casing. It expands just wide enough to fit a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra as tested, but Galaxy Fold owners should look elsewhere if the mounting solution is what you’re after. Of note is that the weight of the phone causes the controller to be top heavy and tip backward when laid flat on a surface.
The phone mount of the SteelSeries Stratus+ gaming controller attaches with friction from the metal stems of the mount into rubber grommets in the top of the controller. This mounting system works, and has the advantage of not putting clips or your phone in the way of anything on the controller itself. The mount generally stays secure and in place, but if moving the controller around (such as to put it down and pick it back up) the mount can begin to wiggle free a bit.
What I like
- Build quality and performance
- Phone mount is detachable and doesn’t get in the way
- Super long battery life
What I’d change
- Phone mount could be more robust
- Broader device compatibility
Cloud gaming is becoming a more viable platform with support from Microsoft, Sony, Google, Amazon and Nvidia. Hardware agnostic access to a library of AAA games is the way of the future as the technology continues to improve. It’s easy to see the need for controllers to serve this market, and SteelSeries is up to the task with a quality product. The SteelSeries Stratus+ gaming controller is a no-brainer must-have for Android and Chromebook exclusive gamers. However, the value proposition without wider platform support from the Stratus+ falters a bit. A modern Xbox controller has Bluetooth capability and can serve the same purpose, albeit without the built in phone mount (though third party mounting options are available).