Mobile gaming never really resonated with me, but I gave it a try once some remakes and enhanced versions of classic games I used to play (like the Final Fantasy series) started making appearances in the Play Store. Even still, the “stick” control was still based on the touchscreen and after a while that kind of got boring. I could add a controller, but then I’d need a stand for the phone. I could get one of those connectors, but that’s still a bulky solution. Every single one of these issues was solved thanks to Razer’s Kishi controller. We took the Android version for a test run.
Available in two versions ($79.99 base, $99.99 Xbox edition), the Kishi is a flexible controller that your mobile device is inserted into, kind of turning whatever you have into something that has the feel of a Nintendo Switch for lack of a better comparison. It’s self contained and doesn’t require any additional power to get you up and running, and feels very comfortable even with its compact size. So far it’s worked with most of the games that are played landscape mode that I’ve tried from the Play Store which is great, but that’s the “basic level” use for this controller. The real value of the Kishi is the ease with which you can turn your mobile device into a portable console. The Kishi supports xCloud in the form of Xbox Cloud Gaming, which means that you can play Xbox games on your Android, provided you have a subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate ($14.99/month). And It’s nice to be able to do so without having to carry around an Xbox controller.
Now in my case, since I consider PS5 scalpers criminals and have plenty of games in my PS4 library, I put my Kishi and Note 9 to work for PS4 remote play.
***DISCLAIMER HERE FOR PS4 REMOTE PLAY – YOU WILL HAVE TO BUY A $5 APP TO MAKE THIS WORK.***
Sony, unsurprisingly, is quite stingy with their native Remote Play app, which will not work with anything other than a DualShock 4 controller or with touch control, which is impossible to play with. This made me quite upset, since that’s the real meat of functionality I was looking forward to. This is easily solved using an app called PSPlay by Florian Grill which Technical Fowl recommends for this function. It’s not perfect but it’s pretty damn close. If it cleanly and effectively allowed the owning of Mongols in Ghost of Tsushima and lurking in the shadows in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, then I’m comfortable calling that a win. The PSPlay app should also as far as I know work for PS5, and the Kishi should work for the most part, but I’m going to have to call that conjecture since I don’t have the means to give it a try.
Another plus is that as opposed to a bluetooth-connected controller, the Kishi is directly connected via USB-C, so there’s far less latency than over wireless. While playing there was no noticeable lag while issuing my button presses, for not only the aforementioned action/adventure games, but for fighters like Dead or Alive 6 where timing is pretty crucial for counters and holds.
Now, I’d like to make something clear for everyone reading this on the difference between xCloud and PS4 remote play. xCloud is Microsoft’s tech for cloud-based gaming to provide you with game access through Game Pass Ultimate. The PSPlay app and/or Sony’s Remote Play are you streaming from your physical console.
Just figured there’d be some questions.
Design and Compatibility
While collapsed, the Kishi is nice and compact, making it easy to throw into a bag and bring with you on the road. At 3.71″ x 5.28″ x 1.47″ and 163g, it’s lighter and smaller than a console controller by a good bit. Unhook the snaps on the plate in the back and it unfolds with an elastic middle, allowing use with a number of mobile devices connecting through USB-C. The elastic stretches, hugging both sides of your mobile device nice and tightly. It doesn’t wiggle either – it’s tough to “accidentally” snap it off so you don’t have to worry about losing the controller mid gaming. The button layout should feel familiar to anyone that has done any gaming in the modern era – meaning two clickable thumbsticks, a 4-way D-pad on the left, four buttons in a diamond configuration on the right, and four shoulder buttons, two on each side.
The only mild departure from the base Android edition is on the Android Xbox edition, with the only difference being that your buttons will look like the ones on your Xbox Series X|S controller. As far as what is supported, Razer’s official list for the Android edition is:
- Samsung: S8/8+, S9/9+, S10/10+, S20/20+, Note 8/9/10/10+
- Google: Pixel 2/2XL, 3/3XL, 4/4XL
- Razer: Razer Phone 1, 2 (requires inserts)
- Other: Most devices within the supported dimensions of 145.3 – 163.7 mm x 68.2 – 78.1 mm x 7.0 – 8.8 mm
While some newer Android flagships aren’t listed on the official support list, this has been documented unofficially to work on a Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra from Samsung, as well as newer OnePlus devices.
Since gaming with a USB-C controller is going to drain your battery a bit quicker than resting it on your coffee table, the Kishi includes a USB-C port on the outside with pass-through charging, so you don’t have to stop playing to charge. This is a pass-through charge port only though. This means that combined with no 3.5 jack, if you don’t want your audio to be blasting into the ears of those around you, you will need a Bluetooth audio solution – be it earbuds or a headset.
I myself am equipped with a Samsung Galaxy Note 9, so the Kishi fit my device nice and snugly with no issues. I paired it with with Audio-Technica’s ATH-CK3TW true wireless earbuds to create a portable console for myself.
Razer’s Kishi is the best solution I’ve seen for bringing controller capability to your mobile device. Without needing frames, hinges, or full size controllers, it hugs your phone to give you modern console control with low latency. Razer absolutely drilled it with this product, not only handling anything developed for Android on the Play Store, but adding tremendous value to Xbox’s Game Pass Ultimate subscription, as well as Remote Play for your PS4 console. It’ll do your remakes, your ports, dare I say… your classic emulators? While it might be a bit high on the price side, starting at $79.99 for the base edition, we feel it adds ease of use and value beyond the price of the unit.
It should also be noted that if you’re knee deep in the Apple ecosystem, Razer does also sell a version of the Kishi for iPhone.
You can pick one up from Razer here, or at most tech and game retailers.