SteelSeries Stratus XL Hardware Review

Our Review by Rob Rich on November 21st, 2014
Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar ::
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The Stratus XL is definitely a quality controller, but it’s not the best fit for smaller devices.

Made by: SteelSeries
Price: $59.99

Hardware/iOS Integration Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Usability Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Reuse Value Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Build Quality Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar

Bottom Line: The Stratus XL is definitely a quality controller, but it’s not the best fit for smaller devices.

I’ve always been of the mindset that touch controls need to be done well for mobile games. If they rely purely on physical controllers, well, that’s just no good. That said, I can still certainly appreciate physical controllers for mobile devices.

And I have to admit, the Stratus XL is a controller I can appreciate. It’s not super-great when used with an iPhone, simply because the device is so tiny and usually lacks anything to help it stand up on its own, but functionally it’s quite nice.

Pairing the Stratus XL is as easy as it is with pretty much any other MFi controller. You just turn it on, get your iOS device to find it, and you should be good to go. Then you start up one of the hundreds of compatible games and start playing. And it does play them all quite nicely. The controls are responsive, the button placement feels right, and it’s got a nice heft to it.

The build quality is also rather impressive. Whereas other MFi controllers I’ve recently played around with felt sort of hollow and fragile, the Stratus XL feel dense and sturdy. You could probably hurt someone if you threw it at them, actually. [Note: 148Apps does not condone throwing your MFi controllers at anyone, for any reason. That’s bad form.]

The only thing that really bugs me about the Stratus XL is that thing I mentioned before about how it’s not particularly convenient to use with smaller iOS devices like the iPhone. The iPad is a great fit because you can just stand it up using one of the many iPad case options that allow for it. The iPhone, on the other hand, is just too tiny. It sort of works to place it on a desk and hunch over, with the controller in your lap and the iPhone closer to your face, but it’s awkward and uncomfortable, and it’s not particularly easy to see the screen even then.

Still, if you’ve got an iPad (newer “lightning connector” models only, unfortunately) and are in the market for an MFi controller, the Stratus XL is a very nice option. It’s well made and responsive - just not a very good fit for a smaller screen.

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