At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, SteelSeries announced that it would be launching the first-ever wireless gamepad for iOS 7. What makes a controller like this so exciting is that it can be used with any device, including iPad or iPhone, as long as it meets technical requirements and is running iOS 7 or higher.
Most game controllers that are on the market right now cater to the iPhone. Logitech’s Powershell, for example, lets you place your iPhone inside a specially designed controller. No room for upgraded phones and certainly no room for the iPad.
SteelSeries’ new Bluetooth controller, the Stratus, makes it possible for you to game on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch and keeps you connected to your Apple devices, no matter what future generation you invest in.

I recently got my hands on the controller and I can openly and honestly say that it has changed my gaming world.
Right out of the box, my first impression was, “Wow, its a lot smaller than I thought it would be.” I would have bet money that the controller would eventually cause my hands to cramp or bother my wrists. Even with the included cover that doubles as a backside gripper, I was sure the small size would have an adverse affect on my gameplay. I was wrong, but more on that later.
The package comes with the game controller, which features four shoulder buttons (L1, L2, R1, R2) four face buttons (X,Y,A,B), two analog sticks, a D-pad and pause button. The controller has a smoke colored plastic cover that can be snapped to the back and acts as a sort of extender to give the device more girth so it is easier to grip.
The package also includes a micro USB cable for charging the controller and a case to keep it from scratches.
The first thing you will want to do is plug in your controller to a USB port so it can charge up to full. If the Stratus’s battery power goes below 20 percent, the LED indicator lights on the front will flash continuously, even while you are playing the game.
After making sure your battery is full, turn the Stratus on and pair it with your iPad. Then, open an iOS 7 controller compatible game and have the time of your life.
I used the controller with a variety of different games, from role-playing adventure to fast-paced arcade. The controller worked with all compatible games without any lag issues.
When it comes to adventure games like Bastion, Oceanhorn, or Terraria, the Stratus will change how you feel about gaming on the iPad. I love playing epic dungeon crawl and adventure games on my iPad, but oftentimes, the controllers feel awkward and swiping all of the time made my arm a bit tired. Using the Stratus took me back to my roots. I grew up on consoles and with the Stratus, I feel like I’m playing console games on my iPad. It is awesome.

When it comes to fast-paced arcade style games, I was less impressed. I tested PAC-MAN and Ms. PAC-MAN, as well as R-Type II. On the Pac-Man titles, I could barely play the game. However, the virtual joystick controls for iOS PAC-MAN games are notoriously terrible, so you can chalk the poor performance up to the game, not the controller.
With R-Type II, I noticed that movement was a bit slower than it would be if I were swiping up and down with my finger. The weapons triggered just fine and I was able to move around easily with the Stratus, but finger play actually worked better. Again, I believe that this is the fault of the game. Bastion and Oceanhorn both worked seamlessly and without any slowing in movement.
Based on my experience so far, I assume that arcade game ports are not going to work particularly well with any iOS 7 game pad controllers.
One iOS device can support up to four Stratus game pads, so you can participate in living room style multi player gaming just like you would on a PlayStation or xBox console.
You can’t, however, use the Stratus while it is charging. I found that out the hard way. Luckily, the game pad is supposed to last up to 10 hours before needing to be recharged. I can’t say that I’ve experienced that. After a few days worth of gaming (maybe about seven or eight hours worth), I accidentally left the controller on and came back to find the battery dead. So, I am not able to relay my personal experience with the battery’s performance.
As I mentioned above, the controller is much smaller than I anticipated it to be. I worried that the button proximity would cause my hands to cramp or my wrists to hurt after extended periods of play. During my testing, I regularly play games for two hours per sitting and never once felt any pain from game play. In fact, my thumbs and fingers hurt more when I play games without a controller. The Stratus actually makes gaming less painful than without a controller.
It is important to note that the Stratus is ONLY compatible with the fourth-generation iPad, the iPad Air, the first-generation iPad mini, the iPad mini with Retina display, the iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c, and the iPod touch devices that are compatible with iOS 7. Check to make sure your iPad supports the controller before buying one.
What I liked: I have never had a problem adjusting to gaming on iOS devices. However, the Stratus has opened up a whole new experience for me. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to go back to boring old non-iOS 7 controller gaming again.
The set-up is incredibly easy and the device works great on hundreds of compatible games. I recommend staying away from old arcade ports until game controller coding gets a little better.
What I didn’t like: I noted a couple of issues involving pairing when I played a new game. Sometimes, I’d have to disconnect and reconnect Bluetooth when switching from one game to another. I also didn’t like not being able to use the controller while it was charging. That just cuts into precious game time. The controller cover did not fit properly. I regularly had to fiddle with it to get it to snap on correctly.
The Verdict: If you are an iOS gamer, you won’t regret this purchase. I can confidently say that I know a lot about touch screen gaming. I’ve never been bothered by it. However, after playing games with the Stratus, I realize just how much cooler games are to play with a controller than without one.

Accessory Name: SteelSeries Stratus Wireless Gaming Controller
Category: iOS 7 MFi Game Controllers
Company: SteelSeries
Price: $79.99

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