You don't hear much about Motorola, since Samsung, Google and Apple gobble up all the attention. But for a while they've been making mods for their Z series of phones. One such mod's called the Moto Gamepad - and it basically turns the one into a serviceable controller.
Available for $139 through Motorola's online store, the gamepad attaches to the contacts at the back of any Moto Z-series phone. That's why you can't just use this attachment with, say, a Samsung Galaxy or Huawei phone.
Using the contacts means you don't need a Bluetooth connection, however, which can often be laggy. And then there's the battery drain.
That's part of the reason why I like the idea of the gamepad mod so much: it comes with its own 1035 mAh battery, so you're not draining (or heating up) your phone. Motorola reckons it'll last for about 8 hours, although I'd expect half that when you start playing some of the more intensive games.
As for raw feel, it's not too bad. The analog sticks have the same edging on the outside as the Xbox One, and feel decent in the hand. The D-pad and face buttons are reasonable enough - not Elite or Switch Pro Controller level of comfort, but still pretty good. The only kicker is the left and right bumper on the top is very, very small, and the triggers on each side are a bit difficult to press.
Motorola GamePad Mod Specs
226 x 75.9 x 24.4mm
USB-C for charging, 3.5mm headphone jack
1305 mAh, 9 hours gameplay with audio out
Most mobile games shy away from bumpers and triggers, though. It's a problem you'll run into if you use your phone as an emulator.
The real kicker is the level of support. To avoid the pain of downloading apps from Google Play only to discover that your fancy $139 mod doesn't really help, Motorola have a separate launcher that will search through Google Play for compatible games.
A lot of games were the kind of free-to-play mess you'd expect, but I also spotted Minecraft and Badland. More and more traditional games are starting to pop up on Android as well that would make good use of more traditional controls.
I'd rather play Titan Quest, for instance, with a controller. Imperium Galactica was unplayable with touch controls last time I played, and emulators obviously get miles better when half the screen without controller inputs all over it.
But that only matters if you've got a Moto X phone (most in Australia don't) and you'd have to play a lot of games to justify dropping $139 on the gamepad mod. Still, if you're part of that niche audience, the gamepad mod isn't half bad at all. It's available through the Motorola website as of today.