HomeGame GuidesReview: GameSir X4 Aileron, turning your phone into a handheld gaming console

Review: GameSir X4 Aileron, turning your phone into a handheld gaming console

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GameSir calls the X4 Aileron a cloud game controller”, The cloud part relating to Xbox Game Pass integration means no setup is required to use the X4A out of the box with the game library on the Game Pass platform, either via remote play or natively on Android.

I also tried with Steam Link, which allows you to play Steam games on your PC remotely, and that also worked out of the box.

Full disclosure, I’m not an avid mobile gamer, but do dabble here and there, though mostly on the remote gaming side of Steam. This is the first time that a controller that converts a phone to a handheld device is used in this way.

In the past I have used a standard wireless controller that detects via bluetooth and rests the phone on a stand. The X4A in this regard adds an extra level of convenience without the additional amount of a standalone controller to lug around.

As always, the findings in this review are entirely my own, and while GameSir sent this unit for review, no words were provided, nor was this review previewed prior to publication.

specifications

Joysticks Hall effect with anti-friction sliding rings + metal ring on each cork
triggers

Hair soft/analog operating mode

buttons Tactile micro switch operation buttons, D pad and bumpers
battery 400mAh per side
Essay Bluetooth for smartphone, 2.4GHz between each grip, USB-C for charging
platforms Humanoid
Personal customization Integrated button combinations, detailed customization via the GameSir app
vibration No
construction plastic
in the box 0.5m USB-C Cable, Small Joystick Caps, Concave Joystick Caps, Face D Pad, 2mm Thick Rubber Pads, 1mm Thick Rubber Pads, Carrying Case, Free Game Subscription Pass for one month.
Supported phone sizes Width range: 68-95 mm // Maximum thickness: 12.5 mm
Weight

188.5 grams

Tested on Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
price $99.99 / £99.99

Unboxing

The X4A comes with quite a few useful extras, two different styles of joystick caps, an alternative D-pad and sticky pads to better support your phone.

I found the pre-mounted joystick a little too slippery for my fingers, so I switched to more standard style caps. Removing the caps from each stick is easy, just pull them off. Putting the caps back on is a little more complicated I found, a little force is needed and sometimes I worried about breaking the two tabs that stick in place.

Much easier to replace the D-pad, however, it just pops up and turns on. Although I didn’t use the alternately designed D-pad because I didn’t like the way circular pads are designed like that feel.

It’s nice to see options so gamers of most tastes should be covered with a combination of these hats.

first impression

The grips lock together with magnets when not in use, and for the most part the X4A is very comfortable in the hand. The plastic housing is textured enough to feel grippy, and the thickness of the plastic is solid enough to give some confidence, even with a firm grip.

I found the placement of all buttons within easy reach, although the right joystick is positioned in such a way for my hand size that I found the corner of my palm to brush against frequently when using the ABXY buttons.

If the right stick was a little more indented, it wouldn’t be a problem. I managed to work around this, adopting a claw-style grip with my right hands, though for longer gaming sessions, it ended up having comfort issues.

To operate the X4A, the clamps must be engaged, so a phone needs to be inserted between each grip. Similarly, when a phone is removed, the X4A’s grips automatically turn off. There is a way to force power on and off as well, and that is by holding the Xbox button for 5 seconds.

Both joysticks are surrounded by LED ring effects that serve as battery level indicators, as well as other statuses. They can also be adjusted in normal use, and Gamesir states in their FAQ that:

There are 6 light effects in total that allow gamers to immerse themselves in different gaming atmospheres. By using M + Left Stick’s Left/Right, gamers can switch between the 6 RGB stick circle lighting effects. Using M + Left Stick’s Up/Down allows users to increase/decrease the brightness of the sticks’ RGB circles. Users can also customize the settings using the GameSir app.

Performence

I found no performance issues. Whether I was playing games installed on the phone, or using remote play, the X4A was quick enough to respond that my gameplay was never affected. As you can see in the GIF below, my monitor displays near-instant updates to match the game being played through the phone:

Battery life seems to be excellent too. I didn’t have a chance to move the battery after a few days of gaming on and off before adding the charge naturally out of habit anyway. For my kind of casual use. I suspect a whole week could go by on a single charge, although the case includes the cable anyway, which means I can charge from any USB source if necessary.

Joystick accuracy was also respectable, not quite as good as other controllers I’ve reviewed recently, but still low enough to not be noticeable in games.

As usual for GameSir controllers, all core features can be adjusted on board using button combinations Manual passes.

Alternatively, the GameSir mobile app lets you change them visually as well, as well as apply firmware updates.

However, I didn’t need to change anything, and there are no firmware updates at the time of writing, so I just left everything at default, and it was just fine out of the box.

Summary

Aside from the slight issue with my hand size, resulting in the right stick rubbing when reaching for the ABXY buttons depending on hand placement, the X4 Aileron is pretty good at what it’s designed to do.

However, the way each edge grips the phone could be designed a bit better, as at times I felt it wasn’t quite as secure as I would have liked. While the rubber cushions and pads were good, they don’t allow as much friction as they should to prevent movement issues during play. Maybe it’s an issue with the type of finish on the back of my phone, a Galaxy S24 Ultra, so maybe glossy back covers offer better friction/grip when the X4A is mounted.

But I think it’s a bit on the expensive side. You can buy dedicated controllers that have phone stands that attach to the top of the controller like the GameSir Cyclone Pro, or the EasySMX X10, and they cost half the price of the X4A, but are a bit bulkier as mentioned earlier.

The other problem I found is that since the USB/headphone port on the phone is now blocked, you can only play with privacy using wireless headphones attached to your phone. I think this is a missed opportunity to add a headphone jack to the X4A, or to allow the use of USB-C headphones through the Type-C port on the controller.

Having said that, it’s a unique product, there isn’t much saturation in the market with good quality controllers like this one with hall effect sticks and mechanical buttons, so naturally the prices are higher. Points have to be deducted for the missed opportunities for features that many gamers would appreciate, such as not being able to use wired headphones, or the ergonomics that mean even people like me with medium-sized hands find the right side of the controller a bit awkward to prevent accidental activation when pressing the ABXY buttons.

It’s a good controller, but with a lot of room for improvement considering how much it costs.

advantages

Licensed Xbox integration Steam Remote Play support Excellent battery life Portable performance Choice of joystick and D-pad covers

Disadvantages

The clamps don’t lock, can feel a little loose on the expensive side The right joystick gets in the way of the palm when using ABXY Can’t use the USB/headphone jack while gaming.

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