It's been awhile since I used a fight stick. As a teenager, I would venture into my nearest arcade and spend what little money I had on Dance Dance Revolution. Once my legs had turned to mush, I would hobble over to the Tekken cabinets and get annihilated by a fighting game fanatic who never seemed to leave. I enjoyed our infrequent bouts but had no interest in replicating the experience at home. Arcade sticks were fun, but not something I wanted to seriously invest in.
Now that CES is over, we can really get the new year underway. Here at Engadget, that means reviewing all of the latest tech as it becomes available, from smartphones to smart scales. At last week's Unpacked event, Samsung announced two smartphones, the Galaxy S21 and S21 Ultra, and a new set of earbuds, the Galaxy Buds Pro. We spent the past week putting them all through their paces, and for the most part, we've been impressed. We also tested and reviewed some more niche products: the Hatch Grow smart scale for infants, a moddable arcade stick from 8BitDo and a tracker from Polyend.
With a unique combination of features, a thoughtful retro design, and solid performance, all at a reasonable price, this is the best mobile controller for most people. The D-pad is all too frequently a disappointment in phone controllers, but not here. The buttons are satisfying, and the analog sticks are sensitive. I love the subtly textured back, which adds grip. There are double shoulder triggers with two clever programmable buttons around the back so you can keep your thumbs on the sticks.
Peripheral manufacturer 8BitDo is best known for making retro-inspired controllers, but for its latest act the company is doing something different. Instead of yet another Switch-focused controller, 8BitDo is releasing a new Bluetooth gamepad designed for use with Microsoft's Project xCloud game streaming service. The $45 SN30 Pro for Xbox adapts the same underlying design as the company's SN30 Pro, symmetrical analog sticks and all, but won't be out of place in your Xbox controller collection. The SN30 Pro also comes with the company's Ultimate Software, which allows you to customize button mappings, as well as adjust the sensitivity of the stick and triggers. You can also create multiple controller profiles and switch between them on the fly.
Every smartphone can double as a powerful gaming device. There's just one problem: They don't have buttons. If you're craving real buttons and triggers, you basically have two options: a wireless controller and phone clip combo, or a third-party accessory that turns your device into a Nintendo Switch clone. One name dominates the latter category: Gamevice. The California-based company wasn't the first to market, but its initial effort stood out with decent -- if not mind-blowing -- design and build quality.