The most adaptable controller we’ve ever used, the PowerA Moga XP-Ultra really is a jack of all trades – but you know how that saying ends.
Picking the perfect PC controller isn’t as easy as it once was, but the PowerA Moga XP-Ultra Wireless Controller is an attempt to solve a very modern problem.
Back in the day, you might have two different gaming systems – usually a PC and a console. Microsoft made this one easy to solve, as the best Xbox controllers are cross-compatible with PCs. But what about a pad that also works with the cloud? Your phone? Your smart TV?
The PowerA Moga XP-Ultra Wireless Controller promises to be the one best PC controller pad to rule them all. In theory, you can start playing on your console, go from the couch to the cloud by picking up on your phone, then get to someone else’s house and resume playing on a PC or even a compatible smart TV.
It’s a controller built for all eventualities, then – something that is echoed by its modular design. The pad includes an attachable phone mount, turning your handset into a handheld, and it also features detachable grips, reducing the footprint for playing on the go or giving you an option if you prefer the size of old-school controllers.
- Multi-platform versatility
- Mappable gaming buttons
- Battery level indicator
- Buttons lack travel
- Slightly awkward layout
- Slow to start after waking
These are the Moga XP-Ultra wireless controller specs:
|Wireless, USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack
|PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows 10/11, Android Mobile
|Integrated 2000mAh, 60 hours (40 hours Bluetooth)
|6.3 x 2.24 x 4.33 inches
While the XP-Ultra is far from the cheapest controller around you certainly can’t fault its feature set. Chief among them is its cross-platform compatibility (being “the first licensed wireless controller for Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One,” according to PowerA), enabling it to be used on Xbox, PC, Android, and compatible smart TVs. To this end, it also includes a one-month trial to Game Pass Ultimate.
Versatility really is the XP-Ultra’s calling card, as it can be physically configured in four different ways. Firstly, you can mount or dismount the included Gaming Clip that makes it possible to attach your phone (for handheld cloud gaming or, if you’re feeling frisky, some in-your-face streaming).
You can also remove the hand grip – the “handles” of the controller that sit in your palms – for a handling experience more like 16-bit controllers found on the SNES and Genesis. You’ll still retain rumble features either way, as dual rumble motors are present in both the grip section and the mini-pad.
The grip also possesses a pair of mappable buttons, AGL and AGR, situated on the rear where they can be activated by your middle or ring fingers. The main pad, meanwhile, includes a Share button as well as a battery status button – the latter with four LEDs so you can instantly see how much juice is left in your pad so you’re never caught short mid-game.
High praise has to go to the overall modularity of this controller. A lot of thought has gone into the design and, overall, the thought has been good. We love the fact that you can shrink the pad down for different use cases, especially since you don’t lose rumble when you do so.
The XP-Ultra feels satisfyingly chunky without straying into Duke territory, though it definitely packs more heft than a standard Xbox pad. And while most inputs are where you’d expect them on a Microsoft pad, the View and Menu buttons are placed abnormally high while the Xbox button is unusually low (in fact, their relative positions are effectively swapped).
The top of the analog sticks are pleasingly deep and textured, and the plate-like D-Pad is flatter and more input-accurate. However, like all the inputs on the controller, it has much less travel – which, depending on what you’re pressing and what you’re playing, can drastically affect things both positively and negatively (more on this below).
The Gaming Clip to mount your phone is very sturdy, unlike some of the cheaper and flimsier accessories you find on third-party controllers, and happily sits a smartphone without fear of anything coming loose. Obviously, this top-heaviness will affect the balance, but you can angle your phone to minimize this.
If you want a controller that duplicates the experience of a first-party pad, this isn’t it. The XP-Ultra does some things that we wish Microsoft pads could do but also does others that we’re glad they don’t.
Being able to detach the grip and play with the smaller mini-pad seems and feels strange at first, but can come into its own depending on what you’re using the controller for. Kids with smaller hands, for example, may get on great with the mini-pad. And anyone who grew up using NES or SNES controllers will feel right at home after a half hour or so. And if you’re someone who often uses the Xbox controller as a remote for things like Netflix, you’ll be glad for a flatter device that doesn’t slip and nudge the shoulder buttons while you’re watching something.
At the same time, the Xbox controller is regarded as the greatest of all time because the ergonomics are near-perfect. So removing the grip feels really weird. And no matter how used to playing without them you get, at some point (usually when you miss a buzzer beater in NBA 2K or a headshot in Halo) you can’t help but feel it’s because your hands were making micro-adjustments for the grip not being where it’s supposed to be.
The D-Pad is awesome for some things, and awful for others. As big Tetris fans, this is our go-to controller for Tetris Effect because it is very honest – no accidental diagonal slides here. However, the lack of travel makes it feel too stiff for pretty much anything else – and that lack of travel is mirrored in the analog sticks and face buttons, making subtle inputs feel very different than they do on standard pads.
The inverted placement of the View / Menu and Xbox buttons is a real head-scratcher, too. While we’re glad that there’s no giant glowing “X” blinding us when we play in the dark (replaced by a small, separate LED to indicate connection), the number of times we hit the Share button and took a screenshot instead of going home was a little annoying. As was lifting a thumb to jump into a menu and losing precious moments while having to search for it.
A minor frustration we noticed is that it takes about two seconds after the controller wakes up and connects (with a solid LED indicating a handshake) for inputs to actually register. This is particularly noticeable using apps like YouTube when your pad has gone to sleep and you try to wake it up before the next video auto-plays!
• Yes: If you want a controller that works across different platforms
• Yes: If you want a wireless controller with a long battery life
• No: The controls aren’t as seamless as with the official Xbox controller
We really like the modularity offered by the XP-Ultra. Playing retro games with the mini-pad is a blast, and having a sturdy way to mount a phone for cloud gaming (or even watching a TV show while playing something slow) is brilliant. The battery life is great and, for some games, we love the D-Pad.
For others, however, the D-Pad is a pain – and between the lack of travel and the unnatural positioning of secondary buttons, this is a controller that will take your hands a little time to adapt to. When they do, this is a very powerful and versatile pad – but it never feels quite as good as a first-party one.
Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2
The Elite has always been the daddy of Xbox controllers. It’s expensive but, for ultimate customizability and the best feel in the business, it can’t be beat.
PowerA Spectra Infinity Enhanced Wired Controller
If you couldn’t care less about wireless use, phones, or smart TVs, the Infinity is the most affordable pad around – and a good alternative to the official Xbox version.