Gone are the days of Flappy Bird. Tap, tap, tapping the pads of your fingers against the smartphone glass may feel insufficient when fighting to win a round of Fortnite. With the introduction of iOS 16, anyone with a compatible iPhone has one more option for gaming controllers: Nintendo’s Joy-Cons.
Yes, you could already link up an Xbox or PlayStation controller to an iPhone, but the compact size of the Switch’s controllers makes them perfect for slipping into a coat pocket or purse, despite their faults. Whether you’re hooked on Splatoon 3 or your Switch is packed away in a closet until Link is ready for another adventure, here’s how to connect Joy-Cons to your Apple device. Not sure which mobile game to try out first with a controller? We rounded up a handful of worthwhile recommendations.
How to Pair Your Joy-Cons
- Double-check that your iPhone is updated to (and compatible with) at least iOS 16 before trying to connect the Joy-Cons. iPads should be updated to at least iPadOS 16.
- Unlock your Apple device. Tap on Settings, then Bluetooth. The top button on this page needs to be toggled to the right in order to pair a controller.
- Locate your Switch, and remove the two controllers from the console’s screen display.
- On your right Joy-Con, press the small, in-laid button located between SL and SR. A green light will begin to bounce back and forth nearby.
- When you see the green light, Joy-Con (R) should appear on your phone’s Bluetooth tab under devices. Tap on the name to connect the controller to your iPhone.
- Want to connect both controllers? Repeat the process by pressing the same in-laid button on the left Joy-Con, opening your phone’s Bluetooth tab, and choosing Joy-Con (L).
What Games Should I Play?
The simple part is over. Now, for the real conundrum: choosing the best games to play first. Let’s begin our journey with a stroll outside of the walled garden for a quick battle royale. Although Fortnite no longer drives the cultural conversation as it did a few years ago, the game is worth checking out in 2022. You’ll find a new gameplay mode without building and a jaw-dropping smorgasbord of IP collaborations (like Lebron James, John Wick, and Goku).
The process takes about 15 minutes to set up on your smartphone, but Fortnite is a great showcase of what’s possible for mobile games with a controller. First, open your browser and visit xbox.com/play. Tap on the Fortnite icon, then choose Get Ready to Play. A pop-up will prompt you to tap on the small icon of a box with an arrow pointing up. Scroll up and choose Add to Home Screen. A green Cloud Gaming app should appear on your iPhone.
A strong Wi-Fi connection is necessary for cloud gaming to work well. Open the app and you will need to log in or sign up for a free account with Microsoft. After logging in, put your phone into its landscape orientation, and tap again on the Fortnite icon to launch the game. Never played Fortnite? You’ll also need an Epic account. I played a few rounds without any issues even though Joy-Cons are not listed as an officially supported controller for Xbox Cloud Gaming.
Looking for something a little more cozy and laid-back? Stardew Valley is available to purchase in the iOS store for $5 and includes controller support. The adorable farming simulator with a cult following works well on mobile.
Do you have an Apple One subscription? Your monthly payment includes Apple Arcade. Go ahead and open the app store, and tap on the tab along the bottom that reads Arcade. Games like Sonic Racing, NBA 2K23 Arcade Edition, and Mini Motorways are all compatible with controllers.