How to connect a PS4 or Xbox game controller to your iPhone or iPad

If you’re into mobile gaming, then iOS is the place to be. Between the long list of great iPhone games and the best Apple Arcade games, there’s plenty to keep you entertained. While many titles are designed especially for a touchscreen, others are awkward to tap and swipe your way through, but the good news is that you can hook up a game controller to your iPhone or iPad quite easily. Apple added this option in iOS 13, just in time for the launch of its subscription games service, Apple Arcade.

If you’re playing something like Fortnite or Cat Quest 2 on an iPad, a controller really makes things easier. You can add a PS4 DualShock 4 controller or an Xbox One S (or newer) controller surprisingly easily. And you can add them, not just to iPhones and iPads, but also to an iPod Touch or Apple TV. Here’s how:

How to add a PS4 controller to an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Apple TV

Simon Hill / Digital Trends

Here are the steps for connecting a PS4 Dualshock controller to your iPad or other iOS device.

Grab your PS4 controller and press and hold the PS button and the Share button together for a few seconds until the light on the controller flashes white rapidly. This means it’s in pairing mode.
Now you can open Settings > Bluetooth on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch and make sure that Bluetooth is toggled on. If you’re pairing with an Apple TV go to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Bluetooth.
Look for DUALSHOCK 4 Wireless Controller in the list of devices and tap on it to pair.

That’s it, you can start gaming with your PS4 controller. Note that most games will default to touch controls, but you can usually find the option to play with a controller via the in-game settings.

If you want to disconnect the controller simply go to Settings > Bluetooth on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch and tap the i next to the controller and then Disconnect, or if you want to unpair completely Forget This Device.

How to add an Xbox controller to an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Apple TV

Here are the steps for connecting an Xbox controller to your iPad or other iOS device. Bear in mind that it will only work with Xbox controllers that support Bluetooth.

Grab your Xbox controller and press the Xbox button and then press and hold the small Connect button on the top for a few seconds to put it in pairing mode.
Now you can open Settings > Bluetooth on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch and make sure that Bluetooth is toggled on. If you’re pairing with an Apple TV go to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Bluetooth.
Look for Xbox Wireless Controller in the list of devices and tap on it to pair.

Once again, you can disconnect the controller by going to Settings > Bluetooth on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch and tapping the i next to your controller in the list.

How to add a third-party game controller

These instructions work for any third-party Bluetooth game controller you buy. There are quite a few decent options on the market designed especially for Apple’s devices.

Grab your controller and press the button or button combination required to put it in pairing mode.
Now you can open Settings > Bluetooth on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch and make sure that Bluetooth is toggled on. If you’re pairing with an Apple TV go to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Bluetooth.
Look for the Controller in the list of devices and tap on it to pair.

Once again, you can disconnect the controller by going to Settings > Bluetooth on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch and tapping the i next to your controller in the list.