MOGA XP-Ultra from PowerA is a quirky conversion console

PowerA went away and made for one of the weirdest controllers I’ve ever seen, however, and this thing that looks like it should never have gotten past the concept stage is the first non-Microsoft gamepad that’s wirelessly compatible with Xbox controllers. The PowerA MOGA XP-Ultra doesn’t have a name that only a mom or Elon Musk could love; It also wants to try to bridge the gap between mobile game streaming on services like Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and console and PC play with just one form factor. It does this by submitting a file Convertible form factor, converts from a compact handheld gamepad to a full-sized console – all for $129.99.

We’ve seen something like this before with the Turtle Beach Recon Cloud console, but this attempt at cross-platform compatibility was hampered by the Xbox’s wired USB-C limitation. PowerA went the extra mile with the MOGA XP-Ultra by licensing Microsoft’s proprietary wireless protocol to allow wireless playback, and then went several extra miles to offer four different conversion control settings: compact mini-pad mode, full-size mode with grip attached, and then Any of those to which the attached mobile phone clip is attached.

There is support for Android, but nothing for iOS or the iPad

Outside of all the connectivity, the XP-Ultra has a built-in rechargeable battery, full-size sticks, buttons, and triggers—the latter the impetus for powering its tiny vibration motors. The basic minipad itself has its own clattering motors, and when locked into a full-size grip it syncs with large remotes that feel like a standard Xbox controller. (The rumble on the little pad alone is a bit tinny and annoying at times.) Like many other PowerA controllers, there are two programmable buttons on the back of the attachable handle. The included phone clip looks a lot like a standard MOGA phone clip, using a compression clamp to hold your phone in place—though it’s a little easier to install and a little sturdier than the universal clip since the XP-Ultra and its clip are designed for each other. Turtle Beach’s Recon Cloud may have this cadence in terms of solidity and rigidity (its phone clip is firmly attached to the controller, after all), but the MOGA clip offers more articulation that helps balance the phone better above your hands.

In my short hands-on time with the PowerA MOGA XP-Ultra, I’ve found it to be a mixed bag of ergonomics. The quality feels there, but my medium-sized hand felt a bit too big and snug in the small pad mode but also a touch too small and lacking the normal, comfortable access to buttons and sticks in the full-size mode. It wasn’t enough to make things unplayable, but I felt like I was a little out of my comfort zone. And if you mount a heavy, plus-sized Android phone on top of it, especially with just a tiny plate, I’m afraid it could become Hand Cramp City as you awkwardly hold it in a weird claw-like grip.

What’s that saying about a jack of all trades? No matter how clichéd it is, XP-Ultra is truly the master of none. The sticks, buttons, and triggers are on par with other PowerA controllers—and I admire some of them for their excellent combination of quality and value proposition—but I can’t help feeling that most people who buy this controller would settle for just one or two form factors. And at this point, you might be better presented with a portable console dedicated to your game streaming needs along with the regular controller for console and PC use. Perhaps the XP-Ultra makes more sense once there are some inevitable bargains (as we often see in PowerA accessories), but for $130 you can grab an Xbox Elite Series 2 Core and a basic PowerA MOGA phone clip and get an even better experience.

Photo by Antonio J. Di Benedetto/The Verge

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