PowerA MOGA XP5-X Plus Review - xCloud Controller with Integrated Powerbank

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review

With the MOGA XP5-X Plus, PowerA launched a new controller for mobile gaming in September. The controller is not too different from an original Xbox controller. So you feel right at home when you hold it in your hand for the first time. The light weight is also immediately noticeable. Including the integrated 3000mAh Powerbank the controller weighs about as much as an original controller without the attached smartphone holder. The integrated 3000mAh Powerbank is suitable as power supply for the controller itself as well as for charging a smartphone. With this you should be able to extend your mobile gaming sessions by a few hours, depending on your smartphone. A small drawback is that charging the smartphone only works if you play via Bluetooth. If the cable connection is used for gaming, neither smartphone nor controller can be charged at the same time.

Powerbank inclusive

Besides the integrated powerbank there are more differences to the original Xbox controller. First of all there are the rubberized handles, which are covered with a rough texture (like the elite controllers), so you won't slip away easily. I also like the fact that the thumbsticks also have a slightly rough texture. This is good for the handling. Really interesting are the two new buttons at the back, which can be programmed freely. This makes it possible to "clone" one of the conventional keys and thus move the function to the back, so that you don't have to use your thumb. Can make a difference in some games. Owners of an elite controller know and appreciate such additional programmable keys! The programming is very easy. You press the small green button on the front where the clip snaps in, then press the key you want to clone and finally press one of the two new keys. That's it.

  

Haptically you can't really call big changes to the Xbox controller. It all feels very familiar and good. Also the build quality is good. Very close to the original. Only the D-Pad looks a little simpler, but still not too spongy. The thumbsticks react well and precisely, have a pleasant pressure point and about the same counter pressure as the original controller. Also the LT/RT triggers or the shoulder buttons are pleasantly off the pressure point or resistance. The only really noteworthy difference on the controller are the Select and Start buttons, which have moved a little bit upwards, probably to match the design language of the smartphone holder, and so that the Xbox-Guide button is not too far up and out of reach. Doesn't really bother me, though. In principle, the keys have only changed their position. The ABXY keys also have a very pleasant pressure point, are precise and are in no way inferior to those of an original controller.

Mobile Gaming Clip - You good old friend

Many people are probably familiar with PowerA's smartphone clip and most curious xCloud beta testers should already have one at home. The quality is super, the locking wheels are very easy to turn, nice and tight to fix even heavy smartphones and due to the pleasantly rubberized surface the smartphone does not scratch and the clamp looks altogether more valuable. In addition, the position of the smartphone can be adjusted either so that it sits directly above the buttons and sticks, which improves the center of gravity enormously, especially on heavy smartphones, or it can be placed above the controller, as you can see on many product photos. Unfortunately, the clamping mechanism is slightly different to the single clip, so that it cannot be attached to an original controller. It only holds on the XP5-X Plus!

  

In addition to the connection cable for playing (MicroUSB to MicroUSB or Type-C) (approx. 30cm), the controller also comes with a USB-A to MicroUSB/Type-C cable (approx. 30cm) for charging the smartphone. For charging the controller there is a long 2m USB-A to MicroUSB cable, which fits in every socket adapter of smartphones or a PC. You can also play with a tablet, but don't clip it into the holder. The controller is compatible with Android and Xbox streaming as well as Google's Stadia or GeForce Now! Unfortunately, you can't connect the controller to the Xbox One wirelessly nor with a USB cable, so it can not be used as a replacement for an original controller, despite Xbox certification. A pity!

  

The MOGA XP5-X Plus in practice

I have tried both variants (Bluetooth and cable) with two different smartphones. Once with an old Honor 7 (with Bluetooth 4.1 LE but 5GHz Wifi) and a Xiaomi Mi 9T (Bluetooth 5, 5GHz Wifi) and made you a video of both variants to convey impressions better.

 

In advance I was really curious to see how cloud streaming, which works quite well with Bluetooth, could be improved with a cable connection, since the latency would then of course go down a bit. To be honest, I was disappointed.

Unfortunately the latency with Bluetooth is clearly noticeable. And it is much stronger than with an original controller. The cable connection can compensate for this, but not better than an original controller via Bluetooth, but only just as good. This can now mean two things: Either the MOGA XP5-X Plus has a half applied handbrake even with a cable and an original controller could play latency-free via cable, or it simply doesn't go faster and the remaining latency simply comes through the cloud stream. Let's assume the latter, which is more likely, and the remaining latency really only comes from the cloud stream. After all, the controller's input has to go to the smartphone, which sends it via Wifi over the Internet to Microsoft, which serves the server on which the game is running, and the result comes back to the smartphone as a compressed video stream. A short digression: The Internet ping alone already causes a certain latency. For comparison: A ping on heise.de, one of the fastest German websites, gives me 18-20ms. That is already a good value. Add to that the time my smartphone panel needs to render the picture. Some smartphones already have 120Hz panels or more, most current ones around 60Hz and older smartphones even less. This also causes a certain delay. Assuming a perceived delay of 50-60ms, it is very difficult to get an equivalent result to a local console with all these components. But all theory aside. To put it in a normal understandable sentence: I was able to play the 60 FPS game "DOOM Eternal" via cloud streaming with the cable connection without any problems. After a few minutes, you got used to the new situation and it is playable well, although not quite as directly as on a console in the same room. It will take a few more years before this works.
As I said, only the Bluetooth connection on the MOGA XP5-X gave me a little bit of trouble, because with that it would definitely not be playable anymore. This is only suitable for casual or less intense games that don't necessarily require precise control. Maybe PowerA can get it a bit faster with an update, so that it is on the same level as the original controller.

 

Conclusion

The PowerA MOGA XP5-X Plus is not a bad controller, but still leaves a mixed impression on me. My wish would have been that the latency with Bluetooth would be on the same level as an original controller and that the cable would save another 10ms latency at the input lag. Unfortunately the reality looks different. But even the latency with cable is still noticeable. As described above, this is probably due to the cloud gaming itself. This does not work as well for Microsoft in general as for example Google's Stadia. But it is still in the beta phase. Apart from that, the XP5-X Plus is a good device, which also feels valuable. Because of the larger application area with Google Stadia, Android games, GeForce Now and possibly more, the controller is not only worthwhile for Xbox players. Thanks to the integrated powerbank, you are well equipped on the road, where you would probably have to do without cloud gaming anyway. The few differences to the original controller, like the rubberized handles or sticks and the two programmable buttons are nice, but not a decisive reason to buy. I would say the controller is suitable for people who don't own an Xbox, but want to play something on the train or similar on the way. But if you already own an Xbox, you may prefer to buy the single smartphone clip controller holder from PowerA and equip your original controller with the same functionality. This would also be a much cheaper option, since the MOGA XP5-X Plus costs a whopping 74.99€. You can get the single clip for less than 20€ and the original controller can be used on an Xbox and the input lag with Bluetooth is much lower.

Many thanks to PowerA, who kindly provided us with a free copy for this test!

Summary of advantages and disadvantages:

# Pro
    - Rubberized handles with rough texture
    - Rough texture also in the thumbsticks
    - Smartphone clip fits perfectly thanks to the matching opening (better than the normal controller, but only on the XP5-X)
    - Two additional programmable buttons on the back
    - Also usable for Google Stadia, GeForce Now or directly with Android Games
    - Smartphone connection cable has a combination connector with MicroUSB and Type-C
    - Smartphone charger cable also with combo plug for MicroUSB and Type-C
    - Good processing, very similar to the original controller
    - Integrated powerbank with 3000mAh and battery status display
    - Very light weight, comfortable to hold
    - Works with Bluetooth or cable
    - Same and familiar layout as the Xbox controller 

# Contra
    - No iPhones are supported (but this is a problem of Apple)
    - Bluetooth connection much too slow, generates high input lag
    - Only with cable at the level of an original controller
    - Cannot be paired with the Xbox despite certification
    - Smartphone clip cannot be attached to an original controller
    - Simultaneous charging of the smartphone only possible with Bluetooth gaming

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