Mobile devices these days pack enough hardware to give a very convincing gaming experience on the go. Large screens, powerful processors and GPUs, and plenty of RAM allow for great detail and playability. One field they fall short with though, is controls. GameSir, a company that has been making mobile gaming peripherals for some time now, has sought to change the playing field with the X1 Battledock, and we got to give it a try.
Folded up, the X1 is a squarish silver box, about the size of a large powerbank. a microUSB port for charging, and power indicators beside the power button on the top. A device tray, which folds flat, can be raised, and the angle at which your phone or tablet rests can be adjusted and fixed in place with two large thumb screws at the pivot points. While mostly plastic, the arms that hold your device are metal, so you probably won’t have to worry about the joints slipping, and dropping your phone. It’s vaguely industrial looking, and on first inspection, you might not have any idea exactly what it does.
The X1 has an internal 3000 mAh battery which it uses to power the Bluetooth radio, and there are two USB ports on the right side, into which you can plug a mouse and keyboard. There isn’t a lot going on with the device, and apart from the shiny chrome power button flanked by four LED lights to indicate power, you have quite a simple little mobile peripheral.
User Experience: 4/5
How do I even begin to describe the kind of power a device like this lets a mobile gamer have? Consider that when playing a title like PUBG Mobile, the vast majority of people will be using on-screen controls. These are clunky and frustrating at best. Some might have stick-on joysticks to make the process a little easier.
Others still will be using a bluetooth controller akin to what one would use on a PS4. The X1 allows you to game with a full keyboard and mouse. Let that sink in for a while. Gone are the days of fumbling for control, struggling to turn and shoot at once, and giving up screen real-estate to be able to move around. You might as well be playing on a PC.
Setup is easy. Follow the link on the manual, install an app, and pick a title from the manufacturer’s in-app library. Then launch the game, hit the little on-screen button, connect, and you’re off. I tried every mouse and keyboard I had, and they all worked flawlessly with the dock and an iPad pro. From wired to wireless mice, mechanical and membrane keyboards, and even a Razer Orb Weaver, I was totally in control. It was so smooth and seamless that I eventually forgot I was playing a mobile version of PUBG.
The setup isn’t perfect though. For one, the device only works with games you can find on the app. There are a lot of titles there, including emulators for older gaming systems, so you’ll be spoilt for choice. There are no guarantees, however, that you will find all the titles you are looking for. One can expect that popular titles will be supported though, and while the product is a little niche, it’s quite a large niche.
Battery life is amazing. With about an hour of play a day, i didn’t have to charge for over a week, and even then, I charged the device up preemptively. It doesn’t use up a lot of power, so the 3000 mAh battery does last a while.
Construction is sufficiently solid. Plastic is restricted mostly to non-load bearing areas, and the main arm that cradles your device is metal, so there’s not a lot to worry about there. Overall, the device is also light enough to toss in a bag and forget, and will take up about as much space as a large powerbank. If you’re a frequent gamer, there’s no reason not to have this on you at any given time.
Configuration of controls can be done in-game with a few taps, so if something isn’t to your liking, feel free to change the config on the fly.
The GameSir X1 is being sold at USD 49.99 on their website, but local online retailers have it for around the PHP 2,500 mark. That might seem like a bit much, but the convenience it allows is just unfair. I would have given this a perfect score here, but since it’s not supported for anything outside the manufacturer’s app, we have to bump it down a little. Still, it’s a must buy for players of FPS titles on mobile.
BRB, gonna get me a chicken dinner with this thing.
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE May 2018 Issue.
Reviewed by Ren Alcantara