After we reviewed (and loved) the Moto Z2 Force Edition smartphone, we were sure to hop on the queue to check out the latest Moto Mod that intrigued us the most. The Moto Gamepad gives your Moto Z device all of the buttons and controls that you’d expect to see in a gaming controller in today’s day and age. Most importantly, through the Moto Mod interface of the Moto Z family of smartphones, you get a gaming controller for your phone that doesn’t have to connect wirelessly. If you’re interested in having a physical gaming controller for your mobile device, then you’re probably aiming for that close to home gaming experience that is hopefully devoid of input latency. Well then, let’s walk through the Moto Gamepad, the latest Moto Mod out now for the Moto Z family.
The Moto Gamepad gives you dual analog sticks, a D-pad, four front-facing action buttons, four top buttons for your triggers and bumpers, a Select button and a Start button. It has a 1035 mAh battery with 8hrs of battery life, illuminated LED’s on the triggers and on the back, a USB-C port for charging the controller, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The LED’s illuminate whenever buttons are pressed and can be shut off if you want to save power or if you simply find them to be distracting. The Moto Gamepad also comes with an optional wrist strap.
I really liked the overall design of the Moto Gamepad. Buttons, analog sticks and the d-pad are all arranged in an ergonomic fashion that makes them easy to reach for and press. Pressing the buttons, d-pad and analog sticks felt satisfying and added to the overall handheld gaming experience. I would have liked a different surface or finish on the back of the controller, however. While the Moto Gamepad’s finish and appearance are pleasing to the eye, it made the unit as a whole slightly slicker than I would have liked. Don’t get me wrong, the Moto Gamepad, with the Moto Z2 Force attached, wasn’t exactly flying out of my hands. However with as literally and figuratively sweaty as some gamers can get, I just felt the finish on the back could have provided just a hint more of traction or grip.
That said, the layout of the buttons combined with the curvature of the back allowed for a comfortable gaming experience. The LED’s look nice and all, but I was glad that the option to turn them off was there. I also liked that the controller itself has a 3.5mm jack included, considering that you cover the headphone jack of any of the Moto Z family of devices once you snap them into the Moto Gamepad. Speaking of snapping, once you connect your Moto Z device to the Moto Gamepad, you can rest assured that your phone is in there for the long haul. The magnetic hold between the phone and the Moto Mod is respectably solid, where only an unrealistically rigorous shake would actually dislodge the two units.
In application, the Moto Gamepad played very well, where if there was to be any lag at all, it was either negligible, adaptable or both. When playing Sonic the Hedgehog 2, a game that has simple controls but depends on jump timing, the lag was negligible or simply nonexistent. Gameplay felt smooth and natural with the Moto Gamepad, making beating the game and collecting the Chaos Emeralds in the first zone laughably easier than it would be with the touch controls.
Now let’s take a game where you need to apply timing with more complicated controls, such as with the fighting game King of Fighters 98. I’m no stranger to the King of Fighters franchise in even the slightest bit, having even reviewed their last two games here on RFMag.com. So needless to say, I had a certain expectations as to how the gameplay should have felt. While I did experience a smidgeon of barely noticeable input lag, the Moto Gamepad did allow me to perform combos, specials and supers at a very satisfying rate. So the results definitely outweighed any lag I detected and made the game more playable and more enjoyable than ever.
Playing a handful of other mobile games using the Moto Gamepad, the input lag wasn’t as nearly as prevalent or noticeable, leading me to believe that the Moto Gamepad simply played nicer with certain apps than others. Luckily, the vast majority of games I tried with the Moto Gamepad provided a fun, satisfying, and mostly lag-free game experience.
When compared to all of the Bluetooth mobile controllers that I’ve tried so far, the Moto Gamepad is easily on the top. You simply cannot beat direct connectivity with your input devices, whereas Bluetooth can sometimes be susceptible to wireless interference in your environment. Not to mention you can use the Moto Gamepad carefree on airplanes, knowing that you’re indeed playing nice with “airplane mode” rules.
The Moto Gamepad is an excellent Moto Mod for any gamer who has a Moto Mod compatible Moto Z phone. The Moto Gamepad is comfortable to hold, easy to handle, and just a pleasure to use. It’s ready for any game that accepts its inputs, with that library of games being quite large. Just in case you have trouble finding confirmed compatible games, the Moto Game Explorer is available for free, giving you a beefy selection of titles you can use the Moto Gamepad with. Motorola’s Moto Gamepad can be yours for $79.99 and is definitely worth checking out for any gamer who owns a device from the Moto Z family.
You can check it out for yourself here…
†Moto Gamepad provided by Motorola PR for review…