Recently I was given a really interesting opportunity that caught me a bit by surprise. The opportunity came, of all places, from Twitter, which I almost never check because I never have notifications there. The opportunity came from a representative of GameSir, a company based in Hong Kong that manufactures game controllers. GameSir has been giving folks the opportunity to test out their merchandise, and they requested that I provide a review of the controller to spread the word about their product. They’re a relatively new company that is really passionate about getting their name out their and growing. Sound familiar? These folks are my kind of people, so I agreed to check out the controller and write a review.
Today we’re looking specifically at the GameSir G3S. I’m going to be reviewing this controller on Design, Comfort, Function, Life, and Value. The final score will be out of 10, just as if I were doing a game review. If by the end you’re interested in the GameSir G3S, I’ll also be providing a few links where you can see the details for yourself. So without further ado, let’s check out the GameSir G3S!
The first thing you notice about any controller is what it looks like. Is this one going to clutter up your living room with some ugly, bulky device, or will it add to your collection of cool tech? Let’s take a look at it.
As you can see, the G3S has a pretty similar configuration to a Playstation or X-Box controller. Two analog sticks, a directional pad, a home button, the standard XYBA four-button setup, start and select buttons, shoulder buttons and triggers on the left and right side, along with two unique buttons: turbo and clear. On the bottom ridge of the controller are four lights representing Android, Apple, Mouse, and X-Input modes. In addition to those lights, the XYAB buttons and the home button light up.
My wife’s reaction when I took this thing out of the box was “oh, that’s actually pretty cool!” I definitely agree. This controller looks good, and the lights are a particularly fun touch. But if that’s not your kind of thing, don’t worry – the button lights can be turned off if you don’t like them.
Design isn’t all about aesthetics, though. The ultimate test of a controller’s design is in whether or not that design contributes to the experience of using the controller. The G3S largely succeeds at that. The button lights help you to know when the controller’s battery is low, blinking at a slow but steady rate to warn you that you need to charge the controller. This is a pretty obvious indication of the need to charge, so you’re not going to be caught off guard by a low battery.
In my mind, the controller has two small design flaws. The first one is the button placement of the turbo, clear, start, and select buttons. Any time I tried to press start or select, I pressed one of the other two buttons instead because they are closer to my thumbs. This never caused me to lose a game or die or anything, but for the gamer who has little use for the turbo function, it’d be nice if the start and select buttons were the easier ones to press.
The second minor design flaw is the button labeling. While the G3S is primarily marketed for use with mobile gaming, it also functions as a Playstation 3 controller. It does not work with X-Box. Yet despite that, the four main buttons are labeled like an X-Box controller instead of a Playstation controller. I imagine that this has a lot to do with copyrights and patents, but the point still stands that for some folks, the different labeling could be an issue. This problem never affected me, but my wife was playing a game she hadn’t touched in months and kept pressing the controller’s X button, which would actually be Square instead of X on a PS3 controller. It didn’t interfere with her ability to enjoy the game but it did force her to double-take every now and then.
Overall, the G3S has an attractive design that looks cool and is quite functional. Minor problems with button labeling and placement of the start and select buttons may be momentarily inconvenient, but it only takes a little bit of breaking in to get used to it.
SCORE: 1.5 – GOOD
Comfort is a huge factor when considering controller quality. After all, while some gamers take frequent breaks, even the most casual still might play for an hour or two in one sitting. If you get tired of holding the controller, it can cut into your enjoyment of your game or shorten your playtime prematurely. So how does the G3S stack up comfort-wise?
I found the controller quite comfortable. First off, it functions wirelessly, which is always important for comfort. Few consoles are close to couches or comfortable chairs, so being able to play without having the controller plugged in is certainly nice. I mean, wireless is pretty much standard across the board for controllers these days, but it’s still a positive nonetheless.
I used this controller for quite a few hours when testing it out, and it never wore out my hands or felt uncomfortable. The shape of the handles is pretty natural and fits the hand well. The only comfort concern I have is when using the mobile phone mount. The mount is really convenient and makes playing a mobile game feel like playing a handheld console, but it can make the controller a bit top heavy. You’ll want to sit somewhere that your arms can be supported if you plan on playing with your phone on the mount for a long period of time.
Overall, the G3S is a very comfortable controller that you’ll be able to use for quite a while without needing a break. Just be careful when mounting a phone, as a larger phone might tire you out a lot quicker than normal.
SCORE: 1.5 – GOOD
Perhaps the biggest selling point of the G3S is its versatility. When you get a game controller from one of the big three of gaming, that controller is pretty much only going to work on their console and maybe on PC. Conversely, the G3S functions on five different types of devices: Android phones, Apple phones, PC and tablet computers, Smart TVs, and the Playstation 3. Now it’s all well and good to be versatile, but how does the controller function with these devices? How much of a hassle is it to connect to each one?
The main selling point of the G3S is its function as a controller for mobile devices. I had to borrow an Android phone from a friend to test out this function, but it was well worth it. The G3S comes with a mount that allows you to attach the phone can controller quickly and easily, using the phone as a screen similarly to a handheld console. The devices connect through Bluetooth, and the controller’s manual has specific instructions on how to connect with every device it functions with. For mobile, you simply press the pairing buttons on the controller and then locate it on the phone’s Bluetooth menu. It only takes a few seconds and then the controller can manipulate the phone, even navigating the home menu.
On the PS3 you can set up a wired or wireless connection as needed. Both are easy and quick, the controller pairing with the Playstation swiftly so you can jump into the action. This was also true for PC, something that made me quite happy. Awhile back I went through the process of getting my computer to accept a PS3 controller – it was pretty arduous and required me to install multiple files in the course of an evening. Conversely, with the G3S I just needed to plug in the bluetooth receiver and wait for the drivers to install. The process took moments rather than hours, making the G3S a lot more convenient if you’re looking for a controller that works on your console and your computer.
My only criticism for the controller is the function department is that despite its versatility, it is a bit behind the times. The Playstation 4 is available and has been for a bit. Many folks have retired their PS3 systems, meaning that one of the devices that this controller works with is not something that’ll be applicable to every customer. It’d be cool if it could work with the PS4, or with an X-Box console – particularly since the button labels fit the X-Box controller anyway. This didn’t affect me personally, as I don’t own a current-gen console or an X-Box, but for some buyers the lack of current gen functionality might be a turn off. Additionally, while the GameSir controller does function on iOS platforms, the website has a fine-print warning that says “please be noted that the unstable performance on iOS device is not covered by GameSir Warranty.” I was not able to test the controller with an Apple device, but be aware when thinking of your purchase that this is a factor.
Ultimately, consoles and iOS devices aren’t the main focus of this controller. The selling point of the G3S is its mobile functionality for Android, and that is spot-on. The other functions simply increase the value of the controller, and while it won’t be useful with current gen consoles, it’s great for folks who still have a PS3 and works great on mobile and PC.
SCORE: 1.5 – GOOD
Just like it would stink to have the controller’s lack of comfort ruin a gaming run, it’d be pretty awful if the battery of the controller died too frequently to really enjoy it. I put the controller’s battery to the test when I took it to a friend’s house to try it out with his phone and on my tablet computer. I played for something like four to five hours with no problems, which is a pretty decent stretch of time to be playing games. I’m pretty comfortable that the controller will last longer than that, as well – there were no signs of it slowing down when I finally finished.
Part of what helps the G3S to deliver when it comes to battery is the power conservation methods it employs. After disconnecting the controller from a device, it only stays on for one minute before turning off to conserve power. When you are connected to a device, it only waits for five minutes of inaction before turning off. These functions prevent the controller from wasting its battery during periods of time it isn’t being used.
There’s more to controller life than the battery life. The G3S comes with a one-year warranty to repair or replace the controller. This of course allows for standard wear-and-tear, but it’s still nice that GameSir offers a warranty for it. In addition to information about the warranty, they provide information about basic technical problems that may come up and how to troubleshoot them.
The G3S has solid battery life, is easy to charge, and has a year warranty. When it comes to the life of the controller, you’re definitely getting a good deal.
SCORE: 2 – GREAT
So this controller is rating pretty highly thus far. It sounds like a great value, but how much buck are you gonna be spending on this much bang?
Unfortunately, price is probably the biggest downfall of the G3S. The controller I was given to review normally costs $39.99 on Amazon. Now I decided to conduct a quick search and see how other controllers compare. What I found was this: the price of game controller varies largely by versatility. For example, a controller that only works on a specific mobile device is very cheap, under $10. A controller that works on one mobile device and PC can run anywhere from around $15 to $25 depending on the brand. Something that works only on a game console and PC may run from $30 to $45. Brand certainly affects things – a legit DualShock controller for PS3 is way more costly than a Microsoft-brand X-Box 360 controller – but ultimately you pay more by the number of devices the controller functions with.
Is the GameSir G3S the cheapest controller available? No. Are you getting your money’s worth from it? Absolutely. In the searching I did, the G3S is unique in its ability to function with so many different devices, and is cheaper than some name-brand controllers that are capable of interacting with two or three. The value of the G3S increases the more devices you have that function with it – imagine the cost of separately buying controllers for your Android phone, your PS3, your computer, and your Smart TV. While I definitely don’t recommend purchasing the G3S as a dedicated controller for a single device, you’re definitely getting a lot of value out of it if you purchase it for use on multiple platforms.
Here’s a tip from my personal controller purchase experience – cheap game controllers don’t last. When I was in college I purchased a couple of off-brand Gamecube controllers so that my friends could all play Smash Bros and Mario Kart at the same time. Within one semester (a four-month period) they were both done for. My roommate also had an off-brand Playstation 3 controller that ceased functioning after only a couple of drops on the dorm room floor. Conversely, our name-brand controllers still work to this day, surviving three years of college and two years of regular ole life. The point is: stuff falls over, your hands slip, and if you have kids, they throw or drop your stuff all the time. The extra cash that goes into a higher-quality controller is worth not having to buy another one in a matter of months.
One more note about the value of the G3S: the controller comes with a QR code that allows you to install an app called “Happy Chick” for free. This is an emulator app that emulates ten or eleven different systems. The thing I wanted to note about Happy Chick is that it is free online – it’s not free because you buy this controller, it’s free because it’s free. So be aware of that if considering the app as part of your purchasing decision.
Overall, the GameSir G3S is not the cheapest device on the market, but it isn’t the most expensive either. You’re ultimately paying for the controller’s many different functions and the solid construction. The G3S is a good controller and definitely worth the value, as long as you have all the devices you need to capitalize on the controller’s versatility.
SCORE: 1 – AVERAGE
Now I’ve said a lot of things about the G3S, good and bad. But when looking at the overall picture, I have to think about how the bad things influenced my opinion of the good things. And the answer is, not at all. Yeah, the buttons are the X-Box layout instead of the PS3. Yeah, it doesn’t work with current gen consoles. But that stuff did not interfere with my ability to play games, which is the ultimate purpose of a game controller. The G3S is quick, convenient, and works very well. In addition to that, GameSir has been a delight to work with throughout the whole process. And I’m speaking just as a customer, not as someone who was requested to review the product. As soon as I ordered the controller from Amazon, I started getting messages not with offers or promotions but with information about updates that might affect the controller’s performance and offering help if those updates caused issues. I’ve never purchased a product from Amazon where the seller sent e-mails to purchasers letting them know of coming changes. GameSir seems to really care about making a good impression on their customers and on giving them the best value possible, and that means a little something. Ultimately, because the downsides of the controller haven’t interfered with my enjoyment of it, I’m giving the controller a positive score adjustment.
The GameSir G3S is a good-looking, versatile controller that works quickly and effectively with the devices it is designed for. It’s a bit on the pricey side, but you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck and this controller will last you awhile. If you have a number of different devices that use a controller, scooping up the GameSir is way more cost-effective than buying a different controller for each device. I definitely recommend this controller and I hope that you’ll consider it for your gaming needs.
FINAL SCORE: 8.5 – GOOD
If after reading this review you’re interested in checking out more from GameSir, you can visit their website to take a look at the G3S and at other products that they offer. If you’re looking for some fun mobile games, check out their newsletter, which suggests ten titles that you can pick up to enjoy with your G3S.
I want to say a big thank you to GameSir for giving me the opportunity to experience the G3S, and to all the adventurers for taking the time to read this review. If you enjoyed it, please take the time to retweet, share, reblog, or whatever you need to do to help it reach more folks. You’ll be helping a small blogger and a small company to grow, and we appreciate all of your support!