Snap-on controllers like those produced by Gamevice and Razer are some of the best mobile controllers around, but Turtle Beach’s Atom is an excellent device that can go toe to toe with any existing model. Thanks to its innovative design and massive battery, this is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a mobile controller, assuming they can stomach the price.
The Turtle Beach Atom mobile gaming controller is a Bluetooth controller that can connect to any mobile device, including phones and tablets. While there is no way to connect the device over USB for better latency, the lack of a back holding the two sides together helps with portability since you can fold both together to fit it in a bag quickly. While the $100 asking price is high for a Bluetooth controller, this unit is often on sale for $75, sweetening the deal. There's also a companion app, and you can dial in the dead zones of the controller's thumbstick. Remember that the app isn't often updated with new features, so you'll have to be happy "as is" since Turtle Beach is moving slowly with development. So if you tend to game often on tablets or swap phones often enough that you want to ensure your controller will fit, The Turtle Beach Atom mobile gaming controller is easily one of Android's best controllers that shouldn't be missed.
- Brand: Turtle Beach
- Platform: Android, iOS
- Battery: 20-hour battery life
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
- Headset Support: Yes
- Programmable: Yes
- Extra Buttons: No
- Massive battery lets you game all day
- Full-sized buttons
- Portable design can fit in your pocket
- Comfortable design won’t cause cramps
- Lack of textured back makes it hard to grip
- Struggles to fit phones with large cameras
Price & availability
The Turtle Beach Atom is available worldwide for $100 from the Turtle Beach website, as well as from Amazon and Best Buy. It’s regularly discounted, so you can usually pick it up for as little as $75. While this puts it in the higher end for mobile controllers, it’s in the same price range as similar controllers like the Razer Kishi V2.
The Turtle Beach Atom is a chunky beast that is comfortable to hold for long gaming sessions. While the triggers and thumbsticks don’t fit under my hands as comfortably as I’d like, my larger-than-average hands still didn’t become cramped even after an hour of gaming. It isn’t as comfortable as full controllers like the HyperX Clutch Wireless, but it's one of the best for a snap-on controller.
The Turtle Beach Atom’s slightly awkward layout is partly thanks to the full-sized buttons and thumbsticks. While this results in a more satisfying gaming experience, offset thumbsticks would have been a big plus. The tactile buttons and D-Pad are excellent, and the analog triggers deliver a console-quality experience.
Unlike many snap-on controllers, the Turtle Beach Atom completely separates into two halves. I found this easier to slot my phone into than one-piece controllers, and the two halves magnetically join for travel. It’s a nifty design that fits easily into jacket pockets when you’re on the go.
If I have one gripe with the overall feel, it’s the lack of a textured back. I found my fingers slipping frequently, and while this didn’t affect the overall hold too much, a rubbery texture like that found on the Gamesir X2 Pro would have been welcome.
The whole controller is weighty without being heavy, but the plastic feel of the controller is a little on the cheap side. This is a common flaw with mobile controllers, but I would have appreciated a more premium feel at this price point.
My review unit is the licensed black/yellow combo. This has an Xbox button in the bottom left which functions as a home button, but when in an Xbox game, it opens the Xbox sidebar. The Black/Teal and Red/Black versions of the Atom don’t offer the Xbox branding but have identical functionality.
Compatibility and connectivity
The Turtle Beach Atom connects to your phone via Bluetooth, and each half of the controller connects to the other via a proprietary 2.4GHz wireless link. The resulting connection is low-latency and rapid; you won’t experience input lag or desynced controllers during gameplay, even for fast-paced FPS titles.
I tested the controller with a Pixel 6, Pixel 7 Pro, an Asus ROG, and a Nubia Redmagic 8 Pro. Each phone fit with room to spare, but there were some notable drawbacks.
You’ll likely have to take your case off to fit your phone in the Turtle Beach Atom. While the width of a case isn’t a problem, the overhang on the controller designed to prevent your phone from falling out of the front will obstruct your case unless you opt for a slim one with a minimal lip.
Secondly, the large camera bar on the top of my Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 Pro meant the bottom of the phone didn’t fit snugly against the other half of the controller. The controller, therefore, rocked while pressing buttons, a distinctly unpleasant experience (perhaps the reason competing controllers offer additional material to fill these gaps).
However, this didn’t dislodge the phone, even after vigorous shaking on my part. Any phone with a similar-sized camera bump will suffer the same issue, whereas gaming with my Asus ROG 6, with its low-profile camera, was a rock-solid experience.
Battery life and charging
The Turtle Beach Atom is rated for 20+ hours of battery life, which I was able to replicate in my testing. Indeed, I found my phone running out of battery before the controller. The Atom recharges in under three hours, making it perfect for on-the-go gaming.
The Turtle Beach Atom’s battery is split in half, one for each half. There’s one USB-C port on the left side, so you must connect the halves to charge them both.
The Turtle Beach Atom’s companion app allows you to customize the controller’s dead zones and response times, update the firmware, and discover new games. It’s a dated app that doesn’t offer the best UI, but it does the job.
The universal settings in the app affect any game you use the Atom with. However, after fiddling with it for a few hours, I set it to default and tweaked settings within individual games instead.
The Game Discovery tab feels like an afterthought. It’s an easy way to access services like Xbox Game Pass or Steam Link, but below these useful apps is a scattershot selection of controller-compatible games. There isn’t a way to sort or filter these, so you’re better off browsing the Play Store for new games.
The Power Management tool is broken. No matter how often I updated or paired the controller, the tool refused to connect. Overall, the Atom app is an unnecessary and unpolished experience. We recommend using it for firmware updates and nothing else.
Turtle Beach is attempting to corner the mobile controller market with the Atom, but this means it's up against some tough competition. Its $100 price also means many will balk at the price in favor of cheaper controllers.
The Atom’s low-power wireless connections give it massive battery life, but this does come with disadvantages that the GameSir X3 solves with pass-through USB-C charging, a controller at the same price point, but you won’t have to worry about things like Bluetooth pairing, and battery life; just plug in and play.
While the Atom’s cramped button layout isn’t a big problem, the HyperX Clutch Wireless offers a more comfortable experience at half the price point. However, you’ll lose out on the portable design of the Atom.
Should you buy it?
The Turtle Beach Atom is an excellent controller worth the retail price. While there are areas for improvement here and there, these don’t detract from the overall gaming experience. You’ll appreciate the analog triggers, full-size buttons and joysticks, and sturdy design, and the compact design makes it stand out from the competition.
If you’re willing to shell out the $100, the Turtle Beach Atom won’t disappoint. However, if you’re unsure whether you want to deal with Bluetooth pairing, GameSir’s excellent X3 Type- C and the Razer Kishi V2 are the best USB-C mobile controllers on the market. Once you’ve got your controller, you’ll want to put it through its paces with the best Android games with controller support.