We’re not sure when Turtle Beach last missed a beat or a trick, but we feel it must have been a good few years since they went home with an L.
Having pretty much led the way in the gaming accessories market, across headsets and controllers, it’s now time for the big TB to move into the Cloud gaming scene, producing a mobile controller which will keep those Team Android Xbox Game Pass dabblers gaming, happy for a long old while. They are doing that with the Atom Controller.
The Turtle Beach Atom Controller is a thing of sheer beauty, especially in the black and yellow trimmed version that has been Designed for Xbox – even if it is a fingerprint-magnet. It’s that version which we have been hands-on with, and whilst black and teal or all-red editions do exist, we feel it’s that yellow trim which sets this apart from any other mobile controller currently on the market. Although honestly, it’s not just that which makes this one of the more exciting options for those looking to take their gaming sessions on the move.
See, Turtle Beach are, quite literally, splitting the atom, and with the Atom Controller you’ll find two totally separate modules with no spring-loaded elements holding them together. In fact, this is a two-piece gaming controller, one that slides onto the two ends of your mobile with ease. And when it comes to closing down play for the day, a swift removal of the phone will allow you the opportunity to slam the two elements of the Atom together, connecting via magnet, storing it safely away as a miniscule little device. It even comes with a little Turtle Beach travel pouch to help ensure it is even more portable.
It fits together into that small package really well, closing up into travel mode to feel even smaller than the Razer Kishi in size. It’s that which is a huge positive, especially for those who take their gaming on the daily commute; throwing it into a backpack with the likes of the Excitrus 105w Power Bank Ultimate is a breeze. It condenses down thanks to some easy-to-line-up sliders, kept in place by a couple of decently strong magnets.
When it’s time to get up and play, sliding it apart is a cinch; real low in the effort stakes. From there, grab your phone and slide one end into one of the modules, push up the slidable, textured back piece to ensure grip and then do the same with the other side. Your phone will be instantly held in place, safe from harm thanks to the soft, slightly squidgy backing. We’ve mostly been using the Atom with our Google Pixel 7 Pro (cased) and have found it to fit okay. There’s a slight angle that comes about on the left module thanks to the camera bar, but this is very much something that afflicts the 7 Pro and all mobile controllers; it seems those Google engineers just didn’t consider us gamers when they were throwing those cameras in.
Other phones fit better for us. We’ve tried a Pixel 6 Pro (same camera issue as the 7 Pro), Pixel 4a and Pixel 2XL, all of which work with ease; the 4a feels like a perfect companion. We’d suspect that the vast majority of Android phones currently on the market will fit, with Turtle Beach recommending anything between 67-92mm in length and heights of 6-10.5mm. Don’t expect to drop your Galaxy Fold 4 in here, but as long as you have Android 8.0+ and Bluetooth 4.2 or later in house, you should be sorted.
Connecting to the phone is easy enough as well, although due to the individual modules it does require one more button press than normal. The left module holds the Xbox Nexus button and powering that up with a two second press initiates power. You’ll also need to hold the Menu button on the right module to fire that side up too. From there, the usual Bluetooth support – hunting down the device in your phone settings – runs par for the course. We found set-up to be easy, at least once we’d read the instructions and realised that we needed to power up both modules. Don’t be us. Read the quick-start guide that is included.
From there though, connection has proved to be super solid, with only a firmware update pushed via the Turtle Beach Atom App (an app which allows you to set stick and trigger responsiveness and deadzones) meaning a second connection run was needed.
Once phone and Atom Controller are connected, you’re totally sorted for gaming joys with extremely low latency between button press and on-screen action – in fact, it’s only really let down by the Game pass service that helps power your sessions. Of course, you could use this with GeForce Now or Steam Link too.
And as this is a Designed for Xbox device, you’ll fast discover that all the usual Xbox buttons and features are in place. The Nexus button is thrown down on the left side, right near the bottom, but aside from that, everything else is where you would expect – concaved thumbsticks, face buttons, and a rather nice D-Pad are all present, as are Menu and View buttons. We very much like the micro-switched bumpers too, mostly as they feel great to press. They are textured too, along with the tactile triggers – although admittedly the latter are fairly spongey.
All of the buttons and sticks are treated to the yellow and black colour design too, and honestly it allows Turtle Beach to ensure that the Atom really stands out as a unit. Is it THE best looking mobile gaming controller on the market? It’s certainly up there.
It feels great in hand too. Each of the left and right modules has been ergonomically designed to fit the hand well, with third and fourth fingers gripping the bulging back panels neatly. It really does feel extremely well put together, concise in design and thoughts. In fact, the only thing that lets the Atom down ever-so-slightly is a bit of clumsiness in removing the phone. There’s certainly a knack in how to remove your mobile without slamming the spring-loaded top grips down with force.
Throw in a USB-C power port that allows for additional power to be supplied to the Atom whilst it is in travel mode – USB-A to USB-C cable included in the box – and getting enough juice into this thing is a cinch; you’re looking at about twenty hours for a two-hour or so charge. It’s a shame that it HAS to be in travel mode though as it would certainly be nicer if we could continue powering things whilst gaming is on-going.
Mostly though, should you be in the market for a great looking, rather quirky, pretty unique gaming controller, then we’d have no hesitation in recommending the Turtle Beach Atom Controller. The Designed for Xbox black and yellow version is a stunner, whilst the ease in which it can be stored away is a huge positive. This is certainly one to have on your consideration list.
Huge thanks go out to Turtle Beach for providing the Atom controller for review. Grab one for yourself from Turtle Beach direct. You should expect to pay around £89.99.