It’s always interesting to see controllers being developed for different platforms, since it generally leads to new kinds of innovations and ideas being implemented to the gaming experience. There are a slew of third party controllers being developed both for PC and consoles respectively, but not quite so often for iOS controllers. Whenever we do see controllers coming out for an Apple product, it always sounds good on paper, until you get your hands on it. SteelSeries aims to change that by creating a controller made for gamers and tested by gamers to enhance the consumer’s rabid need for digital entertainment.

Once you pick up the Stratus XL, you’ll clearly notice that the design revolved entirely around comfort. Taking inspirations from console controllers, the Stratus XL lays comfortably in your hands. The layout of buttons is ideal for people who have experience in gaming and for people who are looking to take their experience to the next level. The buttons are solid and meant for extended playtime, and the addition of the contextual pressure built in the back shoulder buttons, similar to those seen in controllers such as the DualShock 3 and Xbox, are a welcomed addition. Though the joysticks are quite impressive, we noticed that through long periods of play that it feels as if we were putting our thumbs on a touch screen since our fingers tended to slide around. Other than that, however, the design of the Stratus XL is good with a hefty feel to it.


After extensively testing the Stratus on several games, we’ve found that the response time is outstanding. There is an unprecedented support for a lot of games with a controller feature, but some games just don’t work quite as well. This isn’t so much a fault in the Stratus XL controller as it is on the game’s end. We played a good round of GTA: Vice City and it worked flawlessly, but once tested on Modern Combat, the response time and sensitivity were slightly thrown off. Again, it doesn’t appear to be because of the controller as much as it’s the game itself. But bare in mind that not all games will perfectly support the Stratus XL.

While incredibly innovative, the controller does have its own share of flaws. Batteries are ever present and needed to make the controller function, however, it does have a saving grace of 40 hours playtime. Still, a rechargeable battery would have been greatly appreciated. The LED lights found on the front of the controller confused us initially on its functions. When connecting, the controller’s flashing LED lights let the user know that the Bluetooth is turned on. The intervals of flashes can often confuse the users in constantly disconnected itself from the iPad, particularly during actual gameplay.

The SteelSeries Stratus XL is a good controller for those who enjoy gaming on a Mac or an iOS device. Although this controller isn’t meant for portability, it is meant for long hours of gaming. Even though the mobile App stores have claimed their fame through casual gaming, the more interactive games like Grand Theft Auto, Avalon and Modern Combat become something more with the addition of a handheld controller. If you are in the market for one, the Stratus XL is a good choice.

Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.