Something like a gamepad is often overlooked when it comes to the most essential, necessary items for a gamer to have in their arsenal. If you play on PC, then your keyboard and mouse are likely your bread and butter. Console gamers have their dedicated PS4 and Xbox One controllers — both of which are excellent and extremely high-quality. But with the advent of VR headsets, the need for a capable and comfortable gamepad is more important than ever.
If you have a Gear VR then you’ll need a good bluetooth controller to play many of the best games. If that controller is functional enough, you may even be able to use it on the PC for Rift and Vive games as well, or even on your game consoles. In the case of the GameSir G3s, it aims to satisfy most all of your needs at a mid-range affordable price.
I’ve used a lot of gamepads over the years. Everything from the NES all the way to the modern consoles plugged into my 4K TV right now — I’ve tried it all. I’ve purchased and used a litany of third-party controllers as well, from the classicly janky Mad Catz brand to the functional but not remarkable Logitech series, there’s something out there for all platforms and pocket books.
In terms of VR functionality, all you really need is something that has one or two triggers/bumpers, two analog sticks, and face buttons. As long as it can mimic an Xbox controller, you should be fine. For the low budget end of the equation, I always recommend the POWER A Moga Hero. It’s under $20 and can fit into any pouch, pocket, or bag you’d want. For Gear VR users it’s the ultimate wireless, portable, bluetooth controller. But it’s only recommended if you’re willing to make compromises for quality. On the high-end of bluetooth controllers is the SteelSeries Stratus XL, which feels and plays just like any other quality gamepad, but it’ll cost you $50-$60 most of the time.
From my experience, the GameSir G3s is a great mid-range option that sits comfortably between the other two controllers mentioned above.
It’s lighter than both of the other controllers mentioned, even the smaller POWER A Moga Hero, and weighs less than the PS4’s DualShock 4 and Xbox One gamepad. That light weight isn’t always a positive though, as a bit of heftiness in your hand is sometimes preferable and can help it feel sturdier. As a result, it doesn’t have the most amazing build quality. Comfort is great, as the plastic handles are shaped almost identically to the Xbox One controller’s and the matte finish is very smooth, but it did end up feeling fragile if things got particularly heated.
The actual points of interaction, such as the analog sticks, buttons, and triggers, are a conglomeration of designs from other controllers. The face buttons are arranged in the same layout as the Xbox controller’s with Y, B, A, and X in clockwise formation, starting from the top. When powered on, they even light up with subtle backlights mimicking the Xbox’s control scheme. The D-pad is also reminiscent of Microsoft’s controller as a fully connected plus sign and glossy plastic finish.
The analog sticks have a texture that’s similar to the Xbox’s controller, but they’re both in the center of the gamepad like PlayStation’s, with concave thumb rests. The two triggers and bumper buttons also feel similar to the DualShock 4, with textured grips to assist your fingers. At the center is the GameSir menu button which lights up with a blue glow, Start, Select, Clear, and Turbo. You can charge it with the included USB cable and it reportedly should last approximately 18 hours on a full charge, but even half that is more than enough for a few game sessions.
When using it with your PC, you can connect it through the included cable, or over Bluetooth 4.0. When playing on Gear VR I utilized the Bluetooth connection. It was responsive and painless to use, although the pairing process was a bit finicky, but that’s the case with all Bluetooth devices in most cases. You can also use the controller with other Android devices, such as your mobile phone or tablet, as well as a PS3.
Final Recommendation: Definitely Worth It
The GameSir G3s isn’t the best Bluetooth controller I’ve ever used — the SteelSeries Stratus XL still probably wins out in that regard in terms of pure quality — but considering how close the GameSir G3s gets for a fraction of the price makes it an easy option to check out. It’s not quite as portable as the POWER A Moga Hero, but it’s immensely better from a quality perspective. All things considered, the GameSir G3s has earned its place as my go-to recommendation for a capable, comfortable, and versatile Bluetooth controller that feels great for mobile and PC-based VR experiences.
You can pick up the GameSir G3s from Amazon right now for $29.99. The standard price is listed as $79.99, which seems bizarre. We’d only recommend grabbing this one if it’s cheaper than the SteelSeries Stratus XL when you’re checking, as it is currently. Upload was provided with a free sample unit for review.