You might not be what people call a hard-core gamer, but the reality is that whenever we have free time on our hands, most of us fish out our smartphones from our pockets and start playing Candy Crush or FIFA or something similar. A game is a game, and it doesn’t matter if you play it for hours locked in your bedroom or just while travelling back home in a cab.
Google’s Android smartphone platform has an excellent variety of games, and this very portable accessory complements it.
The Evo Gamepad Pro from Indian company Amkette is designed just like the wireless controller that you get with popular gaming consoles such as the Microsoft Xbox. We mention Xbox specifically because the Evo Gamepad Pro clearly has taken design inspiration from it. This is actually a big positive—the gamepad has a chunky design with a textured, rubberized finish, and familiar buttons and direction sticks. We quite like the soft-feel finish, which basically means that the controller doesn’t start slipping if the hands get sweaty, and it is extremely comfortable to play on for hours on end (or till the smartphone’s battery runs out). Running down the middle of the controller is a flip-open flap, beneath which sits the micro USB charging port, the power key and a bunch of LED notifications. The flap also doubles up as the smartphone dock.
To get started, you need to download the free Evo Gamepad App from the Google Play Store and punch in the four-digit registration code that comes with the controller. That allows it to be registered with the app on the phone as well as the installed games. Rather helpfully, the app also has a list of more than 300 game titles that are compatible with the controller and takes you directly to the Play Store to download them—some are paid, some are free.
Since the key layout is similar to the Xbox console controllers, the sense of familiarity is a big plus. And it comes across as designed for serious gaming. Be it an arcade racing game such as Asphalt 8: Airborne or a shooting game such as Dead Trigger 2, the entire experience is smooth. All the controls worked. The keys are fairly responsive throughout, and consistent too. The only niggle is that the back and home buttons are placed too close to each other, and you can easily press the wrong one absent-mindedly.
The Evo Gamepad Pro packs in a 400 mAh battery so that you don’t need to plug it into the phone and drain that battery too. From what we experienced during testing, this battery can easily let you play around 6 hours on a single charge. Since the controller uses the micro-USB port for charging, you can juice it up with your phone’s charger—you don’t need to carry two cables and adaptors.
The Evo Gamepad Pro dock can securely hold phones with up to 5.5-inch screens. The pairing is done through Bluetooth, which negates the need to connect cables. If you own a big-screen Motorola Google Nexus 6 smartphone or any Android tablet, Amkette has also bundled a kickstand to support such devices. This kickstand, however, needs to be kept on a flat surface, and that neutralizes the portability advantage.
The Amkette Evo Gamepad Pro will appeal to serious as well as casual gamers, and it is affordable too. The smartphone gaming experience will be significantly better than tapping on a glass pane.
This rather unassuming device isn’t groundbreaking, but it does the basics well. Chances are, it’ll become a habit rather quickly. Next up, we expect compatibility for iPhone and iPad too.