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Mobile gaming has gained immense popularity in the last few years, spurred heavily by the pandemic. But even before we were all locked in our homes fighting over our precious consoles, mobile gaming was coming into its own. Games like Fortnite showed it was possible to have a console-like game experience on your phone.

The tricky part was trying to navigate through those games on a touch screen – it severely limited the experience. Sure, you could connect a console controller to your phone and go that way, but that was still more clunky and often relied on a Bluetooth connection.

Thankfully, companies like Backbone began producing really great controllers designed specifically to mount to your phone, directly through the port so you don't have to worry about a buggy connection. They quickly became the leading name on mobile controllers, but, alas, they aren't the only game in town. And as their iconic eponymous controller is starting to get a bit long in the tooth, other companies are swooping in to top the leaderboard.

Meet the Gamesir G8 Galileo.

Who is Gamesir?

Gamesir has been making great mobile gaming accessories for a few years now. They started with Xbox-style wired and wireless controllers but quickly moved on to controllers that mount directly to the phone. Today, they offer a whole range of controllers for every play style and budget.

Gamesir Galileo G8: Design

The Galileo G8 is their newest and most pro-level smartphone gaming controller yet. Their previous phone-mounted controller, the X2 Pro (and newly released X2s) were much more squared off and essentially turned your phone into something resembling a Nintendo Switch.

Gamesir-X2-Product-Image
Source: Gamesir

The G8 is the company's first smartphone controller to adopt more of a console controller look and feel. It's much more similar to what most other popular gaming controllers are doing and much improved over the X2.

Gamesir Galileo G8: Ergonomics

The first thing that struck me about the G8 is that it basically looks like what would happen if you cut an Xbox controller in half and stuck it to the side of your phone. Both sides have a curved, ergonomic grip that feels right at home coming from any console controller. Whereas their X2 and X2s controllers are more like a big rectangle, the G8 curves down and away from the top to give it a much better grip.

Gamesir-Galileo-G8-Front
Source: CrackBerry

Honestly, it fits perfectly in even my tiny hands and I appreciate that it's larger than the Backbone as well. My biggest gripe with the Backbone is that it's just small which makes it actually uncomfortable during longer play sessions but I never had that issue with the G8.

Gamesir-Galileo-G8-Vs-Backbone
Source: CrackBerry

My favorite thing about the Galileo's design is the color. It's a total throwback to the Super Nintendo with the dull gray and purple buttons and I am all here for it. My nostalgia goes nuts every time I pull it out.

My second favorite thing about the design is the flexible USB-C port. While every other gaming controller I've used has a USB-C port that's stuck in place, this one physically angles up and down a bit to accommodate phones of different sizes, even ones with a thin case on. Most other controllers require you to remove all but the thinnest of cases, but the Galileo can accommodate a wider range of them.

Gamesir-Galileo-G8-USB-C
Source: CrackBerry

Lastly, on the bottom of the controller you have a passthrough USB-C port for charging along with a headphone jack. This is a huge upgrade over the X2 which required me to use Bluetooth headphones which was just not a good experience. There was once or twice when I wished at least the charging port was on top instead because the cord kind of got in my way when charging, but it's not a deal breaker by any means.

Gamesir Galileo G8: Feel

As any keyboard aficionado (and BlackBerry fan) knows, buttons can make or break the experience and the same is true for gaming controllers. When I had the X2 Pro I was quite impressed with the feel of the buttons. They were very tactile and provided a very crisp response every time. I honestly liked them more than the Backbone One buttons. It's not quite on the level of the official Xbox and PlayStation controllers, but it's pretty close.

Gamesir-Galileo-G8-Triggers
Source: CrackBerry

The triggers and joysticks are Hall Effect hardware so you'll never have to worry about drift or out of tune trigger responses.

You've got all the standard buttons and sticks you would expect, X, Y, A, B, left and right joysticks, and a D-pad. There's also the menu button and view button up top. On the left side below the D-pad are the capture buttons and the M button. The M button allows you to enable hair triggers, add a Turbo setup to any of the buttons, and swap the A-B, X-Y buttons.

Gamesir-Galileo-G8-Front-Right
Source: CrackBerry

Around back are two additional buttons that are mappable to any button press you wish, including a combo press. This can all be setup in the software for each individual game, and you can save your game setups to quickly jump in and out of your favorite games without having to reconnect.

On the bottom of the right handle you've got the home button which, weirdly, doesn't open the Gamesir app like you might expect. On iOS, it actually launches the Game Center app and on Android it acts as an actual home button for navigating around the software. And you can hold the home button and press up or down on the D-pad to change the volume.

Gamesir-Galileo-G8-Front-Left
Source: CrackBerry

The home button also has an indicator light around it to tell you which game mode you're in which we'll get to in a minute.

Gamesir Galileo G8: Customization

Another really great thing about the Galileo, is that the joysticks are actually swappable and they include a few different sizes in the box to match your play style. The front faceplates are magnetic so you just pop it off and the sticks just pull right out. As of now, Gamesir doesn't make any different color faceplates or anything, which I sincerely hope they do if the controller sells well. To me that seems like a huge opportunity.

Gamesir Galileo G8: Software

While the hardware of the Galileo is top-notch, the software, sadly, leaves a bit to be desired.

Gamesir Galileo G8: iOS

Gamesir claims the Galileo G8 natively supports a wide range of games on iOS games that offer controller support. They have a list of 76 games that it claims are fully supported at time of writing. What this means is that the controller should work just fine in all of these games without the user having to change any settings or anything. You should literally be able to just plug and play.

For these games, you should be in the "PS" mode on the controller, denoted by the white light around the Home button (as opposed to the much more system-appropriate blue color which is a different play mode). This mode is for all the controller-supported games in iOS as well as for playing via the PS Remote app or Xbox Game Pass games.

Native game support on iOS seems to be hit or miss

In reality, this was far from the case. For starters, Call of Duty: Mobile (CODM), one of the biggest mobile games out there, which the website says is fully supported on iOS, straight up didn't work for me on my iPhone 15 Pro. Like, at all. I tried changing the game mode, closing the app, taking my phone out and back in, nothing. It just never worked at all for me. Now CODM is not listed on their complete list of supported games, but I'm fairly positive that list has not been updated in quite a while and it is listed as supported on the product page, so I'm thoroughly confused. I also found several other users complaining about the controller not working for certain games on the 15 Pro. Other phones seemed to have better luck.

On the other hand, Oceanhorn 2, an Apple Arcade game, worked perfectly fine for me. As did games via Xbox Cloud Gaming and using PS Remote. Basically it seemed to be hit-or-miss as to native iOS games that are supported. I did reach out to Gamesir directly about this, but as of press time, I had no response.

Gamesir Galileo G8: Android

For Android users, there are actually three play modes:

  • PS Mode: For controller-supported games, PS Remote Play (denoted as a white indicator light).
  • Android Mode: For controller-supported games (denoted as a green indicator light).
  • G-Touch Mode: For touch screen only games (denoted as a blue indicator light).

This actually makes things much more confusing because I honestly couldn't tell which mode I needed to be in for games. For controller-supported games like Dead Cells, sometimes the PS mode worked and sometimes I needed to be in Android mode. Technically, the Gamesir app can tell you which mode you might need to be in for different games, but it seemed to be hit or miss for me again. I couldn't really tell a difference between these two modes so I'm not sure why they're here.

Gamesir-Galileo-G8-Button-Mapping
Source: CrackBerry

The G-Touch mode makes using the G8 on Android much more compelling. Essentially, this lets you map any on-screen controls to any button on the G8, including the back paddles. Using this, I was able to play CODM and other games not officially supported natively and still have a great experience. It took a bit of setup, but once done, it worked great.

Once the G8 is connected, you can either open the game that needs mapping directly, or open it through the Gamesir app. Once in game, a little red floating button pops up where you can access the controller mapping and create your perfect setup. You can save your layout once it's made, and you can even save multiple layouts for different games and download recommended layouts from other members.

Gamesir App

Aside from controller settings, the Gamesir app (available for iOS and Android) is mostly just a game aggregator for recommended games to use with the controller. It shows games on Xbox Cloud Gaming and GeForce Now, but the app clearly hasn't been updated in quite a while because it still has a "Trending on Stadia" section. Really not a great showing for a gaming company.

Apparently Google Stadia is still a thing according to Gamesir

There's also quite a lot of the app still in Chinese, and I've never been able to actually create an account for the app. So yes, the app functions and you can use it in a pinch to launch games, but it is pretty out of date. They're most recent product releases don't even show in the "Store" tab.

Final Thoughts

The best part of the Galileo G8 is the price. It retails for $80, which would be a good price in itself, but it's regularly on sale, and Gamesir and Newegg are both selling it for $67 right now. At that price, it's honestly a compelling option if you're looking to upgrade your mobile gaming…game. The hardware is fantastic and I honestly prefer it over the Backbone.

The software is by far the biggest downside of the G8, and sadly I don't think it will change anytime soon. The company's typical MO is just to release a lot of controllers and not really update the software much after launch. It works great on supported games, but it's kind of hit or miss which ones will work, especially on iOS. If you're on Android, you have more options available as you can map the onscreen controls.

The app is also a let down, but it's also not really necessary to have a good experience and the software quirks don't actually impact the user experience. Overall, I personally love it and have no trouble recommending it for those looking for a great gaming controller at an affordable price.

Console-style mobile gaming

Gamesir-Galileo-G8-Reco-Block

Gamesir Galileo G8

The hardware's great. Software, not so much

I was really impressed with how the Gamesir G8 performed while gaming. The buttons are responsive and it feels great to hold. Unfortunately, the software leaves a lot to be desired. Luckily, that doesn't hurt the experience much and overall, it's a good value.

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