LeadJoy M1 iPhone controller review – Apple Arcade’s best friend

Until I started working at Pocket Tactics, I tended to avoid mobile games with complex on-screen controls because of my own lack of coordination. Virtual joysticks annoy me to no end and I can never get the hang of them, meaning I miss out on playing games like Genshin Impact and Honkai Star Rail on my phone.

The other issue I face is that I have an iPhone SE, which means I have less screen real estate than other iPhone users and my phone heats up stupidly fast. So, I was really excited when I heard about the LeadJoy M1 iPhone gamepad, which seems to solve all of my concerns in one handy device.

The LeadJoy M1 is an iPhone-specific gamepad that offers precise joystick and button control alongside effective device cooling thanks to its cooling conduction plate. It’s compatible with any iPhone running iOS 13 or later – just adjust the width of the handles and slot your device in. It plugs directly into your phone’s lightning port, which means not only is there minimal input lag, but the LeadJoy M1 also supports pass-through charging to keep your gaming session going even longer.

I’ve got to admit, I was skeptical when I first opened this controller up, especially as I thought it came with a magnetic cooling fan but those are sold separately. But, since plugging it in for the first time I’ve not gone back to playing games with on-screen controls since. The LeadJoy M1’s claims are right on the money – I’ve not noticed any input lag at all with the buttons, triggers, or joysticks. Playing Hello Kitty Island Adventure using this controller feels like playing on a handheld console. It’s a much more enjoyable experience.

LeadJoy M1 review: The LeadJoy M1 holding a red iPhone SE playing Hello Kitty Island Adventure on a Genshin Impact mousemat.

The whole device is really lightweight too, clocking in at around 225 grams, making it perfect to bring on the go with you. The handles fit perfectly in my (admittedly quite small) hands and feel much more ergonomic than Switch Joy-Cons, which are the right size for me but make my hands ache after using them for a while. The joysticks are really smooth and responsive to use, as are the bumpers and triggers. The buttons and D-pad themselves seem a little too light for me, which makes them feel cheap, but overall the handling experience of the LeadJoy M1 is fantastic.

Despite not being able to test the cooling functionality with a magnetic cooling fan, I’m not sure I would need to as the conduction plate itself does an incredible job of stopping my iPhone from turning into molten lava whenever I play a game for too long. It spreads the heat out evenly across the device and somehow doesn’t get too hot itself either. I imagine if I was playing something more graphically intense that I might benefit from a cooling fan, but for my gaming habits, the LeadJoy’s own passive cooling is perfect.

I had a bit of trouble getting the pass-through charging to work initially with one of my off-brand charging cables, but now that I’ve found a cable that works, I’ve had no issues. My phone runs out of charge ridiculously fast, so this feature gets a big tick from me. The charging speed doesn’t seem to be affected by using the controller and the added heat from using a charger is also dispersed by the cooling plate. I guess my advice would be to make sure you’ve got a couple of cables on hand to test out the charging in case you encounter the same issue that I did.

LeadJoy M1 review: The back of the LeadJoy M1 controller attached to a red iPhone SE, showing off the cooling plate. This is on a Genshin Impact mousemat.

Before using the LeadJoy, I tended to avoid playing games while charging my phone as the cable I use sometimes makes my phone misread inputs, leading to lost combos in rhythm games and unfortunate jumps in platformers. I use this same cable with this gamepad and it overrides this issue, so that’s an added bonus if you also have a haunted charging cable!

Being able to adjust the size of this controller is also a massive plus. I’ve been an iPhone user for over a decade at this point and I doubt I’ll be making the switch to Android any time soon, so knowing that I can keep this controller and use it when I upgrade makes it a great investment. My partner also has an iPhone, so we’re able to share despite having completely different models. I hope the longevity of this gamepad is as good as the other features as I can see myself using it for years to come.

If you’re an iPhone gamer looking for an affordable gamepad with cooling features, I can highly recommend the LeadJoy M1. It’s not perfect and it’s not the flashiest-looking gamepad on the market, but if you’re after solid inputs, effective charging, and the option to charge while playing, this controller is for you.

Not an iPhone user? Fear not! We’ve got a great guide to the best mobile game controllers for all devices. We’ve also got a list of the best Switch controllers and a handy guide on how to charge Nintendo Switch controllers.

LeadJoy M1 iPhone controller review

The LeadJoy M1 is a compact, ergonomic, and efficient iPhone gamepad with added cooling and pass-through charging that makes it a great choice for an all-day gaming fest.

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