People have been playing games on their smartphones for about as long as there have been smartphones — but there are challenges involved in touchscreen gaming. You can’t actually feel the buttons, and sometimes your thumbs are actually covering part of the action.
So there’s a whole cottage industry for makers of accessories that add physical game controller buttons to smartphones and tablets. Now Samsung is launching its own official gamepad designed for use with its Galaxy smartphones and tablets.
The Samsung Smartphone GamePad is designed to work with devices with screens ranging from 4 to 6.3 inches. Just slide your phone into the space above the controller buttons and lock it into place, and you’ve got a handheld gaming system that kind of resembles an NVIDIA Shield.
At launch the GamePad will be available in Europe, with other markets to follow. Out of the box it should work with about 35 games, including Asphalt 8: Airborne, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Modern Combat 4, and Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame.
Samsung says the system should support any device running Android 4.1 and later, but the Smartphone GamePad is optimized for Samsung devices running Android 4.3 or later. Among other reasons, that’s because Samsung’s phones and tablets include “AllShare” screen mirroring software which lets you stream content from your phone to your TV without wires, which means you can use the GamePad to turn your phone into a living room game console… sort of.
You can also run an HDMI cable to your phone if you’d rather have a wired connection.
The Smartphone GamePad itself feautres Bluetooth and NFC capabilities, an 8-way D-pad, 2 analog sticks, 4 action buttons, 2 shoulder buttons, start, select, and Play buttons. It has a rechargable battery and weighs less than 7 ounces.