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Hands-On

First look: Kanex GoPlay Sidekick pocketable MFi gaming controller recharges via Apple's Lightning cable

The new Kanex GoPlay Sidekick is the second Made for iPhone gaming controller on the market to feature a licensed Apple Lightning port. But it stands out from the competition with an ultraportable design and carrying case that doubles as an iPhone stand.




Priced at $59.95, the Kanex GoPlay Sidekick is now available to purchase. Kanex provided AppleInsider with a controller to test.

The design is actually extremely similar to the tiny SteelSeries Stratus that launched a few years ago, but with a few key changes. Beyond the Lightning port —which allows users to charge their iPhone, iPad and controller with the same cable —it also comes with a durable carrying case that doubles as a stand for an iPhone.




While a seemingly small inclusion, the carrying case and stand make a big difference in terms of gameplay. Our main problem with the similar SteelSeries Stratus was that it offered no way to hold an iPhone while playing, leaving it best suited for playing with an iPad and Smart Cover, or an Apple TV.

Given how the Kanex GoPlay Sidekick sacrifices some comfort to achieve an incredibly small form factor, the controller is a natural fit to use with an iPhone or iPod touch on the go. The carrying case and stand address this appropriately, though you'll still need a flat surface to set it down on (which means no playing on the subway).




Despite is diminutive size, the Kanex GoPlay Sidekick still manages to pack in all of the buttons you would expect from a fully featured modern controller. That includes two joysticks, a D-pad, four face buttons, and even four shoulder buttons.

The controller also has a menu/pause button, light indicators for multiplayer, an on-off power switch, and a Bluetooth pairing button.




Because it's a licensed Made for iPhone gaming controller, the device works cross-platform, including iPad and fourth-generation Apple TV. To switch between devices, you'll need to re-enter pairing mode.

Kanex says the new controller offers up to 20 hours of gameplay on a single charge.

AppleInsider will have much more on the Kanex GoPlay Sidekick in our full review.