Android smartphone owners can add some gaming savvy to their device via a new controller from Samsung.
Dubbed the GamePad, the steel-framed controller grasps your phone as you work the knobs and buttons to play your favorite games. The GamePad can hold Android devices ranging in screen size from 4 inches to 6.3 inches, so it's geared more for phones but can certainly squeeze in a phablet.
The controller is compatible with any device of the right size running Android 4.1 or higher. But Samsung says it's also optimized for Galaxy devices outfitted with Android 4.3 or higher, such as the Galaxy S4 and S3 and the Note 3 and 2. That means the GamePad can more easily pair with Galaxy devices via NFC and that it will give Galaxy owners quicker access to games via a Play button.
The Play button launches Samsung's Mobile Console app, which helps people browse and buy games supported by the GamePad. The 35 available games are "reasonably-priced," according to Samsung and include such titles as Need for Speed Most Wanted, Asphalt 8: Airborne, Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour, Virtua Tennis Challenge, and Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame. More games are due in 2014.
For now, the GamePad is available only in some European countries. Samsung promises that it will launch in additional regions in the coming weeks but didn't name any actual markets. A spokeswoman for Samsung couldn't offer any further details to CNET except to say that US availability for the controller has not been announced.
Updated 8:25 a.m. PT with response from Samsung.