Unlike the current Logitech and Moga controllers, which use physical Lightning connections and double as bulky battery packs, the SteelSeries Stratus connects via Bluetooth, and it’s tiny. Maybe it’s too tiny: I was surprised how small it was in my hand. It feels like a toy.
Nevertheless, the Stratus packs dual analog sticks, four shoulder buttons, a directional pad, and four buttons (all of which are pressure sensitive), matching the "extended" control scheme of the Moga Ace Power, which mirrors what you’d expect on an Xbox or PlayStation.
A Micro-USB port and included cable handle charging, and a simple on/off switch and Bluetooth pairing button are all you’ll need to connect the controller. The Stratus supports four-player gaming on one iOS device with four simultaneous connected controllers, but I haven’t even heard of any iOS games that support this yet.
When I propped an iPad Mini up and used the SteelSeries Stratus with a compatible game, it really felt like the portable game console experience I always dreamed the iPad could offer up. Clunky novelties like the iCade only hinted at this.
Button response time via Bluetooth is excellent, although games occasionally suffer some hiccups recognizing the controller. Pairing is as easy as connecting a Bluetooth speaker. The Stratus is small enough to slide into any bag, or even a pocket, and an included plastic cover protects the buttons in transit.
The controller is a little too cramped for my tastes, and the top shoulder buttons get very crowded (the bottom two triggers have been shrunken into tiny deformed buttons that are hard to press), but playing Sonic 2, Riptide GP2, Limbo, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas were all a blast.
The Stratus costs way too much, and yet it’s also undoubtedly the best-feeling iOS game controller. You're better off waiting to see what iOS controller-enabled games and alternative controllers hit the market later this year, but if you’re desperate to check out games like Grand Theft Auto (as well as a growing list of other supported titles like Asphalt 8, Sonic 2, and Terraria), and want to try controller-enabled gaming yourself, go for it: it really works. You're just going to pay a lot for the early privilege.