The easy way to connect your PS4 or Xbox controller to your iPhone

Using a controller from your PlayStation or Xbox makes playing Apple Arcade games so much better. Here's how to pair it with your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and AppleTV.

Patrick Holland Managing Editor
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
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Patrick Holland
3 min read

Apple added support for both Xbox and PlayStation 4 wireless controllers to iOS 13, iPadOS 13 and tvOS 13.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Apple Arcade brings nearly 200 games that you can play on your iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. But tapping and dragging on a glass display isn't always the most satisfying way to play titles like Shinsekai: Into the Depths or Sneaky Sasquatch -- using a wireless controller is a million times better. Luckily, iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and TVOS 14 added support for DualShock 4 and Xbox One S wireless controllers, which means you'll be able to use them to play scores of games on your Apple device.

Read more: iOS 15: All the new features and when you can expect them on your iPhone

Apple made the process of connecting your controller to an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV simple and easy. PS4 and Xbox One controllers should work with most games. There's no word whether Apple will bring support for the Nintendo Switch Pro wireless controller.

Read more: Apple TV: 11 essential tips to master Apple's streaming box

One interesting detail is that you can connect multiple wireless controllers to a single device. I was able to connect both an Xbox One S controller and a DualShock 4 with my iPhone at the same time. However, games with local multiplayer are sparse.

Check out our video below to pair and set up an Xbox One or PS4 controller to work on your iPhone, iPad or Apple TV.

Connect a PS4 controller to your iPhone, iPad or Apple TV

Let's start with the PS4 controllers.

  1. Make sure your controller is all charged up.
  2. On an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad go to Settings Bluetooth.
  3. On an Apple TV go to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Bluetooth.
  4. Once there, hold the PlayStation button and Share button at the same time on your controller.
  5. You'll see DualShock 4 Wireless Controller pop up in your Bluetooth list.
  6. Simply tap on it to connect.
  7. Once you're connected, the PS4 controller will light up pink.

If you don't see the controller appear, make sure that you're out of range of your PlayStation.

How to pair an Xbox controller with your iPhone

Now, let's pair an Xbox One controller. Here's where things get, to quote Gollum from Lord Of The Rings, "Tricksy." Not all Xbox One controllers will work with your iPhone, iPad or AppleTV. Specifically, you need a model 1708 controller, aka the one that came with the Xbox One S.

To check which model of Xbox One controller you have:

  1. Open the controller's battery compartment.
  2. Pull out the batteries.
  3. On the label inside you'll see the model number listed right below Redmond, Washington.
  4. If you have trouble seeing the tiny number, use your phone's camera and flash to take a photo and zoom in after the fact.

To pair your Xbox 1708 controller:

  1. Open Bluetooth settings on your Apple device.
  2. Next, turn the controller on by pressing the Xbox logo button.
  3. Then press the Connect button at the top/front of the controller.
  4. You'll see the Xbox logo blink quickly, indicating that it's in pairing mode.
  5. Check your Apple device Bluetooth list and tap on Xbox Wireless Controller to pair and connect.
  6. The controller should automatically be listed under devices already paired to your device.
  7. Occasionally when we tried it, a window would pop up to ask me if I wanted to pair the controller. If this happens, tap Pair.

Apple's support for PS4 and Xbox controllers is a smart move in helping you enjoy your games. And if you want that same gaming experience on your Mac, read about how to pair your Xbox or PS4 controller with a Mac.

Apple Arcade: 50 of our favorite games so far

See all photos

More controller advice from GameSpot