SteelSeries Stratus Duo Controller for Android and PC [Review]

If you love gaming on Android, I bet that you probably never thought of getting a legit gaming controller for it. For most mobile games, a gaming controller is probably unnecessary but you do come across the occasional game where having a controller would just make the game play so much better. Take for instance games like Minecraft and Fortnite. Those are games that play okay with the touchscreen controls, but benefit so much from a real life controller, a controller like the new SteelSeries Stratus Duo.

The SteelSeries Stratus Duo is a followup to their very good Stratus XL. Not contempt with just updating its looks and calling it new, SteelSeries actually added a few new features to this that make if even better, but we’ll get to that in a second. First lets talk about the changes you can see.

For the most part, the general shape of the new Stratus Duo is the same as the Stratus XL, just with a bit more hard edges and less curves. It also seems to be a bit more streamlined. On the face, the button layout has changed a little bit where the home buttons are and the D-pad is now a more defined cross. The D-pad I think here is much better than the previous one. The triggers and shoulder buttons are also different now and are much bigger. The shoulder buttons have a really nice clicky feel while the triggers have a great springiness to them.

Also, unlike the previous Stratus XL, the Stratus Duo does not require any batteries. It has a built-in lithium-ion battery good for 20+ hours of use per charge. Not only that, it’s also possible now to charge and play at the same time, cutting down on the down time. Whereas the Strauts XL had a USB port hidden in the battery compartment, this one is right up top, making it easier to access.

Now comes the most important new addition to the Stratus Duo and that’s the inclusion of 2.4GHz wireless connection. The previous Stratus XL was only able to connect via Bluetooth connection which really limited its potential and use. The Stratus Duo is still able to use Bluetooth but now also allows for 2.4GHz wireless connections thanks to an included dongle that you plug into your computer.  Not only that, it’s also possible to use a USB cable to play like that as well while the controller charges. What all this means is that the SteelSeries Stratus Duo now works with more devices.

Android Usage

Like with most of the Bluetooth controllers for mobile, game compatibility is hit or miss and usually requires a lot of trial and error. Games only work with these controllers if they’re programmed to work for them so not all games will be compatible. One game in particular that just recently gained support for controllers is Minecraft Pocket Edition. I play this game a lot with my son and using the touch screen on it is not bad, but also not optimal. I’ve tried the MOGA controllers with Minecraft Pocket Edition and they just  don’t work at all for it. The Stratus XL however works flawlessly. If you’ve played the console version of Minecraft before, the Pocket Edition will play exactly like it with a controller.

That’s just one game that works on Stratus XL. Will it work for a game you’re currently playing? Who knows. It’s pretty hit or miss because developers have to include the necessary lines of code needed for games to work on with controllers like this on Android. Supposedly there are a lot of games that do though.

Windows Usage

The SteelSeries Stratus Duo can also work with Windows, but with some conditions. If you play most of your games via STEAM, this controller is 100% compatible with controller-enabled games and with STEAM Big Picture Mode. I tested this with several games in my library and they all work as they should.

Not only that, games not on STEAM also seem to work correctly, such as Mineraft for Windows 10 that you can get from the Windows Store. The SteelSeries Stratus Duo functions just like an Xbox Controller and pressing the middle button even brings up the Xbox Game Capturing menu.

With that said, the SteelSeries Stratus Duo seems to work perfectly on a Windows 10 machine. I can’t tell you however how it’ll work on Windows 7 or 8 as I don’t have any machines with those older versions of Windows anymore. I do think however that as long as it ca recognize the little 2.4GHz wireless dongle or the controller when plugged in via USB, it should work.

The SteelSeries Stratus Duo is also suppose to work with Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, and Samsung Gear VR, of course I don’t have any of those to test with.

Final Thoughts

Is the SteelSeries Stratus Duo better than the Straus XL? Very much so. While the last controller was good, the Stratus Duo is just better in so many ways. First, having a built-in rechargeable battery means no more wasting money on those double-A batteries. Secondly, this thing allows you to connect in additional ways other than Bluetooth so more people can make use of this if their computers don’t have built-in Bluetooth, mainly those with older machines.

The SteelSeries Stratus Duo also feels really good in your hands. It’s very comfortable to use and has really good weight to it. Not only that, it seems really well made and solid. It’s just as good as any first party controller and you can really feel that upon first use.

In the end, the Stratus Duo is a great solution for those who need an Android game controller and one that also works with Windows. I really love the dual nature of the controller and the fact that thanks to its different connection options, I can easily switch between modes with a flip of a switch.

The SteelSeries Stratus Duo is available now for $59.99. There’s even an optional SmartGrip for your mobile phone that’s sold separately.