I’ve reviewed my share of mobile controllers over the past few years, but none of them are quite like the Turtle Beach Atom. As soon as I saw how unique this controller is, I knew I had to have it. Fortunately, our friends over at Turtle Beach were kind enough to send one out for review.
Without a doubt, the design is the most polarizing aspect of the Turtle Beach Atom Controller. It adopts the popular horizontal layout which places your phone in the center, akin to a Nintendo Switch. However, while most other companies have opted to connect the left and right halves with a spring mechanism to lock the phone in place, Turtle Beach has made the left and right sides independent of each other.
Since the left and right halves are completely separate from each other, this makes it possible to fit phones of almost any size without fighting to stretch the controller and squeeze your phone into it. Instead, the left and right halves both connect independently using their own clamp. They then use a 2.4GHz wireless connection to communicate with each other, along with Bluetooth to connect with your phone.
This is how the Atom sets itself apart from all of the other mobile controllers using this same layout. Besides that, it resembles most other controllers with the analog sticks and buttons in similar places.
I will say that the controller is quite thick, although lightweight. If you have large hands, then the Atom will rest comfortably in them, however, the backside could have used some texture to add additional grip. I found myself wishing there was some embossing or rubber on the back because it can feel quite slick in your hands.
Another way the Turtle Beach Atom stands out from the pack is by how compact it is when not in use. When not attached to your phone, the Atom is able to slide together where it is held securely by magnets. This makes it the most compact mobile controller I’ve used that’s also capable of mounting to your smartphone to mimic a Nintendo Switch.
However, while this ingenious design has made it more portable, the lack of a hardshell case is really puzzling. It’s true a hardshell case would have made the Atom more bulky while on the go, but by choosing a carrying pouch, Turtle Beach has left the analog sticks unprotected. The last thing you want to do is abuse the joysticks on a $100 controller and end up with stick drift or worse.
If you’re wondering what games and services the Atom works with, then Turtle Beach has a handy list for you right here. I’ve spent the past few weeks playing games from the cloud—as well as installed on my phone—with the Turtle Beach Atom, and it has worked fantastically.
The buttons were all responsive and I haven’t noticed any perceivable lag. Likewise, the analog sticks worked well and there was no drift or any issues.
Initially, I had worries that when I held onto just one side of the controller that it might feel unstable, but that didn’t prove to be the case. My phone always felt secure in the Atom controllers, and there was never a problem inserting or removing my device.
I even made sure to use a smartphone with a large 6.8-inch display and a case. With some of the other controllers using this similar layout, I would usually have to remove the case because the fit would be too tight. It was tremendously more convenient to be able to leave my case on while using the Atom controller.
Just a reminder, that just like all of the other mobile controllers which use this design, the Atom will block the power port. You’ll still be able to hear sound from the speakers because there are vents on the right half of the controller, however, you will be unable to charge your smartphone with the controller attached.
Speaking of power ports, the Turtle Beach Atom uses a USB Type-C port to charge, and it is rated for 20 hours of playtime. In my experience, that seems about right. I’ve barely had to charge the Atom the past few weeks as I’ve used it.
The Turtle Beach Atom is the most unique mobile gaming controller I’ve ever seen. While the format has been used by several other brands, Turtle Beach has put its own creative spin on the design and I love it.
This award is reserved for products, apps, and services which have an overall average score of 4.25 or higher. Graded on a scale of 1-5, our reviews look at a variety of aspects to determine a total rating. Factors which help to create the composite score will often include design, features, price, warranty, audio, battery, general and performance.
On top of that, the controller works great and Turtle Beach matches the price of many of its competitors that use a similar design. My only criticisms would be the use of a pouch instead a hardshell case which leaves the analog sticks unprotected, and the back side could have used a little texture to add some grip.
Besides these minor nitpicks, the Atom is a great mobile controller for all of your cloud gaming needs. The Turtle Beach Atom is currently available from its website or Amazon for $100, and comes in three different color variations.