How to pair PS4 or Xbox controllers with iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, or Android


The DualShock 4 and Xbox One controllers were originally made to work on their respective consoles, but thanks to Apple’s recent software updates, you can more easily pair them via Bluetooth with your iOS 13 device, iPadOS tablet, or your Apple TV via tvOS 13. Android 10 makes it super easy to pair either controller, too, and you can pair with previous versions of Android and iOS as well.

This is probably of particular interest If you subscribe to Apple Arcade or Google Play Pass, as you can play several of the games on offer from either service with a controller. Fortnite paved the way for expanding controller support when it arrived on select phones, but the PS4 and Xbox controllers (though not all Xbox controllers) work on mobile with more games than ever, and crucially, many of those games offer native support for their button layouts.

The process for setting up the DualShock 4 and Xbox wireless controller with your device is simple, but the details of the setup vary a bit depending on which controller you have, and what operating system that you’ll be pairing the controller to. We’re going to hit all of the variables below.


Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge

First, put your controller into pairing mode

No matter what kind of device you pair Sony’s DualShock 4 with, you’ll first need to put the controller into pairing mode. To do this, press and hold its “Share” button to the left of the touchpad, then also hold the middle “PlayStation” button. The light bar at the top of the controller will start to blink, an indicator that it’s looking for a device to pair up with.

If you have an Xbox wireless controller, first ensure that it’s Bluetooth-ready. There’s an easy way to tell just by looking at it: if your gamepad has a glossy plastic surrounding the Xbox button, it won’t work. However, if that region is made of the same matte plastic as the face of the controller (as shown in the picture above), it will.

To enter pairing mode, turn on the controller by holding down the Xbox button in the middle. Once it lights up, click and hold the connect button on the top of the controller, near the bumpers, until the Xbox logo blinks. This indicates that you’re ready to pair.


How to pair your controller with iOS

  • Open the “Settings” app, and then tap the Bluetooth option near the top of the page. When your DualShock 4 or Xbox controller is in pairing mode, you’ll find it listed as “DUALSHOCK4 Wireless Controller” or “Xbox Wireless Controller,” respectively.
  • Tap whichever option applies to you. Once it’s successfully paired, the light bar on the top of the DualShock 4 will turn pink. The Xbox controller’s backlit middle button will stop blinking and remain illuminated.
  • If you’re using an iPad with iPadOS, follow these same steps to connect either controller.

Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

On Apple TV (running tvOS 13)

  • Open the “Settings” app on the Apple TV home screen, and then scroll down to “Remotes and Devices” and click into that option.
  • Scroll down until you find “Bluetooth”, and then click into it. A handy resource called “How to pair game controllers” will be the first option on the next page. Read if you need to, but otherwise, if your controller is in pairing mode, it will appear under the “Other Devices” section of this Bluetooth connection screen.
  • Once your controller is connected, you can use it in place of Apple’s included remote.

On Android

  • It has been possible to pair Bluetooth controllers to Android phones in software versions prior to Android 10, but Google’s latest update recognizes controllers faster. And, as a bonus for Android 10 users who sync up a DualShock 4, the touchpad can be used as a mouse pointer for the OS, as well as in-game, in case you don’t want to navigate with the analog stick. It’s cool!

(Note: these steps will vary slightly depending on the phone that you use.)

  • If you’re using a Pixel on Android 10, navigate to the “Settings” app, then click “Connected Devices”. Finally, you can find and pair your controller by selecting “Pair new device”. the DualShock 4 will appear as “Wireless Controller”, while the Xbox controller will simply be called “Xbox Wireless Controller”.
  • On Android 10, the DualShock 4’s light bar turns blue to indicate that it has been set up successfully, and the Xbox controller’s backlit middle button remains illuminated while it’s connected to your phone.
  • If you’re using an older version of Android, like Android 7 Nougat, or Android 8 Oreo, you may have to drill down into a Bluetooth sub-menu from within the “Connected Devices” setting to pair a controller.

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