The GameSir G4 Pro is one of the few multi-platform gaming controllers available from the China-based manufacturer and this one seems to be the best they built (so far), sporting a solid construction, interchangeable magnetic buttons and a better grip.
|GameSir G4 Pro
Well, better than the grip offered by the GameSir T4 Pro that I tested a few months ago and I was quite impressed by its functionality, performance and its ability to connect to a very large variety of gaming gear, including the smartphone. I know that a lot of people will frown upon the idea of gaming on a smartphone, but things have significantly changed over the last year or so and no, the mobile games didn’t get better (some would argue that they got worse), it’s the Cloud gaming streaming platforms that allow its users to play PC games on a browser, a smartphone (or tablet) and even on a smart TV.
I have been using Stadia (from Google) for a few months and it works fine on both my Pixel 2 XL and from a browser, but you also get a similar service from Microsoft (xCloud), NVidia (GeForce Now) and even Amazon (Luma). As expected, I did not have a good time playing PC games using the touchscreen display, so a gaming controller was mandatory and if there was any way to mount the mobile device on long commutes, that would have been even better. This brings us to the GameSir G4 Pro which not only has a built-in mechanism for smartphone mounting, it can also be used with PCs, Apple devices and the Nintendo Switch, so let’s have a closer look at this multi-platform device and see if it’s worth purchasing.
Design and Build Quality
When I tested the GameSir T4 Pro, the device shared the same design as its predecessor, with some improvements inside the controller, but that’s not entirely the case with the G4 Pro. Sure, there’s the GameSir G4S as the direct successor to the G4 controller and they both have the same look, so GameSir had to change some design elements to ensure that the G4 Pro won’t be mistaken with the G4S. The buttons layout is the same across all three generations, but the silver band at the top is gone and it’s now replaced by black glossy plastic and that’s available for the D-Pad and the grip texture on the handles as well since both are now black. So, yes, the GameSir G4 Pro went for a more serious design and when the LEDs are turned on, it creates a nice visual effect – that RGB gaming look is not lost.
In terms of size, the G4 Pro measures 5.9 x 4.1 x 2.0 inches (15.0 x 10.5 x 5.0 cm), which means that it doesn’t really differ that much from the T4 Pro (and it gets very close to the XBox Elite Series 2 controller in both looks and size).
After I took the controller in my hands, it felt heavier (and bulkier) than the T4 Pro, but, surprisingly, it weighs only a bit more (8.8 ounces – 250 grams), so this sensation most likely comes from the material choices. Indeed, while the T4 Pro was made out of smooth transparent plastic, the G4 Pro feels far better in my hands due to the grippier handles – they’re also a bit thicker, so, considering that I have larger hands, the controller simply sits more comfortable in my palms. The zone of interest is the top of the G4 Pro and here, you’ll find the left joystick covered by a rubber finish and next to it, there is the Select button, as well as four small LEDs.
These LEDs have the role of showing the status of the internal rechargeable battery – it will show the status in increments of 25% and, when the battery goes below 15%, the LEDs will start flashing red. Underneath the left joystick, there is a D-Pad which people have complained that it’s a bit mushy, but we’ll see how it behaves when we put it to the test. On the other side of the controller, there’s the Start button, followed by the ABXY buttons and the right joystick (which is again, covered by a rubber finish for a better grip). One of the highlighted features of the GameSir G4 Pro is the magnetic ABXY buttons which allow you to change the layout in any way you prefer (for example, to go from PC to Nintendo). The buttons may seem impossible to remove at first, but you need to search with your finger a recessed area which will allow you to easily pop out the button. Similarly to the GameSir G4S, the G4 Pro has kept the built-in phone holder in the middle of the controller and you can move it upwards to either an angle of a bit over 90 degrees or push it to about 160 degrees.
The phone holder ‘sticks’ into place and you can insert your smartphone or the Nintendo Switch by sliding up the retractable section. Considering that the holder has an opening of up to 4 inches, you can add any smartphone you like, including the protective case and yes, GameSir has added some rubber pads where the holder gets in contact with your device.
If the device that you want to attach has a thicker frame, then the manufacturer has added an extension piece to ensure that it won’t fall off (it’s easy to mount and remove). Sure, the built-in holder is a cool concept, but it does completely cover a couple of buttons, the Turbo and the Screenshot keys which, as expected, are not really exclusive to mobile gaming. The Turbo button allows you to set macros and, as its name suggests, the Screenshot button will quickly take a screenshot of the display. The third button in the middle of the G4 Pro is the Home button and this one is taller and it can be accessed from a cut-out section within the holder (the manufacturer could have done the same thing for all three buttons without breaking the design flow). The GameSir T4 Pro had four buttons on the bottom and these were not ported to the G4 Pro, but you still get the shoulder buttons (L1, L2, R1 and R2) which are metal plated for durability. The L2 and R2 buttons are very easy to press, but I noticed that the L1 and R1 are a bit more stiff towards the center of the controller.
It’s worth mentioning that the mobile holder also hides the 2.4GHz WiFi dongle which is far smaller than the one on the T4 Pro (size-wise, it’s very similar to a mouse dongle) and on the other side of the gaming controller, there is a USB-C port for either charging the battery or for a direct connection to your PC. Lastly, you will be able to find a Reset button on the bottom side of the G4 Pro.
Features and Functionality
Since it’s a multi-platform gaming controller, the GameSir G4 Pro can be connected to several types of devices and each requires a different combination of buttons. If you want to connect the controller to a PC, you either need to attach the provided USB cable or rely on the small 2.4GHz dongle; to turn it on, press X and Home at the same time. In case you want to try some mobile games and want to connect the G4 Pro to an Android OS device, press A and Home on the controller, enable Bluetooth on the phone and then pair to the ‘Gamesir-G4pro’ gamepad. I wasn’t able to find out what generation of Bluetooth it uses, but even if it’s the older 4.0, it should still be alright considering that the controller doesn’t require that much bandwidth and the range is very similar on both Bluetooth v4.0 and v5.0.
To connect the gaming controller to a Nintendo Switch, press Y and Home and the G4 Pro should automatically pair to the Switch. Lastly, in case you want to connect the controller to an Apple device to use the Apple Arcade service, press B and Home on the G4 Pro and then pair it via Bluetooth.
Regardless of the chosen platform, the first thing that you’ll notice after turning on the controller is the strong vibrations within the arms of the G4 Pro and then the LEDs will light up a different color, depending on the device that it’s connected to. Similarly to the T4 Pro, you can create macros by holding the buttons that you want to set in a sequence and pushing the Turbo button after each press, and, while there isn’t an app available to allow you to change the functions of the buttons (the G4 Pro has fixed this by having magnetic key caps), GameSir has made an interesting mobile application available. It’s called GameSir World and it mainly has the role of curating all the available mobile games that have been tested by the manufacturer and have been deemed as fully compatible with the controller. So, it will have a very similar UI to the Play Store, but there are some additional options that caught my interest: when the G4 Pro is connected, you will be able to upgrade its Firmware (if it’s available), test the Gamepad or adjust the sensitivity of the joysticks or of the L2/R2 buttons.
But, considering that I do have a lot more fun with proper games (such as those from PC or console), I decided to open Stadia on my Pixel 2 XL, connect the controller and see how it goes. I played a few platform games (such as Sundered) and the controls were mostly great, everything felt precise and responsive – no, there is no lag since it’s almost impossible to have range issues when the two devices are inches apart. The D-Pad is not really the best and it feels a bit mushy, but it’s usable even in intense fights (although it could lead to some fatigue).
I then opened another game, the Outcasters (from Splash games) and the joysticks were a bit of a mess. I couldn’t aim properly, the accuracy was bad, so I entered the app and lowered the sensitivity which has immediately improved my gameplay – so yes, use the app if necessary since some games may want personalized control. I also tried PUBG and it worked alright, as well as some racing games (tried the Android ones, such as Asphalt 9 or Real Racing 3) and again, everything worked as intended.
As I anticipated in the previous section, I wasn’t really fond of the L1/R1 buttons since they’re only easy to press at the extremities and, considering my long fingers, I had to readjust the way the controller sits in my hands (I actually preferred the L1/R1 buttons from the T4 Pro). Inside the GameSir G4 Pro, the manufacturer has added an 800 mAh rechargeable battery (as a comparison, the T4 Pro’s battery is 600mAh) which is advertised as being able to keep the device going for up to 20 hours. In my case, keeping everything on standard (as it came from the box), the runtime was about 16 hours which is definitely impressive. It’s important to know that if you don’t use the controller for 10 minutes, it will automatically go to sleep and, to wake it, just long press the Home button for 2 seconds.
I’m sure you didn’t expect that the mobile gaming would change for the better and, in a sense, it kind of didn’t, but it was recently assaulted by the large tech manufacturers that saw the opportunity to push their Cloud streaming gaming platforms towards everything that has an Internet connection and a display, so you should be able to play Cyberpunk 2077 on your smart TV, phone, Raspberry Pi (and so on). A multi-platform controller is a godsend when you play the same game on multiple devices and the GameSir G4 Pro was built exactly for this purpose. You get the means to mount your smartphone or Nintendo Switch, it can connect to a PC, MacBook or smart TV and it feels comfortable in hand. Of course, not everything is perfect since it will work great with some type of games and a bit less with others, but overall, it’s a decent gaming controller that’s worth giving a try.
GameSir G4 Pro-
- Multi-platform compatibility
- Solid build construction + excellent grip
- There is no lag regardless of the connection type
- The battery life is long
- I liked the built-in smartphone/Nintendo Switch holder
- Sometimes the controller would not re-connect to the smartphone and needed to be re-paired
- The L1/R1 buttons are a bit stiff
- The D-Pad is mushy