How to connect an Xbox controller to your iPhone to play games and more

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How to connect an Xbox controller to your iPhone to play games and more
Connecting an Xbox controller to your iPhone is a great way to enhance your games. Hopix Art/Shutterstock
  • To connect an Xbox controller to your iPhone and play games with it, you'll need to have at least iOS 13.
  • You can connect nearly any Xbox controller, whether it's from the Xbox One or Xbox Series X/S.
  • Make sure that your Xbox controller has Bluetooth and is in pairing mode before trying to connect it.

Thanks to some recent updates, you can now connect nearly every popular video game controller to your iPhone. This includes Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S controllers, which are considered some of the best on the market.

Although not every game supports the use of controllers, several of the more popular games on the App Store allow it, including nearly every game in the Apple Arcade.

Quick tip: To connect an Xbox controller to your iPhone, make sure that you're running at least iOS 13. If you still have iOS 12 or earlier, you'll need to update your iPhone.

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Pairing your Xbox One controller to your iPhone is pretty straightforward. Here's how to do it.

Does your Xbox controller have Bluetooth?

Your iPhone connects to game controllers using Bluetooth. This means that any controller you connect needs to have Bluetooth, too.

Luckily, nearly all official Xbox controllers have Bluetooth. This includes the controllers that come with the Xbox One S, Xbox One X, and Xbox Series X/S. So if you've bought your controller within the last five years, you probably don't need to worry.

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If you're still using the controllers that came with the original Xbox One, however, you might need to upgrade.

There's an easy way to tell if your Xbox One controller has Bluetooth. A Bluetooth-capable Xbox One controller has plastic around the Xbox button that matches the rest of the controller's color. Non-Bluetooth controllers instead have plastic that matches the color of the bumper buttons.

How to connect an Xbox controller to your iPhone to play games and more
The wireless controller (pictured left) will match the primary color of the overall controller, while a non-Bluetooth one (pictured right) will match the black color found in the bumper section. Taylor Lyles/Business Insider

How to connect an Xbox controller to your iPhone

Now, if you have an Xbox controller with Bluetooth:

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1. Hold down the Xbox logo button, located at the top-center of the controller, until it starts flashing. If it doesn't flash and instead just glows solidly, it's already paired to a nearby Xbox - if this is the case, hold the small button located next to the charging port until the Xbox logo flashes.

2. Grab your iPhone and open the Settings app, then tap Bluetooth.

3. Once you're in the Bluetooth menu, you should see a device named "Xbox Wireless Controller" or something similar. Tap it, and your iPhone will ask you if you want to pair the device.

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How to connect an Xbox controller to your iPhone to play games and more
Make sure the controller isn't paired with anything else, or otherwise it won't appear here. Taylor Lyles/Business Insider

4. Select Pair.

How to connect an Xbox controller to your iPhone to play games and more
Once the device is paired, you can start using it. Taylor Lyles/Business Insider

5. Later, if you're done using the controller and want to disconnect it, go to the Bluetooth menu again, tap the small i icon next to the device's name, and then tap Disconnect.

How to connect an Xbox controller to your iPhone to play games and more
Pairing and unpairing your controller is simple. Taylor Lyles/Business Insider

Quick tip: While you have a controller connected, head to the Settings app and select General. There, you'll find a menu called Game Controller. You can use this menu to customize the controller's buttons.

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