Hands-On Video and Impressions of the MOGA Rebel MFi Controller

rebellogoYesterday, MOGA officially unveiled their first full-sized MFi controller for iOS devices, the MOGA Rebel. I had a chance to sit down with the final version of the hardware with company representatives in San Francisco and spend a little time trying it out. I’ll be saving most of my thoughts for a full review in time for the controller’s release next Wednesday, after spending the weekend really putting it through its paces, but for now here are some initial thoughts and a little hands-on video to give you a better idea of what the MOGA Rebel offers those looking for a decent full-size MFi controller.

As you can see, the Rebel mostly resembles an Xbox controller, with its offset dual-analog sticks and button arrangement. In terms of build quality the Rebel feels quite solid, though it still doesn’t feel as solid as an actual 1st-party controller from an Xbox or PlayStation. It feels lighter than either of those, and has more of a plasticky feel, but it still feels like a well-built piece of equipment. The buttons have a nice clicky feel, and the L and R analog triggers feel especially good in terms of resistance and springiness. The two analog sticks also feel great, though they’re a bit looser than I prefer.

MOGA_Bioshock closed-1

The Rebel is equipped with a flip-out arm right in the middle of the controller that can hold your iPhone or iPod touch in place while you play, and this is by far my favorite feature. As much as I like my current favorite MFi controller, the Steel Series Stratus, I just don’t feel compelled to prop up an iPad on my coffee table and hunch over with the controller in my hands just to play a game. With the Rebel, I can just slide my iPhone into the arm and kick back and play, whether that be laying down on the couch, standing in line at the movies, or whatever. Putting a device in and out of the arm is incredibly easy, and it’s also super grippy and secure.

Here’s a quick video of us trying out a couple of MFi supported games with the rebel, Bioshock ($9.99) and Bastion ($4.99), as well as a look at the MOGA World app which will be launching alongside the Rebel next week.

Overall, my impressions after yesterday’s demo and my own time playing around with a review unit last night is that this is far and away the best full-sized MFi controller on market. Now, there’s not a ton of competition in that area, and there are a few negatives to the Rebel. Obviously pricing is an issue as it is with every MFi controller, and at $79.99, while the Rebel definitely does feel like a well-built piece of hardware, it still doesn’t feel like something that costs $79.99. Also, as much as I love the flip-out arm to hold my device, it doesn’t flip all the way back, and the angle at which it stops feels a bit too forward for my taste. That’s a very minor problem though, and one I’m quickly getting used to.

Another strange thing I haven’t touched on yet is the d-pad. It’s very… strange. The entire d-pad is one giant, bowl-shaped circle rather than a “plus" shape or even four separate buttons situated in a plus shape like a PlayStation controller. It seems to have been designed to have you place your thumb in the center and keep it there, and press the various directions by kind of “rolling" your thumb, sort of like how a virtual analog stick works on a touchscreen. I need to play with it some more, but it seems like a strange design decision. The Android equivalent of the Rebel has a true plus-shaped d-pad, and why they didn’t just do one of those here is a mystery.


At any rate, these are all just early impressions, and my overall gut feeling for the Rebel is that this will be the one to get if you want a full-size MFi controller. It goes on sale online and in Apple stores on September 17th for $79.99, and we should have a full review of the unit in time for that.