As smartphones became more powerful, the games we play have become more powerful and with far more intricate controls. The Turtle Beach Atom addresses the need for a compact mobile gaming controller for Android devices offering more control over your games.
The official line from Turtle Beach is that the Atom ‘is officially licensed by Xbox and built for immersive cloud gaming on Xbox Game Pass and more with Android smartphones.’
It’s a surprisingly compact two-piece design that eschews the usual connected controls like the Razer Kishi or GameSir, with the separated design, and spring loaded clamp system allowing for larger smartphones to be used, even in a case.
As Cloud Gaming is starting to find its feet in Australia with both Xbox Cloud gaming and NVIDIA’s GeForce Now service available, it’s time to see how well they perform and if the Turtle Beach Atom is the right controller for taking on the road.
I used the Turtle Beach Atom for a month and here’s how it went.
Hardware and Design
The Turtle Beach Atom comes in a black/yellow colour scheme in a neat two-piece design with spring mounted clamps that securely fits on almost any smartphone – even my Pixel 7 Pro in its case, though it fits far better with it removed.
You use Bluetooth to connect to the Atom, then a low-latency wireless 2.4GHz connection pairs the two halves together. It’s quite fast in use and except for a couple of times, you never notice any delay with connection between the two – a restart resolved the couple of issues I encountered every time.
The rear of the Atom has a soft-touch plastic which feels smooth and comfortable in your hands. All the controls you;d expect for playing cloud gaming are there, the D-Pad, thumbsticks and A-B-X-Y buttons are easily reached, as are the textured triggers and bumper buttons at the top of the controllers. The controls are full-sized so it immediately feels comfortable in your hands if you’re used to picking up controllers.
One of the things I love about the design of the Atom is that it allows for easy storage. The two pieces slot into each other securely before you store it in the included drawstring bag for travel.
When docked together, Turtle Beach refer to this as ‘Travel Mode’, this is also how you charge the Atom with pogo pins and magnets on the end of the controllers transferring data. You’ll also need to be in this Travel Mode to update your firmware.
It’s a very lightweight device at just 180 grams and I was able to use it for long gaming sessions in multiple games.
The only real downside to me is that there’s no option to charge your smartphone while you;re playing those long sessions and I played for long enough that I put a pretty good dent in my battery.
The Turtle Beach Atom will get you through a lot of gaming on the go. It’s rated for up to 20 hours and in my testing this is easily achievable, though I had multiple sessions over a couple of weeks.
Charging from flat to full in a few hours using a USB-C charger you have around the house. You only get a USB-C cable in the box so just attach it to any brick or port and charge it up.
The Atom has a multi-coloured LED near the charging port. When it’s searching for a paired device you’ll see it flash blue before going solid white, or if it’s charging you’ll get a pulsing red until it’s charged and it turns solid green. It’s a handy visual aid to check out where the controller is at.
The setup is simple. All you need to do is hold down the Xbox button on the front to turn it on and a white LED appears above your thumb and it should go into pairing mode for the first time. If not, just hold the Bluetooth button on the base to put it into pairing mode and then go through pairing on your Android phone.
There is the Turtle Beach Arom app available on Google Play. The app allow you to customise the thumbsticks, eliminating dead zones and improving response times. You can also update the firmware.
Beyond updating the firmware I didn’t really use the app a lot, the power management appeared to be broken, not registering the second half of the controller. There were no dead zones to take care of and so I opted to just go into the settings in games and play around there if I needed anything changed. Game Discovery was helpful to check out in the early days of the review, but I mostly ignored it after that.
Once the Atom is paired with your phone it’s good to go. I loaded games and both Xbox Cloud Gaming through GamePass and accessed my available games in GeForce Now extremely easily – at least if the service co-operated (looking at you GeForce Now).
Using the Atom
The Atom is compatible with a good range of cloud gaming services as well as Android games with controller support, with a list of games confirmed compatible available on the Turtle Beach site.
While it’s built for Xbox Cloud Gaming the controller supports multiple services including GeForce Now and Samsung Game Hub, and if it ever launches here Amazon Luna. That said, if you just want to play Android games with controller support, and the Atom works super well for this.
Loading Xbox Cloud Gaming on the Atom was super easy. Just install the Xbox GamePass app from Google Play and check the Cloud tab to see what you can play on the go.
I was able to load up my No Man’s Sky save easily, completing my weekend Nexus mission, even while away on holiday. The Atom was small enough to drop into my backpack without taking up much room. While in-flight II was able to hop into flight mode on my phone and then jump into Minecraft and play all the way there and back.
Should You Buy it?
If you’re at all into gaming on your mobile, or want to get into cloud gaming on the go, the Turtle Beach Atom is definitely a great investment.
At $189, the Turtle Beach Atom does have some competition, notably from the Razer Kishi 2 here in Australia, but there’s also a number of models you can import like the GameSir X3. My preference is for the Atom though, with the two-piece design offering a more versatile solution, especially for larger phones.
It’s super comfortable to use for long periods of time and it has a battery to match. It’s also very well put together and feels sturdy.
If you want to get your hands on a Turtle Beach Atom, you can check them out on Amazon, Big W, JB Hifi or just the Turtle Beach website.