PS4 Controller Phone Holder Brief Review: Android Controller Latency Bluetooth vs. OTG

It’s been a while since I tinkered around… A few days ago, while browsing on Taobao, I stumbled upon a PS4 controller phone holder from a brand called “良值” that seemed to have a reasonably designed structure. I remembered someone mentioning on a forum before that it would be great if there were a holder for smartphones to attach to the controller, and this design is somewhat similar.

So, I decided to give it a try. The price was $5, which is a bit more expensive than the previous phone holders I’ve used. I also bought a Type-C to micro-USB cable, intending to connect the Android phone and the controller via OTG to see if I can achieve better input latency…

I’d like to mention that there are two versions of this holder, one for PS4 controllers and one for Xbox One controllers. Since my main purpose is to play emulators, I chose the PS4 version. If you plan to use it for Steam streaming, the Xbox One version might be more suitable.

Various angles with the phone attached. My phone is a Meizu 15, which is one of the last-generation 16:9 screen phones. It has ultra-narrow bezels, weighs only 140g, features powerful dual speakers, physical buttons, a Snapdragon 660 processor, and I bought it specifically for playing emulators. It runs games from Dreamcast and PGM2 arcade boards flawlessly. It can handle games even beyond that, but with some limitations.

OTG cable connection.

The Type-C to micro-USB cable. It’s one of those Type-C cables with an angled connector, and I had to search for it for a long time on Taobao.

Brief Review:

The standout feature of this holder is that it solves the problem of previous PS4 controller holders, such as the one shown in the image below, where the controller feels top-heavy during use!

Although the overall weight hasn’t changed much (in fact, it might be slightly heavier because of the holder), due to the way it clamps onto the phone, the phone’s center of gravity is closer to the controller itself. Therefore, the overall feel of using it should be better. This is especially noticeable now that controllers are becoming heavier; the top-heavy sensation when using the old-style holders has become particularly evident.

Compared to stretchable controllers on both sides, such as the Flydigi Wee, I’ve summarized a few advantages:

The PS4 controller itself feels better and doesn’t have the loose sensation of stretchable controllers. The feel is solid!
When in use, it doesn’t block the speakers, providing better audio.
When connected via OTG, it achieves nearly the lowest input latency.
Convenient for using headphones. Note: When connected via OTG, the sound goes through the PS4 controller’s 3.5mm audio jack by default. You can turn off USB audio output in developer mode to make the sound come from the phone itself.
If connected via Bluetooth, you can charge your phone while playing.
Of course, there are clear disadvantages. The appearance is undoubtedly less integrated compared to stretchable controllers, and its portability is also significantly reduced. It’s probably only suitable for home use.

I also noticed that Android’s support for PS4 controller OTG connections seems to have improved after Android 10. With my S10+, when I connect a PS4 controller via OTG, it no longer charges the controller by default, and the PS4 controller’s light turns blue. I remember that when I connected via OTG in the past, the phone used to charge the PS4 controller (yellow light)?

Input Latency Testing:

I took this opportunity to test input latency between Bluetooth and OTG.

In the past, many people said that Android Bluetooth had a significant delay, while others said the delay was small and didn’t affect gameplay much, except for music-related applications, where low latency was crucial.

For the testing method, I referenced a method on YouTube for testing joystick input latency, which I found to be reasonably feasible. Of course, this can only provide a comparative reference, and it’s impossible to determine the exact number of milliseconds of delay.

The specific method involves using the Redream emulator to play the DC version of Capcom vs. SNK 2 in versus mode. Both Player 1 and Player 2 select the same character, stand together, and press light punch simultaneously to see who lands the hit. Since both hands press the buttons simultaneously, there may be some errors, so I had to increase the number of tests to reduce the margin of error.

Comparisons were made between the PS4 controller via Bluetooth, the PS4 controller via OTG, and the Flydigi Wee 2 via Bluetooth.

The test results show that the PS4 OTG connection has the lowest latency, consistently winning in terms of landing light punches. Whether compared to the PS4 controller via Bluetooth or the Flydigi Wee 2, the PS4 OTG connection’s delay is indeed lower.

The Flydigi Wee 2 has slightly lower latency than the PS4 controller via Bluetooth. I repeated the test many times, pressing the buttons numerous times, and the Flydigi Wee 2 had a somewhat higher win rate. However, the PS4 controller via Bluetooth could still win some rounds, roughly at a 2:1 ratio. I tried swapping Player 1 and Player 2, and the results were the same. It seems that the Flydigi Wee 2 has slightly lower latency, but the difference is not as significant as between OTG and Bluetooth. This difference is probably hard to perceive in actual gameplay, and it’s close to one’s own experience.