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Mobile Review of Moga Pro Power controller for Android

Bethany

Empress of Light
Some time ago I bought a Moga Pro Power controller to use with my Android phone, a Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD. I really want to recommend this controller. When it works it's soooo nice! Sorry to say, from time to time I wish I'd returned it for a refund while I still could. Here's the story.

Physically it's a wonderful device. Its size, shape, weight, control layout, joystick and button spring tension, and overall feel in the hands are all nearly identical to the Microsoft XBox 360 controller, which I consider an excellent piece of kit. When holding it I get an impression of solidity. It doesn't feel like a cheap knockoff, nor should it because it's fairly pricey. When I bought mine it cost a lot more.

Built-in battery

Along with acting as a game controller it's got another trick up its sleeve, or rather inside its case: a 2200 milliamp-hour battery that not only powers the controller, you can connect it to most Android phones or tablets using the included USB-to-micro-USB connector. During a recent power outage I used this to preserve my phone's charge, and it worked just fine.

However, if I clip my phone into the provided spring-loaded arm that folds out from the top of the controller, the micro USB connector interferes with the right-side trigger and shoulder buttons. The only way to avoid this is to have the arm grip the phone waaay off center, which unbalances the whole thing and looks awfully inelegant. A shame since by itself it looks nice enough.

So I don't use the battery to run the phone, except when not actually playing games. Oh well. No biggie.

Connecting to Android devices

You can't just connect via Bluetooth and start playing. For your game to use the Pro Power, you must install and run Moga's "Pivot" app, available free at the Google Play store. For full functionality the game must also have been written to interface to the Pro Power.

Before starting your game, you must start Pivot, go through a simple syncing operation involving choosing a controller mode — A for full features, B for simpler generic HID mode. Moving the mode selector switch to A makes the power LED glow green, while the four blue player-select LEDs blink until connected. When they stop blinking and glow steady blue you're synced.

For mode B the power LED will be orange but the rest of the connection process is the same. Terraria supports mode A, so that's what I use.

Though Terraria isn't displayed anywhere in the Pivot app's listing of compatible games, when I perform the sync operation to connect the Moga to my phone, then start Terraria, a console-style help bar appears across the bottom of Terraria's display, showing currently active button assignments. These change as you enter and exit various game screens so you can always see which button does what.

Playing Terraria with Moga

Okay, so I've gone through the sync procedure and started the game. So far so good. Let's play.

I don't use consoles but wouldn't be surprised if the control assignments are the same as those on the XBox version of Terraria. It takes a little while to get used to if you're mostly a PC player, or if you've used only the on-screen controller pads in Terraria. After a few minutes muscle memory starts learning how to do common tasks and game play begins to feel reasonably natural.

Chop some trees. Yeah! Mine some ore, smelt it. Craft a sword and some armor and it's time to–

☁⌁✻₪#★!!!!

Oh crud. The blue LEDs are blinking again and the control's gone non-responsive. No worries, I'll just go back to Pivot and reconnect and everything will be hunky-dory. Right?

Well, maybe not.

In Pivot I unsync from the controller, then go through the sync process again. Except this time after the controller's LEDs show that a connection has been established, Pivot doesn't agree. After thirty seconds or so, Pivot displays a message telling me that Pivot can't find the controller. Try again. No dice, still won't sync.

Okay, so I shut down Terraria (using touchscreen, since the buttons no longer do anything), close Pivot, then restart both. Go through the little sync song and dance again, back to Android to start Terraria anew, maybe shut Pivot down and restart it two or three more times, and eventually I get synced.

Sure enough, after a few minutes of play those blue LEDs are blinking again and the connection is lost.

The Speaker relinquishes the podium

Maybe it's Bluetooth interference. Sure, the phone is just centimeters from the controller, presumably as close to the controller's Bluetooth antenna as the designers could arrange. But a decent speaker (Jawbone Big Jambox or Mini Jambox, depending on where I'm playing) isn't really necessary to play Terraria, so I try using the phone's built-in speaker.

After switching the Jambox off the Moga seems to get a more reliable connection. I'm able to play for a while, and things seem to work right. It's annoying that I can't use my favorite speakers, but maybe that's the price of using a good hardware controller.

On the fence

At this point I'm torn between loving the Pro Power's form and solidity and being frustrated with the instability of the Pro Power-Pivot team, possibly due to interference from other Bluetooth connections.

Anyone who is considering buying one of these controllers should ask whether they'll be able to get a full refund if it turns out not to be reliable in combination with their phone, tablet, or other Android device. Keep the packaging in as good condition as you can, since few stores will give a 100% refund if they can't display and resell (often with an open-box discount) the returned item.

I'll play longer and report back on how things go. If all goes well I'll try connecting to the Big Jambox again for superior sound, and we'll see whether it's the combination that causes trouble.

I'll also test the Pro Power with an Android tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition. Naturally it won't fit in the controller's clip, but otherwise I anticipate it will behave similarly to the Droid. More on that later.

How about you?

I welcome input from anyone else who uses, or has used, a Moga Pro Power on Android. I'd also be interested to hear from Apple device users who've tried the very similar Moga Rebel for iOS. Naturally I'm especially interested to hear from people who encountered and perhaps overcame Bluetooth difficulties.
 
Last edited:

Yo.Its.Cristian

Terrarian
T
Some time ago I bought a Moga Pro Power controller to use with my Android phone, a Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD. I really want to recommend this controller. When it works it's soooo nice! Sorry to say, from time to time I wish I'd returned it for a refund while I still could. Here's the story.

Physically it's a wonderful device. Its size, shape, weight, control layout, joystick and button spring tension, and overall feel in the hands are all nearly identical to the Microsoft XBox 360 controller, which I consider an excellent piece of kit. When holding it I get an impression of solidity. It doesn't feel like a cheap knockoff, nor should it because it's fairly pricey. When I bought mine it cost a lot more.

Built-in battery

Along with acting as a game controller it's got another trick up its sleeve, or rather inside its case: a 2200 milliamp-hour battery that not only powers the controller, you can connect it to most Android phones or tablets using the included USB-to-micro-USB connector. During a recent power outage I used this to preserve my phone's charge, and it worked just fine.

However, if I clip my phone into the provided spring-loaded arm that folds out from the top of the controller, the micro USB connector interferes with the right-side trigger and shoulder buttons. The only way to avoid this is to have the arm grip the phone waaay off center, which unbalances the whole thing and looks awfully inelegant. A shame since by itself it looks nice enough.

So I don't use the battery to run the phone, except when not actually playing games. Oh well. No biggie.

Connecting to Android devices

You can't just connect via Bluetooth and start playing. For your game to use the Pro Power, you must install and run Moga's "Pivot" app, available free at the Google Play store. For full functionality the game must also have been written to interface to the Pro Power.

Before starting your game, you must start Pivot, go through a simple syncing operation involving choosing a controller mode — A for full features, B for simpler generic HID mode. Moving the mode selector switch to A makes the power LED glow green, while the four blue player-select LEDs blink until connected. When they stop blinking and glow steady blue you're synced.

For mode B the power LED will be orange but the rest of the connection process is the same. Terraria supports mode A, so that's what I use.

Though Terraria isn't displayed anywhere in the Pivot app's listing of compatible games, when I perform the sync operation to connect the Moga to my phone, then start Terraria, a console-style help bar appears across the bottom of Terraria's display, showing currently active button assignments. These change as you enter and exit various game screens so you can always see which button does what.

Playing Terraria with Moga

Okay, so I've gone through the sync procedure and started the game. So far so good. Let's play.

I don't use consoles but wouldn't be surprised if the control assignments are the same as those on the XBox version of Terraria. It takes a little while to get used to if you're mostly a PC player, or if you've used only the on-screen controller pads in Terraria. After a few minutes muscle memory starts learning how to do common tasks and game play begins to feel reasonably natural.

Chop some trees. Yeah! Mine some ore, smelt it. Craft a sword and some armor and it's time to–

☁⌁✻₪#★!!!!

Oh crud. The blue LEDs are blinking again and the control's gone non-responsive. No worries, I'll just go back to Pivot and reconnect and everything will be hunky-dory. Right?

Well, maybe not.

In Pivot I unsync from the controller, then go through the sync process again. Except this time after the controller's LEDs show that a connection has been established, Pivot doesn't agree. After thirty seconds or so, Pivot displays a message telling me that Pivot can't find the controller. Try again. No dice, still won't sync.

Okay, so I shut down Terraria (using touchscreen, since the buttons no longer do anything), close Pivot, then restart both. Go through the little sync song and dance again, back to Android to start Terraria anew, maybe shut Pivot down and restart it two or three more times, and eventually I get synced.

Sure enough, after a few minutes of play those blue LEDs are blinking again and the connection is lost.

The Speaker relinquishes the podium

Maybe it's Bluetooth interference. Sure, the controller is just centimeters from the controller, presumably as close to the controller's Bluetooth antenna as the designers could arrange. But a decent speaker (Jawbone Big Jambox or Mini Jambox, depending on where I'm playing) isn't really necessary to play Terraria, so I try using the phone's built-in speaker.

After switching the Jambox off the Moga seems to get a more reliable connection. I'm able to play for a while, and things seem to work right. It's annoying that I can't use my favorite speakers, but maybe that's the price of using a good hardware controller.

On the fence

At this point I'm torn between loving the Pro Power's form and solidity and being frustrated with the instability of the Pro Power-Pivot team, possibly due to interference from other Bluetooth connections.

Anyone who is considering buying one of these controllers should ask whether they'll be able to get a full refund if it turns out not to be reliable in combination with their phone, tablet, or other Android device. Keep the packaging in as good condition as you can, since few stores will give a 100% refund if they can't display and resell (often with an open-box discount) the returned item.

I'll play longer and report back on how things go. If all goes well I'll try connecting to the Big Jambox again for superior sound, and we'll see whether it's the combination that causes trouble.

I'll also test the Pro Power with an Android tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition. Naturally it won't fit in the controller's clip, but otherwise I anticipate it will behave similarly to the Droid. More on that later.

How about you?

I welcome input from anyone else who uses, or has used, a Moga Pro Power on Android. I'd also be interested to hear from Apple device users who've tried the very similar Moga Rebel for iOS. Naturally I'm especially interested to hear from people who encountered and perhaps overcame Bluetooth difficulties.
Thanks for the information
;););););););););)
 

Bethany

Empress of Light
Update: I've been playing on the Galaxy tablet for over an hour without trouble. No Bluetooth speaker or other BT accessories connected. It's been working beautifully the whole time.

At one point the controller powered down because I'd left the controller and tablet idle, untouched for a while, to see what would happen. I pressed the button next to the green/orange power and mode LED. That LED lit up, the blue player indicator LEDs blinked, and after a few seconds Terraria (which was still running in the foreground, paused on the inventory screen) recognized the controller again. I was able to resume play without mishaps. No need to restart either Pivot or Terraria.

I'm feeling a lot better about the device after this experience. :dryadpassionate: Nobody wants to think she's wasted money on a lemon. Unless she's making lemon pie or cake, that is.

It's tired and I'm getting late* so I won't try using one of the Jamboxes via Bluetooth tonight. Maybe at lunchtime tomorrow. And I'll have another go using the phone, which is what I bought the Moga for; using the on-screen controllers with tablet isn't as cumbersome as on a largish, but still nowhere near phablet-sized, phone.
_____________________
* so sang Earth Opera, and so sang Seatrain
 

Yo.Its.Cristian

Terrarian
Update: I've been playing on the Galaxy tablet for over an hour without trouble. No Bluetooth speaker or other BT accessories connected. It's been working beautifully the whole time.

At one point the controller powered down because I'd left the controller and tablet idle, untouched for a while, to see what would happen. I pressed the button next to the green/orange power and mode LED. That LED lit up, the blue player indicator LEDs blinked, and after a few seconds Terraria (which was still running in the foreground, paused on the inventory screen) recognized the controller again. I was able to resume play without mishaps. No need to restart either Pivot or Terraria.

I'm feeling a lot better about the device after this experience. :dryadpassionate: Nobody wants to think she's wasted money on a lemon. Unless she's making lemon pie or cake, that is.

It's tired and I'm getting late* so I won't try using one of the Jamboxes via Bluetooth tonight. Maybe at lunchtime tomorrow. And I'll have another go using the phone, which is what I bought it for; using the on-screen controllers with tablet isn't as cumbersome as on a largish, but still nowhere near phablet-sized, phone.
_____________________
* so sang Earth Opera, and so sang Seatrain
Now i really want a MOGA controller.Thank you very much!
 

Bethany

Empress of Light
Glad to help, assuming it turns out to be help and not bad advice. Be cautious. Every device is different. But good luck to you.
 

Unit One

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
This is a such an informative review Bethany. Good stuff.

I just bought a Mad Catz controller for iOS and it has changed my life. I was going with the Moga until something at the last minute happened and I switched at checkout to the Mad Catz. I don't recall what made me switch, who can remember such things. :merchantgrin:

No app needed in order to pair the controller to the phone. And I bought it realizing that the iPad 2 was not listed in the compatible devices, but still held out hope that it would work since it mentioned needing iOS 7 or later. But no go. The iPad 2 did not pair. It did pair with a borrowed iPad 3 (whatever those are officially called).

Now I just may have to get a new iPad even though my current one has absolutely nothing wrong with it, other than not being compatible to the controller. I'll use any excuse to buy more devices to play Terraria. `:p
 

Ingenious

Terrarian
OK
Glad to help, assuming it turns out to be help and not bad advice. Be cautious. Every device is different. But good luck to you.
I'm probably resurrecting this but as someone who had the same phone and controller (are you me??) And just got a Motorola Turbo, I'd like to report the same problem. More importantly, I despise the shameless bloatware of the Pivot app and its instability, but I'm equally baffled and frustrated by the lack of a basic HID mode for Terria. Like, seriously, why is there no basic HID mode?
 

Bethany

Empress of Light
Hi! I think we're separate people, unless there's some sort of Jekyll/Hyde thing going on — except with two good sides and no evil one. :dryadhappy:

Agreed, the Pivot app is a pain. I'd have thought Android, extensive as it is, would have had a built-in API for game controller-type HIDs for years. As far as I know there's none yet. (Disclaimer: I've not looked into programming for Android in the last year or more so I might be behind the times on this.)
 

Ingenious

Terrarian
Lol, Ill be keeping an eye on you twin. xD I also wanna add that my controller disconnects fairly often during longer plays, which has killed me more than a few times. It likes to disconnect from the Pivot app every half hour or so and send my character running to the right, making virtual input useless until I get Pivot back up and reset that and my game. :(
 

Bethany

Empress of Light
Yup, that's been the stopper for me. Lately, pressing that unlabeled button above Select has always reconnected for me, so I don't restart Pivot. It seems to pick up where it left off (though by then the character may have been zombied or lava-ed).

Lately I'm playing more on iPad so the Moga isn't getting much of a workout. I'll have to try it again soon, see if it really is more reliable since the latest update.
 

Ingenious

Terrarian
Yup, that's been the stopper for me. Lately, pressing that unlabeled button above Select has always reconnected for me, so I don't restart Pivot. It seems to pick up where it left off (though by then the character may have been zombied or lava-ed).

Lately I'm playing more on iPad so the Moga isn't getting much of a workout. I'll have to try it again soon, see if it really is more reliable since the latest update.
Still the same, just tried. @505Games, any comment?
 

Official Terrarian
This is a such an informative review Bethany. Good stuff.

I just bought a Mad Catz controller for iOS and it has changed my life. I was going with the Moga until something at the last minute happened and I switched at checkout to the Mad Catz. I don't recall what made me switch, who can remember such things. :merchantgrin:
Do you still use the Mad Catz? @Unit One
 
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