Connect a PlayStation 5 Controller to your iPad or iPhone

If the rule of thumb is that Apple’s machines are not ideal for gaming, then the iPhone and iPad are the exception. iOS and iPadOS are powerhouses in mobile gaming, making more money last year with games than Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, and Activision-Blizzard combined. And while gamers may forever debate whether mobile games count as true gaming, the numbers don’t lie: mobile gaming is here to stay. So if you’re wanting to take your iPad or iPhone gaming to the next level, you might want to consider a controller, such as the PlayStation 5 “DualSense”.

Before You Begin

Before you get started, you’ll need to be running iOS or iPadOS 14.5 or later, since that’s when Apple introduced the feature. You can check this by going to the Settings app, hit “General”, and then hit “About” at the top. Near the top will be the name and Software Version of your device. So, long as it says 14.5 or something higher, then you’re good.  If not, go back one level and hit “Software Update” and update to the latest version.

Next, you’re going to need to turn on Bluetooth, since that’s what the PS5 controller uses.  You can get to this by going to the ­Settings app and clicking on the “Bluetooth” button near the top of the screen.  In the new window, make sure the Bluetooth toggle is set to on.  If you’ve got all that set, we can start connecting the controller.

Connecting the Controller to the ATV

Now grab your PS5 controller and locate the PS logo between the 2 thumb sticks and the “Create” button at the top left corner next to the touchpad.  Press and hold these 2 buttons together for a few seconds until you see blue lights rapidly flashing on each side of the center touchpad. 

The PlayStation 5 controller with the PlayStation logo between the thumbsticks being highlighted
The Create button, to the left of the touchpad and the top right of the D-pad, being highlighted

On your iDevice, you should see the “DualSense” controller pop up under the list of “Other Devices”. Tap it, and after a few seconds, your controller should show that it is connected.

 

The PlayStation 5 controller being listed in Bluetooth

You may see the lights on the sides of the touchpad turn orange, that’s ok.  It’s typically because it’s not connected to a PS5.

Can You Use It Like a Remote?

At this point you can kind of use the controller to control your iPad, though it’s not perfect.  On the Home Screen you can use the left thumb stick to move between apps and folders.  Tapping the X/Cross button will open a folder or app, and pressing the circle button will exit out of the folder, but not an app.  You can also tap the PlayStation Logo between the thumb sticks to open or close the App Library.  For me it always brought up the Game Library automatically too, so that’s an added touch assuming it’s not a bug.  That said there’s not a good way to jump back to the Home Screen or use some other features out of the box. 

If you use assistive touch, you can enable the controller as a companion device for it.  You can find this under “Settings”, “Accessibility”, “Touch”, and then “Assistive Touch”.  Scroll down until you reach “Use Game Controller” and enable it. 

Keybinding & Renaming

The renaming menu for the DualSense controller on the iPad

Outside of this, there aren’t many special settings for the controllers for your iDevice. You can rename the controller by going back to Bluetooth settings, tapping the little information “i” icon next to the controller’s name, and then tapping “Name”, where you can type in a new name for the controller, in case you use multiple controllers and want to be clear about which one you’re using.

Finding Games with Controller Support

So now you want to play some games with your controller, how do you do that?  That’s actually tougher than it should be.  Unlike the Apple TV or other game stores, the App Store doesn’t make it clear what apps support controllers. See, there is a tag Apple provides in the App Store for games to use, located up there with the genre of the game, age recommendation, etc. But some games that support controllers don’t have this tab.  Some developers will spell it out in the description, while others may only list it in their version history when they updated the game to add support.  Admittedly, it’s kind of a mess.  Probably the easiest way to check it is to use a website like GameVice.  Since they make controller attachments to work with your iDevices, they also have a good list of what games support controllers.  I’ll have a link to their page in the description.  They have lists for Apple and Android games.

Gameplay

If you want to check out some footage of what gameplay looks like with Lego Star Wars and Sonic the Hedgehog 2, or you want to see how all this looks in video form, then give the video at the top of the page a watch.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email me at easyosx@live.com You can also check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your page. Thanks!

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