Turtle Beach Atom Controller (iOS) Review (Page 2 of 4)

Page 2 - A Closer Look - Hardware and Software

The Turtle Beach Atom Controller is similar to the Android version of the Atom Controller, which is not surprising at all. As such, this clamps to the sides of your iPhone and resembles Nintendo Joy-Cons. These two sides are symmetrical in shape, but not in button layout. The left side has a thumbstick and a D-pad underneath, while the right one has ABXY face buttons and a second thumbstick below. We have one more circle button at the top of each, with an ellipses button on the left and a hamburger menu button on the right. The only other button at the front is a home button on the left controller. The Atom we have today comes in a blue and copper color scheme, but there are no other colors available for the iOS edition. The copper accents primarily outline buttons such as the arrows on the D-pad or the letters for the buttons. They also add some styling at the bottom of the Atom. There is some Turtle Beach branding on the left controller.

As for dimensions, each side of the Turtle Beach Atom Controller measures 80mm in width, 102mm in height, and 42mm in thickness. Together, the two sides tip the scales at around 184g, which is pretty light in the hands. The Atom Controller is made up of plastic all around, which explains its lower mass. Overall, the build quality is decent with a bit of creaking in the moving parts such as the phone clips. The soft-plastic touch on each side feels good in the hands and is easy to grip, but it also reveals greasy marks from handling the Atom Controller over time. I will say those with larger hands may find the grip still insufficient, but it is still better than having a flat back.

As for the buttons and joysticks at the front, these provide an average feel and movement. As they are situated on a smaller body than what you might see from a typical controller, both the D-pad and the primary buttons are smaller and closer together. They do not offer the same audible feedback and they feel a bit squishier or spongier than I would have liked. This is much more apparent in the D-pad, as pressing these buttons felt unsatisfying. The primary ABXY buttons also have a bit of a wobble. On the positive side, the two thumbsticks are grippy around the edges with a concave middle so users can rest their thumbs comfortably here. The movement is smooth and does not have any creaking noise when pressed. We will see how this translates into gaming performance later on.

At the backside of the Turtle Beach Atom Controller for iOS, we have a pair of shoulder and trigger buttons on each side. The buttons are not the accent copper color, but the same cobalt blue as the rest of the body. They are finished with a speckled pattern to help identify the triggers. The back buttons are marked with LB/RB and LT/RT for buttons and triggers, respectively. The two shoulder buttons are push buttons and they produce a high-pitched click when pressed. They also have a bit more give and sponge-like feel when pressed down. The triggers are analog and actuate in a range of how far you have pressed down. The action is smooth and feels good when moved about.

At the bottom of the left side, we have one more area to note. Here you can see a USB Type-C input for charging the whole device. Turtle Beach has not given us the battery size inside the Atom Controller, but instead provides estimates of approximately 20 hours of gaming per charge. Next, we have a small pin hole LED light, which can be found on both sides. You can see one more LED light above the Home button on this left controller. These indicate the power and connectivity status. When powered on, the front-facing LED will blink white until it is connected via Bluetooth to your iOS device. The LED on the bottom will blink blue until both of the sides are powered on and connected to each other. Once this happens, the bottom LEDs on both sides will change to white. According to Turtle Beach, the Atom Controller provides two different connections; one between the controllers and one with your device for a low-latency feel overall.

As the Atom Controller is intended for your iPhone, you can see each side has a large clamp in between. This is where you would clamp your Apple device. From our measurements, the clamp can extend out so that it can hold phones that are between 67 and 92mm in width and up to 10.5mm thick. This is designed for the iPhone 11 to iPhone 14 line, but it also fits my iPhone 15 Pro. Otherwise, the clamp is covered with rubber grips to hold the phone securely in place while ensuring the Atom Controller does not scratch or damage it. You can see there is a magnet and three pogo contacts on the inner top edge of the left controller. This aligns with the bottom edge of the right controller and secures the whole unit together for portability. You will also need to charge the unit when both sides are joined together.

As you can see the back, the Turtle Beach Atom Controller has a protrusion on the back that bulges out. This makes the controller easier to hold in your hands, as it shapes into the fingers a bit more than a flat controller. Turtle Beach has taken this area as a place to put their certification labels on one side and the Atom name on the other. Turtle Beach logos can also be found on both sides of the Atom Controller. In addition, there are two reset pinhole buttons with one on each side.

Turtle Beach has mentioned there is an Atom Controller iOS app for software modifications and firmware updates. As such, I downloaded the app to my Apple iPhone 15 Pro from the App Store. On startup, the screen shows an overview page to show any configured changes you may have made. In the hamburger menu, you can navigate to different menus to configure the dead zones and response curves of the thumbsticks. There are also dedicated menus to find new games to play with the Turtle Beach Atom Controller, see the overall power level for the Atom, and update the firmware. I did not have to update my firmware this time around, so I cannot comment to its functionality. Thankfully, I did not have any issues with the app. You can also use the Atom Controller with an iPad, but for obvious physical limitations, it will not clamp to the side of the tablet.

One area where your mileage may vary in is compatibility. As you already know, this is purely an iOS gamepad. If you want to work with Android devices, there is another Atom Controller for Android. Furthermore, the Atom Controller is not compatible with all iOS games either. Turtle Beach has a list of compatible games and services for their mobile gamepads on their website and within the app. This is likely more of a limitation of the game than it is of this device, but I still would check before buying this controller that you can play your favorite games. This could have been addressed by Turtle Beach by enabling key mapping to virtual presses, as we have seen from other gamepad manufacturers.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look - Hardware and Software
3. Subjective Performance Tests
4. Conclusion