Two sticks, four face buttons, a pair of shoulder paddles and a d-pad: the formula for a modern gamepad and the layout of MOGA's Ace Power controller. It's a pretty standard assortment of inputs, but this controller happens to be the first fully featured peripheral to support Apple's new iOS 7 gamepad protocols. Naturally, we couldn't wait to put the pad through its paces.
The MOGA Ace may have the normal assortment of buttons and triggers, but it has one trick most gamepads can't emulate: it telescopes. Taken out of the box, the Ace is hardly longer than an iPhone 5s, but pulling on either end stretches the peripheral to fit your iDevice. The Gamepad's left side retains enough tension to hold a device in place on its own, but our iPod had trouble identifying the controller unless we made a point of pushing the controller's edges inward to secure the connection. Once we had a compatible iOS 7 device locked in place, however, the Ace worked like a dream.
Games like Dead Trigger 2 and Call of Duty: Strike Team always play better with a proper dual-stick controller, but what really impressed us was how easy it was to start using the accessory. Apple's lightning connector serves as the gamepad's only means of communication with your device, mitigating the headache that comes with syncing most Bluetooth connected game controllers. The plug-and-play gamepad is mostly a joy to use too, with satisfyingly poppy buttons and capable control pads. That said, it isn't perfect: those dual-stick nubs could use a hair more resistance, and the controller's R2 and L2 buttons felt a little mushy when used as triggers in FPS games.
Although the Ace performs admirably as a gamepad, it does make using your phone a little awkward. Unlike Logitech's PowerShell, it's just a little too thick to comfortably use your device's touchscreen for much besides gaming, and its design is cumbersome enough that you'll want to undock your Phone before taking a call. On the other hand, its larger grip, dual analog nubs and additional shoulder buttons make it a more capable gamepad than its phone-friendly competitor, and it still charges your device. At $99, both gamepads are well priced - but if you're looking for a more focused and robust gaming experience, the MOGA Ace is a solid choice.