Android, Review

Daqi M1 Bluetooth Game Controller Review

With an understated appearance, comfortable form factor and excellent Bluetooth connectivity, the Daqi M1 is a Bluetooth controller you should definitely consider if you use your phone for emulation, desktop streaming, or any other game that has gamepad support. In this quick review I’ll go over the major pros and cons for your consideration. Also, note that the same hardware is sold by iPega as the Red Knight or PG-9087, so keep that in mind when you’re searching for the best price.

The Hardware

The big selling point of the Daqi M1 for me is the way it holds the phone. Unlike other gamepads with clips that hold your phone above the controller, the M1 holds your phone in a spring-loaded mechanism right between your hands for a nice balanced feel. My HTC U11 (without a case) fits comfortably in the M1 and rests against soft rubber ends for protection. The sliding mechanism itself is definitely a bit flimsy, but once your phone is in place there’s just a minimal amount of flexing and the hold is firm enough. The notches at the bottom ensure your phone doesn’t slide down, but also prevent the phone from sitting in a vertical orientation.

Overall the construction of the M1 feels decent for the price. Despite being all plastic, it feels solid and like it could survive being tossed around a little. I also appreciate the understated looks of the M1. There’s no loud color schemes or graphics, but the buttons are backlit with the standard Xbox colors. I actually don’t mind illuminated buttons, and I don’t find them overly bright as others have complained about… but it would be nice to have the option to disable them completely.

Charging is done with micro USB and I haven’t needed to charge it very often. I suspect at least 12 hours of playtime on a full charge.

Controls

First, the analog sticks have a nice grippy rubber feel and smooth movement. They are on the small side, but the range of motion is acceptable in most games. The deadzone is a little more noticeable than an Xbox controller. Playing games like Tomb Raider via desktop streaming, I found the setup worked well – at least for shorter sessions. Other games like Dirt Rally were more challenging with the limited rage of motion.

The D-pad and face buttons all have a really nice feel. The D-pad is on the softer side with just a subtle click, but I find it works really well for emulation. The face buttons actually feel quite similar to those on the Xbox controller, which is a good thing. The shoulder buttons are not so great… L1 and R1 are a bit too clicky and noisy. The L2 and R2 triggers (which are digital, not analog) are better in that they have a smooth travel with a progressive resistance before activating.

If I had one complaint about the control layout, it would really just be that the nature of the button placement isn’t the most comfortable for my larger hands when you’re doing certain button combinations – like holding X to run and pressing A to jump. The shoulder buttons are also slightly awkward to press for those with longer fingers. But at the end of the day, you are sacrificing comfort for portability with most non-full size gamepads.

Connectivity

The Daqi M1 connects to your phone or PC via Bluetooth 4.0. Pairing is fast and straightforward, and the connection is stable. I like that it connects almost immediately upon powering on via the physical power slider. Also handy is that you can pair it to a couple devices and it will connect to whichever it sees first. This means that you can pair it with your Android phone and Windows 10 PC (for example) and switch between the 2 without having to re-pair. Also appreciated is the fact that the buttons map exactly as expected to the standard Xbox layout so everything just works right out of the box with pretty much any game you can throw at it.

Input latency, while I didn’t do any formal tests, feels really good. My baseline is the Xbox One S controller via Bluetooth, and the Daqi M1 felt just as responsive 99% of the time. There were a few occasions where it felt like one of my inputs was a bit delayed, but really the overall feeling is great. Playing platformers like Super Mario World that require good movement and timing precision, whether using the analog sticks or D-pad, was no problem for me with the M1.

Summary

Overall I’m a big fan of the Daqi M1 for mobile gaming. If you want a gamepad that’s easily portable, has long battery life and can connect to your phone and/or laptop easily and reliably then this is an excellent option. You can find it on Amazon for about $36.

Pros

  • Phone position and screen angle
  • Bluetooth connectivity is excellent for Android and Windows 10
  • Input latency is minimal, controls are responsive
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Sliding mechanism is flimsy when inserting phone
  • Button LEDs can’t be disabled
  • Analog sticks are on the small side and buttons can feel a bit cramped
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