If you play games with Gear VR, you must have a controller. Although some games are simple enough to play with a touchpad, it is annoying to keep your hand up on the side of the headset. SteelSeries Stratus XL have obtained good reviews in many places. So, I bought and used it for some games and apps. This post is a review of SteelSeries Stratus XL with Gear VR.
Recommended by Oculus
Gamepads by Steelseries (Android) are recommended by Oculus along with Samsung El-GP20 and Moga Pro. SteelSeries Stratus XL has two versions, Android+Windows and iOS. Please note that iOS version is not compatible with Samsung smartphones. Thus, it won’t work with Gear VR. Android+Windows version has orange pivots of analog sticks, and four action buttons’ letters are printed in white while iOS version has black analog sticks and four action buttons printed in colors.
Design and Layout
The gamepad feels durable, well-constructed with a matte black surface. It has an overall shape like Xbox One controller and a similar layout of PS4 controller. The only disappointment is that it doesn’t have a smartphone holder like Moga Pro.
It needs two AA batteries (included). According to the company, it lasts over 4o hours. LED indicator shows how much charge remains. To save battery charge, the gamepad automatically turns off when no use. You can also turn it off manually, with a switch located on the back of the gamepad. I preferred to a built-in rechargeable battery like Moga Pro, but after I use SteelSeries Stratus XL, I realize that it’s not a big deal. Batteries last long, so you won’t feel bothersome to change them.
Customization with Software
You can customize dead zones and sensitivity on the triggers and joysticks with a free software called SteelSeries Engine 3. For that, you will need to connect the gamepad to PC with a microUSB cable. MicroUSB port is located inside a battery compartment. Please note that the port is not designed for a Wired control but only for the purpose to customization with the software.
Issues with Windows
It’s compatible with Window 7 and newer, but from reviews at Amazon, many people seem to have connectivity issues with Windows mainly Windows 10. I tested with Window 7 and 10, and it works well. If you have a problem, you may need to clear the history of all previously paired devices by holding down a pairing button for five seconds. In my experience, when I use the gamepad with the devices for the first time there was no problem. And when I change the devices from Windows to Android there was no need of clearing the history. Android remembered the gamepad and worked with no problem. But when I switch back to Windows from Android or between two Windows PCs, I needed to clear and do Bluetooth pairing again. Somehow, the gamepad has a strong bond with Android devices.
SteelSeries Stratus XL is well made, very comfortable in hand. Feedbacks of trigger buttons and analog sticks are good. It’s great for those who play games a lot on Android devices. There is no smartphone holder. So, if you play more regular mobile games than VR games you’d better choose the one with the holder. But for those who need gamepad as Gear VR controller, SteelSeries Stratus XL won’t let you down.