The SteelSeries Nimbus is a solid gaming controller for Apple devices which is well designed and comfortable to hold, though it does suffer from some strange button mapping issues.
As far as mobile gaming controllers go, there’s really only a few names that are worth taking a look at. Steelseries is one such brand with a solid reputation behind them. We recently reviewed the Stratus XL and gave it a glowing four star review; now we have an Apple version to complement it.
The Nimbus is Steelseries answer to a quality Apple controller, be it for Apple TV or even the iPad. Available at the Apple Store, it’s already got certification from the big shots themselves. The geniuses will probably even tell you to buy one. In terms of design, it looks much the like the Stratus XL, which also looked pretty much identical to an Xbox One controller. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, as the Xbox controllers have long been some of the most comfortable around. They fit snug in the hand and have a pretty natural grip. Build quality is okay and while the plastics are not quite as premium as something found on a console, it’s still a level above the typical mobile gamepad.
On the face of the SteelSeries Nimbus, you’re once again treated to the same layout as we saw on the Stratus XL; two thumb-sticks positioned on the bottom of the controller, a d-pad further up on the left and four buttons on the right. There’s also a menu button for pausing the titles, plus several battery indicator lights at the top that mimic the player counter found on the original Xbox 360 controller. In terms of responsiveness, the Nimbus is on the positive side of the spectrum. The main buttons have a satisfying click and we’d argue that the shoulder buttons feel better in quality than those found on the Stratus XL. The thumb-sticks have a good overall weight to them, meaning they spring back pretty easily and don’t feel limp when frantically throwing them in a particular direction.
Then we get to the bad part; button mapping. You just never know what each button is going to do. We understand this is not a direct problem with the Nimbus but it’ still worth mentioning to the average user. It can be pretty frustrating and hampers an otherwise decent experience. Thankfully, pairing wasn’t much of an issue and we had our iPhone 5s recognising the device in no time at all.
Battery life is rated at 40 hours and during our testing, we have no reason to disagree. It never ran out the entire time… And that included some pretty long gaming sessions on Asphalt 8 and Final Fantasy IX. Overall, the SteelSeries Nimbus an impressive piece of kit, as long as you accept the shortcomings of certain applications that fail to map things correctly.
Then we get to the bad part; button mapping. You just never know what each button is going to do.