03
Dec
thumb

Last year, PowerA tried to change the game (quite literally) with its MOGA (later changed to MOGA Pocket) and MOGA Pro controllers. While the idea was great and execution was decent, there was still a lot of room for improvement with both. This year's models – the Hero Power and Pro Power – not only look to improve the overall form factor and experience over last year's models, but also bring more juice and the ability to charge your device while you play using the internal battery. Sounds great, right? Sure, but at $60 and $80 respectively, the question is are they good enough to warrant the price?

I've spent the last few weeks playing with both controllers, so it's time to breakdown how they're different and/or better than their predecessors, and find the answer to that big question. Let's dig in.

Hero Power

wm_IMG_20131203_122756

Left: MOGA Pocket; Right: MOGA Hero Power

The Hero Power is basically re-vamped version of the MOGA Pocket (the original MOGA), and holy crap it is so much better. All of the annoyances with last year's model – like the need for replaceable batteries, the non-clicky joysticks, and lack of a D-pad – have been fixed. As much progress that's been made, however, there's still some work to be done. Before we get to that, though, let's take a look at what the Hero offers, and exactly what's different from last year's model.

The first noticeable difference is the size – the Hero is longer, thicker, and wider than the Pocket, which gives it a more comfortable feel when playing. It's not so much larger than it becomes difficult to carry, however – it's still very much a pocket-sized, on-the-go controller. I like that.

The button configuration on the Hero is also drastically different than last year's model, in that it not only has more buttons, but the existing ones have also been improved to be larger and more clicky. Fun fact: I like doing controller reviews just so I can use the word "clicky."

For example, the joysticks are now raised and clickable (like a joystick should be), instead of the strange recessed joystick on the Pocket. Directly below the left joystick is now a D-Pad, instead of that weird cluster of buttons with start, select, and the MOGA keys. That's a huge upgrade in itself. Start and select have been moved to either side of the arm that holds the phone, which feels far more natural. The Hero also has two sets of shoulder buttons now, as opposed to the single set on the Pocket. Rounding out the button differences here, the Hero's XYBA keys are slightly larger and more tactile, so they feel better.

wm_IMG_20131203_122811 wm_IMG_20131203_122819

Overall the Hero feels a lot more grown up than last year's model, which is nice. My one complaint about the buttons is actually with the L2/R2 triggers: they feel more spongy than springy, which is an odd sensation. I don't really like the way they feel, but I'm still glad they're along for the ride since they were missing on last year's controller. Still, they feel weird and are just too mushy for my taste.

The Hero Power is packing an 1800mAh battery under its undersized shell, which serves as both the controller's primary power source and a means of charging your phone while you play. This is a massive improvement over the Pocket, which unfortunately used AAA batteries to power the controller. That said, a shared 1800mAh battery isn't going to provide a lot of juice for most modern phones, which typically have internal batteries that are much larger than what's provided in the Hero. In other words, it'll give you some juice, but don't expect to get a full charge out of it. On the other hand, if you never use it to charge your phone, it should be enough to keep the controller going for quite a while, which is nice. It's also worth noting that the controller battery must be above 25% before it will charge an external device (this applies to both the Hero and the Pro).

wm_IMG_20131203_122834 wm_IMG_20131203_122907

One thing I wish the internal battery did a better job of is adding weight to the controller. Don't get me wrong, the Hero's definitely heavier than the Pocket and it feels pretty solid, but once the phone is in the MOGA Arm, it's very noticeably top-heavy, which makes for a somewhat-awkward experience. I wouldn't call it a deal breaker by any means, but it's just another odd sort of sensation that you'll need to get acclimated to when using the Hero, especially for longer gaming sessions.

Like last year's model, the MOGA Arm has slightly tacky rubber pieces at the top and bottom that help hold the phone in place, and it works very well. The arm feels more robust than last year's model, and it's easier to insert and remove the phone, as well. Overall, it's improvements all around on the arm, which is nice. I never felt like my phone would fall out of the old model's arm, so the fact that this one is even better ensures even more confidence.

Pro Power

wm_IMG_20131203_122617

Left: MOGA Pro; Right: MOGA Pro Power

Now that we've talked about the portable little brother of the family, let's turn our attention to the big boy. The Pro Power is PowerA's "console experience" controller, and is much larger than the Hero. The button layout is essentially the same on both devices, though the joysticks, D Pad, and all the buttons are larger and more confortable on the Pro Power. Makes sense – why put tiny buttons on a big controller?

Speaking of buttons, unlike the Hero, the Pro's L2 and R2 triggers feel perfectly springy – the way triggers should feel. I'm not sure if the construction of the Hero limited the parts available for the L2/R2 buttons, but there's a very tangible difference between the two, and I prefer the Pro's ten-to-one over the Hero's.

The primary difference in layout between the two is actually with the USB ports: both of the Pro's USB ports (full-size for charging devices, micro for charging the controller) are on the back, whereas the Hero's full-size USB port is on the back and the microUSB charging port is on the front. That doesn't really make a big difference in how the controllers are used, but it's a small detail worth pointing out.

wm_IMG_20131203_122634 wm_IMG_20131203_122643

The Pro Power features a larger, 2200mAh battery, which will not only keep the controller charged longer, but also will provide a slightly larger bump should you elect to charge your phone while gaming. If not, then the Pro should theoretically outlast the Hero when it comes to play time, as well.

Between the larger battery and bigger overall form factor, the Pro does an excellent job of feeling balanced, especially with the phone mounted in the arm. It doesn't feel top-heavy that way, but it also doesn't feel unreasonably heavy when used with something like a tablet that can't fit in the arm. The weight definitely gives it a solid, more console-quality feel, which anyone who would be considering either of these controllers should appreciate.

Compared to last year's Pro, the Pro Power feels like an upgrade in nearly every way – it seems sturdier and more robust, the buttons are more comfortable, and it just feel like a more premium experience. That's hard to argue with.

Update: Someone in the comments asked if the Arm on the Pro is long enough to hold a Nexus 7. I actually meant to address this in the original review – the answer is unfortunately no. This is a pretty big oversight in my opinion, as the ability to strap a small tablet in would be killer.

wm_IMG_20131203_122717 wm_IMG_20131203_122938

Games

The gaming experience hasn't really changed a lot since last year – you sync the controller using the MOGA Pivot app, find MOGA-compatible games, and get your game on. The list of compatible games, however, is constantly growing – there are nearly 100 more compatible games from when I reviewed the original Pro last year. There were 76 at the time, now there are roughly 175. That's a lot of games. And with HID mode, you can use the controller with emulators and other games that may not necessarily have MOGA support out of the box, which dramatically increases the usefulness of this duo, no matter which one you choose.

Conclusion

wm_IMG_20131203_123045

At $60 and $80 for the Hero and Pro respectively, you have to throw down a solid chunk of change just to improve your gaming experience. The question is, is it worth that to you? I'd say that depends. If you game on your phone a lot and are tired of touch controls (or never liked them in the first place), then these MOGAs will likely be worth their asking price to you. They're both solid, feel great, and definitely improve gaming on your mobile – there's no doubt about that.

The next dilemma is which one to choose – do you go with the smaller, lighter, more portable Hero, or the robust, console-size Pro? While the Hero isn't what I'd call "bad," if I were throwing my own money down on one of these, I'd go with the Pro. The overall size and feel, coupled with the additional weight and larger battery, easily make it worth the extra $20. Of course, it's a larger controller, so it's also less portable – again, a tradeoff that I don't find to be that big of a deal. It's not like game controllers aren't really that portable in the first place (unless we're talking about the Wii U's gamepad, which is an entirely different story).

With that said, if you only have a very limited amount of money to spend or you happen to catch the Hero on sale (at the time of writing it's going for just about $45 on Amazon), then by all means, buy it. While I prefer the Pro, I can't say it's worth nearly double the cost of the Hero. And the Hero is still a massive improvement over last year's model, so it's really a win-win. It's all about how much you're willing to spend.

Buy: MOGA Hero Power, MOGA Pro Power

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, and musician. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6- or 7-string, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • BenMock

    Good review, but I think you should mention that the controller will only charge your phone when the controller is above 25% battery life.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Fair point. Updated.

  • Pratik Holla

    These controllers are definitely worth it if you game a lot on your tablet/phone. I have last years Moga pro and it is so much fun to use while playing shadowgun and GTA vice city. And the battery lasts a long time too.

  • Bryan Pizzuti

    I got the Hero, and while I like it a huge stanking lot, Moga should also try to implement some variation of Archos's button-mapping software for games that don't have any controller support.

    • http://techsym.com/ cubanresourceful

      That would require root and that would probably keep it out of reach for some users (something Moga would not want to do). There are plenty of 3rd party apps that do as you describe (though require root to do so).

      • http://seapip.com/ Thomas Gladdines

        I thought it was possible to use a keymapper as a keyboard :S

      • akshay7394

        It doesn't require root. DraStiC lets you keymap, i've never granted it root access.

        • http://techsym.com/ cubanresourceful

          Yes, but the original comment said Moga should implement button-mapping. That's different than an app implementing HID support and allowing you to keymap in the app, which does not require root.

          Going by the context of the original comment, I assume Bryan is talking about games that have zero controller support (meaning no HID support as well), and thus, would like to map the touchscreen buttons to buttons on the controller (which requires root).

          • akshay7394

            Well, wouldn't it also work if Moga launched an android app and keymapped through that? Or would that not affect other apps?

            Edit: Sorry just understood what you meant; it wouldn't work on games either way, just that app

          • http://techsym.com/ cubanresourceful

            Yeah, sadly. So at the very minimum, developers should be striving for at least basic HID support. Then, if they'd like to go the extra mile, include support for popular controllers, like Moga.

  • didibus

    I'll buy one once they bring the Moga Ace to android, if ever.

    • Cuvis

      I doubt the Moga Ace will ever happen for Android. Too many disparate form factors to accommodate.

    • Renoria

      There's an alternative for that, it's called phonejoy

      • didibus

        Nice, might get this

  • Ivan Martinez

    I got the 2012 Pro for $40 on Amazon, and am in love. Does anyone know if there are apps that can map touch events? I'm dying to play my Squeenix games with the Moga

    • Matthew Fry
      • Ivan Martinez

        Thanks Matthew -- do the on-screen controls stay on there, or can I make them disappear (for obvious reasons)? Would I need to use the Moga Universal Driver App, or the Pivot App?

        • Matthew Fry

          You'd use the Universal Driver App. As far as I know, it only emulates touches so unless the app has an option to disable the overlays they still show up.

    • Primalxconvoy

      Tincore mapper app will help you but the new moga' s have two settings; moga mode and regular android input now so you can map controls

  • http://twitter.com/phonecount StalkyTheFish

    Does the grip on the Pro stretch far enough to hold a N7?

    • renz

      i was wondering about this as well

      • Arve Svendsen

        Me to!

    • smeddy

      I'll add a request for the Note 3 as well

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

        Yeah, it'll fit the Note 3.

        • Dan Marshall

          Xperia Z ultra?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      No. :( I wish it did - that's a huge oversight in my opinion. In fact, I'm going to update the review with that info right now. Thanks for asking.

      • Joshua Hill

        You mention the awkward weight balanace of the Hero with a smartphone. I've never used any controllers like these but would imagine the weight of the N7 even in the bigger Pro would exacerbate the awkwardness you specifically mentioned in this review?

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

          I doubt it. Maybe if the N7 was in the Hero, but I don't think it would have the same issue in the Pro.

      • renz

        well thanks for the answer :)

    • Steven Code

      No :( nothing bigger then a Galaxy Mega

  • Sergii Pylypenko

    Finally it's compatible with the most other gamepads, which have 4 shoulder buttons.
    Xbox 360 gamepad is pretty much accepted standard now among game developers.

    • nicotinic

      Too bad it's $80 to get Power Pro which is the one that has the digital pad. That's a must have for me.

      I may get it for myself for Christmas.

  • taz89

    Are they available to buy in the UK? I've checked Amazon and they only have the old Moga Controllers.

    • Ceefax

      GAME will have them in the coming weeks, no stock in the UK at the moment

  • nexus-1-N-done

    I really like my moga pocket and I'd be interested in the hero. Moga controllers were not the best when they started, but some updates and developer support later and it's one of my fave accessories.

  • Primalxconvoy

    "If you game on your phone a lot and are tired of touch controls (or never liked them in the first place), then these MOGAs will likely be worth their asking price to you."

    I play games every day and rally want to play games like Nova 3 and other Moga compatible games as I'm not a fan of touch controls. i can honestly say, though, that those controllers are NOT for me. Here's why:

    - They are too expensive.

    - They are not portable enough. If I want to lug something around separately just to play games, I could probably get a second-hand PSP or DS Lite for around the same price.

    - They are not ergonomically designed. By this, I mean that they don't foot flush with the system and can stay connected to the phone.

    - They take time to set up. By the time I've gotten the thing out of my bag, connected it up and finally started to play, I've probably arrived at my train station.

    - There is no separate power supply. It needs one to charge the phone AND one to charge the unit itself.

    In conclusion, I would like something like a Bladepad, which basically is a slide out case with a controller that slides out from the bottom (giving your phone the form factor of an xperia play). Until Moga does that, all their pads are useful only for home gaming (and I've already got an ouya and a ps3 pad for that).

    • Joshua Hill

      I imagine when the controller is plugged into a power source charging it can still be connected to you mobile device and charging it. There is one big USB looking connector ( presumably for charging the controller) and one small micro USB connector (presumably for charging your mobile device).

      Also there is absolutely no reason you couldn't charge both devices simultaneously if you had to devices to charge, i.e. any powered USB port, an AC charger, any portable charger, e.t.c.

      • Primalxconvoy

        That hardly fits the role of mobile though, right?

        • Joshua Hill

          Charging at all hardly fits the notion of mobile, yet that was one of YOUR initial criticisms. Don't go trying to change the context now to rebuff my counterpoint.

          In general I got the impression the price put you off and the fact that you already own similar devices. I could have provided counterpoints to what I consider your ill thought out points but if your idea of a discussion is to change the rules and context to defend yourself from a polite contributory post I'm glad I didn't waste my time.

          • Primalxconvoy

            Thanks for your points. My apologies for my curt reply, especially as you were trying to help.

            As for charging, i don't think that counters my points about mobility. The device is designed to charge the phone as the Bluetooth connection saps eee phone battery. One criticism of the pad across the board is that it doesn't charge both devices at the same time.

          • leo98918

            Think of it this way; you can have the controller charge your decide and keep it at the same battery percentage (i.e. 80%) that your phone was prior to you playing games and enabling Bluetooth

            OR

            Play games with your battery staying at 80% and when your done playing, have your battery at 30%

            Your reason for it not being mobile/portable because 1 battery can supply power to both the controller and device is over the edge. Your expecting way to much for some mobile gaming experience. An extra battery would add bulk and some weight. If you just want the battery to power the controller, that's fine, just bring your phone charger with you to plug into an outlet. Or just get a portable charger... Or would that not be portable seeing as you have to plug it into your phone... And then recharge the charger when it dies?

            I'm guessing your definition of portable is completely different from most other's.

          • Primalxconvoy

            The reviews I've read have stated that they too found it puzzling that the charge function doesn't allow for better charging of both the pad and the phone simultaneously. Also i can't see how your solutions can show simultaneous charging either.

            I personally wouldn't need the charge feature in a smaller and better designed pad that wasn't so bulky, but if I did have to fork out 80 dollars for a behemoth like the Moga Pro Power, I don't think that I'm being unreasonable to expect it to have enough juice to keep itself and the phone going for longer than the current design allows.

  • letsplaay

    Do they also work as a universal bluetooth controller, i.e. can I connect these to my windows to play, let's say, Dark Souls?

    • nicotinic

      "Should" work in HID mode. But for $80 bucks you best be saving your money and buying a wireless Xbox 360 controller. Unless... you want to use the Moga Hero(less than 80 dollars :') or the Power Pro for both your Android phone and your Windows PC.

      If you have a PS3 DualShock 3 then you could use that with your PC(with MotionJoy program/drivers) and with your phone if you're phone is rooted and is compatible with the SixAxis Android App. I believe the HTC phones, "with" Sense installed, are the main devices where you cannot use the DualShock 3 controller.

  • m00rb

    I hope this review is right and it is a big improvement. I have an original Moga Pocket, it is the worst excuse for a controller I have ever seen. You cannot achieve any level of precision with the original. These ones look like a huge jump, I hope they do well!

  • Zeropoint

    Does anyone happen to know whether this is at least a Bluetooth 3.0 device? I've tried asking MOGA support. Their support email address appears to be piped to /dev/null .

    • Steven Code

      Why does it matter for you?

      • Zeropoint

        Have you looked at even a summary of the improvements between Bluetooth 2.1 and 3.0?

        • Steven Code

          Yes but I don't think that a upgrade is needed Bluetooth controllers with 2.1 didn't have any lag anyway but being that itsva new controller its prob bluetooth 3 or even 4.

          • Zeropoint

            "Probably" does not help me. "Probably" does not explain why MOGA does not have technical support staff.

    • Zeropoint

      ...anyone who doesn't answer questions with questions?

      • Gilliam

        You just answered a question with a question..

    • Guest

      Anyone who doesn't answer questions with questions?

  • Sergio

    175 games is "a lot of games"? Why can't this controller work with any app with bluetooth controller support? As someone said at XDA: "The possibilities are NOT endless because Power A decided to limit Moga compatibility to games only officially supported by Moga. Even worse, you need to have the official "Moga Pivot App" from Google Play installed AND running in the background WHILE you play the game." Ryan Loebs has developed an Android app to help with this, but it allows only 1 player at a time. Too bad. If I buy this is not only for playing with my phone, but to control my android set top box and play some games in the TV, and there 2 players is a must for me.
    Moga Universal Driver App: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.obsidianx.android.mogaime
    XDA Forum: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1950636

    • digidude

      I think it does, unless I misunderstand what you're discussing. I have both the original Pocket and the Pro. The Pro has a switch that lets you chose between HID mode and "Moga" mode, although you still go through the Pivot app. HID works with any controller game I've tried. You could also use the Universal Driver if you're rooted. But with the updated Pivot app, and the Pro - I haven't found anything I needed the unofficial apps for. And it does support multiple controllers.

      • Sergio

        Happy to hear that! Maybe the forum is out of date... What's the difference then between "HID" and "Moga" modes?

        • nicotinic

          HID is the Bluetooth standard that should allow for general bluetooth controls on Android OS(Think SNESOID, NESOID, etc.), whereas Moga mode is their own proprietary Bluetooth standard that works only with the Moga app and currently has about 175 games that are specifically compatible/optimized for the controller out of the box.

          • Sergio

            Thanks!

  • john

    does it hold Galaxy Mega 6.3 ?????

    • Steven Code

      Yesh

  • nealho

    I appreciate the comparison, but my question is whether on a budget you'd get the Hero Power or the last-gen Pro. Those two are in the same price bracket (esp. with the current Amazon sale on the Hero Power) and are a better comparison than to the much more expensive Pro Power, which I have yet to see discounted significantly.

  • TSON1

    I'd totally plunge if it fit the N7, but since it doesn't that's a definite no from me. I mean, for 80 bucks, this controller needs to do magical things.

  • Przemyslaw Orawiec

    I ordered both of those controllers to Europe. Be careful if you are an international buyer as the 5-9 shipping on manufacturer's website can in fact take over a month.

    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2552305

  • Phil Reynolds

    This may sound like a stupid question but what games can you use this with? Could it be used with the SNES emulator?

    • nicotinic

      Yes

    • Bayu Abhiyoga

      Yes it could. Connect your MOGA as Mode B (HID) and map the buttons manually.

  • nicotinic

    UPDATE: The Moga Power Pro is currently priced at 60.80 at Amazon!!!

    http://www.amazon.com/POWER-MOGA-Pro-Electronic-Games-Game/dp/B00FB5RBJM

  • matt cummin

    Please please please I beg of you make the moga ace for android it would be perfect

  • Gi11i4m

    For people who say that the arm not stretching enough for small tablets (like the Nexus 7) is an oversight, I disagree. First of all they included a tablet stand for a reason (something that also isn't mentioned in this review sadly). Second, it's not meant for screens that big. If you want to play on a bigger screen you're better off getting an MHL or Slimport (depends on your device) adapter so you can play on your tv ;).

    • djfourmoney

      Lots of people do that already.... I have decent sized pockets, I think the Pro is a bit too big. I bought the original Moga before they even started being reviewed when I saw it at TRUS (Toys R US), but I returned it when I found no emulator support and it took batteries. The Hero Power is much better and has a D pad, I might get it again..