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Controller Connected to iPhone but Not Working (Causes and Fixes)

As an iPhone owner, I was incredibly frustrated when I attempted to connect my controller to my device but it simply wasn’t working. My experience led me to do some research and testing in order to figure out the cause of the issue, and the solutions available to fix it.

I’m here to share with you the solutions I discovered, and the ones that worked for me, so you won’t have to waste your time and energy trying to troubleshoot the same problem. In this blog post, I’ll be discussing the causes of ‘controller connected to iPhone but not working’, and the various solutions that can help you potentially fix the issue.

There are several reasons why iPhone controllers malfunction. One of these causes is outdated controller firmware that conflicts with the app you’re trying to run. It could also be some wireless interference blocking the signal. 

CauseDescriptionHow to Fix
Non-MFi ControllerNon-Apple certified controllers may not function with iPhones.Purchase an Apple-certified MFi controller, such as Xbox controllers, PlayStation controllers, or other iPhone gamepads.
Low BatteryA dying battery could cause controller malfunction.Recharge the controller’s battery according to its specific manual.
System GlitchA system glitch may lead to controller failure.Restart your iPhone, turn off Select to Speaker in Accessibility settings, reconnect your controller, and relaunch the game.
Outdated iOSAn outdated iOS version may cause compatibility issues with the controller.Connect to Wi-Fi, go to Settings > General > Software Update, download and install the update if available, and restart your iPhone.
Outdated Controller FirmwareOutdated controller firmware may lead to malfunction.Visit the manufacturer’s support page and follow instructions for updating the controller’s firmware.
Wireless InterferenceInterference with Bluetooth signal may cause the controller to malfunction.Move away from metal or concrete objects, microwaves, wireless speakers, or other wireless devices; disconnect other gadgets from your iPhone’s Bluetooth.
Unsupported GamesNot all games are optimized for controller use.Check if the game is controller-supported by searching its name on the App Store and looking for “Controller: Optional” under the Information section.

Controller Connected to iPhone but Not Working (Causes and Fixes)

Below are the common reasons why your iPhone controller isn’t working. 

1. Non-MFi Controller

A controller connected wirelessly to an iPhone or a gamepad inserted into the phone’s lightning port wouldn’t function if it’s not an MFi or a Made For iPhone device. In other words, only Apple-certified controllers will run without problems.     

There’s no better way to fix the issue than by getting a device that is supported by Apple. That said, here are some MFi controllers you can use for your iPhone:

Xbox Controllers

  • Xbox Core Controller
  • Xbox Wireless Controller with Bluetooth (Model 1708)
  • Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2
  • Xbox Adaptive Controller

PlayStation Controllers

  • PlayStation DualShock 4 Wireless Controller
  • PlayStation DualSense Controller

Other Gamepads for iPhones

  • Backbone One 
  • Razer Kishi 
  • Gamevice 
  • Rotor Riot 

2. Low Battery

A dying battery is another reason why your iPhone controller isn’t working properly. 

Depending on the make and model, controllers have different ways of telling you that they’re running out of power. So, it’s best to check your controller’s manual. If you suspect your controller’s battery is causing the problem, have it recharged.

How to Recharge Controllers

  • Connect the charging cable to your controller’s USB port.
  • Plug the cable’s other end into the console’s USB port.
  • Wait for a few hours then check if it’s fully recharged.

3. System Glitch

While it might be impossible to tell exactly what causes a system glitch, it could make your controller stop working. 

Restarting your iPhone and tweaking a few things on its settings should optimize the system and free your RAM from old processes. Both will help in getting rid of the glitch.

How to Get Rid of a System Glitch

  • Restart your iPhone by dragging the power slider off.
  • Wait for 30 seconds before turning the iPhone on.  
  • Go to Settings, then Accessibility and make sure the Select to Speaker is off. 
  • Reconnect your controller to your iPhone.
  • Relaunch the game to test. 

4. Outdated iOS

An outdated iOS can also cause an iPhone controller to fail. Running the phone with an operating system that hasn’t been updated shrinks its compatibility with the controller, thus, the gamepad malfunctions. 

Updating your iPhone’s iOS to its latest version should fix the incompatibility issues and bugs that might be causing the problem.

How to Update iOS

  • Connect your phone to WiFi. 
  • Tap Settings, then General.
  • Open Software Update. See if it says “Update Available.”
  • Download the update. 
  • Restart your iPhone when it’s done.

5. Outdated Controller Firmware

Like the iPhone’s iOS, your controller’s firmware also has to be updated to prevent it from malfunctioning. Using it with the latest firmware increases its efficiency to run when connected to iPhones. 

Updating your device depends on its make and model. That said, go to the manufacturer’s support page to know exactly how to update your controller’s firmware.

How to Go to Get in Touch With Support

  • Go to the manufacturer’s official website
  • If you don’t know their website, search the internet for the maker’s name.
  • Click Support.
  • Click on the tab or link that talks about the controller firmware update.

6. Wireless Interference

Another reason for an iPhone controller to malfunction is interference. You see, most MFi accessories connect and run via Bluetooth. 

That said, anything that blocks the Bluetooth signal between the controller and the phone can cause a malfunction. Getting rid of obstructions will do the trick. 

How to Get Rid of Interference

  • Move your iPhone and controller away from things that are made of metal and concrete.
  • Make sure you’re nowhere near microwaves, wireless speakers, or any wireless device.
  • Disconnect other gadgets from your iPhone’s Bluetooth. 

7. Unsupported Games

So you got your iPhone’s and controller’s Bluetooth connected. However, you’re wondering why your gamepad won’t function when you try to play a game. 

That might be because not all games are controller-optimized. So better check if the game can be played using an iPhone controller beforehand.

How to Check Controller-Supported Games

  • Go to Apps Store
  • Key in the game’s name on the search bar
  • Under the Information section, check if the Controller says optional

Final Thoughts

So there it is—a quick yet detailed guide about how to fix malfunctioning iPhone controllers. While there are several reasons behind this controller issue, solving them is a walk in the park. 

In other words, it doesn’t take a professional to update an operating system or to get rid of Bluetooth interference. You just have to be diligent in identifying the problem and then carefully apply the solution.