In this review, we would like to talk about the IPEGA PG-9017, a Bluetooth controller specially designed for Android and iOS smartphones, such as iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S II, HTC One S, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Motorola Droid Razr and many others. The reason for this is that the IPEGA PG-9017 has an extendable grip to support different smartphone sizes (below we talk about limits), so you can attach you smartphone, synchronize devices through Bluetooth and play your favorite games using a gamepad.
By the way, our IPEGA PG-9017 was bought on Dealextreme (sku.172963) and the package came with the following items:
- 1x IPEGA PG-9017 Bluetooth controller.
- 1x 85cm USB cable (used to recharge the Bluetooth gamepad).
- 1x User manual (English and Chinese).
Features of the IPEGA PG-9017
- 4 modes of use: iCade, Mouse, Keyboard and Joystick (details later).
- Bluetooth 3.0 (it works with older Bluetooth devices too).
- 6~8 meters of wireless range (useful if the grip will not be used).
- Compatible with iOS and Android tablets and smartphones (it worked on Windows 7 too).
- Built-in lithium battery.
- Buttons: A, B, X, Y, L, R, Select, Start and HOME.
- Pads: one D-Pad and two Analogs (true analogs when in JOYSTICK mode - see note 1).
- Power saving mode when no use.
- Material: plastic
- Offered in two colors: black or white (links below).
Check our YouTube channel for more IPEGA PG-9017 videos.
Will my smartphone fit in the IPEGA PG-9017 grip?
As you can see on the picture above, the IPEGA PG-9017 grip (or clamp/holder) extension is limited, so you only will be able to attach smartphones with width around 7.5cm. If your smartphone width (smartphone + case thickness) is bigger than that, then you will not be able to use this wireless Bluetooth controller. However, there are workarounds, like the guy in this video who managed to attach a Samsung Galaxy Note (8.3 cm of width) to the IPEGA PG-9017 using a plastic case mod. Also, there is the option to use this wireless Bluetooth controller without the grip, which is the option for those who have tablets (Android or iPad).
How to use the IPEGA PG-9017 Bluetooth Controller
In order to use this Android Bluetooth controller (also works on iOS), you only need to own a device with Bluetooth. However, not every device will pair with the IPEGA PG-9017 due to some Android bugs. For instance, this Bluetooth gamepad did not work with the HTC Desire HD running Android 2.3.3. However, after installing the Blackout v3.2 ICS ROM (Android 4.0.4), they worked fine. So, try to find information from other IPEGA PG-9017 owners on the Internet or buy it and try for yourself.
Getting back to the how-to, follow the steps below to pair and connect IPEGA PG-9017 to your Android smartphone (iPhone, iPad and iPod should be similar):
Step 1: Make sure the Bluetooth gamepad is OFF (SEARCH LED should be off). If on, hold HOME button for a few seconds to turn it off.
Step 2: Attach the smartphone in the Bluetooth gamepad grip.
Step 3: Go to Bluetooth settings of your smartphone and turn on Bluetooth.
Step 4: Now, depending on the mode you want turn it on, hold down A, B, X or Y (details in the next section).
Step 5: Still holding one of those four buttons (ABXY), hold down HOME button for a few seconds until the SEARCH LED start blinking, which means the Android controller is on and searching for devices to pair.
Step 6: Now, release the pressed buttons, get back to the smartphone screen and click on the option to scan for Bluetooth devices. That option may be hidden depending on Android version, so maybe the MENU button of your smartphone can help.
Step 7: After finding the IPEGA PG-9017, your smartphone will list a new device: "Bluetooth Gamepad".
Step 8: Touch this new item. A menu will popup asking for pair. Just confirm the pairing process and wait for conclusion.
Step 9: After successful pairing, wait again until your Android smartphone try to connect to Android gamepad automatically. If it fails, see note 2.
Step 10: After successful connecting (SEARCH LED will stay on and smartphone will mark this Android gamepad as connected), you are ready to try to use this Android gamepad with your game or emulator. If it fails connecting, see note 2.
The next part is to try to use IPEGA PG-9017 wireless Bluetooth controller with your game or emulator. Most of the retro emulators (for SNES, Mega Drive, Nintendo 64, Playstation, NES, Master System, Arcade, Neo Geo, etc.) allow you to configure a Bluetooth controller, at least in KEYBOARD mode. However, just a few Android games accept these Bluetooth controllers (currently), so you will have to try the modes until find something playable. By the way, make sure to unpair, turn off, turn on in other mode and pair again the IPEGA PG-9017 to avoid Bluetooth bugs. If Android do not unpair it in either way, reboot your smartphone.
Which MODE should I use?
As we mentioned, the IPEGA PG-9017 has 4 modes of use: Joystick, Keyboard, iCade and Mouse. You pick one of them when turning on this Bluetooth gamepad. Just hold down A, B, X or Y (according to the table below) and then hold HOME button for a few seconds (SEARCH LED will start blinking).
Each mode has some features, as shown in the table below, so try different ones when having problems while mapping button or testing games. As recommendation, start trying JOYSTICK mode. If no success, try the other modes. For Android users, there is an app on Google Play called GameKeyboard, who claims to allow users to play touch-only games with a gamepad (like this Bluetooth gamepad), but unfortunately we did not have a chance to test it (paid app).
To help you know the features of each mode, and which button (ABXY) to hold before turning on the wireless Bluetooth controller, we compiled the table below using the tool "Controller diagnostics" from Mupen64 Plus AE Free (v2.2.0), a Nintendo 64 emulator (go to "Settings" -> "Input" -> "Controller" -> "Controller diagnostics").
Where can I buy this IPEGA PG-9017?
IPEGA PG-9017 compatibility list
Again, to help those looking for compatible games and emulators, we compiled the list below showing app/game name, version, notes, modes used, device and Android version. Obviously, it is a little list right now, but with your help it can get bigger and more accurate. Use the comments section below to share your experience with this Android Bluetooth controller.
|Mupen64 Plus AE (2.2.0)||all OK (including true analogs) after mapping keys - JM||Desire HD 4.0.4
|aFBA (1.6)||all OK after mapping keys - KM||*|
|Snes9x EX+ (1.5.10)||all OK after mapping keys - KM||*|
|GENPLUSDroid (1.9.3)||all OK after mapping keys - JM and KM||*|
|My Boy! Free (1.3.6)
|all OK after mapping keys - KM||*|
|SuperGNES Lite (1.3.9)||all OK after mapping keys - KM||*|
|Sonic CD Lite (1.0.4)||all OK - JM or KM||*|
|Zenonia 4 (1.1.4)||action button only in START - KM||*|
|Zenonia 4 (1.1.4)||ABXYLR, START and SELECT as action button - JM||*|
|Avenger (1.04.00)||only D-Pad works - JM or KM||*|
|Assaulter (1.08.01)||only D-Pad works - JM or KM||*|
|Chrono & Cash Free (1.2.8)||it seems ok - IM||*|
|Recess Riot (1.2.1)||holding buttons not handle properly - IM||*|
|Mupen64 Plus AE (2.2.0)||all OK (including true analogs) after mapping keys - JM||Samsung Galaxy S II 4.0.3|
|Cordy (1.70)||all OK - JM||Desire HD 4.0.4
|Tiger Arcade (3.1.2)||all OK after mapping keys and clearing unused buttons - KM||*|
|N64oid (2.7)||true analogs, but didn't recognize mapped D-Pad and right analog in game - JM||*|
|N64oid (2.7)||all OK with limitations (no true analogs, D-Pad and left analog are the same and no right analog) - KM||*|
|FPse (0.11.87)||no right analog, slow input handle in "Analog pad" and normal input handle in "Digital pad" - JM||*|
|FPse (0.11.87)||all ok with limitations (no true analogs, D-Pad and left analog are the same and no right analog) - KM||*|
- JM -> Joystick Mode.
- KM -> Keyboard Mode.
- IM -> iCade Mode.
- MM -> Mouse Mode.
- * -> Same device as before.
Note that graphic, performance or sound problems are not in the scope of this IPEGA PG-9017 review.
Now we will list some problems that we found while using this wireless Bluetooth controller:
- Stiff D-Pad (not a big problem for most of the games).
- Stiff analog sticks (maybe they will be more flexible with use).
- Low visibility by developers (currently), but probably more games/apps will be compatible with IPEGA PG-9017 in future.
- iCade mode does not have mapped those two white buttons of the real iCade.
IPEGA PG-9017 Information for Developers (for Android)
In order to help Android developers to add IPEGA PG-9017 support in their games and apps (show this table to your prefered developers), we compiled the table below with information regarding KeyEvent and MotionEvent classes (comment if something is missing).
If you are an Android developer and need a tester who owns the IPEGA PG-9017, feel free to contact us by email or comment below.
|L Shoulder||45(Q)||192(Button 5)||37(I)/41(M)|
|R Shoulder||44(P)||193(Button 6)||39(K)/44(P)|
Note 1: For Android users, it is required that your device has Android 3.1 or higher to support analog sticks. Check our YouTube video showing the IPEGA PG-9017 being tested in all 4 modes.
Note 2: As we already mentioned, not every device will work with IPEGA PG-9017. If you are an unlucky whose smartphone failed to pair or connect to this Android gamepad, and you really want to use it, try to search for official or unofficial Android ROM's, as it worked for our HTC Desire HD running Android 2.3.3.