Jacknife Gamer is a gamepad for your phone that easily fits in your pocket

Handheld gaming is back, even after the demise of popular devices like the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS. Of course, modern portable gaming handhelds like the Nintendo Switch and the Valve Steam Deck have once again made PC gamers dream of the ideal portable gaming system to take with them anywhere. To some extent, this device already exists and is referred to as a “smartphone”. While the mobile gaming industry has become a lucrative business in its own right, there are games that just don’t sit well with touchscreen controls. Game controllers for smartphones exist precisely for this purpose, but this gamepad takes portability very seriously, taking on a form so small it’s only a tad larger than your car’s key fob.

Designer: Duncan Mao

It’s almost amusing how dedicated Android gaming devices are reemerging after disappearing almost a decade ago. Finally, carrying another device in your pocket might not appeal to those who already have a powerful Android phone or iPhone that can run the same games without breaking a sweat. The problem, however, is that you need to carry some sort of portable Bluetooth controller to plug onto your phone, which really isn’t that convenient to carry around unless you’re carrying a bag all the time.

The Jacknife Gamer is a rather innovative and cute accessory that solves this problem by shrinking the gamepad down to a 64mm x 29mm x 27mm block of plastic, something you can easily slip in any of your pockets. It’s actually in two parts that pivot in and out, with a phone holder that clips onto your phone like many selfie sticks. What sets it apart from other Bluetooth gamepads, aside from its size, is that the controls sit beneath the phone in landscape mode, rather than being split into left and right sides.

This design may seem odd, but it more easily supports the natural way you would hold a phone. Admittedly, the keys are on the small side due to size limitations, but it’s really impressive that they support almost all standard keys. There’s even dual bumpers on the back, although you’ll miss out on left and right triggers provided you’re playing games that require those extra controls. For the most part, this isn’t a problem for most mobile games with controller support, unless you start to get into game streaming territory.

The Jacknife Gamer’s compact design makes it ideal for a quick interlude while waiting for someone or for your next schedule. It’s likely to feel a bit cramped for long periods of play, so it’s probably at its best for those brief, unexpected moments of free time. The bigger issue is the number of mobile games that offer full controller support, as most require the use of a touchscreen and touchscreen only. A companion app that maps keystrokes to areas of the screen could help alleviate this problem, but the JKG, as it’s also known, only covers the basics for now.

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