Universal Shoulder Buttons Improve Your Phone Gaming Experience

Playing a shooter like Fortnite or Call of Duty on your phone can be frustrating. Without physical “triggers” I find myself having to look at the screen to find the touch spots for aiming down the sites and firing. Each time that I do, I end up the one bleeding out on the ground.

Some games have attempted to rectify this situation. Call of Duty Mobile for example, has an “auto-fire” mode in which your weapon fires at any target that lines up with the sights. Auto-fire does its job, some of the people that I play with prefer it. It makes the game feel less like a shooter and more like an arcade game, but that could be my years of Xbox showing through.

There are also many types of external controllers for your mobile phone. You can even pair a Bluetooth Xbox or PlayStation controller. Competitive shooters tend to force you play with other controller enabled players when you opt for physical controls. You can end up in a much smaller pool of players which makes finding games more difficult. You may also lose the ability to play with friends who don’t have controllers of their own.

There are a few phones on the market that have built-in shoulder buttons. They sound like a good idea and the one made by ASUS works well in the handful of games that support it. There’s no way I’m giving up my Galaxy Note and its pen though. How would I finish writing this article? It’s too bad that I can’t add a couple of buttons to my precious.

Apparently, some enterprising people had the same thought. There are several manufactures that are making universal shoulder buttons that you can slide onto any mobile. They function by tapping the screen with a small mesh pad when the trigger is depressed. Your game will need to allow a customized layout. The aim and fire controls need to be moved under the button’s pads.

I was skeptical, but you can get a set on Amazon for less than ten bucks and I like trying new stuff. They showed up the same day I ordered them (same day shipping rules) and I have been pleasantly surprised. These things are great. They fit in a tiny case that easily slips into a pocket when you’re not playing. The button press feels great on the set I got. They do block the screen a little. Each pad is a .5 centimeter square, but the trade off is well worth it from my point of view.

Since they are tapping the screen, you won’t be isolated in a controller only game queue. The advantage for me is in gripping my phone, I can hold it more like a PlayStation or Xbox controller. I also don’t have to constantly look at the screen to find the touch spots and can use the ADS and Fire functions simultaneously.

Some may consider these types of devices “cheating”, but they don’t have that big of an impact. On average, I got the same kills per game when using them versus not. As a developer, I must warn you, detecting and disabling these shoulder buttons would be simple. If they do start being counted as a cheat they may be outlawed in a future update for your game.

About Kevin Trent

IT professional with almost 30 years of experience in Infrastructure, Architecting, Administration, Development, and Communications.

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