Are you wondering why your PS4 controller is not connecting to your phone? Even though the PS4 controller has Bluetooth, as it turns out, the process is not as simple as you might think. I ran into quite a few problems, but eventually found a solution that could work for you too. Continue reading to learn how to connect a PS4 controller to your phone.
Why is Your PS4 Controller is Not Connecting to Your Phone?
The best way to connect a PS4 controller to your phone is through a USB-C adapter, ideally a hub with HDMI. Although both your phone and the PS4 controller have Bluetooth, they don’t seem to want to play together. Besides, when wired, the latency is better. I can confirm using a simple adapter works. Continue reading for more ideas and solutions.
- The controller won’t pair over Bluetooth.
- The controller is stuck in an infinite “Connecting” loop.
- The controller connects for a second and then disconnects.
- It connects but disconnects after a minute or so.
- It connects but has terrible latency and input delay.
Why Connect a Controller to Your Phone?
Now, you’re probably wondering why on earth someone would want to connect a PS4 controller to their phone. I mean, there really aren’t that many interesting phone games that would benefit from a controller, at least not nearly as many as on PC and gaming consoles.
Moonlight Game Stream & Steam Link
Well, in my case, I wanted to see if I could stream games from my PC to my phone in the other room. There are actually two services you can use for this, Steam Link or Moonlight Game Streaming (download the app here) both of which are free.
I think Moonlight requires the host to have an NVIDIA graphics card, and you’ll need Geforce Experience installed. To enable game streams on Geforce Experience, click on Settings, and then the Shield tab. In there, you’ll see the toggle for Gamestream, enabled it.
Steam Link is another pretty interesting game-streaming service that allows you to stream games over your local network using the Steam platform. It allows devices such as tablets and phones (thinking about buying a tablet?) to stream PC games from your PC’s Steam Library over your internet.
I know, it sounds futuristic, but it works, and it’s free too. Combine a game streaming service with Samsung Dex and you have a full-size desktop environment to play games through your phone or tablet. In some cases, Samsung Dex won’t start, in which case you can troubleshoot with my article about Samsung Dex issues.
Personally, I prefer Moonlight Game Stream because it offers more features, such as the ability to stretch to fit your screen, and other resolution-options. The downside is it only works with NVIDIA graphics cards. Steam Link works wherever Steam can run.
Getting back on topic…
I was thinking I could simply plug my phone into a USB-C to HDMI adapter, pair the PS4 controller to my phone via Bluetooth, and use Samsung Dex for a full-screen gaming experience. That was the idea. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much success.
As it turns out, the PS4 controller is rather unreliable when it comes to pairing with Android. It only made the connection once (using S8+), and the rest of the time it was stuck in an infinite “Pairing” loop. And when it did work, the latency was ridiculous. But all hope is not lost.
Fixes for PS4 Controller Not Connecting to Your Phone:
After many hours of frustrating research and tests, I found a handful of solutions that might work. I also found many complicated solutions that involve emulators and remapping all the PS4 buttons. We won’t be getting into that for now. We’ll start with the easier ones first.
1. Repeatedly Tap Connect and the PS4 Logo
In some cases, you’ll get lucky and the two devices will pair, but that hasn’t been the case for me. To put the PS4 controller into pairing mode simply hold down the PS logo and “Share” button at the same time for a few seconds.
The device should appear when you search for nearby Bluetooth devices on your phone. Tap on it and start the pairing process. You’ll know when the PS4 controller is connected when the light is solid white. Congrats? I wish it was that easy!
Update: After repeatedly tapping connect and pressing the PS4 logo button on the controller, I was able to get the PS4 controller to connect to my Samsung S8+ over Bluetooth. The problem was the latency was terrible, somewhere around 500ms. Not good enough to even navigate the Steam Link menu.
2. Unpair the PS4 Controller, and Try Pairing via Smart Things
One solution that seems to work for a number of people is to use the Smart Things app to pair the PS4 controller. As is my luck, it didn’t work for me either. It’s worth a shot, and Smart Things is another free app that is probably already installed on your phone.
Just open the Smart Things app and tap on “Search for Nearby Devices” and try to connect to the controller. No need to make an account or anything like that.
Still not working? Well, maybe it’s time to give up on your dreams.
3. Connect the Controller via USB-C Adapter or HDMI Hub (Lowest Input Delay)
Unfortunately, if the controller refuses to connect over Bluetooth (tends to be the case), then you’ll have to resort to using wires. The problem is you need an adapter. I can confirm that a USB-C male to USB female adapter does the trick.
These USB adapters are super cheap, very easy to find, and they’re quite useful for other things too, like connecting flash drives to your phone, and whatnot.
Here’s a picture of mine:
I can also confirm that this works with a wireless XBOX 360 dongle. The PS4 controller will show a solid light when it’s connected to your phone. You might have to open one of the game-streaming apps to activate it.
But this doesn’t solve our original problem; game streaming over Samsung Dex. I don’t think anyone wants to play HD games on their tiny phone screen. We want to game using Samsung Dex on a bigger screen.
4 – Controller Disconnecting After a Minute
There’s a bug that happens, especially when using Samsung Dex, where the controller will turn off when your phone’s screen turns off. In most cases, the maximum amount of time you can have your screen on for is a minute. To fix that, you can try installing an app called Desktop Hub for Samsung Dex and enabling the Dual Screen Gaming mode. It’s worth a shot.
In my opinion, the best solution is to use a wired controller with a USB – HDMI hub. Bluetooth is pretty unreliable and it drains your phone fast. To keep both your phone and controller charged, it would also help if the hub has an external power source. For short sessions, a regular USB-C to HDMI hub should work without draining too much battery. I highly recommend getting one with at least two USB ports and one HDMI input.
Recommended USB-C to HDMI Adapters with Chargers:
(As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases)
- 4-in-1 USB-C Hub to HDMI with 2 USB Ports with Thunderbolt Charger
- 5-in-1 USB-C Hub to HDMI with 2 USB Ports and SD Card
These hubs can really come in handy! I suggest looking for hubs or USB adapters that use USB 3.0 because it’s much faster than the previous version. So you should be able to use one of those hubs to stream games through Samsung Dex.
The Bottom Line:
So, although it’s not the most elegant solution, the easiest way to connect a PS4 controller to your phone is via a USB-C hub that has USB ports and HDMI. Even if it does connect over Bluetooth, the lag is ridiculous.
For some reason, PS4 controllers don’t work well with Android. There may be an update in the future that fixes the problem, but until then, we have to use adapters. Anyways, adapters are quite useful for other tasks, so it’s a worthwhile investment.