The Razer Kishi V2 answers the question, “How do you improve upon an already-excellent product?” Razer went back to the drawing board for the follow-up to its successful and popular Kishi mobile controller from 2020. The new version has a fresh design, upgrades to the buttons and access to the new Nexus app.
The Kishi V2 now stands as my go-to recommendation for the best mobile gaming peripheral. While people with large hands might find it a bit on the small side, I think the new ergonomic grips make the V2 more enjoyable to hold for long periods of time. Most people will love the tactile buttons. I even found that Nexus has some utility as a centralized hub for your gaming and streaming needs. In fact, I think the Kishi V2’s biggest downside is that it’s Android-only for now, though an iPhone version will supposedly arrive later this year.
In this Razer Kishi V2 review, I’ll explain why this is the best Android controller you can get right now.
Razer Kishi V2 review: Price and availability
The Kishi V2 launched on June 8 for $99. You can purchase yours from Razer directly, or from Amazon. I expect other retailers, such as Best Buy, will follow suit. The Kishi V2 competes with the GameSir X3, which is also $99.
If $99 seems a bit steep for a mobile controller (you can buy an Xbox One controller and a phone clip for less), the original Kishi has seen steep discounts recently. Assuming you’re not concerned about fit compatibility with your phone, or interested in tactile buttons, then you could save some money that way.
Razer Kishi V2 review: Design
If you know the original Kishi, then you might have trouble recognizing the Razer Kishi V2. Gone is the super-compact storage mode with the straps to hold the phone and controller together. The V2 now sports a spring-loaded clamping mechanism with a bridge for a backbone. The new version can also support slim phone cases with the included inserts.
The design of the grips has also changed, making them more ergonomic than before. The grips also have a textured feel, ensuring that they’re more comfortable for longer gaming sessions. And the controller’s monochrome aesthetic appeals to my minimalist sensibilities. The Kishi V2 makes a statement with its utility, not its looks.
Razer Kishi V2 review: Hardware
Just like its design, the Razer Kishi V2 also saw a hardware refresh. The new tactile button switches are the highlights of this new model, offering solid and clicky feedback on each press. This applies to the D-pad, the face buttons, four secondary buttons, two mappable buttons and the shoulder buttons. The Kishi V2 keeps the V1’s spring triggers.
This controller also sports more than just your typical Start and Back/Share buttons. You’ll find those two here, yes, but the Kishi V2 also has shortcuts to take screenshots and open the Nexus app.
The new bridge mechanism that keeps the controller together feels sturdy. Either side of the Kishi V2 clamps down firmly on the three phones I tried (Pixel 6 Pro, Galaxy S22 Ultra and OnePlus 10 Pro), helping me feel confident that the Kishi V2 wouldn’t lose its grip on my devices. I appreciate that the new model features better fit compatibility with troublesome phones, such as the Pixel 6 Pro with its camera bar. The original Kishi did not work well with this handset at all.
My one concern with the new hardware design comes down to the USB-C connector. It remains fixed in place, which unnerves me a little bit when removing my phone. Other controllers, such as the GameSir X2, have a connector that pivots to allow for installation and removal. I would caution you to be very careful when using the Kishi V2 so that you don’t stress the connector or your phone’s USB-C port.
The Kishi V2 impressed me right away with its ergonomics, although I found it a tad small for my large hands. Granted, that’s not a problem unique to this controller, but those of you with big hands should take note.
Razer Kishi V2 review: Software
Where the original Kishi kept things simple by offering a solid mobile controller experience, the Razer Kishi V2 adds some software to sweeten the deal. Nexus, a new app from Razer, pairs with the Kishi V2, offering you a host of benefits.
Not only does Nexus serve as a hub for all of your games, making it easy to pick the one you want and get playing, but it’s how you control the Kishi V2. Nexus offers button remapping and firmware updates. You can also set up streaming broadcasts via YouTube or Facebook right from the app, although the lack of Twitch elicited a raised eyebrow from me. I usually dislike extra apps — and I approached this one with skepticism — but I thought Nexus had some genuine utility.
You don’t have to install Nexus if you don’t want to, but I would recommend you do so every now and again to make sure that the Kishi V2’s firmware stays up-to-date. If you have one of the best gaming phones that has a game hub built into the software, then Nexus might feel a bit redundant or hamstrung. For example, Nexus cannot tweak your device’s performance like some gaming phone hubs can.
Razer Kishi V2 review: Verdict
Whether you want to play local games on your phone or stream titles via Game Pass, GeForce Now or Steam Link, the Kishi V2 is a must-have companion. Not all Android games support it, however, with notable outliers such as Genshin Impact refusing to work with the Kishi V2.
I loved the original Kishi, and I’ve used it for countless hours, but I think the V2 stands as an improvement in every way. You may not need the Kishi V2 if you already have the V1; otherwise, if you’re looking for the top-tier controller experience for your Android phone, this is it.