The Gametel gamepad from Fructel is aiming to making mobile gaming a lot more intuitive by adding physical controls to any Android device.
The Gametel is a wireless controller which aims to make gaming on your smartphone or tablet a lot more pleasurable. Gametel resembles the slideout physical controls of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play phone and includes a spring-loaded sliding mechanism which will allow you to slot in any manner of Android smartphones.
We managed to get our hands on one of these devices last night and the mechanism, while not flawless, seemed to work very well on a number of phones we looked at - but could struggle with the larger devices like the HTC Sensation XL or the Samsung Galaxy Note. The phones themselves were held in place solidly and the controls felt natural in the hand and very responsive.
The device is charged over micro USB and a full charge will give you nine hours of gaming, which should just about outlast a smartphone. The Gametel will connect with Android devices running version 2.1.1 or higher. It has the usual D-pad on the left, quartet of buttons on the right, select and start as well as two shoulder or trigger buttons.
Of course, as the Gametel uses Bluetooth, the controller doesn’t need to be right next to the device it’s controlling, meaning you can control tablets as well as smartphones. Again this system worked well when we tested it briefly last night.
Another option is hooking your smartphone/tablet up to you large screen TV using HDMI and using the Gametel while reclining in your armchair.
One issue facing the Gametel, and indeed the other similar Bluetooth controllers out there, is the availability of games. Gametel representatives told us that currently only around 50 games in the Android Market support these physical controllers.
However the up-coming Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android will open up the Bluetooth API and should ensure that all games will be able to be played using physical controls, and not automatically revert to touchscreen controls.
Asked whether or not the Gametel would work with iOS devices, the representatives said it would only work with jailbroken iPhones or iPads and the company does not support that system.
As we said other wireless controllers like this do exist with the main one being the iControlPad which includes analogue sticks and works with iOS devices. Indeed, so similar is the Gametel that Pocket Gamer reports that the manufacturers of the iControlPad may be taking legal action against Fructel, with Craig Rothwell of the British-made iControlPad saying: "We're speaking to our lawyers in regards to an obvious IP violation." Fructel responded saying it has a patest for Gametel, with Rothwell tweeting that he has asked to see the patent for himself.
The Gametel gamepad will be available by early December and will set you back £49.99. We’ll be getting one in to review in the next couple of weeks but for now let us know if you think that this type of device is the future of mobile gaming, or at £50, is it just too expensive?