We liked the physical gamepad on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, we just didn't like the fact that it was permanently attached to the phone itself, making for a ludicrously bulky mobile. Fructel's new Gametel Gaming Controller could be exactly what we're after, then.
This Bluetooth gamepad connects to any Android phone running Android version 2.1 or later (we're told it will work on Ice Cream Sandwich with no bother), and once you've installed an app to make it work, you fire up your games and get going.
There's an adjustable clamp-like clip that extends from the top of the gamepad to hold your mobile in place. It looks like it would fit most Android phones, though we have our doubts about truly epic devices like the HTC Sensation XL or the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
It seemed to offer a fairly snug fit during our brief hands-on. Because it's wireless you don't have to attach the Game Controller, you could use it to remotely control the action on-screen on your phone or tablet. We would be interested to try playing games on a phone that was hooked up to a big TV via HDMI.
The controller feels reasonably comfortable -- there are direction buttons, four 'face' buttons arranged in a PlayStation-style diamond shape, and shoulder buttons too.
If there's a problem, we suspect it will be with trying to find games that work smoothly and consistently with the Game Controller. Fructel has drawn up a list of 50 or so games that it's tested with the gamepad, but our experience with the Xperia Play was that the physical buttons responded in unpredictable ways depending on the game you were playing.
Something like the Game Controller already exists, in the form of the iControlPad, which also works for iOS and has analogue sticks. The inventor of the iControlPad tweeted recently, "Yes, I know about the iCP rip off which has just gone live. Yes we have contacted our lawyers and the UK IP office."
He later tweeted, "Fructel claim they have a patent for their iCP clone, we've asked to see it."
So it looks like the maker of the Gametel Game Controller could have a fight on its hands. We're told it will be available to buy online from early to mid December, priced at £49.95.
Do physical gamepads for mobiles entice you? Or do you think the fine art of gaming should be left to dedicated machines like the Nintendo 3DS and the Sony PlayStation Vita? Load your opinions into your mind cannon, and fire them into the comments, or onto our Facebook wall or Google+ page.