The world of third-party controllers is something of a mixed bag. Back in the day of the Gamecube, Xbox, and PlayStation 2, it was almost always a punishment to be stuck with the off-brand controller, so much so that there are still memes being passed around about them today. However, as third-party competitors continue to push forward to solidify their place in the market, you’ll find that they have begun adding new features that first-party controllers still don’t include in their more expensive offerings.
While the PlayStation 4 may not be Sony’s premium offering any longer, players are still flocking to the system, thanks to the plethora of astonishing games that have come out over the years, and QRD is hoping to bring some extra flair to the console. However, this particular controller comes with a few extra bells and whistles that may put it above a standard Dualshock if you’re hoping to get your hands on an extra controller.
When I first got my hands on the QRD Spark, I was shocked by how light it is overall. Due to the lack of vibration in the controller, it lends an almost air-like quality to the controller. The plastic used is slightly slick, with a small bit of grip to make sure it can’t come flying out of your hands during the most hectic of firefights in your favorite games.
While playing PlayStation 4 games on my PlayStation 5, I found that the vibration in the controller was a little overwhelming at first, but I quickly grew accustomed to it. It’s rather surprising that a controller that is this light features vibration at all, and you can quickly change the intensity of the vibration by pressing the Turbo button and tilting the joystick up or down. It’s not the best feeling haptics engine in a controller, but it’s passable for certain.
On the looks front, the QRD Spark N5 is going to be more comparable to something like an Xbox controller, and while it does still have symmetrical sticks (something I’m normally not a fan of), they’re snappy and responsive, thanks to the inclusion of Hall Effect Joysticks. If you’re not familiar with Hall Effect Joysticks, they’re excellent additions to any controller, due to the fact that they use magnets instead of the standard mechanisms that first-party controllers use to avoid stick drift from happening in the future. They’re some of the best feeling joysticks I’ve used in quite some time, with a tremendous snappiness to their actions, and great responsiveness.
Another key feature of the QRD Spark N5 is the addition of LED lights around the thumbsticks and buttons, alongside the programable paddles on the back of the pad that allow you to map buttons for easy access. Normally, controllers that are pushing upward of $100 include this, so finding a controller under the $50 threshold that includes this feature is rather impressive.
On the top of the controller, you’ll also find a few additional slots for a special accessory: a mobile phone clip. That’s right, this PlayStation 4 controller comes with an extra clip so you can game on the go with your mobile device, turning your next Call of Duty Mobile session into a full-on console experience. It does take a bit of force to get this clip in (I was slightly scared I was going to break a few of the tabs pushing it down), but once it’s in, you’ve got a solid clip that can wrap around most mobile devices. You won’t be able to put a tablet or anything in here, but my Google Pixel 6 fits perfectly fine as I tested multiple games for a multitude of hours.
Face buttons feel responsive, if not a little mushy. One fault of the controller, however, is the D-Pad. The D-Pad is going to give those who play fighting games a bit of a headache, as performing moves like the Hadouken in Street Fighter proved to be difficult. It could be chalked up to something iffy with the membrane that QRD Games are using in the underside of the D-Pad, but diagonal moves are quite difficult to pull off and have a tendency to fail more than succeed. I replicated this in Street Fighter V using a variety of controllers and had the most issues when it came to this particular D-Pad. Thankfully, if you’re willing to use the Joystick, these issues go away quickly, but you’ll find that it can be slightly annoying if you’re attempting to pull off a move and it constantly fails. Single-directional pushes feel fine, but diagonals are not exactly the QRD Spark N5’s strong suit.
The QRD Spark N5 feels comfortable to hold in the hand, but I may be biased toward the Xbox shape. I’ve always personally found the Dualshock variety of controllers uncomfortable to hold for longer gaming sessions, so a great middle-ground of PlayStation layout and Xbox style checks all the marks for me. As I mentioned above, it’s a very light controller, so you don’t need to worry about any sort of fatigue, even if you have a Mobile Device clipped into the top half of the controller.
However, due to the weight of the controller, you’ll need to either unclip your mobile device from the top before you place it on a surface or be fine with your controller dipping over, possibly hitting the triggers on the way down. The Pixel 6 isn’t a horribly heavy phone, but every time I placed it down to grab a drink or something of the sort, it always tipped, which was more of a personal issue than anything.
Thankfully, this controller is great for players with hands of all sizes. While I have fairly normal-sized hands, my wife’s hands are rather small. I had to take this controller for a run, and she found it to be rather comfortable, as well. She also loved how light it was, especially since she has primarily only used Xbox Series controllers up to this point in her gaming career.
Overall, the comfortability of this controller is great. The paddles on the back are easy to reach, the buttons are all within proper pressing distance, and everything responds as expected. From small to large hands, this is a great fit for anyone and everyone.
Features and Customization
One of the most exciting parts about the Spark N5 is the fact that you are able to use it with a variety of different platforms. While it may be meant originally as a replacement for your aging Dualshock controller, it also works with the following systems:
- PlayStation 3
- PlayStation 4
So, I decided to test it out on all of the above to verify that everything works. While I may still use my PDP Victrix BFG Pro to play through my variety of PlayStation 5 & PlayStation 4 games, this has easily taken the top spot for my most used PC controller and Mobile controller over the past few weeks. That’s an impressive feat, especially since I primarily use an Xbox Elite controller to play games on my PC.
To play on PS3 or PC, you’ll just need to connect a Type C cable to the controller and plug it into the corresponding system. When plugged into a PC, it will register and show as an Xbox 360 pad, so you may need to remember which buttons are which as you are playing. You may be able to change the icons, depending on the game you’re playing, but just keep that in mind if you’re hoping to get your hands on a nice new controller. However, where the Spark N5 showed its true potential was in Mobile Gaming.
I absolutely despise using touchscreens to play games, as it has always felt cumbersome to me in a variety of ways. I’m also not a big fan of external mobile clips that add extra bulk to a controller, and will constantly require me to pair and unpair the device, so having a dedicated controller for this type of gaming is exciting, to say the least. The Spark N5 paired up quickly, and I was off to the races in Call of Duty Mobile without any hassle, with the game even asking which type of controller I was using (I selected PS4 so all my buttons would show properly).
If you’re planning on playing your games on mobile, you can also utilize the, admittedly small, touchpad as a mouse to click on objects. It’s a surprising feature I was not expecting, so it’s always great to be surprised by something like that. While the majority of my review time was playing on mobile, the controller functions extraordinarily well across all platforms. This could be the perfect option for someone looking to finally modernize their PlayStation 3 controller, or someone looking for an excellent mobile game controller.
The QRD Spark N5 took me by surprise for a variety of reasons. I’ve been burned pretty hard by third-party controllers in the past, so to find one that offers the functionality and general feel that this one does is rather impressive. There may be some small issues that I have found, primarily with slightly squishy face buttons and triggers, but this controller continues to grow on me. As my primary mobile gaming controller for the foreseeable future, I’ll be happy to queue up into my next Team Deathmatch on COD Mobile and smoke anyone who gets in my way using it.
If you’re interested in getting a QRD Spark N5 of your own, please follow this link to visit the official page, and use code WPGS10 to save 10% on your purchase.
QRD Spark N5 PS4/Mobile Controller
As my primary mobile gaming controller for the foreseeable future, I’ll be happy to queue up into my next Team Deathmatch on COD Mobile and smoke anyone who gets in my way using it.
- Hall-Effect Joysticks are snappy and responsive
- Works great for all platforms listed
- Great grip on the Joysticks themselves
- Slightly Squishy face buttons and triggers
- Light weight causes tipping when using the Mobile Phone clip
- D-Pad isn’t great for Fighting games
This controller was provided by QRD Game for review. Reviewed on PS5, PS3, PC & Mobile