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Gametel for Android hands-on: Turn any Android phone into an Xperia Play (sort of)

We were sold on the idea of Fructel’s Gametel accessory for Android phones when we clapped eyes on it last month. We’ve just got one in, had a quick blast and thought we’d share our first impressions of it.

At £49.95 its not cheap, but if you’re a keen Android gamer and want something that liberates your thumbs from the screen, then it could be a worthy investment.

As you can see form the pic above, the Gametel is basically a clip on control pad. Phones are held in place by a sturdy spring-loaded clip and it ought to be big enough to hold most phones. We grabbed our LG Optimus 3D – the chunkiest Android phone we had to hand – and gave it a whirl.

The Gametel hooks up with your Android phone via Bluetooth; it’s a simple case of turning the pad on and pairing it with the phone.

In most cases, the Gametel maps game controls to the D-pad and the physical buttons. At the moment, a handful of games are supported including Cordy and Meganoid; we gave these a quick play and they worked like a charm.

There also seems to be an option to manually map controls; we’re going to try to figure out a way to create one that’d allow us to play Minecraft: Pocket Edition Xperia Play-style.

Or at least something close to it; without any kind of optical controls in the centre, you won’t quite get the same feel here as you would on Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Play. That’s not going to stop us having a go though.

All of the connections and control settings are managed through the Gametel Driver app which you can download from the Market.

Click through to have a better close-up look of the Gametel pad itself. We’ll be posting a bit more on this once we get to know it a little better.

The buttons on the right aren’t labelled as such; no A, B, X, Y or anything. This could make things complicated when it comes to mapping your own controls. In the game Cordy (above), the jump and action controls are mapped to where the X and Square buttons are on a PlayStation controller.

On the back there’s shoulder buttons as well for games that’d benefit from them. The sping loaded clip doesn’t look sturdy but it kept the LG Optimus 3D – not the lightest of phones out there – locked in nice and tight.

To turn the Gametel on, you need to hold the Start button down for three seconds until the green LED flashes. To save battery power, the Gametel will turn off after 10 minutes of inactivity if it’s paired to your phone across Bluetooth, and 2 minutes if it’s not.

The Gametel Driver app allows you to easily manage Bluetooth connections and customise the controller layout. The Settings sub menu allows you to assign commands to individual keys and choose from some pre-defined layouts.

The Games sub menu is basically a portal to games on the Android Market that have been optimised to work with Fructel’s Gamepad. There’s a healthy number in here at the moment; Asphalt 5 HD, Cordy, Diversion, Drag Racing, Dragon, Fly, Guns ‘n’ Glory, Happy Vikings, Meganoid, Moto X Mayhem, Muffin Knight, R-Type, Radiant, Reckless Getaway, Sleepy Jack, SpaceCat 3D, Super Dynamite Fishing, Trial Xtreme (Demo) and Zenonia.

We’d love to see more get added in the future, but in all honesty, we’d be happy if it was just Minecraft. 

Once we’ve had a proper go with mapping our own controls, we’ll post more on the Gametel.