Is it possible to pair an Xbox controller to an iPhone/iPad with iOS 12? I've read several articles that say it's possible using Bluetooth but it's not working for me. I turn on the controller, hold the sync button and supposedly the controller should show up in "Other Devices" in the Bluetooth view in Settings but it never appears. I tried an iPhone XR, iPad and iPad Pro.
No. Apple requires controller be MFi certified, which the Xbox One controllers are not. Though newer Xbox One controllers (namely S and X) have Bluetooth, and in theory could be paired with an iOS device, they won't work in games, and in my experience (same as yours), won't even show up for pairing without a jailbreak.
In the past, the Xbox controllers wouldn’t even pair with a Mac unless you used a USB adapter - Which wireless controller is more compatible with Macs: Xbox 360 or PS3?
It would probably hinge on a hard no if your controller isn’t even speaking Bluetooth and on which version / firmware of controller you’re seeking to pair:
The easiest thing might be to try it wired over an iPad to USB adapter just to see if iOS even cares to see the controller. At some point, you might just need to get a controller that pairs well and should work with iOS games natively:
Xbox controller pairing now works with iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 betas. Works great in Fortnite.
Not sure why somebody downvoted this; this was a big on-stage announcement by the Apple Chiefs/VPs at WWDC 2019, and has reportedly worked flawlessly by devs & users trying out the betas before their official release this September. The answer is verifiably 100% factually true. Aug 6, 2019 at 23:58
Apple will be adding support for the Xbox One S controller in iOS 13. (source)
How to pair an Xbox One controller [in iOS 13]
- Power on your controller by pressing the Xbox button.
- Hold down the Connect button on the top of your controller for three seconds.
- Go into the Bluetooth settings on your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV and find your controller. It should be named Xbox Wireless Controller.
- Tap to pair.
Source: Cult of Mac - How to use a PS4 or Xbox One controller with iOS 13 and iPadOS
This will only work if your Xbox One controller supports Bluetooth. (ie: Xbox Elite 2 and Xbox One S controllers)
On Bluetooth-supported controllers, the plastic around the Xbox button is part of the face of the controller. On controllers without Bluetooth, the plastic around the Xbox button is part of the top, where the bumpers are.
Source: Xbox Support - Connect and troubleshoot Bluetooth on your Xbox One Wireless Controller
If you are using iOS 12 or earlier, you will only be able to use MFi certified controllers.
You must have a jailbroken iPhone/iPad Pro in order to get a third party controller to work for your pair!