Backbone One PlayStation Edition review – Perfect for more than just PlayStation gaming | Gaming | Entertainment
Backbone One PlayStation Edition
If you want to play console games on your iPhone without any hassle, then the Backbone One is the perfect device for you
What we love
- Just plug in your iPhone and jump right in
- You can charge your iPhone while playing
- Light and comfortable to use
- No charging required
- Minimal input lag
What we don’t
- Need to remove your iPhone’s protective case
- Cheaper options are available
- Feels more like a Switch controller than a PlayStation DualSense pad
It’s a terrible thing to admit, but I’ve become extremely lazy when it comes to gaming. I tend to buy most games digitally nowadays, primarily because I can’t be bothered to get off the sofa and change a disc. Likewise, the need to charge Bluetooth controllers and manually connect each device has kind of put me off cloud and mobile gaming. It’s all just a bit of a hassle. It’s for this very reason I’ve been keen to try the Backbone One, which makes the entire process of mobile and cloud gaming as straightforward as possible.
Your iPhone slides into the grip and plugs into the Lightning port
Indeed, using the device is as simple as slotting your iPhone into the grip and connecting it to the Backbone’s Lightning Port.
You don’t need to charge anything, fiddle around with Bluetooth pairing or scroll through countless menu screens in order to get things working.
Once you’re plugged in, you can start enjoying all of your favourite titles from Apple Arcade, PlayStation, Xbox and even PC via the likes of GeForce Now.
The uncomplicated, easy to use nature of the device is a massive tick in the win column for the Backbone One. Not only am I making better use of my Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, but I’m playing far more Apple Arcade games.
This includes Yu Suzuki’s on-rails shooter Air Twister, which I was unable to enjoy when relying solely on touch controls. The same is true of other more traditional games like Sonic Racing, Horizon Chase 2, and Shovel Knight Dig.
If you want something a bit more demanding, you can play high-profile Xbox Game Pass releases like Halo Infinite, as well as PS5 blockbusters like God of War Ragnarok via PS Remote Play. It’s pretty remarkable!
The Backbone One has made me more inclined to play games like Air Twister on Apple Arcade
Of course, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy your favourite mobile and console games if the controller itself wasn’t up to scratch.
The Backbone One isn’t particularly flashy and the design is hardly innovative, but when the aim is to replicate the console experience as closely as possible, the Backbone does exactly what it sets out to do.
It’s lightweight without feeling flimsy, and comfortable enough not to make your wrists cramp up during extended gaming sessions.
The white colour scheme used for PlayStation Edition of the Backbone One looks fantastic, fitting in perfectly with the DualSense controllers in my gaming room.
The black Backbone One is a tad better for Xbox Game Pass
Backbone One PlayStation Edition vs Standard Edition
I’ve been using the officially licensed PlayStation Edition of the Backbone One, which features PlayStation button symbols and the same white colour scheme as the PS5 DualSense controller.
Having the circle, square, triangle and X buttons makes it perfect for PlayStation Remote Play, removing any potential confusion when performing button commands for PS4 and PS5 games.
On the flipside, it can be a little confusing when using the Backbone One PlayStation Edition to play Xbox games, especially if you can’t remember the Xbox button layout.
The original Backbone One with the black colour scheme supports the same apps as the PlayStation Edition and features all of the same functionality.
Ultimately, if you’re mostly using the Backbone to play Xbox Game Pass and PC games, then I’d recommend the original black version, while anybody focusing on PS Remote Play should probably opt for the PlayStation Edition.
I also think the PlayStation Edition looks a little nicer, but that’s really just a matter of personal preference.
Backbone One PlayStation Edition features classic PlayStation buttons
Despite the PlayStation branding, however, the Backbone actually feels more like a set of Joy-Con controllers for the Nintendo Switch.
The button/analogue stick layout is the same as the Nintendo Switch, and the smaller components more closely resemble the ones used for the Joy-Cons.
This results in buttons that are a bit clickier, smaller analogue sticks that are a touch stiffer, and trigger buttons that don’t have the same range as ones found in the DualSense.
I play a lot of Nintendo Switch, so it’s not an issue for me personally, but you may be disappointed if you’re expecting a DualSense clone for the iPhone.
On the plus side, the grip is a little thicker than the Nintendo Switch – which makes it more comfortable to hold – and the Backbone actually has a decent D-pad for those classic 2D games.
Being able to play games like God of War Ragnarok on your iPhone via Remote Play is hugely impressiv
Another nice feature is the Lightning port on the bottom of the device for pass-through charging. With mobile and cloud gaming draining phone batteries faster than energy firms raise prices, this is a godsend.
You’ve also got a 3.5mm headphone jack, which means you’re still able to communicate with your teammates even when playing remotely.
Furthermore, the Backbone has dedicated controls for capturing screenshots and gameplay, and to bookmark moments within your recorded videos. It’s great news for content creators, offering a much easier way to capture mobile footage.
The final button on the controller instantly transports users to the Backbone companion app, which serves as a handy portal of sorts to a variety of different games and services. There are other social features – like messaging and social media links – but it’s the game library that’s the most useful.
In terms of how the device compares to more readily available Bluetooth controllers, you could argue that the Backbone One is a little less versatile.
Bluetooth controllers give users a few additional gameplay options, like the ability to play vertical-oriented games with the phone on a stand. You can also use Bluetooth controllers on larger devices, making them a little more adaptable.
Furthermore, because you need to plug into the Backbone’s Lightning Port, you’ll need to remove your phone case in order to make it fit. For a device that’s all about convenience, having to detach and reattach your phone case is anything but.
If you’ve got an iPhone 13 Pro, Pro Max, or any of the iPhone 14 models, then you’ll also need to install the free rubber adapter for a comfier fit. It’s bundled with the controller, so it’s not a big issue, but it is worth mentioning.
Ultimately, however, the pros far outweigh the cons. One major issue the Backbone circumvents is input lag, which is a far bigger problem with Bluetooth controllers, where interference is much more likely to happen.
With cloud gaming heavily reliant on a decent internet connection, the Backbone’s low-latency input is one less thing to worry about when aiming for the smoothest possible gameplay experience.
At £100 the Backbone One isn’t as cheap as some of its Bluetooth rivals, but the plug in and play nature of the device means I’m more motivated to try new Apple Arcade games, play my PS5 remotely and enjoy those high-profile Xbox Game Pass releases.
If you want to play console games on your iPhone without any hassle, then the Backbone One is the perfect device for you.
VERDICT – 4/5
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