Backbone (PlayStation Edition) Mobile Controller – Review
PS Remote Play is still a thing, I still use it for certain types of games now and then and the Backbone One – PlayStation Edition is just the reminder we needed.
PS Remote Play does let you stream PS4 and PS5 games on the go using your smartphone’s mobile data keeping in mind your on a higher PS Plus tier than Essential for streaming games.
This wasn’t always the case with Remote Play, but a PS5 firmware update last year added the feature. So players aren’t stuck at home tethered to their consoles with pseudo-portable gaming sessions. And now they can stream on the go and use the Backbone One (PlayStation Edition).
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Unveiled on the PlayStation blog, the
DualSense-inspired iPhone controller is just the regular Backbone One with a new paint job. Everything else is exactly the same as the black Xbox version and it looks more like a Xbox Wireless Controller than it does a DualSense apart from being an official PlayStation controller and the face buttons have the four PlayStation icon symbols instead of the lettered face buttons of the Xbox controller.
Love the DualSense, it’s one of our favorite controllers ever made
Maneet Khaira, confirmed that the PS5 controller’s signature adaptive triggers and haptic feedback haven’t been incorporated into the controller. It would negatively impact the “size, ergonomics and weight” of the Backbone One.
- Ships with adapter for iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max
- Compatible with all iPhone models from 6S on
- Weighs 138g
The Backbone One looks nice and sleek whether it’s wrapped around your iPhone or not. This isn’t the smallest controller grip on the market for an iPhone, but it is one of the nicest feeling to use. The ergonomics are fairly restrained, but there are enough curves and soft edges to make sure that it’s nice to hold.
The analogue sticks are very similar to those used by Nintendo’s Switch, which means in practice they don’t have huge amounts of travel unlike the Duelsense or Duelshock analogue sticks so you will find that you lack some of the precision of a full-scale pad.
That’s mirrored by the triggers, which are solid enough and feel good but are nothing in comparison to the likes of the DualSense, that’s not really a criticism here, though, given the different aims of the Backbone One. It isn’t trying to mimic the Duelsense.
A few extra menu buttons, one to each side, alongside two additional feature buttons – one is for taking captures and screenshots while you game, the other quickly opens Backbone’s own app.
While the button setup is handy, I didn’t find the Backbone button very useful. What would have been miles more useful would’ve been a generic home button to take the place of a Sony DualSense’s PlayStation button which is useful for streaming games.
The Backbone also hosts a 3.5mm connection for audio, although using your phone’s Bluetooth is miles easier in most cases, while there’s a Lightning port for both pass-through charging and the option to connect to something like an iPad by a wired connection.
The telescoping back of the Backbone’s grip makes it easy to accommodate different sizes of iPhone. If you’re using the iPhone 13 Pro, you’ll be able to use the free adapter that comes in the box to make sure it fits nicely around the phone’s massive camera bump. It doesn’t cause any flexing or an awkward fit, so its an impressive workaround.
Backbone One is not just a pretty face; it also comes with proprietary software to make your mobile gaming experience much more pleasant. It looks a bit like they tried to imitate an interface of a handheld to make you forget you’re playing on a phone, the app is quite lovely, with a 1080p/60fps screen recording feature and a snappy UI very similar to PlayStations own.
Backbone’s own app aims to be a hub for your mobile gaming using the controller, letting you launch games from services like Game Pass, PS Remote Play and Google Stadia without needing to find the relevant app first.
not be able to play a PS5 game that requires the Adaptive Triggers
The Backbone+ membership includes “exclusive perks, like free trials for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Discord Nitro and in-game items,” as per the official website.
Is it worth it?
Is it worth the price is for you to decide. I only got two weeks for free here in the UK but have heard others got an entire year for free in the US.
I tested the Backbone One PlayStation Edition with a few different games, from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 to Two Point Hospital and Need for Speed Heat.
All three games were great to play using PS Remote Play, I had no issues, no lag etc on a iPhone 12 or 13.
The only con I could possibly point out out is that you would not be able to play a PS5 game that requires the Adaptive Triggers to advance etc.
The Backbone One PlayStation Edition is the same old Backbone One just with a new paint job – a highly comfortable mobile controller with good software and build quality. There are painfully only a few PlayStation features and no real improvements over the previous version.
It’s a fantastic Christmas present for a PlayStation fan and, overall, a neat inexpensive product that works well even if having a licensed PlayStation gamepad with an Xbox-esque arrangement of analogue sticks is strange. I soon adapted to the feel of it fairly quickly.
The Backbone One – PlayStation Edition is available to buy now in the US, UK, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the Netherlands with Sony promising that launches in additional countries are on the way. It’s priced at £99.99 (UK)/€99.99 (EU)/$99.99 (US)/$179.99 (AU)
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