As a lifelong fan of both Sony and Nintendo, there is still one area where the House of N has beat PlayStation: the hybrid play experience. Being able to play console games without hogging the TV has made a world of difference, and often my Switch will see far more use just because of this convenience. Here is where the Backbone One controller comes into play.
The Backbone One: PlayStation Edition is a game pad-like cradle for your smartphone, allowing you to play games on your mobile as if it were a dedicated handheld. This particular version of the Backbone One is functionally identical to the previous iteration — it is just white and black, matching the PS5 and the DualSense, and features the familiar face buttons.
The idea is simple: you pop your phone in the middle of the device, snap it in place, and fire up the dedicated Backbone app. From there, you can fire up mobile games that support controllers, PS Remote Play, and even Xbox's cloud gaming service.
What's in the box?
Inside the box, you have the Backbone One: PlayStation Edition itself, of course, an adapter for iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max models, basic installation instructions, and a safety guide. There is no charger included; the device runs on your phone's battery.
At this point, the PlayStation Edition is currently only available for iPhones but an Android model is on the way. The device is compatible with iPhone models 6s through to 13 Pro Max. The newly announced 14 range is not currently listed as compatible.
Design, quality, and comfort
The Backbone One's design is rather ingenious. Its sliding cradle allows it to be used with smartphones of almost any size, and pairing it with your phone is simple and easy. The fact the Backbone app pops up at the push of a button too makes the whole thing as seamless as possible.
The PlayStation Edition ditches the all-black look of the regular model, and opted for a colour scheme same as the DualSense and PS5. It does not resemble the PlayStation controller too closely, even though it sports asymmetrical thumb sticks, a one-piece D-pad, and option and capture buttons at the bottom rather than at the top.
With a phone in place, the Backbone is comfortable to hold and use, sitting nicely on your palms. The phone feels secure with no wiggle room once it is locked in. On the left you will find a 3.5mm headphone socket, letting you keep your gaming noise to yourself, and on the right is a lightning port, enabling you to charge your iPhone while it is in the Backbone, which is very handy.
Playing mobile games
Playing native mobile games using the Backbone feels excellent. Not all smartphone games support controller peripherals, but it is relatively easy to find the ones that do. Obviously, touchscreen controls work perfectly well in most cases, but the extra control afforded by a full suite of buttons elevates certain games.
The experience of playing mobile shooters, for example, is far superior with the Backbone and racing titles such as 'Asphalt 9: Legends' benefit from it too. Anything that requires more precision than touch controls can feel much nicer to play like 'Sonic the Hedgehog' and 'Brawlhalla.'
PS Remote Play
Most games on modern consoles are built to be played on a big TV, so some small text or UI elements can get lost when transposed on your phone. However, you can play most PS5 or PS4 games like 'MultiVersus,' 'DIRT 5,' 'Returnal,' and 'Arcade Paradise' perfectly thanks to nearly all the buttons in place. The touchpad is the only thing not physically represented, but using the touchscreen for this one function suffices.
An important aspect here is that your experience will vary depending on connection speed and how many devices are active on your network, so bear that in mind. The Backbone does not help on that front.
Is it worth buying?
The question of whether you should buy one depends on what you are looking to get out of the device. The PlayStation Edition successfully turns your smartphone into a handheld gaming device, elevating mobile-native games and making Remote Play far easier to enjoy.
It manages that while employing an intuitive, simple design with decent ergonomics. The companion app is the cherry on top, giving your mobile gaming a unified feel.
It has a pleasant, familiar look for fans of Sony's hardware, but it has a multitude of uses depending on your gaming habits.
Remote Play, as mentioned, is supported, and proper mobile games work great with it, but you can also stream Xbox games via its cloud service, use Steam Link to stream PC titles, engage with other users in chat rooms, create game captures, and more. If any of that appeals to you, we would say the Backbone is well worth considering.
However, it is worth noting that much of the app's functionality is tethered to the Backbone+ subscription, which costs around £44.99/$49.99, which is around Tk4,713-Tk4,921 per year. You do get a free month's trial, so if you are planning to play games on your mobile a lot, the subscription is worth it.
Where to buy
The Backbone One: PlayStation Edition itself will cost around Tk14,000 which is a bit on the pricey side to turn your mobile into a viable gaming console. You can find it in video game stores like Game Spot – Bangladesh, Imam Exclusive Games Zone, and Ryan Electronics.