The Backbone One controller is one of the best ways to unleash your smartphone’s gaming potential, and Backbone today revealed the third iteration of the gamepad (after the original iPhone and Android versions), featuring a major facelift that looks right at home alongside the PlayStation 5’s stark white DualSense controller.
These types of clamp-on smartphone controllers have been around for almost as long as touchscreen smartphones have, but until recently, they’ve been mostly niche products for playing the handful of mobile action and racing games that are actually worth playing, or as a way for fans of retro gaming to turn their phones into solid handheld emulation devices.
Then 5G and wifi improvements helped make game streaming a viable thing a few years ago, and suddenly the smartphone you’ve already got in your pocket could be used used to play AAA titles from Microsoft and Sony that were otherwise only available on powerful consoles. Smartphone controllers became a must-have accessory, and while companies like Razer have been iterating them for quite some time, the Backbone One more or less knocked it out of the park on its first time at bat — so much so that the recently released Razer Kishi V2 looks like it borrowed a few ideas from Backbone.
There’s no debating whether or not the new Backbone One: PlayStation Edition took inspiration from Sony’s hardware, because the folks at Backbone actually worked with the PlayStation team to recreate the colours and finish of the PS5 DualSense controller, right down to the transparent face buttons.
However, PlayStation fans will undoubtedly notice that the symmetrical analogue joystick design that’s been a hallmark of Sony video game controllers for years was not carried over to the Backbone One: PlayStation Edition. According to Backbone, since the controller is designed to be “used primarily on mobile devices which have smaller form factors,” the asymmetrical joystick placement provides “a more natural ergonomic position on smaller screens so they can play the games they already love on PlayStation Remote Play with maximum comfort.”
As with previous versions, the Backbone One: PlayStation Edition controller works with the PS Remote Play app, but also any game or game streaming service that supports controllers, including Xbox game streaming. It’s not an accessory that’s exclusively for PlayStation gamers, although the Backbone app does offer a “customised PlayStation experience” with access to its library of games, and a new portrait mode allowing other content in the Backbone app to be more easily accessed without the controller attached.
The Backbone One: PlayStation Edition controller is available starting today in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Netherlands, and the UK for $US100 ($139), with a wider release later on. However, like the original Backbone One, this special edition version will only be available for iPhones and iOS.