For all serious mobile gamers, having a good controller is paramount. Thankfully, we are now starting to see these in the mobile gaming market. The recent release of the Backbone One feels like a watershed moment. It is of huge quality and a real rival to the Razer Kishi and the GameSir X3. Read this Backbone One for iPhone Review for all the details.
To see how they match up, check out our Razer Kishi vs Backbone One overview.
Why you need a Backbone One iPhone Controller
Gaming on your mobile has several obstacles, and the biggest is in the controls. No matter what some people say, on-screen controls for traditional games are not, and never will be, a rival to a physical controller.
The endless runners where you only have to swipe left or right are not bothered by this. However, playing a shooter or racer on your mobile without having a button under your thumb is a disaster if you want to perform competitively.
Over the years, there have many attempts to solve this problem. Attempts at solutions have included everything from stick-on buttons to foldable controllers and controller holders.
For iOS, there is support for Xbox and PlayStation controllers, but even then you have to take the whole controller with you, plus a clip for comfortable gaming.
To tackle this issue, Backbone has launched a dedicated controller for the iPhone, called the Backbone One. It promises to turn your iPhone into a serious gaming device.
Curious as I am, I took a closer look at the controller, and I will tell you how I liked it in this Backbone One for iPhone Review.
Backbone One Design
For a long time, the Rotor Riot was one of the only Apple-certified MFi (Made For iPhone) controllers available on the market. However, that has all changed with the Backbone One controller for iPhone.
The design is also an upgrade. Indeed, the Backbone One controller looks more like a pair of Joy-Con controllers in portable Switch mode, rather than a traditional controller that requires a clip
The phone fits in the middle horizontally, between the two collapsible sides, with it plugging into the Lightning Socket. This is required as it is a wired controller (reduces latency problems) and not Bluetooth.
Backbone One Features
- 4 front action buttons: A, B, X, Y arranged as on Xbox controllers;
- 2 shoulder buttons and 2 triggers: L1, L2, R1, R2 as on PlayStation;
- 2 joysticks arranged asymmetrically like on Nintendo Switch;
- 1 D-pad;
- 1 Menu button that acts as a Start button;
- One button, which acts as a Select button;
- One screenshot button;
- 1 Backbone button that allows you to go directly to the application;
- One Lightning socket to be able to charge the phone while it is connected to the controller;
- One jack for connecting headphones even though modern iPhones do not have them.
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Backbone One Ergonomics
As said before, the Backbone One comes as a mix of Xbox and Nintendo Switch controllers. In terms of ergonomics, you must therefore recognize that you cannot do any better.
In addition, the rounded edges promote a good grip and do not cause cramps in the long run, unlike the Joy-Con.
Even the D-pad works well, and yet I’m picky about it. It passed my ultimate test: performing the “Soul Steal” spell in the Castlevania Symphony of the Night. Those who know the manipulation know that it is not the easiest to achieve.
I didn’t miss one with the Backbone One. This, for me, is a guarantee of quality.
Note also the smart presence of a screenshot button like on modern consoles. It is a good thing, especially since the app offers a gateway to Twitch to share its content. You can record images and videos with this functionality.
Backbone One Compatible Games
In terms of Backbone One compatibility, things have changed a lot in a short time. For example, Genshin Impact is now compatible with controllers, including the Backbone One. Indeed, you can view the whole catalog of compatible games right on the Backbone One website.
The list is huge and is compatible with most AAA mobile games such as CoD Mobile and Among Us.
In addition, note that the controller is also compatible with the various game services available on iOS in one way or another. These include Stadia, Xbox via xCloud, PlayStation via Remote Play, and of course GeForce Now.
Backbone One Application
You also have the possibility of filling up your catalog of games directly within the Backbone application. To do this, nothing could be simpler: launch the game, press the Backbone button on the controller, and voila!
Now you won’t have to dig through your app library (especially if they’re uncategorized). It’s very useful.
The application also allows you to browse the different catalogs in one place. To purchase iOS games, press the download button, and then you have a banner that appears with the price, and you can choose whether or not to go to the AppStore.
The Backbone App is also a social gateway: you can manage friends, save game recordings and screenshots, and find tips for what to play. You can also add games to the app yourself so that you get a kind of simple overview of which games you can play.
It turns your phone into a full-fledged handheld, as it were, and that’s done very well.
Backbone One Only for iPhone… for now
The Backbone One currently focuses exclusively on the iPhone. The controller works with all iPhone models that have iOS13 or later installed. Everything from the iPhone 6S to the latest model is supported.
To start, simply download the Backbone app and then click your iPhone into the Backbone using the Lightning connection.
Although Backbone One Android is not currently available, you can join a waiting list to buy it when it does. There is still no firm date on when this will be so a better option for Android users may be to check out our Razer Kishi Review and GameSir X3 Review which are both compatible with Android.
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Who is the iPhone Backbone One for?
Many gamers could probably question who wants this, and the answer is simple: a lot of people. The use of the Backbone One is so huge, whether you want to use PS5 Remote Play, native Call of Duty Mobile, or GeForce NOW – Backbone One has you covered.
Backbone One also helps you to discover new games. Skate City Tokyo, for example, is genius, and Punishing Gray Raven looks and plays like a console game, all found within the software Backbone provides you.
Some games on the PS5 also play wonderfully on your iPhone. Take Persona 5 or Yakuza: Like a Dragon, for example. Backbone One puts the wind in the sails of mobile gaming and makes it a lot more attractive for a larger group of gamers by offering an option with physical buttons for the gameplay.
Backbone One Pros
- Charge phone while you play
- The app adds a lot of functionality
- Buttons feel good
- Ergonomically very pleasant
- Can be used with almost any iPhone
Backbone One Cons
- No USB-C option/version
- Not fully collapsible
- Protective covers are often not compatible
Backbone One for iPhone Review Conclusion
The Backbone One is currently the ultimate gaming controller for the iPhone. There is nothing that could stop you from purchasing this controller. With the Backbone, you get a super mobile controller. It ensures that you can get a lot more fun out of mobile gaming.
As cloud gaming becomes increasingly important, you are already fully prepared to enjoy it to the fullest with a Backbone One. The Backbone App also ensures that you can expand your mobile game collection in an accessible and sociable way.
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