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Backbone PlayStation Edition review - trophy unlocked

In our Backbone PlayStation Edition review we take a look at what makes this controller one of the best in the mobile gaming market.

Backbone PlayStation Edition review - a front view of a phone in the controller

Our Verdict

With a sleek design, satisfying buttons, and a comfortable weight, the Backbone PlayStation Edition sets itself apart from its competitors, offering a premium experience that allows you to game for hours on end.

Games. I love them. I enjoy the vast majority on a range of platforms, and that includes mobile (obviously, right? Why else am I at a mobile site?). Though there are already a plethora of gamepads out there for smartphones, I’m always on the lookout for more. While some offer a great experience, the design makes them awkward to hold for long periods – enter the Backbone PlayStation Edition controller for iPhone.

Last year, I got my hands on the Gamesir X3 for Android and it’s one of the best mobile controllers out there, in my humble opinion (check out my Gamesir X3 review to find out why). But what about iPhone? Well, I can safely say that Backbone entered my life and swept me off my feet with a device that goes one step further than Gamesir in the form of the Backbone app, which accompanies the device beautifully, but before I dive into what makes that revolutionary, I’d best set the scene with what to expect from the controller.

The gamepad is easy on the eye with a lovely white finish that’s reminiscent of the PS5 with buttons that feature the famous square, triangle, circle, and cross combo, with the L1, L2, R1, and R2 triggers finishing off the PS look nicely. Two analogue sticks, one on the top left side and the other on the lower right side, help to ensure comfort when you play games, with a highly functional d-pad on standby should you want to use that instead.

When it comes to movement in-game, something I tested through the Mass Effect Legendary Edition and Madden 23, it feels as smooth as butter. Both the analog sticks and the d-pad are highly receptive, as are the other buttons, ensuring that your gaming experience isn’t hindered by unwanted clunkiness.

Backbone PlayStation Edition review - the device on top of a black desk

Naturally, there are also start and select buttons too, as is commonplace with mobile gaming controllers, but what isn’t common enough is the inclusion of a capture button (something I do applaud Gamesir for as well as Backbone), allowing you to record gameplay and save screenshots. Trust me. I make full use of this feature as I find myself playing Xbox through iPhone more and more frequently thanks to the Backbone Playstation Edition. Yes, I like to play Xbox games with a PS-inspired device – console wars suck, games are for everyone, and I love seeing the two behemoths come together, even if it’s in such a minor way.

Oh, and there’s one more button on the face of the pad, and that’s the Backbone app button. One press of the button, and you find yourself in the Backbone app, a place that’s fantastic for those that enjoy playing games on mobile. Here, you can keep all of your games in one handy place. You can access PS Remote Play, Xbox Cloud Gaming, and the App Store, as well as see what games are available to you, be they free or through a subscription – the app even tells you exactly where they are.

Naturally, you can also find games by category, select the one for you and get underway. Better still, you don’t have to faff about switching between where you play your titles. With an average mobile gaming device, you have to manually switch between various apps, and most of the time, the controller is useless when you do this. So it’s fair to say that I appreciate the efficiency on offer by Backbone through its app and controller.

Backbone PlayStation Edition review - two wires being plugged into the device

Now that I’ve gushed about the app and how pretty the controller looks, I should probably touch on how it handles. Great is the short answer. It holds the vast majority of iPhone models and even comes with an adapter for the iPhone 14 series, but I didn’t need to use it for my standard iPhone 13. Thanks to the lightness of the controller and the slight curves, it’s extremely comfortable to hold. At no point has it been uncomfortable or felt like a strain on my hands and wrists.

The final touches on the controller include a port for headphones, and my official Xbox headphones sound amazing when plugged in. There’s also a port for a phone charger, so you can charge your phone while you game. Honestly, what’s not to love about the Backbone PlayStation Edition?

In case it isn’t already clear, I cannot recommend the Backbone PlayStation Edition controller enough. It features a slick design, is comfortable to hold for long periods of time, has receptive buttons and analog sticks, gives you the means to switch between various gaming applications seamlessly, and features a good caption button. At a retail price of $99.99 plus tax (£99.99) and the inclusion of one month of Game Pass Ultimate, one month of Apple Arcade, and three months of Discord Nitro, you genuinely do get your money’s worth.