The Backbone One PlayStation Edition is an officially licensed mobile controller, of which there are both iOS and Android variants. At surface level, it’s a perfectly fine mobile gamepad. Build quality is mostly great, and the USB-C port means your phone will remain locked in firmly during play.
It helps that the Backbone app is fairly robust and easy to navigate, allowing you to quickly select go-to apps like PS Remote Play and Xbox Game Pass. However, while bearing the PlayStation button layout, it’s not a particularly great fit for PS5 owners. It’ll do the job during remote play sessions, with impressively low input lag, but I found it to be a much better fit for Xbox Series X|S players, like many of the best Xbox Game Pass streaming accessories, due to one key oversight.
While the DualSense and DualShock 4 bear a central touchpad that’s easy to access, that’s not so much the case for the Backbone One PlayStation Edition. During remote play, you’ll need to double-tap your phone’s screen in order to activate touchpad input. That might not sound too terrible, but reaching a thumb over to the center of your phone’s screen quickly becomes irksome.
Overall, though, despite the touchpad issue and some generally awkward button placement, the Backbone One PlayStation Edition is a solid choice if you’re looking for a relatively affordable mobile gaming controller.
Backbone One PlayStation Edition: price and availability
The Backbone One PlayStation Edition is available now from Backbone’s official store page, in both iOS and Android variants. Both are priced equally at $99.99 / £99.99 / AU$179. Additionally, purchasing the Backbone One from the company directly will net you a three-month Discord Nitro subscription and a one-month Apple Arcade subscription for new customers.
Backbone One PlayStation Edition: design
The Backbone One PlayStation Edition pleases right out of the box. The sleek, matte white finish matches the default colorway of the PS5 and DualSense wireless controller. The pad rests comfortably in your hands while the triggers, analog sticks, and face buttons are all of satisfyingly high quality.
The same can’t be said for the Backbone One’s D-pad, however, which feels slightly loose and listless. Still, that’s a small blemish on an overall tight design. A larger issue is the placement of the Backbone One’s ancillary buttons. Menu, screenshot, and sharing buttons (along with the shortcut button to the Backbone app) are all awkwardly placed quite far down either side of the controller. On the left side especially, you’ll need to move your thumb a significant distance away from the analog stick, which never feels quite right.
The Backbone One PlayStation Edition also lacks a dedicated central touchpad button. However, the functionality is there; you’ll just need to double-tap your phone’s screen during gameplay. I found this to be incredibly awkward. Having to strain my thumb every time I want to open a map or inventory makes playing games like Horizon Forbidden West and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart a significant chore compared to on console.
This isn’t an issue for Xbox Game Pass games via Xbox Cloud Gaming, which makes the Backbone One PlayStation Edition, ironically, a better fit for Microsoft’s subscription service. Separate touchpad buttons on, say, the rear of the controller, would’ve been a welcome addition, too.
Rounding out the controller’s design aspects are a 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB-C port. Both are great to have, and the latter means you can charge your phone while playing.
Backbone One PlayStation Edition: performance
As hinted above, the Backbone One PlayStation Edition performs solidly, with impressively little input lag during both cloud streaming and remote play. To an extent, your mileage here will vary based on the strength of your internet connection (remote play also requires Wi-Fi) but the overall experience was surprisingly smooth.
Naturally, there will be a degree of input delay when streaming games to your phone, and I won’t say the experience is entirely seamless. I did struggle to swiftly input more complex button inputs in Street Fighter 6, for example, when played via PS Remote Play. But for games that require relatively fewer inputs like Gran Turismo 7, or Stardew Valley, you’ll get a perfectly serviceable play session when you’re handheld with the Backbone One PlayStation Edition.
Should you buy the Backbone One PlayStation Edition?
Buy it if...
You’re not on a budget
The Backbone One won’t break the bank at the sub $100 / £100 mark.
You’re after versatility
The controller’s Backbone app provides shortcuts to Xbox Game Pass, PS Remote Play, and controller-supporting Apple Store or Google Play titles.
Don't buy it if...
The touchpad functionality puts you off
Using the Backbone One for PS Remote Play is tricky, largely thanks to the double-tap touchpad setup.
You’d prefer a more feature-rich controller
The Backbone One simply does what it says on the tin and little else. The Backbone app is nice for accessing shortcuts, but the device isn’t particularly customizable.
How we tested
I tested the Backbone One PlayStation Edition with my Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra to play a variety of games across PS5 Remote Play, Xbox Game Pass, and Google Play over the course of a couple of weeks.
Games tested were across a variety of genres and size, from smaller indies like Hollow Knight and Stardew Valley, to larger-scale titles like Gran Turismo 7, Halo Infinite and Final Fantasy 14 Online.