Backbone One is a controller adapter for smart phones that adds console style controls to your smart phone. It attaches directly to your iPhone, thus reducing some of the latency of other controller adapters. Currently only available for iPhone, the rumour mill is spinning, and Backbone are rumoured to have the Android version in the works. If Backbone pull this off, it may be a game changer for smart phone gaming in general.
The look and the feel
One of the best things about the look and the feel of Backbone One is that it actually feels like a real controller. Instead of the springy button feel that many other controller adapters subject us to, Backbone One’s controller buttons have the snappy feel and responsiveness that rival those of the console.
The design is slick and very light (138g) and the back(bone) of the adapter is adjustable to fit the size of your iPhone and it snaps in. When you choose and start a game, you will likely very soon forget you’re even gaming on a smart phone.
Backbone One does not need to be charged as it draws power from your iPhone, however it does have a passthrough charger, meaning that you can charge your phone while you play and still use the Backbone.
In order to run it, you must have IOS 13 or later, but the Backbone One supports all iPhones from iPhone 6 Plus and later. The great thing about Backbone is that although the sizes, as well as shapes, of iPhones vary drastically, the extendable back allows it to wrap around the whole phone, keeping it secure.
If we had to compare Backbone One to a portable gaming device, we would probably compare it to Nintendo Switch in design and feel. The asymmetrical analogue stick placement will be familiar to bothXbox and Nintendo Switch players, and if you already play on portable devices in general, this will look and feel very comfortable and familiar.
In addition to coming with 1 month of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Backbone One facilitates remote gaming from console and PC platforms as well access to Steam. Backbone One can be used with any iOS games that support a controller and it works with 1,413+ iOS games. This is excluding the PlayStation Remote Play, Xbox Remote Play, Amazon Luna, Shadow, Steam Link, Google Stadia and Rainway.
Xbox Remote Play Apple Arcade PS Remote Play Moonlight AMD Link Steam Link Stadia NVIDIA GeForce NOW Xbox Game Pass Shadow Rainway Amazon Luna
Backbone One won’t replace your PC or your console, but it will allow you to take the games you play along with you. Even if you're not a console or PC gamer (yet!), there are tons of amazing games that support a controller on the smartphone. Here are some of our current, free favourites on iOS:
SAS: Zombie Assault 4 – If you remember the time when flash was still a thing and the battle between Adobe Flash Player and HTML was still raging, then you will remember SAS: Zombie Assault on the infamous Ninja Kiwi site. When the support for Adobe Flash Player ended, so did many of our favourite browser games. Thankfully, SAS: Zombie Assault now migrated to the app store and we can yet again enjoy the awesome zombie shooter.
SAS: Zombie Assault 4 is a lot of fun on mobile, and dare I say maybe more fun than it was on the browser. You can choose from three available classes that boast an RPG-type upgrade system. If you’re not really into competitive play, but enjoy playing with others, SAS boasts an amazing 4-player co-op and works incredibly with the Backbone One. This is a new mode for SAS and it’s actually a lot of fun. Much like with the other shooter or racing games, the screen buttons are just inadequate for fast pace gaming. And killing zombies is always fast paced.
Call of Duty: Mobile – If you’re one of us elder millennials, you might remember that once upon a time Medal of Honor was the top dog in the FPS arena. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Call of Duty not only overtook Medal of Honor, but it left it in the dust. Now an absolute mammoth in among the games, Call of Duty is extremely popular even on smart phones. But let’s be real: while the buttons on screen are the developers’ best effort at giving us the console-like experience/controls, they are incredibly awkward to use. If you’re looking to get into some mad FPS action, then COD: Mobile absolutely needs a controller for the best experience.
Unkilled – Another zombie entry (we do love our zombie shooters), this is an incredibly fun game to play, however it is the most fun if you play with a controller as a lot of actions require dedicated buttons. For example in order to aim, you have to hold down on the screen, just as in order to continuously move, you must hold ‘’move’’ in the direction you’d like to go. This is incredibly awkward and difficult to do on screen, and if your finger slips, you can move the game window or randomly pause the game. You can even get killed quite quickly because the responsiveness of the screen buttons leaves much to be desired.
Genshin Impact – Of course Genshin Impact has made the list. Genshin Impact seems like it should make every list of games that are incredibly well designed, fun and beautiful. The game already feels like a AAA console/PC game in its design, details and storyline and it’s hard to believe that this game is even free. Much like the rest of our current favourites, however, it plays much better with a controller as you explore, glide and fight through Teyvat.
If you’re already a console or a PC gamer, you can compare how good Genshin Impact feels and plays with the controller, as it is available on all platforms.
Software and creator capabilities
Backbone One comes with its own software, which you will be prompted to download, when you use the controller for the first time. This isn’t necessary to play the games, however we’d recommend downloading it for its library and functionality options.
It has an aesthetically pleasing interface, somewhat akin to PS5, and it allows you to keep a library of all your games in one place.
In addition to having all your games in one place, Backbone One brings a whole host of console/PC-like functionalities. The audio jacks allow you to connect your headset to the Backbone and join parties where you can chat to your team mates via the app.
The buttons on the left side of the controller allow for screen recording your gameplay and taking screenshots, which is excellent news for creators.
In many retrospect, Backbone One is our current favourite because among many things, it hasn’t just facilitated easier mobile gaming, it brought the console/PC experience to it.
The Backbone One is available from CCL here.