Backbone’s unique controller unlocks iPhone’s true gaming potential

Let me be frank: the spine one The gamepad is the iPhone accessory I’ve wanted since games started appearing on Apple’s smartphone platform in 2008. It delivers on the promise of turning the iPhone into a credible Nintendo competitor. Switch and stands out in a field full of alternatives from companies like Razer, GameSir, and even Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. Read on for our full Backbone One controller review.

You’ve already been able to sync Bluetooth controllers, including those designed for the Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch, with an iPhone to play games for a few years. However, using a Bluetooth controller with an iPhone requires keeping your smartphone on a stand or connecting the two devices using an extract, which looks and feels awkward. Controller covers, like the Razer Kishi, GameSir X2 and Backbone One are designed to fit around the sides of the iPhone to turn it into a slimmer portable gaming device. There’s a huge market for iPhone game controllers, but the Backbone One is the best I’ve ever used.

Who needs a controller to play games on iPhone?

Dimensions: 3.7 inches L x 6.94 inches W x 1.28 inches H
Lester: 4.8 ounces
To input: Flash
Compatibility: Any iPhone released after the 6S in 2015

Most people who play iPhone games use its touchscreen, which makes sense for titles like “Angry Birds” and “Fruit Ninja,” which were designed specifically for this device. If you play in-depth Japanese role-playing games like “Fantasian” or racing games like “Horizon Chase 2,” the iPhone’s touchscreen isn’t ideal. Your fingers end up getting in the way of the action, and it’s easy to accidentally press multiple buttons at once or miss them altogether.

The spine one solves this problem by allowing you to play games using a pair of analog sticks, four face buttons and four trigger buttons, just like you would on a game console controller. The Backbone One has the exact same button layout as controllers from Nintendo and Microsoft, so it’s familiar to use right away. It’s not the first controller shell for the iPhone, but it seems much more secure than any other I’ve tested in this Backbone One controller review.

Its grips are angled downward, making the controller a little taller, but much more comfortable to grip, and the textured plastic Backbone prevents the controller from slipping if your hands get sweaty. These design details may seem small, but they mean the difference between your gaming session ending because of a hand cramp or because you’ve completed a tough challenge.

Backbone design chops match Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo

The spine oneThe solid construction of impressed me from the moment I took it out of the box. It didn’t bend much when I tried to twist it, the buttons and triggers were clicky enough, and the analog sticks were positioned in the perfect spot. My fingers immediately fell into their natural places: thumbs on the left analog stick and face buttons, index fingers on the top triggers, middle fingers on the back of the controller for support, and ring finger and l little finger wrapped around the handles of the controller. This controller felt so natural that I could have mistaken it for one made by Nintendo if I had taken it with my eyes closed.

This is a stark contrast to Razer’s Kishi Controller, which has a squarer design that forces me to wrap my middle, ring and pinky fingers behind the controller when playing. Both controllers require you to strap your iPhone inside their case, but the One is made of two pieces of thick plastic, which you can easily separate (as shown in the GIF above). The Kishi, on the other hand, requires you to unlock its two pieces by pulling a finicky pair of tabs on the back. Don’t get me wrong, the Razer Kishi is a great iPhone game controller, there’s no denying that the Backbone One has the better design.

I don’t have many issues to raise in this Backbone One Controller review, but I do wish it had a dedicated home button that pops out of the game I was playing once I’m done. The controller has a button that opens the Backbone app to reveal your games library, but that’s as close as it gets. Beyond this little finicky, using the Backbone One went smoothly.

Backbone One is up and running in seconds

Part of the spine oneThe appeal of is that there is no installation process. I opened the controller shell, plugged its Lightning plug into my iPhone’s charging port, and was ready to start playing. Games with controller support instantly recognized that the Backbone One was connected to my iPhone, and I was able to play games without touching its screen. Backbone has an app, which lets you see all the games available on the app store with controller support and jump into your most recently played games, but it’s entirely optional. I found myself throwing games the old fashioned way.

The Backbone One is compatible with all iPhones dating back to 6S, released in 2015, with the exception of the original iPhone SE, which retained the design of the iPhone 5. This controller will work identically whether you have it Latest iPhone, or one who is half a decade old. It should be noted that this controller is powered by your iPhone and you may notice more battery drain on older and smaller iPhones. I had no problem using the Backbone One with an iPhone 13 Pro Max, but your mileage may vary. Playing games on your iPhone will drain its battery more than almost any other task, but you can charge the smartphone while you game by plugging a cable into the Lightning port on the bottom of the Backbone One’s right grip.

Finally, console-quality games on an iPhone

I tested the spine one controller by playing hours of “Fantasian”, “Chrono Trigger”, “Horizon Chase 2”, “Tunic” (via Xbox Cloud Streaming), “Ys Origins” (via NVIDIA GeForce Now streaming), and the controller has never skipped a beat. The controller recognized every input, even when I pressed multiple buttons at once to perform a more complicated move. If I made a mistake during a game, but recognized it early enough, it was possible to correct me instead of fumbling with the touchscreen, losing a life, and having to start over. When I messed up during a game it was entirely my fault, and nothing to do with Backbone’s controller.

The controller’s familiar button layout allowed me to focus on gameplay rather than figuring out which buttons to press. The Backbone One’s two analog sticks moved quickly and never drifted (i.e. accidentally and automatically triggered), which is a problem that plagues Nintendo’s Joy-Con Switch. controllers since the console’s launch in 2017. The instant responsiveness of the Backbone One’s analog sticks made it easy to navigate the vast worlds of “Fantasian” and “Tunic” without accidentally bumping into a wall – or worse, enemies. The buttons on the Backbone One produce a satisfying click sound and would press in without too much force, so I could hit one with the tip of my thumb rather than squash it, which would present the risk of pressing two buttons at the same time. .

The only time the Backbone One struggled was when I played games streamed from cloud services, which had nothing to do with the hardware and everything to do with the latency introduced by Internet games. When Xbox’s connection to the internet was strong, playing a game on my iPhone was virtually identical to the experience of enjoying it on Microsoft’s latest console. Many companies, including Microsoft, list their cloud gaming services as “in beta”, and I really felt that. Cloud gaming is particularly hairy on iOS because Apple doesn’t allow companies to build a native app for these services on the iPhone, so you’re basically playing a high-end game through the Safari web browser.

Still, being able to play an Xbox game at home, walk away, and then pick up where I left off on my iPhone without skipping a beat was pretty amazing. If you get a spine one today, you will reap the full benefits of the improvements in cloud gaming services that will materialize over the next few years. Backbone’s hardware is ready, now it’s time for gaming companies to catch up.

Should you get the Backbone One?

If the iPhone is your primary gaming device and the titles you play support the use of an external controller, the spine one is an essential accessory. We can also highly recommend it to anyone who owns a current-gen Xbox or PlayStation and wants to give cloud gaming a shot. Game streaming technology is in its infancy, but it is improving rapidly. Apple has spent tens (if not hundreds) of millions of dollars developing and optimizing the chip inside the iPhone to ensure it’s capable of running high-end games.

The Backbone One lets you take advantage of the processing power of the iPhone to enjoy home console quality gaming on the go, without a diminished experience. After using this controller regularly for a few weeks, I couldn’t imagine playing an iPhone game without it.

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