Backbone One PlayStation Edition review - a fine mobile controller that’s strangely better for Xbox

Lacking a spine

Backbone One PlayStation Edition
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

The Backbone One PlayStation Edition is a serviceable mobile controller, available in both iOS and Android versions. While it supports PS5 remote play, it feels a much better fit for Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming due to the awkwardness of the touchpad solution.


  • +

    Solid build quality

  • +

    Low input delay

  • +

    Decently priced


  • -

    Awkward button placement

  • -

    Cumbersome touchpad implementation

  • -

    D-pad isn’t particularly tactile

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The Backbone One PlayStation Edition is an officially licensed mobile controller that comes in both iOS- and Android-compatible variants. Build quality is mostly great, and the USB-C port means your phone will remain locked in firmly during play; it's largely a great mobile gamepad.

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 reliable and decent value-for-money mobile gaming controller.

Backbone One PlayStation Edition - price and availability

The Backbone One PlayStation Edition is widely available at retailers and Backbone’s official store page, in both iOS and Android variants. Both are priced equally at $99.99 / £99.99 / AU$179. 

Backbone One PlayStation Edition - Design and features

Backbone One

(Image credit: Future)

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

Backbone One

(Image credit: Future)

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?

Backbone One

(Image credit: Future)

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 the Backbone One PlayStation Edition

I tested the Backbone One PlayStation Edition with my Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra to play a range of games across PS5 Remote Play, Xbox Game Pass, and Google Play over the course of a couple of weeks.

The games I played spanned a variety of genres and sizes, from smaller indies like Hollow Knight and Stardew Valley to larger-scale titles like Gran Turismo 7, Halo Infinite, and Final Fantasy 14 Online.

If you're after a new pad for the main consoles then check out our picks for the best PS5 controllers, best Xbox controllers, and best Nintendo Switch controllers.

Rhys Wood
Hardware Editor

Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.