Mobile gaming and streaming directly to devices are the future. Recently, Google and Microsoft played their hands, with the introduction of Stadia and XCloud for mobile devices. These new services created a demand for new accessories, and, consequently, an array of controllers, clips, and other accessories flooded the market. I have looked at many of these products and I’ve recently reviewed the Gamesir X2 Lightning device for Apple. I loved everything about it, but I always wondered how it compared to its peers. Luckily, the team behind Backbone read my mind as I now have their excellent controller to look at.
This compact, stylish, and robust controller is the perfect accompaniment for gamers on the move. Furthermore, it is compatible with devices from the iPhone 6S through to the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini. If you happen to own an iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max, a helpful clip is provided to accommodate your larger device. What’s more, an extremely useful app can be downloaded to assist with setting up your device while getting the most out of it.
At around £100, it is comparable with the Razer Kishi, but it is about £30 more expensive than the Gamesir X2 Lightning. With a similar build quality, and almost identical controller layout and features, it’s hard to justify the difference in price, at first glance. However, the excellent app makes the Backbone controller more user-friendly and defiantly more desirable for the Apple market.
What’s in the box of the Backbone controller.
- The packaging is well-built, stylish, and filled with information. There is an outer cover emblazoned with the Xbox logo and a picture of Game Pass for mobile devices. Inside the black box is simple, compact and sturdy. Thankfully, it is 100% recyclable and ensures the contents are protected in transit.
- The Backbone controller. This small, comfortable, and well-built device screams look at me. It has all the expected buttons and a special Backbone feature for use with the app. It has a solid backplate, telescopic springs, and a lighting connectivity port. Furthermore, there is a 3.5mm audio jack port and a female connector for charging using a lighting cable.
- An adapter for the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max. This small clip ensures that the device is fully compatible with the latest model of iPhone.
- User manual and snap-on guide. The easy-to-understand user manual and snap-on guide allow you to get started instantaneously.
We’ve all been there when our devices have run out of juice. It is frustrating and annoying, and there is no one to blame except yourself. Luckily, the Backbone controller pulls minimal power directly from your device. Therefore, as long as your phone is charged, you can play forevermore. Yet, if you aren’t that organised, your phone can be charged via the lighting port. This is a great feature that’ll keep you playing, but it reduces your mobility considerably.
Phones come in many shapes and sizes and Backbone has accommodated this within its design. The telescopic springs are easily pulled apart and they wrap around your device securely. The seated position of your phone, combined with the total weight of the device, is comfortable for extended gaming sessions. However, there is an issue regarding phone cases that may be of concern to some users. To get the most out of the device, your phone must be naked! If you have a case that cannot be removed from your mobile, then you cannot use the Backbone controller, so be mindful before making a purchase.
The buttons and the app.
Experienced gamers will know the difference between cheap and premium controllers. Luckily, the Backbone controller falls into the elite category. With dual analogue sticks, the familiar button layout, and the right amount of travel and resistance for each button, it is instantly comfortable within your hands. Thanks to the lightning port, I experienced no latency issues, stuttering, or other connectivity issues. This is something that haunts the Gamesir X2 for Android but wasn’t present in this accessory.
One key element I’ve failed to mention is the special Backbone App button. This is essential for gamers who love to share content or those who use multiple gaming accounts, such as Apple Arcade, PS Remote, Steam Link, or Game Pass. You can also access game or party chat, stream directly to Twitch, and organise your gaming library.
The app is essentially an entertainment centre for your phone while using the Backbone controller. It was incredibly intuitive, easy to navigate, and makes this device stand out from its peers. I was blown away by its simplicity and how useful it was.
The elephant in the room.
You may have noticed, but I haven’t mentioned Backbone and Android phones in the same sentence. There is a very good reason for that, and that’s because the two are not compatible. There is a workaround if you really want this device, but for Android users, I recommend you wait for the Backbone Android device, or pick up a Gamesir X2, Razer Kishi, or the Nacon MG-X.
Is the Backbone controller worth it?
At £100, you get an awful lot of features for your money. On top of that, you get 3 months of Discord Nitro, 1-month access to Game Pass, and 1 month of Apple Arcade included. Then there is the exceptional and user-friendly app. This transforms an ordinary mobile controller into an entertainment centre. You can stream, edit, and screenshot your content to your heart’s desire, making it the ultimate bragging rights peripheral.
Features aside, it is simply a nice accessory to handle. The buttons are great, there is no noticeable lag, and setting it up is straightforward. However, I have one concern regarding the snap-on technique. The lightning connector could become damaged if you were heavy-handed or clumsy. The telescopic springs are strong and could trap your device at an awkward angle. In turn, this could damage the connection while rendering the controller obsolete. Be mindful, though, that the chances of this happening are minimal, so the risk is slim to none.
Taking everything into account, I loved what the team at Backbone has created. It’s a well-made, stylish, and user-friendly device that is an excellent addition to a growing market. Yes, the limitations to Apple are annoying for Android users, but there are some great alternatives. I adored this accessory and I recommend you to buy it here!
Mobile gaming is big business, and it takes a lot to stand out from your peers. The Backbone controller does that with simplicity, a user-friendly approach, excellent features, a superb app, and wonderful build quality. The Razer Kishi and the Gamesir Lightning X2 run it close, but I think the Backbone edges it on all elements.
(More information on Backbone can be found here!)