Meet the Backbone One: PlayStation Edition. This is not the next-generation PSP, but it is the first PlayStation portable product since the PS Vita was discontinued back in 2019.
Since I reviewed the Backbone One and named it the best iPhone game controller for its sleek, comfortable design with tactile buttons and a great companion app, this company has exploded in popularity.
In fact, it has done so to the point that it’s caught the attention of PlayStation, who has worked with Backbone over the past few months to help develop this unique version.
Naturally, this is a big deal that is seemingly unprecedented. Why is PlayStation partnering with Backbone and making a portable controller? Let me explain.
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Just a fresh coat of paint
Some things change, while some things stay the same. This is an identical shape and form factor to the traditional Backbone One — from the button placement to the lightning and 3.5mm jack passthroughs.
Even down to the required fitting bracket for the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max (thanks to its beefy camera bump). But through the partnership comes a full aesthetic makeover that takes a lot of inspiration from the PS5.
The same elegant white finish of the console and accessories. The same transparent face buttons with floating iconography. Every part of it is built to seamlessly slot into your current setup, alongside your and Pulse 3D Headset. Unfortunately, though, the PS button texture on the back of the DualSense controller is not present on the Backbone.
You’ll also find some sneaky PS branding, as you extend the sliding clamp mechanism. This is a great addition for some across any PlayStation gamer’s hardware suite.
A new state of play?
What new stuff does it bring to the table? Honestly (right now), not that much.
There is some nice new stuff, delivered through Backbone’s continuous work on improving the app: PlayStation games appear a little more prominently in the menu and they will automatically open into the PS Remote Play app with a nice little animation.
Alongside this, Backbone has made one update that I’m so happy to see, which is standalone mode. I’ve wanted the chance to go into the app and maybe tinker with some in-game captures, or change some settings ahead of a long commute gaming session.
In the past, you’d need to plug the controller in and hold your phone horizontally. Now, I can just use my phone normally with no pad attached. It’s pretty damn useful!
While these two small updates are cool, they are still just small developments. Beyond that, this works exactly the same as the traditional Backbone One, and works across all the same games.
But to say this is just the same controller with the PS face buttons instead of the ABXY configuration, is to miss the writing on the wall.
You see, the most exciting part of the PlayStation-branded Backbone One is not what it does now, but what it represents for the future.
Xbox is kicking PlayStation’s ass when it comes to cloud gaming. On the latter, you’re stuck to either remote play that requires your console to be on, or to streaming a select number of games. For the former, just about everything can be streamed everywhere on every device.
So with the competition this far ahead, let’s ask that question once more: why is PlayStation partnering with Backbone and making a portable controller? Is it really just for remote play, or can we expect to see some big developments related to cloud gaming soon?
Putting the pieces together, my money is on PS Plus letting you stream all the titles, wherever you are. I’d love to know what you think — tell us on Twitter!
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Jason brings a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a writer at Laptop Mag. He takes a particular interest in writing articles and creating videos about laptops, headphones and games. He has previously written for Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.