The Backbone One is the best gamepads for iPhone, but with clever use of iOS features, it doubles as a slick gaming platform you won’t find elsewhere.
I’ve tried a handful of different mobile controllers in recent months, each designed to bring the comfort and convenience of gamepads to touch screens. But the Backbone One is a different breed of accessory, with calculated considerations for both hardware and software, delivering an experience close to a traditional handheld. This isn’t another bolted-on accessory — it acts just like a Nintendo Switch.
The rise of cloud gaming has driven a new era of mobile gaming accessories for smartphones, many imitating dedicated handheld consoles, albeit some more viable than others. The Backbone One is among the latest breaking into the space, and with Microsoft expanding its game-streaming tech to iOS, there’s a compelling basis for its $99 asking price to Xbox owners.
I first picked up the Backbone One with the Xbox Cloud Gaming platform in mind, and after one week, it’s unquestionably the best out there for iPhone. It navigates Apple’s notoriously strict grip on iOS with a portfolio of tightly integrated features via its accompanying app. It has high ambitions, vying to deliver a top-tier controller, plus a full-fledged gaming platform for iPhone.
Backbone One controller for iPhone
Here’s what’s stuck after one week with the Backbone One controller, and what to expect, should you pick one up for mobile gaming.
Bottom line: Backbone has delivered the best controller for iPhone, fusing stellar hardware with cleverly integrated software. It shines when paired alongside Xbox Cloud Gaming, bringing a full console-like experience to mobile, mirroring handhelds like the Nintendo Switch.
Familiar, comfortable controls
Great build quality and fit across different phones
Strong software support
Overall polish unmatched by alternatives
Poor support for cases and other accessories
- The best iPhone controller for Xbox Cloud Gaming is the Backbone One
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