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The Backbone One is a controller designed to make iPhone gaming fun

Backbone One Game Controller
Backbone One Game Controller (Image credit: Backbone)

What you need to know

  • The Backbone One is a new gaming controller designed for iPhone.
  • It connects to the iPhone via a Lightning connector.
  • There are two analog sticks, a d-pad, and more.

There are more than a few game controllers designed for iPhone but there are very few that are up to the job. The new Backbone One will be hoping to join that short list and it might stand a chance based on what we're seeing so far.

Designed to hold an iPhone and connect via Lightning, the new controller has a layout that many will be familiar with. Two clickable sticks are joined by a d-pad and the usual array of face buttons. There's even a dedicated button for recording gameplay, too.

Press the Capture Button to instantly record gameplay and share directly to social platforms like Instagram Stories and iMessage.

Unlike the iPhone it's connected to, the Backbone One controller has a 3.5mm headphone jack built in.

Backbone One Game Controller Live

Backbone One Game Controller Live (Image credit: Backbone)

Have friends using the same controller? Backbone's social features mean you can invite each other to chats and whatnot. All via the Backbone app.

This all sounds pretty promising and the Backbone One can be bought for $99 via the Backbone app (opens in new tab) on iPhone. The folk at The Verge tested one and had some very complimentary things to say about it.

On its face, the Backbone One is just a controller — and a very good one, at that. But with software enhancements that take advantage of iOS in some clever ways, Backbone makes the iPhone feel like a bona fide gaming platform that I want to remain a part of. When the hardware and software are all working together, with the ability to easily join up with friends and record clips, the One feels like a gaming experience that somehow beats Apple to the punch of fleshing out its own gaming ambitions. It is no longer just like a phone strapped into a few pieces of plastic but the start of something very special.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.