Forget PlayStation Portal, I’m buying this iPhone controller on Black Friday to play my PS5 Remotely

Backbone One controller attached to iPhone
(Image credit: Joe Wituschek / iMore)

I love PS5 Remote Play. I use it all the time, maybe even more than my PS5 console connected to the television in my living room. With Black Friday only a few weeks away, I’ve been thinking about the best PS5 Remote Play experience, and I think I’ve decided it might just be my iPhone.

Sony’s brand new PlayStation Portal launches on November 15, and it’s a very strange product that has split opinions across the internet. It’s essentially a DualSense controller split in half with an 8-inch 1080p display in the middle, giving you all of the benefits of the DualSense, like comfort and haptics, while streaming a game from your console.

PS Portal

(Image credit: Sony)

I feel like the PS Portal is made for people like me. People who love to play games in the living room while their significant other watches Gilmore Girls on the TV. Yes, I have an office with a gaming setup and a large monitor, but I work there all day, and I struggle to relax and game when I’m stuck in the same spot I have been for the last nine hours. Separation, in my eyes, is important.

So why not just buy a PS Portal on Black Friday if it’s such a good fit for my needs? Well, some extremely bizarre design choices make the PS Portal far less appealing. First of all, anyone who’s played PS5 knows how bad the battery of the DualSense controller is, and Sony is claiming that the PS Portal will have a similar battery life to those controllers. Last weekend, while playing Spider-Man 2, I used two full controller batteries during a five or six-hour gaming session, and I don’t always want to have a handheld device plugged in.

The other issue with the PS Portal, and quite possibly THE major issue, is the lack of Bluetooth connectivity, which means that once you’ve forked out $199 for the handheld, you need to buy a pair of Sony’s Pulse Explore Wireless Earbuds for $200 or the Elite Wireless Headset for $150. Yes, that’s right, your AirPods Pro 2 will not work with the PlayStation Portal, nor will any of your other wireless earbuds or headphones.

I previously used a Steam Deck for PS5 Remote Play, but I sold it in the summer to wait for the PS Portal. I wanted a more comfortable experience, and I didn’t play any natively supported games apart from remotely streaming with a high-speed internet connection, so the Steam Deck felt like a waste.

Backbone is the one

Backbone one

(Image credit: Tammy Rogers/ iMore)

So, if I’m not keen on the PS Portal because of its lack of Bluetooth, what are my other options? Well, I’m a big gamer, but I really don’t enjoy gaming on my iPhone, even if I own the biggest and best iPhone Apple has to offer, the iPhone 15 Pro Max. It wasn’t until some of my colleagues were discussing controllers to play Resident Evil: Village that I started to look into the Backbone One for iPhone.

The Backbone One is a controller that connects to your iPhone via Lightning or USB-C and gives you a handheld experience with the incredible Liquid Retina display of your smartphone. Yes, it probably isn’t as comfy as the PS Portal, but it gives you access to Bluetooth and will work seamlessly with my AirPods, and no handheld device comes close to the gorgeous 6.7-inch OLED display of my iPhone.

BackBone One Mobile Gaming Controller |$99.99

BackBone One Mobile Gaming Controller | $99.99

A PlayStation Feel 

The BackBone One Mobile Gaming Controller is officially licensed from Sony, so if you're familiar with the feel of a PlayStation 5 controller, this will feel comfortable in your hands. 

Price Check: Best Buy $99.99 | B&H Photo not available

Not only would this solution allow me to play my PS5 handheld, but it also doesn’t limit my remote gaming to Sony’s PlayStation. I also own an Xbox Series X, and forking out $200 for a PS Portal that doesn’t let me play my Xbox is a hard pill to swallow. The Backbone One, however, works with every gaming app on your iPhone with controller support, which means not only can I play Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 but also Starfield and even Apple Arcade games like the upcoming Sonic Dream Team.

The Backbone One is $99, but I’m waiting for Black Friday on November 24 to hopefully save some extra cash and make my purchasing decision of using my iPhone as a remote play console instead of the PS Portal that little bit sweeter.

John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself. Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings. John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019.  John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit.