New Lightning-powered second-gen Backbone One controller brings key gaming upgrades to older iPhones

Backbone One (2nd gen) review
(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to choosing the best iPhone controller for your mobile gaming needs it's difficult to look too far beyond the Backbone One. The original model was already one of our favorite mobile gaming controllers but the updated 2nd-gen model, complete with support for USB-C, made for an even better experience. Now, Backbone has announced that it's also brought that same 2nd-gen upgrade to older iPhones that still use a Lightning connector.

The new controllers dubbed the Backbone One - Lightning (2nd Gen) and Backbone One - PlayStation™ Edition - Lightning (2nd Gen), might sound like they came out of the same marketing meeting that gave us the terribly named "AirPods Pro (2nd generation) with MagSafe Charging Case (USB‑C)" but we'll let Backbone off here. But only because the controllers are so darned good.

The updated model brings with it some notable improvements for those who already have the original and have yet to upgrade to an iPhone 15 and the USB-C version, while there's also a handle deal for those who are buying a new controller for their old iPhone — they'll get 30% off if they're a Backbone Plus member and they won't even have to send their old controller back.

Game on

Backbone's announcement means that Lightning-powered iPhone owners can still benefit from the new magnetic adapters that allow for a better fit for popular iPhone cases as well as a more ergonomic design than the older controller. Backbone promises enhanced iPhone stability as well as a reshaped D-pad as well, all things that are sure to be popular among those who have the older controller and found it to be a little .... wobbly at times.

Buyers of the new controller will also get three months of Apple Arcade to sweeten the deal, making this quite the bargain when you think about it. The new model is available for $99.99 (minutes that discount if applicable) and you can of course choose between the black and PlayStation-themed model, too. Remember that the Lightning version works with the iPhone 6s all the way through the iPhone 14 range but you'll need the USB-C variant if you're using Apple's latest models.

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Oliver Haslam

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.