Sony has enlisted the accessory company Backbone to make a PlayStation version of the Backbone One mobile controller for iPhone that’s available now from Backbone and Best Buy. Backbone keeping its Xbox-like analog stick arrangement. The $99.99 controller, which can be pulled open to fit iPhones as small as the 13 Mini and as big as the 13 Pro Max, comes in a new mix of white and black, just like the PS5’s DualSense controller.
It’s identical in price and design to the all-black 2020 Backbone One that’s still on sale, save for one big change: cross, circle, triangle, and square face buttons in place of A, B, X, and Y to match in-game button prompts you’ll see in PlayStation games on mobile. You can use it to play games on Apple Arcade, Xbox Game Pass, and Stadia, but the button prompts won’t match up with what’s on-screen unless a developer has programmed its game to support PlayStation button icons.
Sony doesn’t have a robust cloud-based offering for PS Plus subscribers on phones, and we may be waiting a while for Sony to deliver on any of its promises to bring several games from its PlayStation catalog to mobile between now and 2025. So at launch, Sony and Backbone are leaning on this controller as being the most faithful way to play PlayStation games from your existing PS4 or PS5 console.
Sony’s Remote Play app for mobile lets you jump into your PS4 or PS5 games while roaming around your house. It sounds great, and it is capable of delivering a decent experience. I could load up Tetris Effect: Connected just about anywhere and have a pretty good time while streaming via Wi-Fi at home, which is how I imagine most people may use Remote Play. Now, you can also play Remote Play outside your home via LTE or 5G, too though fast-paced games like Returnal didn’t play so hot over LTE or even 5G.
Releasing this controller is an intriguing move, both for Backbone and Sony, which has entrusted a third-party company to make some very official-looking hardware on its behalf. Sony published patents in late 2021 of a controller that looks like a DualShock 4 split in half. And perhaps, having a bunch of these controllers out there might finally convince Sony to launch a proper cloud gaming service on mobile.