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Turn your iPhone into a video game console with Blackbone One

Andy Vilchez
4 min read
Turn your iPhone into a video game console with Blackbone One
This is a gadget that turns your iPhone into a complete video console.

The Backbone One is an iPhone controller that bridges the gap between the disparate gaming experiences that are available through Apple's smartphone.

It may seem a bit pricey at over $100, but the Backbone One 's true value goes far beyond offering a very good set of physical controls for your iOS gaming sessions. It's nothing more and nothing less than a highly polished gateway to a world of full-throttle console and PC gaming.

Today we are going to talk a little more about what you need to know about this simple gadget. We will detail its main features, so you can determine if it is really worth trying or not.

hardware

Turn your iPhone into a video game console with Blackbone One
Turn your iPhone is a video console.

Without a doubt, this is a magnificent piece of equipment that feels great in the hands. Its uncomplicated, expandable form factor means that two handles separate on either side of your iPhone in a way that's reminiscent of the Nintendo Switch or Steam Deck.

This has been designed to be used on any iPhone beyond the 6S.

It may be somewhat complicated at first to have to insert the gadget into the telescopic device, but with a little practice you will be able to achieve it. A button or clamping device is missing, which could help make the process much easier.

The device is made of high-quality plastic, and its two analog sticks offer a good degree of precision despite being compact. It's perfectly capable of the precision required by console shooters like Halo Infinite, which is the ultimate test for any analog stick.

The four main buttons on the fascia are incredibly clicky, almost to a distracting degree, but otherwise of decent quality. On the shoulders are a pair of solid buttons and another set of responsive analog triggers, mirroring the setup of recent PlayStation and Xbox controllers.

Finally, a decent quality D-pad. The best I can say for this long-forgotten input method is that it has passed Spelunky 2's test. Derek Yu's superlative roguelite platformer is able to expose all but the most reliable directional controls.

Otherwise, you have two buttons that correspond to the Home/Options (or equivalent) buttons on home console controllers, as well as a Backbone button (which we'll talk about later) and a Record and Broadcast button. game, in case you're interested in that sort of thing.

At the bottom edge of the left and right hand grips, you'll find a 3.5mm headphone jack and a Lightning port for charging your phone, respectively.

User interface of this device

Turn your iPhone into a video game console with Blackbone One
It has a really interesting interface.

Backbone's custom UI layer, accessed via a dedicated button adjacent to the right analog stick, is a very slick thing, and a huge part of the package. Everything from the magazine-style layout to the instant video previews and the responsiveness of the animations is of a quality worthy of any gaming service showcase.

Scroll through the entries in this interface and you'll see installed iOS games, featured titles you're interested in, new releases on various game streaming services, and much more. Backbone's user interface also allows you to connect with your fellow players through lobbies and group chats.

Above we mentioned Halo Infinite and Spelunky 2, neither of which is available on the App Store. When you enter one of these streaming recommendations, you will be offered a shortcut to configure the related services.

In my case, it's about pinning a browser shortcut to the home screen so I can access Xbox Cloud Gaming (a three-month trial of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is included), although PlayStation Remote Play and Google Stadia also appear.

Xbox Cloud Gaming integration isn't exactly perfect. I couldn't continue my Xbox game sessions directly through the UI, and had to exit and go through the Xbox Cloud Gaming Beta shortcut that I had pinned to my iPhone's home screen. However, this isn't so much Backbone's fault as it is Apple's intransigence when it comes to streaming apps.

At a basic level, the Backbone One is one of the best iOS controllers I've ever used. Beyond that, it represents the most successful attempt yet to organize and channel the mix of gaming sources available to an iPhone user.

Basically, it turns your iPhone into a surprisingly complete game console, as long as you're near a high-quality broadband connection. This is something that this team does in something magnificent and that you must try.

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