PlayStation Portal vs Backbone One – PS5 vs mobile

Is the PlayStation Portal more versatile than the backbone?

Playstation Portal vs Backbone: A comparison of two gaming platforms. Image shows the text "Playstation Portal vs Backbone One" underneath the Portal and Backbone One controllers, on a blue yellow gradient background.

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The hype around Sony’s PS5 streaming controller has been building up as it reached its release date, so we’re comparing it to an established Remote Play device in PlayStation Portal vs Backbone One. The world of gaming has evolved significantly over the years, with advancements in technology allowing gamers to enjoy their favorite titles on the go, as well as from their phones. Naturally, two names that crop up are the PlayStation Portal and the Backbone One, both potential solutions to enjoying console gaming in locations other than your living room. In this guide, we dig into exploring the key aspects of each device, including their specs, price, and overall purposes to help inform you in your decision-making.

PlayStation Portal vs Backbone specs

SpecificationPlayStation PortalBackbone One
Display8-inch LCDN/A (Depends on phone)
Controller LayoutDualSenseAsymmetrical
ConnectivityWireless – PlayStation LinkWireless
CompatibilityPS Remote PlayPS Remote Play, Mobile Games, Xbox Game Pass
Size and weight13 x 5.9 x 3.7 inches, 529 grams6.94 in × 3.70 in × 1.28 inches, 138 grams
Price$199.99$99.99
PlayStation Portal vs Backbone One specs table

PlayStation Portal vs Backbone features

Now let’s compare the features of both devices.

Design and Portability

In terms of design, the PlayStation Portal and the Backbone One both have distinct approaches. The Backbone One is a compact controller that attaches directly to your mobile phone, making it highly portable and easy to use. Its small size allows you to easily carry it in your pocket or bag, making it an ideal choice for gaming on the go. Its intuitive extending design keeps the Backbone’s size down, and this sliding plastic element doesn’t take away from the quality physical feel of the Joy-Stick-esq phone controller.

The PlayStation Portal, on the other hand, features an 8-inch LCD screen flanked by two halves of a DualSense controller. Although larger and bulkier, the Portal offers a more immersive gaming experience with its spacious screen, and ergonomic grips and buttons, which of course feature DualSense haptics. However, with its exclusive PlayStation Link connectivity, the Portal has been created specifically to stream games from your PS5 console, and can only be used when connected to your PS5 and with a suitable Wi-Fi connection. While this means you will be able to take your gaming around the house, that’s about as far as you can take it.

✓ Marla’s thoughts

Will my phone fit into the Backbone One controller?

Don’t be discouraged if you’ve got a bigger phone: the Backbone’s maximum extension width is 10.14 inches (25.76 cm). Given that the huge iPhone 15 Pro Max doesn’t even reach 7-inches, unless you’re using a tablet you should be okay on the size front when using a Backbone One.
My hands on experience with the controller left me impressed with the mechanism of the extension, but its effectiveness does make it tricky to slot your phone in it while also trying to connect it to the charging port. Baring in mind that this was with a 6.1″ iPhone 11, you might find it’s even easier if you have a smaller phone! It took me a few runs of taking my phone in and out of the device to feel comfortable with handling it, so while your phone will fit in it, patience is key.

Display

The PlayStation Portal boasts an impressive 8-inch LCD screen, providing a visually stunning gaming experience. With its 1080p resolution, you can expect crisp graphics and vibrant colors. In comparison, the display quality of the Backbone One ultimately depends on your mobile phone’s screen. While some high-end smartphones may offer superior resolution, the integration of the display and controller mechanisms in the PS Portal are second to none, although occasionally the limitations of streaming may result in a similar gaming experience on both devices.

Audio

In terms of audio, both the PlayStation Portal and the Backbone One feature a 3.5mm headphone jack, allowing you to connect your favorite gaming headset for an immersive audio experience. However, it’s worth noting that the Backbone One also supports wireless Bluetooth headphones, providing more flexibility in audio options. Unfortunately, the use of PlayStation Link limits the support of wireless audio devices on the PS Portal, and you can only connect to Sony-exclusive options, such as the PlayStation Pulse earbuds.

Compatibility

When it comes to compatibility, the Backbone One supports the official PS Remote Play app, allowing you to stream games from your PlayStation console. Its versatility doesn’t end there, as not only can is be used to play mobile games natively, but it works with major streaming and cloud gaming apps, such as Xbox Game Pass. You can get both USB-C and Lightning models of the Backbone, to ensure compatibility with both Android and older iPhone devices.

In contrast, the PS Portal relies solely on game streaming and requires a stable internet connection, and ultimately for you to already own a PS5 console. It also limits your gameplay to titles downloaded onto your PS5, as opposed to the variety of free apps and games available on a smartphone. If you prioritize versatility and the ability to play a wide range of games, the Backbone One might be the better option for you here.

Controller Layout

The controller layout is a crucial aspect to consider when choosing between the PlayStation Portal and the Backbone One. The Backbone One follows the traditional layout found in Xbox controllers, with asymmetrical thumbstick placement. This layout is preferred by some gamers, especially those who primarily play first-person shooters. On the other hand, the PlayStation Portal adopts the symmetrical design of the DualSense controller, which is familiar to PlayStation players and fans of the traditional DualSense form. The choice between the two layouts largely depends on your own personal preference and gaming habits.

PlayStation Portal vs Backbone price

When it comes to pricing, the Backbone One takes the lead. Priced at $99.99, this mobile controller offers a cost-effective solution for gamers who want to enhance their gaming experience on their smartphones. On the other hand, the PlayStation Portal comes with a higher price tag of $199.99. While it may seem expensive, the PlayStation Portal offers additional features and capabilities that could be seen as justifying its higher cost. However, you also already have to own a $400 – $500 game console as a pre-requirement for using a PlayStation Portal in the first place, making it an expensive accessory investment for a console that’s already set you back by a few hundred dollars.

It’s worth noting that with the current spike in demand surrounding the recent November release date of the PlayStation Portal, you’ll want to keep an eye on our Portal Stock tracker to see what retailers in your region are currently stocking the device and where you can get your hands on it.

Is the PlayStation Portal better than the Backbone?

Choosing between the PlayStation Portal and the Backbone One depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you prioritize portability and want a compact controller for gaming on your mobile phone, the Backbone One is a cost-effective and popular option. It offers compatibility with both the PS Remote Play app and mobile games, making it a versatile choice above its competitors, such as the Razer Kishi.

On the other hand, if you value a larger screen, enhanced features like adaptive triggers and haptic feedback, and a more immersive gaming experience overall, the PlayStation Portal is worth considering. It offers an all-in-one solution for streaming games from your PlayStation console, providing a seamless transition from console to handheld gaming. It arguably lacks the charm of Sony’s PS Vita, and doesn’t have the additional use cases of the Steam Deck or Legion Go as portable gaming PCs. However, the familiar form factor of the DualSense controller, combined with a superior screen size, display, and battery life, mark the PS Portal a compelling PS5 accessory.