iPhone as a Gaming Handheld (Review)
Personally, i just really like the idea of having a handheld device that’s dedicated to retro gaming. But often you hear many people saying that just use your phone for gaming there’s, so many options available in these app stores, everything from remade classic games to modern games to emulators that’ll play your old games and i’ve gone as far as to buy a few android Phones, myself, just to try to figure out how this all works and it works really well and i think, it’s a great solution for people who already own android phones but let’s, face it. That’S only half the population. If you look at usage data across the united states, you’ll find that actually, over the past 10 years, the iphone operating system has actually overtaken android, and so now the larger market share is actually within apple devices, at least in the united states and honestly i’m. One of those people i’ve had an iphone since the iphone 3g back in 2008. All the way through to today, where i have the iphone 12, which is my main camera for these videos and unfortunately the iphone has never really been considered a gaming device. Sure there have been games that have come out over the past several years that have gotten really popular things like pokemon go super mario run and even things like candy crush and maybe i’m just old and cranky. But i don’t really consider those to be true games to me.
They’Re, almost just like apps that have gameplay elements to them and because apple makes it so hard to sideload, apps and emulators and things onto your phone throughout most of the iphone history. It’S not really been worth it well, i got ta be honest about two months ago i kinda had a game changing experience and that’s, because i bought this backbone one here without a doubt. This is the most transformative piece of gaming tech that i’ve ever bought. In my life for the first time, i found something that actually makes me consider the gaming properties of an iphone, and this thing kind of just hits all the wickets that i’m looking for in a telescopic controller, it has all the buttons that i would want. It’S got analog, triggers there’s, no pairing required, you just plug it right into your phone and there’s no input delay because it’s plugged in like that, and it even has a headphone jack, which makes it actually more feature rich than the iphone itself. And there are some downsides to it and we’ll go over that here later in the video. But i have to say the first time i plugged it in and booted up a game. I felt like a gaming master – okay, maybe not so much a gaming master, but at least it felt good to play these games, and i think the best compliment i can give to this controller. Is that often i forgot that i had an iphone hooked up to this thing, and here we are nearly 15 years after the app store.
First came out we’re. Finally, at a point where i think this is a viable solution for everyone, you’ve got free to play. Games, you can just run over the app store and pick them up, and this new apple arcade system that they’ve had out for a year or two is finally maturing to the point where it’s actually worth it and there’s. Some clever ways that you can kind of sidestep this whole idea of having to put emulators onto your device. For example, if you have a pc or mac, you can just stream your desktop to this device and all of a sudden, you have things like retroarch or even standalone emulators available on this device and with today’s network speeds. The lag is very bearable. Not only that we have more platforms, we can use. For example, google stadia works on the iphone and you can stream both your xbox, your ps4 ps5, directly onto your phone as well, and they all work seamlessly with this controller, as you can tell i’m pretty excited about all these options available on the iphone, and so I want to spend a few minutes today talking about iphone gaming and all the options you have available to enjoy yourself with this controller without even getting into the whole emulation side of the house. We’Ve got a ton of ground to cover here and i can’t wait to dive into it. So let’s just go for it: Music, okay, so first things first let’s establish some ground rules here, real quick number one.
This is not an android versus iphone video. At this point, i feel, like most, people have just picked their operating system and no judgments here. So the purpose of this video is not to convince you to go over the iphone or to say in any way that iphone is better than android number two. Do not buy an iphone just for gaming. I don’t think it’s actually worth that price. Personally, i like an iphone because of the camera the way it integrates with mac operating systems and just the overall clean user interface when it comes to actual gaming on a smartphone. Android wins every time so we’re going to have two videos eventually the first one which you’re watching right now is just going to talk about general gaming on the iphone. The next video which i’m going to be working on for the next week or so, is going to be about emulation on your iphone, and that requires side, loading and a little bit more work. But i want to show you those options as well, but i just didn’t think it was prudent to put them both into one video, so let’s do a quick unboxing here of the backbone one. This controller cost a hundred bucks and it works with any iphone that’s from the 6s or later. You also need to have ios 13 or higher the build quality, the packaging everything else that comes with it is just really thoughtful and nice and overall i’m really impressed with the build quality of this controller.
It’S very lightweight, and i feel like it doesn’t – have any wasted space anywhere on it. The face buttons themselves are definitely clicky. They remind me a lot of a nintendo switch or even a nintendo 3ds. The function buttons which you can see here on the bottom also have that same amount of clickiness, but they are definitely more flush with the device too so you’re not going to accidentally press them. The analog sticks feel good, they’re, responsive. They remind me a lot of a ps4’s analog sticks. They also click down l3 and r3. Now the d pad is actually mushy. So this reminds me more of classic controllers and it’s a little odd to have a mushy controller and then clicky face buttons. But overall, i think it works i’m, really glad that they went with the rubber conductive d pad because it just feels more responsive. This device has a dedicated screen capture button, a start and menu button, as well as a dedicated backbone app button. One of my favorite features is that it has a headphone jack. I don’t typically use wired headphones, but i really appreciate that they brought this feature back onto the iphone on the right. You have a lightning connector which allows you to charge your phone while you’re playing nothing, really special on the back or sides here, it’s, just a really balanced look, and i really appreciate these triggers and shoulder buttons. The shoulder buttons themselves are clicky, but they have a nice amount of travel and i’m in love with these trigger buttons.
They remind me almost exactly of a ps4 controller. They have an analog input to them, and the amount of travel is just perfect for a wide variety of games. Overall it’s nicely balanced in the hands and, as you can see here, it’s telescopic, which allows you to use various sizes of phones and, besides the relatively high price of a hundred dollars, the biggest downside of the backbone. One is the fact that you cannot use a case while you’re playing a game, it’s relatively minor when you think about it, but it is kind of a pain in the butt. If you have one of those cases that are hard to take on and off to slide it in, i recommend you push into the top side and then pull out the telescope and then connect it in gently and, as you probably know, iphones won’t show a horizontal Or landscape view, when you’re using the actual navigation, so the apps will look a little bit wonky as you’re like navigating through them. But let’s talk about games that’s, the most important part i’m, going to start by talking first by games that you can just download directly from the app store racing games like horizon chase, are a really good demonstration of the fact that there is no input lag when You’Re playing these games, it feels very natural and crisp, and there are plenty of free to play games available on the iphone market, for example, this game sky here is just a beautiful and remarkable artistic game.
Of course, if you just want to shoot, people in the head, you’ve got call of duty, mobile and fortnite, and things like that. Personally, i don’t play a ton of these games, but the options they’re available if you’re into this stuff and it’s very responsive. It plays really well and obviously it’s not quite as comfortable as using something like an xbox controller but it’s still a really good experience, even though you’re using a phone and of course, if you’re willing to pay a couple dollars, there are definitely some classic games available. In the apple app store, for example, for three dollars, you can play through castlevania symphony in the night, and this version has updated voice acting and achievements, and things like that it’s a lot of fun. A lot of old role playing games are also available. Things like chrono trigger or final fantasy vi. Some of these games have a really high price point. You can see here: they’re 15 bucks for final fantasy vi. Typically, what i would do is add these to your wish list and then wait for a sale, because often you’ll find these games dipped down to like 99 cents every once in a while and i’m sure that’s how i got these initially. Some of these games have upgrades to them. For example, final fantasy vii has the ability to turn off random encounters which really enhances the gaming experience. Okay, so now let’s talk about apple arcade for a minute.
This is a paid service. It costs five dollars a month and i think you actually get a free year of it when you buy a new iphone either way. This is just like a paid subscription service. You pay five dollars a month and you have access to just a myriad of really high profile games and a huge chunk of these are controller compatible and what’s. Nice is in the app store. It actually says whether or not you can play something with a controller, and some of these games from a graphics and gameplay perspective are really really impressive. This nba, 2k 21 arcade game are probably the best graphics i’ve ever seen on a handheld device period. The high resolution of an iphone display, coupled with the powerful processors that it has inside, are really impressive and another thing i really like about the backbone one is that it has these little caverns on each side of the controller. That kind of push the sound towards your face while you’re playing – and it gives you a very rich stereo, sound and it’s – a beautiful experience now personally i’m, not a huge fan of having games with a subscription service. One because i don’t feel like i actually own. The game and i feel like it could disappear at any time, and i don’t like that tiny little bit of stress that comes with the feeling of hey. I need to play this game or i’m gon na miss out i’d, rather just buy a game outright and then play it at my own schedule, but all the same, i don’t think that five dollars a month is something that’s going to break the bank.
If anything, maybe you’d just try it out for a month and then see if it’s a good fit or not. But personally, i think that when my free year of apple arcade is up i’m not going to be renewing, so if i’m not going to be renewing apple arcade and i don’t want to be stuck with just the games in the app store. What are my other options for playing games? Well. I’M glad you asked and here’s the answer streaming so i’m going to use the amd link here to connect to my computer now there’s a number of different apps. You could use, for example, steam link or moonlight. If you have an nvidia gpu, unfortunately one of my most recent favorite streaming, apps parsec, is not available on ios, but there’s a lot of other options to play with. So when you use something like amd link to connect your computer at that point, you’re only limited by the connection, speed within your house and then the power of your home computer. So, for example, i can use cemu, which is a wii, u emulator and then all of a sudden i’m playing some relatively modern games on this phone things like legend of zelda breath of the wild or donkey kong, tropical freeze and then i can also upscale it To as much as i can handle within my network connection and then whatever my computer can handle so here with all these wii, u games that you’re, seeing here i’m upscaling it to 1080p and obviously because the iphone has such a nice display.
It can show all those 1080p pixels and, of course, you’re not limited to just nintendo games. For example, you can run the desktop version of ppsspp, which is the psp emulator and here i’m running at a 5x resolution and it’s working flawlessly. So the main appeal to me when it comes to this streaming option is the fact that i can emulate all sorts of games and play them on my couch without having to worry about side loading, any sort of apps or taking up storage on my iphone itself And i get it it’s a little bit, cheating because you do have to have a mac or a pc, that’s powerful enough to play these games. But i think you’d be surprised at how well a lot of computers nowadays can play any of these games. No problem and some of these computers can even do fast forward functions, for example with god of war. Here i can fast forward through the cut scenes, which is super handy and not only that it’s still playing at full speed with 5x resolution. It looks just stunning and who knows maybe one of these days i’m actually going to get the cojones to be able to play through resident evil. 4 again, this game freaked me out when it first came out, i played it on the gamecube and i’m not kidding. It took me 6 months to get through it, because i could only play it 20 minutes at a time.
It may be one of the biggest draws, depending on how powerful your computer is. You can play ps2 games, even ps3 games on this device and, of course, you could load up retroarch on your computer and then run retroarch through your computer through your streamer onto your phone. So all of a sudden, you do have retro work on your phone without having to actually load the app and i kind of sound like a broken horse at this point, like i’m kind of proselytizing the power of streaming. But i think when it comes to iphone gaming in particular, this is a really important factor, because it transforms your phone into a gaming device without having to jump through all the hoops that are necessary in order to do that on ios. So i think at this point, you’re probably getting a really good idea of how powerful and convenient it is to do pc streaming onto an iphone. But let me talk about some of the drawbacks here when it comes to pc streaming, and it may not be what you expect. So a lot of the problems come to a head when you start to try to play a platforming game on something like the nintendo or the super nintendo. Even though i have a pretty good network here at my house anytime, you play a mario game over a wireless connection like this you’re. Just not gon na have a good time, so i think when it comes down to it when you’re playing some of these really old school systems, you’re actually better served by loading up the emulator and i’ll cover all that in the next video here.
So, at the end of the day, it’s kind of a contradictory experience, because some of the more modern systems – things like wii, u or psp they play great when it comes to streaming. But when you have to do something that requires very precise controls like a nintendo or super nintendo game, it’s, actually not very good, so i think that’s something to keep in mind. Okay. So, apart from pc streaming, what other options do we have available again great question? Let’S talk about ps4 streaming. First now, sony has its own remote play app here in the app store. All you have to do is load it up and then connect to your local ps4 from there. The controller works seamlessly there’s no need to modify anything. Now. My son is in the middle of playing the mass effect trilogy, so i’ve hijacked his game right here, but he told me i’m not allowed to actually go into any levels or anything else like that. So all i can show you here is shepard and the ship, but either way ps4 plays wonderfully on this device, and luckily the story is the same when it comes to xbox one as well to access remote play on the xbox one. All you have to do is download and install the xbox app from the app store and there’s an option within there to set up your remote play and just like that, you can fully control your xbox and then stream all your games onto your phone now.
This has been an option for a while and i’ve done it with bluetooth controllers before but i’m telling you there’s something different about using the backbone one. There’S, no input, delay and it’s all contained into one piece, and i don’t know what it is, but that makes it a much more immersive experience to me. To be honest, i never get to play my home console systems because the kids are always watching netflix or whatever on the tv. This gives me the best of both worlds. Now you can also load up google stadia on this device and unfortunately, you can’t actually use the stadia app to do this. You actually have to open up safari and then go into stadia.google.com and then in safari options you need to select, add to home screen and that’ll, make a new app shortcut on your phone’s menu screen, which will then boot right into stadia and it works beautifully. So it takes a few seconds to first set up, but after that you’re good to go – and i have to say you know, the jury is still out on google stadia. There are times when i really love it, but again i don’t want to pay the 10. A month or whatever it is to have stadia pro, so often, i find myself just playing the free games. They have like destiny 2., but even then, being able to play an epic game like this on your phone streaming through the cloud without having to do any sort of installation for free is an incredible value and the immersive experience of using the backbone one controller, while You’Re doing it to me is totally worth 100 bucks.
So, at the end of the day, i still love all my retro handheld devices and, as always, that’s going to be my primary focus on this channel but there’s, something to be said after a year of using all these devices and having almost 30 of them. In my house, at any one given time that i personally feel the best hundred dollars i’ve spent in video gaming over the past year has not been any of these devices. It’S been this backbone one controller, and you have to think about the amount of value you’re. Getting for that price, a hundred dollars is pretty steep, but when you take something like a phone that costs upwards of a thousand dollars – and then you add a hundred dollars to it to basically revolutionize it into turning into a viable gaming product to me, that’s totally Worth it – and i don’t think this is a solution for every person under the sun there’s a lot of people out there that just don’t want a game on their phone and i get it. But if you do own an iphone and you’re curious about how you can get the most gaming possible out of the device, i think that the backbone one controller is a necessary component of that. Alright, everyone that’s really it for this video. Let me know what you think in the comments below and like i mentioned before, i plan on doing a second part to this video, where i talk about emulation on an iphone and how to get that all set up and the most bang for your buck.