You can already enjoy PS5 games on a handheld with this €120 gadget

Why Project Q when you can have Backbone?  (Source: adobe.stock Anatoliy Karlyuk)

Why Project Q when you can have Backbone? (Source: adobe.stock / Anatoliy Karlyuk)

At a showcase on May 24, 2023, Sony presented Project Q, the handheld streaming device for playing PS5 games on the go.

Project Q looks like a DualSense controller with an 8-inch screen in between. The handheld will appear in the course of the year, the cost is currently still unclear.

One day before the event, Sony presented a handheld alternative: The Backbone One: PlayStation Edition for Android phones, the iPhone version has been available since summer 2022.

The backbone can do that

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In principle, the device can do the same thing that Project Q will be able to do. You push your cell phone between the control pads and you can start. The backbone connects to your smartphone via a USB-C or Lightning connector.

The controller extension works with the PS Remote Play app, allowing access to PS4 and PS5 games. The cloud gaming feature also works when the PS5 is off or you’re away from home (which apparently won’t be the case with Project Q).

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Backbone also has its own app with new releases, updates and DLC straight from the PlayStation. It can be used as a smartphone controller for other games, and it arguably works the same with SteamLink and Nvidia GeForce Now.

Those: Backbone

Those: Backbone

Since Sony itself was involved in the design, the device should imitate the DualSense controller of the PlayStation 5 as much as possible in terms of feel and appearance.

The Backbone One: PlayStation Edition cannot do this: There is no haptic feedback or adaptive trigger. In addition, the size of the screen and the performance naturally depend on your mobile device.

Dedicated tests have to show the comparison of the two devices with each other, but on paper the backbone competes with the Project Q. Whether Sony’s house version can come up with additional features will be seen after the release.

The Android version and the iPhone version of the backbone are already available, the price is 120 euros.

Editorial opinion

Max Schwind

When Project Q was rumored through the tech ether in early April, my initial reaction was: who needs this Why would I want to play the awesome looking God of War: Ragnarok handheld on an 8″ 1080p resolution instead of a UHD TV with HDR?

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The fact that the backbone was released as an Android version one day before the showcase makes Project Q absurd.

Sure, mobile gaming has an ambivalent reputation and the performance stands and falls with your own smartphone, but why not play a few less resource-hungry games in your hand for 120 euros instead of waiting for a handheld that probably costs at least three times as much becomes? I would like to enjoy the heavily souped-up AAA titles on the TV.

If you are unsure whether you want to play PS5 remotely, you can now test the fairway with the backbone. If that suits you, you can always switch to the in-house version with a larger screen and adaptive triggers.

I don’t know, Sony, if you mess up your own plans with a cheaper third-party device that you’ve even had your fingers on, you’re going to gallop with Project Q. I can even take the backbone out with me and am not tied to my own console. Also, we all know how well the Wii U performed at the time.

Project Q is a real talking point in the community. The fact that Sony also supports the backbone, which has many features in common with its own handheld, is an interesting decision. Would the Backbone One PlayStation Edition be an alternative for you? Or are you giving up on handheld gaming altogether? Feel free to write it in the comments.

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