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There’s a clear winner here

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razer-kishi-v2-render

  • Razer Kishi V2

    Our top pick

    The Razer Kishi V2 is a premium controller that offers one of the most comfortable experiences on the market. Powered by your phone, the USB-C connection means the controller’s micro-switches are incredibly responsive. Best of all, the Razer Kishi V2 can fit even the largest phones.

    Pros

    • Comfortable to hold
    • Fits large phones
    • Passthrough charging
    Cons

    • More expensive than similar controllers
    • Cheap-feeling case

  • backbone-one-front

    Backbone One

    A reliable alternative

    The Backbone One is a wired snap-on Android controller that offers a premium, no-frills way of playing your favorite Android game. It’s got analog triggers, a comfortable grip, and fits most Android phones.

    Pros

    • Fits most Android phones
    • Comfortable grip
    Cons

    • Can’t program buttons
    • Short on features overall

The Backbone One and the Razer Kishi V2 are wired snap-on Android controllers that offer premium gaming experiences. Both are expensive, retailing at $100, but if you’re willing to spend that much, you’ll find it hard to choose between these two controllers, which regularly appear in our roundup of the best controllers for Android.


We praised the Backbone One’s stylish versatility in our review. While the controller that made its name with iOS lost some features in the move to Android, it’s nevertheless one of the best on the market. The Razer Kishi V2, on the other hand, offers some extra premium features that justify its expensive price tag. While these two controllers look similar on the surface, the small differences add up to make them substantially different products.


Price, availability, and specs

Both controllers retail for $100 and are available worldwide. You can buy them through the manufacturer’s respective websites or electronics retailers like Amazon.

These controllers aren’t the newest kids on the block anymore, and it’s not uncommon to see them available for $80. We recommend shopping around before you buy.

  • Razer Kishi V2Backbone One
    PlatformAndroid, WindowsPC, Mac, Android
    BatteryNoNo
    ConnectivityUSB-CUSB-C
    ProgrammableYesiOS-only
    Extra ButtonsYes (two extra)Backbone app shortcut
    ColorsBlack Black (standard edition), White (PlayStaion edition)
    Weight 123 g138g
    Wired/WirelessWiredWired

Design

A close-up of the Razer Kishi V2 controller's right side

The Razer Kishi V2 and Backbone One follow the same design with almost identical button layouts. Both are snap-on, wired controllers where you’ll insert your phone by pulling the two halves of the controller support and slotting your phone inside. The controllers follow the same AXBY button layout as Xbox controllers, but the Backbone One also offers a white PlayStation-themed design with appropriate buttons.

In your hands, the controllers feel nearly identical. Each is designed with rounded grips that avoid digging into your palm. Triggers, joysticks, and face buttons are easily accessible with large or small hands. Both controllers score high marks on comfort, but the Razer Kishi V2 makes better use of the space available to add in a useful extra feature.

two backbone one controllers resting side by side on a carpet

The Razer Kishi V2 features two additional programmable buttons on the inside of the triggers. These programmable buttons add the versatility needed to play Android games. For example, you can map them to on-screen buttons in games like PUBG or Call of Duty Mobile. This small but powerful design feature gives the controller the edge over the Backbone One, which features no programmable buttons.

Compatibility and connectivity

hand holding backbone one controller showing final fantasy xvi launch screen

As we noted in our reviews, we struggled to find phones that wouldn’t fit in either controller (with the notable exception of foldables). However, depending on your choice of phone case, you may struggle to jam your phone in. This is where the Razer Kishi V2 wins out by including removable pads that let the controller comfortably fit thick or thin phones.

The controllers each connect to your phone via a USB-C connection on the right side of the controller. They also each have a USB-C port for pass-through charging, so you can charge your phone while you play.

The Razer Kishi V2 offers additional compatibility in the form of mappable buttons. In addition to the extra programmable buttons, all its standard buttons and triggers can be remapped to physical or virtual controls, meaning you can use the controller with games that don’t offer controller support. These features are missing on the Backbone One, disappointing when they are available on the controller’s iOS-compatible model.

So if you’re regularly changing phones or don’t want to mess around with constantly removing your phone case, the Razer Kishi V2 is the one to pick. However, if you don’t use a case, there isn’t much difference between the two. On the software side, the Razer Kishi V2 is the clear winner, as it offers compatibility with games that don’t offer controller support.

Software

The Razer Kishi V2 with a phone inside

Both controller manufacturers offer companion software to improve your experience. While using these aren’t mandatory, they are helpful assets.

The orange button on the Backbone One launches the Backbone app. This includes a game hub, voice chat client, and tools for editing and sharing recorded clips and screenshots. It’s a helpful app, but it’s locked behind a $50/year subscription fee.

Razer’s Nexus app offers a similar hub to launch games from but also includes tools for remapping the Kishi V2 app and live streaming. While it doesn’t have Backbone One’s voice chat functionality, you can always use Discord in the background. Overall, it’s a more helpful app with the added benefit of being free.

Which should you buy?

While the Backbone One offers a stylish and practical experience, the Razer Kishi V2’s extra functionality gives it a clear edge over the Backbone One.

With extra buttons, mappable controls, a free companion app, and compatibility with more phone cases, the Razer Kishi V2 is one of the most versatile snap-on Android controllers. Unless you can find the Backbone One at a discount (especially if you want to use the companion app) we have to call the Razer Kishi V2 the real winner here.

razer-kishi-v2-render

Razer Kishi V2

Our pick

The best around

The Razer Kishi V2 is one of the best Android controllers on the market, but its versatility comes at a price. If you’re willing to spend $100, this will turn your phone into a portable games console in seconds

While the Backbone One isn’t quite as good as the Razer Kishi V2, it’s nevertheless a great controller that offers a comfortable gaming experience. The biggest downside is the lack of mappable buttons, but apart from this, there is a lot to get excited about, from its stylish design to its rounded grip.

backbone-one-front

Backbone One

Runner-up

More style, less substance

The Backbone One is a brilliant Android controller that has few shortcomings. While gaming enthusiasts will lament the lack of mappable buttons, anyone looking for a simple “plug and play” controller will be more than satisfied.

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