The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S default controller is a familiar beast. In a practical sense, it’s the same controller as the Xbox One. But the new Xbox controller has a bunch of tactile improvements, including a grippier texture than before, a slightly more ergonomic ridge at the back, and a new multi-directional pad that all contribute to a better feel in your hands.
It’s fun to use and can be held more naturally, making it a more comfortable and relaxing gameplay experience overall.
While the new controller does resemble its Xbox One predecessors, the differences between the pair are significant enough to call out.
The major differences between the Xbox Series X and Xbox One controllers
There’s some obvious differences between the two at first glance but it goes below the surface, too.
First up, you’ve got the new directional pad. Functionally it’s the same as before, but it’s got a rounded aesthetic that really fits the overall look of the controller. It’s also fun to run your hands around because it produces some very satisfying clicks. It’s extremely responsive (as is the rest of the controller) and it’s a neat spin on directional buttons.
Next is the most important difference: the social sharing button.
This button lets you take screenshots in the middle of your games and immediately uploads them to Xbox Live for you. Within seconds, you’ll get a notification on your phone via the Xbox app and you’ll be able to share any of your shots from there.
It’s very intuitive and not at all like last generation, where taking and sharing a screenshot was a massive pain in the arse. There’s no pausing gameplay to upload shots, there’s no attempting to spell out words painfully on your controller — simply grab the upload from your phone and share to your socials as you like.
Better force feedback
The other big difference between generations is the controller’s vibrational feedback. You’ll mainly notice this difference when you’re playing vibration-heavy games like Dirt 5 or Forza Horizon 4, but the haptics on the Xbox Series X and S controller are slightly more sensitive than those on the Xbox One.
Vibrations are more subtle on rough surfaces like dirt roads, and you’ll feel more resistance when sliding through mud. Hitting a wall is accompanied by more intense haptics. It’s not a massive leap, but there’s definitely more power and sensitivity behind the controller’s feedback than last generation’s controllers.
Not all games will spotlight these changes; most don’t make much use of the controller’s vibration. But expect the feature to appear more heavily in later Xbox Series X and S titles.
Xbox Series S/X Controller Battery life
In the two weeks I’ve been playing around with the Xbox Series X, I haven’t had to charge the controller once. In fact, the current battery life displays only a 20 per cent loss of power.
At around two hours of gameplay per day since delivery, that makes at least 28 hours of use (if not more). It’s likely you won’t have to charge your controller much at all in the long run, with my current usage set to take me through at least a month or two without needing a charge.
The Xbox One controller is a great device. The updated Xbox Series X and S controller improves on the original with a bunch of great features and clever design choices that build on the original’s accessibility, social capabilities and ease of use.
It’s not exactly revolutionary. But it is a great step up from last generation and a perfect companion for the Xbox Series X and Series S.