Should the Xbox One Elite wireless controller have a built-in battery?

Since the start of the current-generation of console gaming, there’s been a debate brewing. However it’s not exactly one that you would think it would be about however. No, it’s not able which system has the better games or who’s got the best graphics or online abilities. No, instead this is one that is perhaps more evenly split and that is should wireless gaming controllers include batteries or not. It’s not an age old dilemma mind you but it is one that begs to ask the question is it simply better for overall enjoyment when playing games or is it user preference. 

And while several consoles have been able to utilize wireless controllers, such as Nintendo’s Wavebird (still easily one of my favorite controllers) for the Gamecube, I’ll only focus on the two players here, mainly the Sony SIXAXIS / Dual Shock 3 & 4  and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Xbox One controllers. In the Sony camp we have the Dual Shock series that features a built in battery, where the Xbox controllers utilize replaceable batteries, mainly double AA batteries that can also be substituted with 3rd party battery packs. So in that respect, one would imagine that one would be better than the other, one trump card to rule them all. Right?


Well not exactly. And while the debate has been ongoing and mentioned less and less, but still mentioned through various gaming websites and forums, it wasn’t until recently that the subject has surfaced to the foreground thanks to the release of Microsoft’s Xbox One Elite Wireless controller. You see, despite being an upgraded version of the original Xbox One Wireless Controller, many have argued that the controller should have also featured a built in battery as well. However despite costing about about 2.5x more, it doesn’t. But should it have a built in battery?

On one end of the spectrum, many have argued that it should have. It’s more expensive and it’s supposedly the flagship controller from Microsoft. Shouldn’t including a built in battery be added bonus for the price point? Shouldn’t gamers be able to remove replaceable batteries from the equation? Regardless if you keep with the normal AA batteries, rechargeable AA batteries or 3rd party battery packs. Honestly it never really bothered me, especially when on one set of AA batteries you could get up to 15 hours of usage, more with a battery pack. So in my eyes it’s a fair compromise, one I can easily overlook. Of course another afterthought is also increased weight. Adding a battery may seem like a minor thing in the grand scheme, but extra weight can throw off the feel of the controller. Especially if you’re a hard-core or professional gamer, that can make the difference on using that controller or not, something that Microsoft definitely thought about if they want to sell a lot of the Xbox One Elite wireless controller. 

And as we’ve seen with the Dual Shock 4, just because a controller has a built in battery, doesn’t mean that it’s the superior option. As we’ve seen with the Dual Shock 4, the major complaint with it that I’ve heard and experienced first hand is that even a fully charged Dual Shock 4 doesn’t provide more than 6 hours of usage, some have argued less. From my experiences my day one DS4 that came with my PlayStation 4 usually lasts 4 hours, the second controller which is newer typically gives me a little longer with 5-6 hours, but that still isn’t much. It’s even less than the Dual Shock 3 or even the Wii U Gamepad, but why is that? Well, the Dual Shock 4 has quite a bit more going on than the Dual Shock 3, Xbox 360 or Xbox One controller as it not only features a constant light bar that can only be dimmed, but also a speaker, the vibration/force-feedback support and a touch pad, all of which can not turned off.  But you can at least lower the volume, dim the light bar (as previously noted,) and disable the vibration motors.

What’s more, the Dual Shock 4 suffers from a little known design defect. Yes, Sony skimped out on the battery which is only rated at 1000 mAh. To put that into perspective, a single AA alkaline battery can supply 1250-1300 mAh, some even higher than that, where you can find rechargeable AA batteries just under 3000 mAh. And that’s just for one battery. And while it is possible to replace the Dual Shock 4 controller, it’s not recommended and if not done correctly, you can damage the controller. For information on doing that, read up more that here.

In closing, sure Microsoft could have added an integrated battery in the Xbox One Elite Wireless controller, but at the cost of raising the price of the controller, adding weight to the controller and perhaps short changing it’s customers if it added a sub-par battery. We’ve already seen and felt that happen with the Dual Shock 4 controllers, not that I’m going to fault Sony to the point of saying they stink, but it is a nonsense to gamers, especially when they die after a full charge in under 4-5 hours.

And yes, before you ask, there are battery packs for the Elite already out. Not to mention that the current Xbox One wireless controller battery packs work with it, but there’s also a branded charging stand for the controller, from PowerA and it will be released sometime in November 2015. Gamestop has info on it here.


So that’s my thoughts on the matter, do you agree with what I’ve said? Do you feel that perhaps the Xbox One Elite Wireless controller should have had a built in battery? Leave your comments in the section below.

6 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Barry Harden

    Nope, the convenience of a rechargeable battery is immense. Can you imagine having to lost power during an intense online match?
    The DS4’s built in battery allows me the freedom of not worrying about replacing AA’s every few days. The constant battery swapping is just insane.

    • Avatar

      What “freedom”? You mean the freedom of being tethered to a cord, like it’s the 1980s, while the DS4 recharges is better than having fresh batteries on tap on a charging station, and swapping out batteries prior to playing (like a smart gamer)? LOL….what a moron.

      • Avatar
        Barry Harden

        LOL yeah keep swapping them batteries like the 80’s. Are all you XBot fanboys such idiotic dickheads? This is hilarious!!

      • Avatar

        Literally millions of products use disposable batteries, moron. If it were up to idiots like you, everything from toys, TV/electronics remote controls, to flashlights would be disposable…useless once the non-replaceable batteries die. The cell phone and camera manufacturers got away from the the switch, because the fast rate of technological improvements allowed them to release “better, smaller” versions, long before the batteries would fail. That’s not the case with game controllers.

  2. Avatar

    No. Given MS’s history of not always using top-tier components in their products, I thini it’s safe to say if they’d gone with a built-in rechargeable, it would have been garbage just like in the DS4. In fact, I’d say MS used Sony’s failure to help them make what was likely one of the last design decisions they had to make with the Elite controller. I’m loving mine so far…remapping sprint and jump to the lower paddles has made TESO 1000x more enjoyable. The fact that I can continue to use the same Energizer charging station and AA batts I’ve had since the early 360 days, is a huge bonus.

  3. Avatar

    I think the inclusion of the Microsoft-licensed battery pack would have been wiser given the price, if God-forbid, the built-in battery dies out. Also, since built-in batteries tend to lose their charge overtime, allowing users to swap them out for fresh ones would have been more ideal.