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?

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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.

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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.

About The Author

Keith Mitchell
Editor-in-chief and all-around good guy!

Keith Mitchell is the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Outerhaven. A grizzled IT professional during the day, but a passionate lover of video games after his 9-5 grid. Loves playing the Dark Souls series and has been gaming since he was 6 years old. You can find him on Twitter as @Shadowhaxor or you can email her at keith.mitchell@theouterhaven.net.