While the Xbox Wireless Controller isn’t packed with features, it offers irrefutable quality with an ergonomic design, and is a worthy upgrade over its predecessor
Today we’re having a look at Microsoft’s Xbox Wireless Controller, also known as the Series X|S. This controller is meant as an upgrade over the Xbox One Controller, however it is backwards compatible with the Xbox One consoles. As a matter of fact, these controllers are interchangeable, so you could even use the old Xbox One controller on the newer Series X or S consoles.
At first glance, you can see this isn’t drastically different from the Xbox One controller, although there are a few upgrades, some more nuanced than others. Putting it side by side with the Xbox One, we see two apparent differences: there is an added Share button and the D-Pad has a different appearance. But one of the most satisfying changes is that the handles now have a textured surface, and on some of the special editions this surface is also rubberised, although I prefer the non-rubberised textured surface we have here. This really gives the controller a grippy feel in the palm. You’ll also find this microdot texture the on triggers and bumpers, which again significantly increases the grippiness of the controller. This whole area features a matte finish as opposed to the glossy finish on the Xbox One. This might not seem like a substantial upgrade, but I did find the Xbox One controller quite slippery, especially during longer gaming sessions, so this upgrade already makes it worthwhile for me.
As mentioned, the D-Pad has been reworked, which is evident from its appearance, and it almost looks like the Xbox Elite controller in this regard. The buttons on the D-Pad feel a lot more tactile and responsive than the Xbox One, so this is another positive change. The analog sticks and triggers still feel great, and the bumpers have a nice light actuation. This is an area where Xbox controllers have always been impressive, and having tried quite a few cheaper replicas and other third party controllers, I’ve come to appreciate Microsoft’s quality in these areas. It’s easy to tell the difference between a cheap and premium controller just by looking at the analog sticks and triggers. Microsoft has understandably not changed the design of the Xbox One controller, and it still feels very comfortable in the hand. The only perceptible change is that the triggers are slightly smaller with a more gradual upward curve, which makes for better ergonomics.
The Xbox Wireless Controller features a USB-C port, 3.5mm audio jack and expansion port, so all the basic functionality is there. It has bluetooth connectivity and takes two AA batteries, which should give you around 40 hours of playtime.
Now I am using this controller on Windows 11, and there are a few issues that popped up. The biggest issue I encountered is double input on the A button. It doesn’t happen often, but just enough to be an annoyance, especially in Rocket League where it causes my car to backflip. This can be quite frustrating, especially if it happens at a critical moment, like when trying to make a save. On top of that, I’ve had the controller Alt-Tabbing me out of game, or just becoming completely unresponsive which can only be fixed by plugging it out and in again. It does seem like the firmware update largely fixes the aforementioned two issues. The firmware update can be performed with the Xbox Accessories app, available on the Microsoft Store.
While the Xbox Wireless Controller isn’t packed with features, it offers irrefutable quality with an ergonomic design, and is a worthy upgrade over its predecessor.