PlayStation 5's DualSense controller has features Xbox should've had years ago

PS5 DualSense, Xbox Series X Controller
PS5 DualSense, Xbox Series X Controller (Image credit: Windows Central)

The Xbox Series X is a monstrously powerful machine, and has the PlayStation 5 firmly beat in raw specs. Of course, specs alone aren't the full story, and the ultimate proof will be in how games actually perform once these consoles ship later in 2020. Regardless if innovations when it comes to internals, Sony's ambitious controller design for the PlayStation 5 is turning heads already, with the broadest revamp to its controller's designs since the inclusion of dual joysticks.

The PlayStation 5 DualSense controller marks a total revamp for the controller's design, moving far beyond what we're getting with the Xbox Series X, which is iterative at best. In some ways, Sony has played catch up to the ergonomics present in Microsoft's leading controller designs, while Microsoft has been playing catch up with the inclusion of a share button, finally, on the Xbox Series X controller.

There are a couple of things on the PlayStation 5 DualSense controller that Microsoft should've sought for its own controllers years ago, and it's something we've actually argued for in the past. USB-C, Adaptive Triggers, and an onboard microphone, which brings some huge potential to the PS5 in ways Xbox Series X may miss out on.

DualSense vs. Xbox Series X controller features

Source: Sony (Image credit: Source: Sony)

We have to be a bit careful here, since Sony has provided a lot of marketing terms and not a whole lot of demonstration as to how some of the DualSense's new features work. The share button is now a "Create" button, which Sony says expands on the functionality found on the current DualShock's share button. What that means in practice is anyone's guess, but to speculate, it probably means more control and creativity over how clips present before you share them. Both companies arguably have been pretty lackluster when it comes to innovation in this area, especially if you compare the meme-able features you find in apps like Instagram, Tiktok, and Snapchat. There's no reason Microsoft can't rapidly copy Sony on this one either, although Microsoft's own Upload Studio is practically a zombie app, having not received an update for years.

Additionally, Sony is claiming that its controller's triggers are adaptive, creating a sense of resistance in different contexts. For example, when pulling the string on a bow in a fantasy RPG, the DualSense controller's triggers should induce a stronger sense of tactile resistance. This goes further than the trigger haptics you get in the current-gen Xbox controllers. At least in theory, as we still don't necessarily know the details in how this sense of resistance is induced.

Related: Xbox Series X controller vs. PS5 DualSense

Microsoft has claimed similar feats are possible with its haptic triggers, and indeed, games like Forza Horizon, among the few titles that use Xbox controller haptics properly, do create a sense of granular resistance. Therein lies the kicker, though — not very many games are actually using this feature. Perhaps with Sony getting onboard with controller haptics too, we'll see it in more multiplatform games outside of the titles Microsoft has explicit marketing deals with.

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

The DualSense has internal onboard batteries too, unlike the Xbox Series X controllers (and indeed, all of them), which give you the option of separate rechargeables or AA cells. The debate over the better solution rages on, but surely the choice to have high-capacity rechargeable Eneloop AA batteries is generally favorable. The PlayStation 4 controller batteries are disappointing at bests, and high-quality cells come at a premium, hence why the Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 internal battery, at a whopping 40 hours, is also part of a $180 dollar product.

Cutting through the vagueries is tough until we get more detailed information on what some of the branded DualSense features mean for the PlayStation 5, but for me, the crown jewel is that onboard microphone, which is something Microsoft should've done years ago.

How a microphone could be a game-changer

Source: Windows Central RIP Kinect. (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

It's perhaps something of a cruel irony that Kinect was slammed for being a potential privacy nightmare in 2013, while many of us now merrily use Amazon Echo speakers (opens in new tab) and have laptops and other devices with integrated microphones at our beck and call 24/7.

Kinect's microphone array remains an incredibly impressive piece of tech, with far-field capabilities enabling futuristic user interface scenarios that anyone with an Amazon Echo-connected smart home hub now likely takes for granted. While it seemed like Microsoft was serious about voice-activated smart assistance at the time, we all know what's happened to both Kinect and Cortana — stripped out of the Xbox platform entirely.

Having an onboard microphone in either the controller or in the Xbox Media Remote (something we argued for back in 2017) would've gone a long way to making Cortana voice assistance on Xbox make more sense.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

PlayStation 5 could potentially integrate Alexa, Google Assistant, and other similar features now without users having to purchase additional hardware, which could give PS5 points in the smart-home hub arena, allowing you to control your setup without leaving your game. It's a soft point since there's no hard confirmation Sony has intentions to do this, but with every PS5 owner confirmed to have a microphone, it could be a nifty extra feature to integrate into its platform. And that's really the central point here.

The fact every PS5 owner is confirmed to have a microphone may enable gameplay creativity that you simply wouldn't be worth exploring, without knowing for a fact every potential user has the feature. That's one reason Microsoft bundled Kinect with the original Xbox One in the first place, to give developers the guarantee it would be present. Ultimately, inflating the price of the Xbox One by $100 simply wasn't a viable strategy. A simple controller microphone would have trivial impact on the overall price of the PS5, but granting developers a potential additional input for interactivity is a creativity boost that Xbox Series X won't have.

It all depends if people actually use it, though

Source: Sony (Image credit: Source: Sony)

Of course, there's that big issue of if. Will Sony enable developer scenarios to use the mic in gaming? Will gamers even use it if it's there? I remember being able to yell "FUS ROH DAH" at my Kinect while playing Skyrim, to hilarious effect, and although it wasn't the most reactive experience, it clearly marked some potential worth exploring.

DualSense could have a big impact that leaves Microsoft's Xbox Series X controller feeling "last-gen."

I've seen people say that the microphone will be terrible for chat, since you'll be able to hear clicking on the controller and that sort of thing. Post-processing techniques should eliminate a lot of that, though (do you really think Sony wouldn't have thought of that?) and there are some older patents to suggest that the PS5's solution is made up of three microphones to enable greater positional awareness and processing.

I don't think for a second that Sony built a microphone into the controller simply so more people could yell at each other while playing Fortnite. This will very likely move beyond simple voice comms. DualSense could have a big impact that leaves Microsoft's Xbox Series X controller feeling "last-gen" in the process.

What do you think of the DualSense? Let us know, down below.

Related: Everything we know about the Xbox Series X controller

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Jez Corden
Managing Editor

Jez Corden is the Managing Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

44 Comments
  • Internal Batteries are the worst. Batteries eventually goes, and then? no parts meaning after market parts will just damage the controller. Double A batteries will be around for years to come.
  • I'd prefer they added the ability to recharge AA's through the USB-C port. Convenient when they finally die, but much more eco and budget friendly in the long term.
  • I like internal battery and hate battery. It's 2020 now, internal battery is already great enough and I have no problem of that. They are convenient and light, especially with USB-C. Use rechargeable battery as solution? No, that's not a solution. rechargeable battery still need to you take out, find a replacement, and you can't play while charging. More important, they are heavy. Controller with internal battery just feels so much battery when in the hand without these extra weight.
  • You can play and charge at the same time. Use the play and charge kit, has an excellent battery capacity.
  • I think the controller is less an issue than the console and more importantly the games. Nice to have, but hardly a deal breaker. At worst, a controller 'refresh' can always be released at any time, similar to the refinements and updates made to the XBOne controller over the last few years, or an 'Elite 3' controller can be released and so on. Right now, MS needs to focus heavily on the games without holding anything back, that is the core of any console. Look at the Switch, I doubt if anyone cares about all the JoyCon gimmicks (I use the pro controller whenever possible)), but give them Animal Crossing, or any of the numerous Mario or Zelda or Pokemon iterations, and people go crazy over them. The focus should be on games, games, games. Xbox needs to also acquire the image as the place where you can get these unique game experiences, similar to the image PS or even Nintendo has in that regard. That should be the focus. Xbox needs another Halo, or Gears to really level the playing field.
  • I agree with you so much on this point that the controller is really well and what a lot of people understand is I took a part one of my old Xbox controllers because I do have an elite controller series 2 and I'm a software engineer and tech tinker.It doesn't just have vibration motors in the triggers the impulse triggers are not just regular vibration motors they are haptic feedback motors that can actually technically illustrate and emulate feedback and tension just like what Sonia is claiming they can do on their new controller. The problem is the only first-party really takes advantage of that.
    you get this sense of feedback and tension when you play gears of war 5 when you shoot you feel you're shooting a gun. When you drown a car you feel like your tires are on the road. But no third party truly takes advantage of the adaptive or impulse triggers. I agree that was Sony making a controller that can do the same thing will entice other companies to actually take advantage of these features.
  • Microphone built-in on console or kinect: they are spying on us!!
    Microphone built-in on controller: spectacular!! /s As for the batteries, Microsoft did the right thing. If AA batteries are not for you, rechargeable or not, there will be rechargeable battery packs from Venom, Amazon and other brands, that you can charge using a cable or a dock, just like already exists for Xbox One and the 360. Playstation doesn't allow that flexibility and choice. If the controlled battery dies, there goes the controller for good. Either you need to send the controller to warranty just for the battery, buy a new battery from unofficial sources and have all the work to disassemble the controller if it's out of warranty, or buy a new controller entirely like many have done with previous DualShock controllers...
  • The always-on microphone controversy was always hilarious. What do these people think phones are?
  • They don't think. Not really. That's the point. They just react.
  • Rechargeable battery are much heavier than internal battery, and you can't play while charging. The extra weight make the experience of controller much worse.
  • There are several rechargable options. The play and charge kit allows charging whilst playing. In terms of other after market stuff, always good to look at the mA. The play and charge kit has a superb battery, very very long lasting. And the weight is trivial. That said, there are smaller lighter, lower mA options. My kids use my controllers, and one of them is 6, no issues with weight. Best bit, is that my son wore the port out on his Xbox controller, likely through lack of care. So just bought him a dock, with the accompanying batteries. Worked a treat, and stopped me needing to buy another controller. The dock was £15 or less, and has two batteries. So, as he has 2 controllers, he just swaps between them as required. If you want the lightest, and lowest lag, get wired.
  • Also, what's the need for USB-C on a controller really? And almost no one uses the tactile panel on the DualShock. The share or create button is a shortcut at best, not really something useful or that you couldn't do before by other means. And a lot of Playstation users complain of how those triggers activate when you put the controller on a surface, making a movie rewind for example. By the pictures Sony released, they didn't fixed the design flaw. The Xbox controller lays on the carcass when in a surface, and not on the triggers themselves. Still a lot of unuseful gimmicks and design flaws on the Playstation controller.
  • Completely agree. These features always go largely unused, even on bestselling consoles. Be it Nintendo, PS or Xbox, in the end, controller interaction is always very simple. As an example, I never once used the touch pad on my PS Vita, hardly even notice it exists. I'd rather Xbox focuses the bulk of their funds, time and energy on games, games and more games. That is what has historically differentiated consoles and determined their success. It's always been the games. The more the high quality games available on a console, the greater its popularity and success. The controllers are all generally good enough, the focus now must be on the games.
  • In my experience, the USB C ports tend to be more robust. As for the triggers, the Xbox is great in that regard. For the share button, I couldn't agree more. It is a button, and they altered the name, lol. Added nothing, but some Sony fans treat it like a revelation. Jez is right though, should have had this long ago. I sincerely hope that MS has raised their capture game. I've used Upload Studio, and even 7yrs ago, it lacks a lot of things. I'm assuming that buying mixer, and also the popularity of making and sharing screenshots and captures, MS has vast improvements coming. Including a button suggests so, and my fingers are crossed.
    And the mic, I'm surprised that wasn't added a while ago, could have really help drive Cortana adoption.
  • It's worth noting on Xbox Gamepass PC mixer functionality is directly included into streaming games etc. I'd imagine they will add this for Series X.
  • So you're saying that a controller microphone makes the Dualsense 'a whole generation' ahead? C'mon.
  • Give me a controller that is dead A simple and perfect.. Aka the Xbox One controller. All the extra nonsense isn't needed and needs to stay away from Xbox.
  • The biggest problem of xbox one gamepad is d pad. It's just horrible. I'm very happy with the rest.
  • They changed it for the Series X. Is the dish design like one of those seen in the Elite. Look closely at the pics.
  • Which got voted the best Dpad in 2019.
  • Create button usefulness will come down to software, something Microsoft can easily counter. Having a entry level controller with lower latency and a more elite model makes better sense to me. Jez, you should know better than anyone that if we really want a mic, we can buy that cheap attachment. It's getting to the point that anything that Playstation does that Xbox doesn't is now seen as a mistake. Also, is Sony going to sell this Expensive Controller and the console
    for $400 AND still restrict expensive to make PS5 games to PS5 only and ignore the 100 million strong PS4 install base? Where is the money coming from?
  • I did note the Create button can be countered easily by MSFT which makes me wonder if you actualllllllllllllllyshually read the beyond the title :p The cheap mic attachment sucks compared to the 3-mic array Sony is baking into this, complete with post-processing etc. Plus, Cortana is removed from Xbox now, so that ship has sailed anyway. The point was that developers will KNOW the mic is present, so that changes the argument completely for its use as a creative option.
  • To be honest of the games that utilized Kinect multi array technology in Kinect 2.0 it didn't add anything. It was slow to use and gimmicky. The same way blowing on the DS mic was complete gimmick rubbish. I remember playing Ryse and attempting voice controls for the game. The button prompts were way way way faster. And much more joyous to use. At this point the microphone in PS5 controller is added cost that even Sony fans on forums don't even want. Mostly because lobbies are going to be filled with muted players. Let's look at the reality. PS4 controller is £59.99 in thr UK. There's no way PS5 controller is less than £89.99 at best. I predict 99.99. Are these features which others have had for 7+ plus years really worth the extra cost? Especially when you consider PS fans hated on Xbox Haptic back in 2013. And completely destroyed the multi array microphone on Kinect 2.0 laughing at the Xbox community for unnecessary features. Or will this be the usual classic because Sony is doing now its the best thing ever in gaming. I stopped using voice commands around 2014. But with Haptic I've enjoyed the games that bothered to use it correctly like Forza Motorsport or Halo 5.
  • I don't think the new PS controller is so innovative. On the contrary, they're trying too hard. And precisely because theirs was a stale design, with some old points against it.
    The new PS controller is literally all surface. The shield seems stuck on top of the same old controller. Also, the share button is basically a software feature. Having a dedicated button is an afterthought for a feature that is all about software design. And triggers? Yup, gimmick, the article says it. Xbox had it before. No one used it. Same will happen with the PS5. Same that happened with HD tumble in Switch. Do I wish it would all take off? Sure. But it won't.
  • Completely on point. These controller features generally end up being gimmicks at the end of the day. Same experience with Xbox, Switch, PS Vita (with its touchpad) etc. MS had better focus all their resources on games this time around, that's the true path to success.
  • I don't see what you like about it so much. Microsoft can always update their controller this is not a really a win for Sony. But there's nothing wrong with Xbox controller now as it sits it's just fine.
  • The XBSX controller has USB C tho... Idc for internal batteries, the adaptive triggers sound nice on paper but... and MIC on the controller lol I will pass.
  • The one feature that Xbox has always lacked, which PlayStation has had since the PS3 is a Gyroscope/Accelerometer in the controller. I remember playing a PlayStation exclusive title on my PS3 years ago that used it and it blew my mind because I didn't know it was in the controller. Every gen I keep wishing Microsoft would add it, would make racing games so much better. Just seems like such a simple thing to add (you can't tell me those components are expensive in 2020) that would be awesome, since then it could be a feature in a ton more games since it's not exclusive to one console.
  • It's weird that MS never implemented it, you'd think that since theyr biggest gaming franchise is Halo, they would implement gyroscope, one user even made an app for PC that makes use of the gyroscope to make Halo play better on a DS4 compared to a Xbox controller https://youtu.be/mqaz6SxnwnI
  • Yeah that tilt stuff feels unnatural and totally gimmicky. Everytime stuff like this gets added it gets near 0 use but the developers and gamers alike. That's not to say some don't like it. It's the same as a small 3% of gamers like VR based on sales. But 3% usage is not worth the R&D costs to implement. Let's be honest here if PS5 is $499 minimum. How much is PSVR 2?? $399-$499??? PS5 Controller will be more than the $99.99 PS4 controller. The more I read the more PS5 seems totally overpriced and underpowered. If it can't do path Ray Tracing and Series X can (being the biggest graphical fidelity difference next Gen) I really see no point in getting a PS5 until 2025 and the price comes down considerably across the board.
  • The Wireless Speed Wheel for the Xbox 360 had it, but no-one used it... People prefer analog sticks to tilting or leaning the controller.
  • People prefer it because the implementation was never that much better than joysticks and because gamers hate learning something new with maybe the exception of Nintendo gamers. My link above show why Gyro aiming is much better
  • As I understand it some features concern Sony fans. Particularly the Microphone. But here's my take. A couple of things initially. Haptic feedback has been on Xbox One since 2013. We have no idea at the moment whether Series X is using the exact same tech as 2013. Or an improved version. My guess is improved. The battery not being removable is big no fro me and many. And there is a very good reason MS make them removable. On my PS3 I went through 5 controllers. Why? The battery inside the controller stopped holding its charge. Therefore instead of spend £10 on a new rechargeable battery pack, I had to spend £49.99 on an official PS3 controller everytime. Then there is the microphone. Xbox has had multi array microphones since 2010. For voice searching, game chat and even controlling you console during games. Firstly people hated lobbys with people using the mic instead of headset. Way to much background static. No matter what Sony tells you this will be the case. The TouchPad needed to go. It hardly got used by developers and it adds so much extra cost to the Controller. For something Noone really uses. I also read reports today PS5 is likely either $499-$549. Now considering how underpowered the PS5 is almost all this cost is the PS5 controller and SSD. Now if you ask me, they have spent way to much money on needless features. Drop the Microphone, TouchPad and make batteries removable. I predict the current cost of PS5 controller in my country will be £99.99. The PS4 controller is already £59.99. The adaptive pressure triggers are the only addition that seems gameplay could be useful. But then not 1 single PS fan has cared at all about Haptic feedback on Xbox One since 2013. So I fail to really see anyone caring for Adaptive triggers. Time will tell. But it seems to me Sony have spent money and risen the cost of their console in all the wrong areas. MS addressed input latency. And I can say with 100% certainty every online gamer out there will prefer better input latency over a microphone. Especially in cross play with PS5 vs Series X gamers. I can't help but feel Sony are late to the party with these features. But paid 0 attention as the fact Noone used them on Xbox One. If Series X manages to be $50 less than PS5 with all that extra power and better input latency PS5 is going to really struggle. https://www.tomsguide.com/uk/news/ps5-will-be-hard-to-find-at-launch-and...
  • The touchpad had to come, as they need the ability for back compat titles.. no idea how many use it, but they would struggle to remove it now. I'm all in on the latency, at my age, I need all the help I can get. But it will depend how well reviewers pick up on it. Personally, I think it is a major feature, I just hope MS can sell the improvement to people. I don't reckon, though I hope I'm wrong, that the Xbox will undercut the PS5. Phil has mention Xbox All Access as a great route to offset the entry cost. He says they won't be beaten on cost, but I think that refers to Lockhart.
  • I like the look of the DualSense, just not crazy about the color scheme. The touchpad has always been underutilized, but I get that they want to ensure backwards compatibility. Curious about how much of a difference haptic feedback and adaptive triggers will be, if at all. I prefer replaceable batteries, so not much to say about that. The built in mic sounds appealing, but I could see it being annoying as hell in multiplayer games (naturally, a headset can also). Overall I'm still completely happy with what Xbox is offering, but will be curious to at least try the DualSense out.
  • Completely disagree with this article. Microphones built into controllers are the worst. All you hear is that annoying clicking sound on the other end. Also I prefer choices with my batteries. I'm glad I'm not married to an internal battery that will eventually die and render the controller useless. No thanks. Xbox's controller is the perfect blend of features for my needs, and frankly, is a way better looking controller as well over the dualsense.
  • I reckon they will have the background sounds worked out. They will have surely got some noise cancelling tech in there. Agree with the battery bit though. I've literally never heard a compelling argument against the approach that MS takes. Isn't even a discussion worth having, in my opinion.
  • So it's just the microphone then, the title made it seem like there were other things but you ruled them out and then concentrated on the microphone.
  • usb c, adaptive triggers, microphone, share button.
    Xbsx has swappable batteries
    Xbsx has haptic triggers
    Microphone for not sure yet
    Xbsx has a share button
  • I'm still trying to figure out which feature is the game changer other than a microphone which could be a privacy issue.
  • I hope that the controller has some way to mute it so that we don't have to hear people's private conversations and other noises during gameplay. Even the best headsets pick up noises in the background (kids, pets, etc.).
    As far as the batteries go, I like having options. I use a combination of plug and play kits, rechargeable and alkaline batteries. When one goes dead, I just switch. If one goes bad, then I have options. Options are good. Sony should sell different variants, one with the microphone built-in, one without. One with the internal batteries, one without. That way, everyone's happy (or not).
  • Looks alone, PS5 controller is amazing. The way it looks just makes you want to pick up and play games. Xbox controller looks the same. Minor tweaks. Either way...I'll get the XSX cause I already have a lot of games for it. And I'll wait a few years for PS5
  • They better let you turn the controller light off and they better let you turn the microphone off.
    The only problem is these devices are usually listening anyway even if you think you set it to "off" But maybe in this world of always listening Google devices and always watching smart tvs, playstation users won't care..
  • What do you if the internal battery dies? Spend $50 and get a new controller? Seems like a waste.