Finally unveiled at E3 2019, Microsoft gave us an upgraded Xbox Elite Controller, dubbed "Series 2." This new controller addresses major pain points with the previous design, at least in theory, while baking in tons of new features. With 40 hours of listed battery life, a charging dock, tension-controllable thumbsticks, and more, will this $180 peripheral prove itself worthy of your cash? Here's what we know so far.
Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 History
Leaked via Chinese site Baidu and later confirmed by The Verge, the new Xbox Elite Controller looks to be an iterative update on the original controller, which came with a range of premium features (and at a premium $150 price point.
The original Xbox Elite Controller supported Xbox Wireless, but only supported USB for PC connectivity. It sported two separate profiles for configurable button mapping, as well as locks for the triggers, making them activate more quickly. It also came with four additional buttons on the reverse of the controller in the form of paddles, which could be configured and removed at will. Additionally, the joysticks on the original Elite controller came with extra options, both from first and third-party vendors. Longer joystick options increased the distance from the pivot, for example, allowing for more precision without sacrificing turn speed. The directional pad also came with more robust options too.
After some leaks and patent filings, Microsoft officially unveiled the new Xbox Elite Controller at E3 2019.
The new Xbox Elite Controller seemed to be a little more of an "evolution" rather than revolution, but after going hands on, the volume of improvements make it an extremely meaningful upgrade.
It appeared that the codename for the new Elite controller appears to be "Spider," for a time, perhaps in reference to the elongated paddles on the reverse side looking almost like spider legs. Later we learned this codename was in fact designated to something else, but Spider sounds way cooler, damnit.
Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 Features and specs
|System requirements||Windows 10 via Bluetooth, USB, or Xbox Wireless adapter. Windows 7 or 8.1 via USB. Xbox via Xbox wireless. Mobile devices via Bluetooth.|
|Audio||Includes 3.5mm stereo headset jack.|
|Haptic feedback||Features Impulse Triggers and rumble motors.|
|Weight||345g (added 15g with 4 paddles, faceted D-pad, and standard thumbsticks attached.)|
|Thumbstick control||3-stage adjustable tension using included turn-key.|
|Battery||Internal, rechargeable battery with up to 40 hours of battery life per charge.|
|Other features||Hardshell carrying case. Additional optional thumbsticks and components. 3-stage trigger locks. Included docking station for charging. Included USB-C cable for connectivity and charging.|
The feature set for the updated controller includes a three-stage hair trigger lock. This means that you will be able to adjust the amount of trigger depression far more than previously, which only supported a single on/off stage. When the triggers are locked, it means activation is much faster, which can be advantageous when using handguns and burst rifles in games.
Another feature confirmed or the new Elite controller is tension control for the joysticks. Microsoft filed a patent specifically to allow users to control the tension of joystick movement previously. This will allow users to control the amount of resistence you experience when you push the sticks. This will enable for greater precision without losing speed, in some scenarios.
Some confirmed feature includes an additional configuration profile, making for a total of three. USB Type-C connectivity, longer key travel for the reverse paddles, and revised rubber grips, that should remain more robust than the previous controller. At least in theory.
Confirming our previous leaks, Bluetooth support is in for connectivity to PCs and mobile devices. The most recent versions of the regular Xbox controller support Bluetooth, so that's a bit of a no-brainer. However, more interestingly, the new Elite controller has built-in batteries too, complete with a USB-C charging port and a charging dock, that itself can dock inside a revised carrying case.
Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 Launch date and pricing
The Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 will launch on November 4, 2019, for a price of $180 USD. It's available to preorder now.
Will it actually be good?
We're still working on our full review of the controller, paying close attention to build quality. Many users reported shoddy craftsmanship from the previous Elite controller, which suffered immensely from wear and tear over time. For a $180 device, that's not exactly something to look forward to.
In our early impressions, it certainly seems as though Microsoft has spent a lot of engineering hours revising and iterating to improve on these criticisms. We'll work hard to let you know if their efforts paid off as we head towards the full review. Early signs are very encouraging, though.
Best with Bluetooth
It's pretty pricey, but the Xbox Elite Series 2 controller may just prove itself to be the best gamepad ever made over time.
Update October 17, 2019: Weve updated this article with all the official information.
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