Our initial review of the Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 was rather glowing, owing to its beefy battery life, convenient charge dock, ergonomic design, and customization. While it felt more durable than any gamepad that preceded it in our initial review, you can never really tell how something will survive over the long term without, well, time.
The previous Xbox Elite Controller seemed rock solid at the outset, but came with a hidden point of failure, most notably in its rubber grips which, frustratingly, would warp and fall off over time. I personally experienced that with two Elite controllers previously, so it's understandable that there have been some concerns with how this new Elite Series 2 controller would hold up.
I decided to write up my experiences with the controller three months in to let you know how it's doing. Turns out, the answer is pretty damn good.
I also purposefully haven't recently cleaned up the controller for this re-review, so you can get an idea of dusty it might look a few weeks out of the box.
Still functioning like new
The Xbox Elite Controller has a large amount of moving parts and connective pieces, owing to customizable thumbsticks, paddles, and so on. It also has unique rubber grips that attach in a few panels around the front and the back, giving it a bit of ergonomic flair. While these features are great, they technically introduce a few additional points of failure that the regular Xbox controllers don't have. Thankfully, though, after three months of hefty abuse, every corner of my Elite Series 2 controller is still functioning as new.
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect, for me, is how firmly the grips still feel attached. Microsoft revised the process and chemistry for the rubber grips this time around, and it seems to show. It's tough to get anything underneath the seams, which bodes well for their longevity.
The paddles, triggers, and thumbsticks are all still in top-notch working order as well, eventhough I haven't really been making much of an effort to keep them clean and free of dust. I haven't had a single issue with my triggers or bumpers either, the latter of which I'd heard were problematic for some V1 Elite controller users.
Tough to scuff, tough to clean
The material on the Elite Series 2 controller remains a smudge magnet, however. There's a strange uncanny softness to it that is easy to mark and smudge, but tough to permanently scratch. As such, it's relatively easy to clean the outer shell with a regular cloth and cleaning agent, but other parts of the controller are far less easy to clean.
The thumbsticks have this miniscule lip that makes them great for grip, but gathers dust like a sponge. Cleaning it can be a chore too, as the textured rubber seems to grip onto dirt as much as it wants to grip onto your thumbs. The same can be said about the grip seams, where you'll probably need to grab a tooth pick if you want to keep this thing clean over time. A cloth just doesn't cut it.
Battery life is holding up
One of my favorite things about the Elite Series 2 is the convenience of its charge dock and its monstrous battery life. In testing, over three months, the battery doesn't seem to have lost any charge whatsoever, which is a positive sign.
The fact the battery cannot be swapped out is potentially problematic for users hoping that this controller will stand the test of time, since all batteries eventually deplete. The quality of the cells used can have a big impact on how long it actually takes for those cells to deplete, though, and so far it's looking like Microsoft didn't cheap out on us here. I'm still exceeding forty hours usage on a single charge, which is beyond even Microsoft's own estimates.
I've had a few emails here and there with reports of controllers shipping with faulty parts, stuck buttons, and so on, making me concerned that the Series 2 could be suffering from widespread issues. However, the controller is among the fastest selling gaming accessories dollar-for-dollar according to market research group NPD. I feel like if these issues were truly widespread, I'd be seeing a lot more feedback at my end about it. It's hard to know for sure what the failure rates are, but the last thing Microsoft would want is a hefty replacement bill on what is probably a fairly expensive device to manufacture.
There's no way to know how this gamepad will hold up in six months, twelve months, and so on. But I do know that I'm impressed by how well it's holding up so far, given the amount of abuse I'm putting it through. I'll check back in again in another few months to update you on the Series 2's staying power.
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