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Xbox Series X controller uses AA batteries because many 'really want' them

Xbox Series X Controller Hero
Xbox Series X Controller Hero (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft recently revealed every detail about the Xbox Series X controller.
  • The device still uses AA batteries.
  • The company decided to include them because it's all about flexibility.
  • The Xbox Series X is scheduled to launch in Holiday 2020.

Recently, Microsoft revealed the Xbox Series X controller. It's quite similar to what we have with the Xbox One, but there are a number of refinements like textured triggers and more. However, it still uses AA batteries.

When this was announced, there was some outrage, but Microsoft feels that this gives gamers flexibility. Speaking with Digital Foundry — as reported by VG247 — Xbox's Partner Director of Program Management said the following.

What it comes down to is when actually talking to gamers, it's kind of polarising and there is a strong camp that really want AAs. So just giving flexibility is the way to please both people… You can use a rechargeable battery pack and it works just like it does on the Elite, but it is a separate thing.

In my opinion, removable AA batteries also increase the shelf life of the controller. I have a PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 that can barely keep its charge even though it's only four months old. This means that it's essentially a wired controller unless I take it apart and slot in a third-party replacement, if that's even possible.

Are you happy that Microsoft included AA batteries in the controller? Or would you prefer a built-in version? Let us know.

Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.

19 Comments
  • I like having options. And you can use rechargeable batteries too.
  • Options really is what using AA batteries for the controllers is all about. I prefer this route because it allows me to buy a custom recharagable solution. I picked up a solution at best buy where two controllers sit nicely on their charger pads. I'm aware there are other solutions out there. By sticking with AA we still get to have recharable batteries which are user replaceable when they begin failing and a much broader variety of charger options. By building in LiIon batteries you limit options and have built in obsolescence with your controller. That isn't what I want after spending $80 on a custom controller from Microsofts nifty "builder" app.
  • AA FTW! I prefer rechargeable AA batteries. When one set gets low, I always have a pair of Eneloops charged up and ready to go.
  • My experience with an Xbox controller (got from the Microsoft website where you can customize it) paired with my desktop PC is nit as positive. The issue with AA batteries is that you don't know its status. So you have to wait for the controller to disconnect to know it is time to put another set of charged AA. And most of the time, the game acts weird (freeze or 1 FPS) before the light goes dark on the controller. I can't find a worst way to find it out.
    Also, if you plug the controller, you don't know if the rechargeable batteries you've put inside are really being recharged or not and when it's done since there is no indicator.
  • That's true in the PC, but Xbox let's you know they are low
  • Status monitoring on AA batteries has been a thing for years, both on for example the Nintendo Wii and on my old entry-level DSLR, which worked with four of them in series, no less. I'm pretty sure they will figure that one out.
  • What happens if your playstation controller battery dies? Can you swap them out or you have to replace the whole controller?
  • You use the controller connected with a USB cable until it charges.
  • He said dies... Means not charging anymore... Any part you can remove and change if damaged will always be better in my book... That's why I hate they integrated the PSU
  • If that was truly the case, the 170$ elite series 2 would also use AAs, removable rechargeable batteries would be the ideal, you can already do this but Microsoft makes you buy them instead of giving one for free and I find that BS. When I play games on my PS4 I have normally a powerbank near me that I bought for around the same price as a rechargeable battery for the Xbox One controller that I use when the battery on my DS4 dies and the best part is that I can also use with my phone and Bluetooth headphones which is very useful specially in these times quarantine times where I use my phone and Bluetooth alot during the day.
  • The elite controller is a completely different price point. I still worry mine will have the battery degrade long before the controller is useless. And as stated in the article AA batteries, especially non rechargable have a much better shelf life. PS4 controller has garbage battery and drains quickly when not used
  • As long as it finally ditches Micro-USB for a USB-C port I'll be happy
  • Definitely prefer to use AA batteries. I hate that my PS4 uses built ins. If my Xbox controller goes low, I swap it with a rechargeable. If my PS4 goes low, I have to stop; swap controllers, plug it in, or *gasp* stop playing for the day! And since I always worry about it, they're always charging on a dock (micro USB sucks too), which is bad for battery life.
    In the "modern console era" I went PS, PS2, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox One X, and then added a PS4 Pro to the mix. Honestly prefer the Xbox One X for many reasons beyond the controller batteries, lol
  • I like the option for one reason. My main controller will always have one of the rechargeable battery packs. It's just a better solution. But it's also a tad pricey. A Play & Charge kit is $25. I like to keep an extra controller or two around for when friends stop by in case they want to jump in on something. I also sometimes pair one of those spare controllers to my PC or phone for the moments where I want that functionality. But my extra controllers don't get enough use to justify the extra $25 of a Play & Charge kit. The amount those extra controllers get used, 2 four packs of AA will keep them going for a long time. It's just not worth the extra cost to me for a rechargeable battery to be included in the controller. It's very much like the Elite controller. I'm not going to buy one for each of my spare controllers. Keep the cost of the hardware down but offer the additional extra for those who want it.
  • AA is the way to go. If someone wants rechargeable it's easy, just get rechargeable batteries or a rechargeable kit.
  • Definitely the better option, I've seen and heard from plenty of Sony fanboys that gripe like hell at their controller battery situation. With the custom designs that you can have with Xbox, it'd be criminal to have a fixed rechargable in there. Personally I use a play and charge kit, and if you get the MS one it lasts and lasts, seriously impressive. My son has a dock, as he ruined the port on his controller by yanking it about whilst charging. Which, is another reason often overlooked. By having an option, even when the charging port is ruined.
  • Totally in favor of it. Makes it easy to use and replace rechargeable batteries.
  • I'm all for AA batteries. I mean, to be fair to the PS4 controller, it does have a light on it that changes depending on the situation, so that's going to be a battery drain, but it still sucks that if I game regularly on my PS4 I'm recharging the controller every few days compared to over a week for the One.
  • Absolutely agree with this option! All controllers should have this option! I have an original Xbox Elite Controller that I can still use thanks to the ability to add a new Play & Charge kit or AA batteries. I was looking to upgrade to an Elite 2 Controller, but changed my mind when I saw that it has an internal battery. I bought a SCUF Prestige controller, and that was a mistake on all fronts. It took over 60 days from my order to receive it in the mail, it cost $180, and it has an internal battery. After less than 10 hours of gameplay I noticed that the controller would shut off, and then gradually started losing its charging ability. A couple of hours later, and it won't charge at all, and can only be used when wired up. I could have returned it for repairs, but am not willing to go through the hassle. I learned a valuable lesson though, don't pay elite prices for a controller with an internal battery.