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Xbox Wireless Controllers may still use AA batteries because of partnership with Duracell

Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S Controllers
Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S Controllers (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • With the release of new gaming consoles like the Xbox Series X|S and PS5, we also got new controllers to go with them.
  • However, Microsoft surprised gamers by continuing to stick with outdated AA batteries for their newest Xbox Wireless Controller.
  • The refusal to move to integrated rechargeable batteries has baffled players for years, especially when moving into a new generation of console gaming.
  • However, an interview with Duracell's UK Marketing Manager may reveal that a partnership with Duracell is to blame.

With the release of the powerful and slick Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, players also got their hands on the latest iteration of Microsoft's excellent Xbox Wireless Controller. However, Microsoft made the strange decision to stick with aging AA batteries as the default source of power for their new controllers. This choice continues to confuse gamers when every other competitor has long since moved to rechargeable batteries and cables. While Microsoft has touted several reasons for this continued decision, a new interview with Stealth Optional may reveal the biggest reason behind AA batteries and the Xbox Wireless Controller.

In an interview, Luke Anderson, the UK Marketing Manager for Duracell, revealed the following:

"There's always been this partnership with Duracell and Xbox… It's a constant agreement that Duracell and Microsoft have in place… (The deal is) for OEM to supply the battery product for the Xbox consoles and also the controllers' battery. So that (deal is) going to go on for a while… it's been going on for a while and I think it needs to go for a while (more)."

Apparently, Duracell, the colossal battery behemoth that's been around for ages, has an ongoing partnership with Microsoft on all things battery-powered. However, it's not all completely clean-cut, as Microsoft responded to a query from MCV with the following statement, which suggests Duracell has nothing to do with Microsoft's decision:

"We intentionally offer consumers choice in their battery solutions for our standard Xbox Wireless Controllers. This includes the use of AA batteries from any brand, the Xbox Rechargeable Battery, charging solutions from our partners, or a USB-C cable, which can power the controller when plugged in to the console or PC."

Since the days of the Xbox 360, when wireless controllers became the standard, the argument has always been such:

  • AA batteries allow for player freedom with the addition of rechargeable battery packs, rechargeable AA batteries, and more.
  • Having a removable battery allows for hot swapping for players in the middle of a heated gaming session.
  • Removable batteries also can encourage better long-term controller health, as a dying battery can be easily replaced.

The truth might lie somewhere in the middle, but, either way, Microsoft is sticking with AA batteries in their controllers for a little while longer. If you're looking for a different kind of controller, check out our recommendations for the Best Controllers for Xbox Series X|S, and the Best Charging Accessories and Batteries for Xbox Controllers. While Microsoft may not be intending to change their battery stance, they are asking users about interest in new controller features found in the PS5's DualSense.

Zachary Boddy
Zachary Boddy

Zachary Boddy is the Minecraft Expert and a News Writer for Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life, and have been freelancing for Windows Central and its sister sites since 2019, with a focus on Xbox and PC gaming. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.

36 Comments
  • Correlation does not equal causation. I imagine every device that ships with batteries has a partnership with a battery manufacturer. That doesn't mean that the partnership is the reason for having batteries.
  • The idea that a small, declining company like Duracell (it was acquired by Berkshire a few years ago for a few billion dollars) bullied a trillion-dollar behemoth like Microsoft into using its products is ... silly.
  • Oral B has had a partnership with Duracell for years, yet still offer rechargeable toothbrushes. It's so shortsighted to think this partnership is driving Microsoft's hardware designs. They need batteries, so of course they have a partnership. If they were using rechargeables, they'd have a partnership for those too. That's how hardware works.
  • tbf I don't want it integrated, if they are going to do it, let us swap them out
  • Replacing rechargeable vs changing the controller is better. Hopefully one day batteries will last over 10 years and this will be a moot point.
  • This quote about sums it up and is what I've been saying all along. "We intentionally offer consumers choice in their battery solutions for our standard Xbox Wireless Controllers. This includes the use of AA batteries from any brand, the Xbox Rechargeable Battery, charging solutions from our partners, or a USB-C cable, which can power the controller when plugged in to the console or PC."
    Since the days of the Xbox 360, when wireless controllers became the standard, the argument has always been such: AA batteries allow for player freedom with the addition of rechargeable battery packs, rechargeable AA batteries, and more. Having a removable battery allows for hot swapping for players in the middle of a heated gaming session. Removable batteries also can encourage better long-term controller health, as a dying battery can be easily replaced. I just can't figure out why people seem to look down on Microsoft for this. They should be looking down on the other companies that don't do this. It seems to me people are upset about it because it gives them more choice. Why would anyone prefer a controller that you have to throw away when the battery dies or for the technically inclined, disassemble it to replace the battery when you can have many different user replaceable options.
  • People seem to look down on MS because Sony uses sealed-in batteries and, of course, the *only* way to go is whichever way Sony goes, even if it's change for change's sake. And promptly gets forgotten come the next gen.
  • We can tell a similar story with the Surface Pen. A pen running on a single long lasting AAAA battery really is better than a rechargeable pen in most circumstances (though having a built in charging bay as on the SPX is cool). You can replace the battery! Also for pens, the AAAA battery will last longer anyway (months to a year).
  • Exactly. I absolutely love that I can use the my controller with any set of chargeable baterries that I have lying around. Tha PlayStation route is incredibly limited and I ferior in pretty much every way. The only disadvantage to the Xbox route is that it does not come with rechargeable batteries.
  • Also, I find it funny that people felt the opposite way about the same thing happening to our phone batteries. People were freaking out left and right that they were not going to be able to change their batteries in their phone. Now there are hardly any phones with a replaceable battery. I think that was the dumbest decision that they ever made as far as phone design.
  • People wanted phones that were water proof. Something had to give. Removable batteries were the casualty. Easier to water proof if you don't have a giant door on the back.
  • I guess they forgot about water tight seals that work in just about anything and have been around for a very long time. It is very easy to make something waterproof.
  • Those seals are touchy, especially for something as thin as a phone. But I would say thickness itself is equally true. Tabs for a battery door significantly increase the thickness when you're down to a few mm in thickness. To your original point, if Microsoft shifted to sealed but rechargeable batteries, there would be an outcry. If they then shifted back to replaceable batteries, there would another outcry. The dissent is always loudest by those why want a return to the status quo. Loud voices do not necessarily represent the majority of customers.
  • I don't think it was that. I think it was that people were replacing their phones about as frequently as they would their battery anyway. Also, battery reliability went up, and battery life went up as people moved to larger phones and more efficient systems.
  • The batteries that came with the controller for my new Series X lasted less than two weeks - and then got replaced by a pair of rechargeables 😁
  • Haha still using AA batteries 😔😔 it's not the 1980"s FFS
  • What is wrong with using AA? It's just one of many sizes that batteries come in and batteries come in different sizes to accommodate their application. I guess next you're going to make fun of the container milk comes in.
  • I use rechargeable AAs and get a full week of *heavy* use from a pair. 4 (plus the charger) cost less than the official rechargeable pack which wouldn't last as long.
    Choice is good.
  • This is the battery version of "OMG the bezels LOL"
  • Yea, lets have sealed in, non-replaceable, rechargeable batteries. Have a Logitech keyboard like that. When it quits holding a charge you can just throw the whole thing away (OK, recycle to feel better about yourself). The previous model of the same keyboard had replaceable rechargeable batteries. That one is still going strong. after simply replacing the batteries.
  • That's another point, people think recycling solves the problem when it does not. Recycling is better than throwing something away but reusing something is better than recycling unnecessarily. A lot of people don't know how much energy and resources it takes to recycle something. It creates almost as much pollution to recycle something as it did to create it, The only difference being that you reused the resource instead of having to source more of it.
  • With that mentality we should just throw away the electric cars when their batteries give up instead of taking them in for battery replacements because that makes so much sense.
  • I think one of the main reasons companies are going towards these devices with non replaceable batteries is to save on manufacturing costs and to increase profit by forcing you to buy a new one instead of just replacing the batteries. I'll give another example, can you imagine having every device that takes batteries having to be replaced when the batteries stopped charging? Remote controls to various devices including the keys to your car which are extremely unnecessarily expensive. instead of putting another $2 battery in your car key you have to go spend $350 for a new one, because that makes so much sense.
  • I personally like the swappable batteries.
  • "However, Microsoft surprised gamers by continuing to stick with outdated AA batteries... " What surprise? Outdated? AA is a format. I'll take 5 pair of Enloope AA cells over any propritory cell pack, hands down, no question about it.
  • I mean, put an Apple logo on them and people will go crazy for them!
  • Just what I was thinking. The only change Microsoft should make is to partner with Eneloop but that obviously would never happen since it would cost more out of the box than a pair of Duracell disposable batteries and you would need to include a charger.
  • What is so good about a built in battery? I like being able to swap out my batteries so I can continue playing.
  • I like permanent batteries cause it's fun to buy a replacement usb cable every year when it goes bad, and really fun when someone trips over the cord and rip the controller out of your hands or pull your console off the shelf. Talk about 80s nostalgia, I love cables!!!
  • I am glad microsoft still does that. Unlike phones (which get replaced about every 2 years) the controllers last the whole lifetime of the console (of not more) because of this.
  • I needed a Bluetooth Controller and realized that all of the controllers I still had were from the Xbox One launch era pre-bluetooth. Even though I've bought every Xbox One generation. (I guess when I sold the old console I sold the new "boring" black controllers with the old console).
  • Microsoft responded to these rumors. It is not true. What would be a smart idea for Microsoft is to include a rechargeable battery pack with each controller and still let the consumer choose to use it or disposable batteries, or both.
  • Another example where the reporter asking Microsoft to comment instead of wildly speculating would have helped.
  • I'm just glad the new controllers have USB-C :)
  • If Duracell's the reason Microsoft didn't adopt non-removable, integrated batteries (to drive up controller sales when said cells inevitably died and people tossed their controllers)--thank you, Duracell. I own both versions of the Elite controllers, and while they are leagues better than anything offered for Playstation and Switch (that I've seen so far), I still think not having a clear battery replacement option is their primary flaw. Disposable AA batteries may not be the best solution--but they're still a world above "permanently integrated battery", even before considering AA as the most common household battery in use in the world.
  • I won't understand how one can prefer not to have the choice. Today the consumer is so consumer that he's always after spending more.