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(Pocket-lint) - The PlayStation 5 is now available and you can read our extensive review right here, but what about the controller?

The DualSense is more than just a fancy-looking DualShock 4, it has a number of key new technologies that make it truly next-generation.

We explain all here.

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Essentially, while it may not look it from an initial glance, the DualSense controller is based on the PS4's DualShock 4 - easily the best controller in PlayStation's history so far. It just takes it all to another level.

The colour has changed, to a two-tone design to match the PS5 itself, while the bulk is increased and rounded off a little (to, almost, Xbox-form). However, the thumbsticks are in the same position and there is still a touch panel at the top. A lightbar returns too, albeit around the touchpanel rather than on the top.

Unfortunately, this means it's not compatible with PSVR, even though the virtual reality headset is supported by PS5 - the lightbar cannot be read by the camera. Still, it does have motion sensors inside, so maybe a future version of PSVR could use motion sensing instead.


The buttons and D-pad are covered in clear plastic, but you no longer get different colours on the iconic symbols. The grips aren't very, well, grippy though as they are quite smooth.

The controller adopts the USB-C standard, making for a charging port that'll work with all manner of cables.

Haptic feedback

One new feature added to the DualSense controller is in-depth haptic feedback. Instead of just the plain old rumble pack found in controllers across many generations of gaming, the DualSense includes actuators that give a player a more tangible, adaptable feedback to better immerse him or her in a game.

Even the slightest in-game effects can give players more precise feedback through the controller. For example, driving over ice feels different in Dirt 5 than driving over gravel.

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Adaptive triggers

Along with haptic feedback, the new controller adopts adaptive triggers for the L2 and R2 buttons, which can resist your fingers and make for even more immersion.

These represent the controller's biggest next-generation tech, with different levels force feedback available to developers to implement in their games.

For example, if you are pulling a bow string to fire and arrow, the trigger can be easy to press initially but get harder and require more pressure as the string tightens. It is quite something to behold once you have your first go on the controller.

Battery life

Another biggy for the PlayStation team was to improve the rechargeable battery life in the latest controller. That's perhaps one of the DualShock 4's main caveats and it's great to have been addressed.

From our own tests, we got around 12 hours of play out of the DualSense before it was completely drained. That included games that made heavy use of haptic feedback and the adaptive triggers.

In comparison, the DualShock 4 maxed out at around eight hours.

No "Share" button

Yep, the Share button has gone. However, it has been replaced with a new "Create" button which is almost indentical - it's even in the same place as before.

However, it launches a new Creation Studio tool that allows players much more control over their screen grabs and captured videos.

Built-in microphone

One thing that will please multiplayer/social gamers no end is the new facility to chat in-game and with other players without the need for a headset - especially for short periods and when voice audio quality isn't that important.

The DualSense comes with its own microphone array built into the controller - plus a mono speaker, as before. These are also used for in-game play, which developers will no doubt explore more in time.

Backward compatibility

One of the key things to know about DualSense is that it marks a significant step forward for PlayStation controller tech, which means backward compatibility is a slight issue.

You cannot therefore use your old PS4's DualShock 4 controllers with PS5 games - although you can use one with PS4 titles working through backward compatibility. You can also use the DualSense to play them, of course.

A DualSense controller will  not work on a PlayStation 4 console.


While you naturally get one in the box with the PS5, you'll can also purchase a second DualSense for $69.99 / £59.99. That's a small bump over the cost of a DualShock 4, but that seems to be the order of the day with next-gen accessories and games (many titles cost around £70, for example). 

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Writing by Rik Henderson.