Microsoft is taking an interesting approach with the unveiling of the Xbox Series X and all of its various technical specs - in this time of rarer and rarer press conferences and events, it's just dolling out information every so often.
Thus, it's now given us a bunch of details not just on the new console itself, but also about the new controller that will release with the next-generation gaming device. We've taken a look through everything the Xbox team has said about the controller, and gathered the most important information for you right here.
- Evolution of previous design
- Will fit smaller hands better
The main element to stress here is that the Xbox Series X controller looks like an evolution of previous versions, not a totally redone piece of kit. It's not throwing out the design elements you love, but rather refining on previous versions.
Xbox controllers down the years have always had a certain chunkiness to them - it's been part of their design DNA, you could say. After its superb work on the Xbox Adaptive Controller, though, it would seem that the Xbox team is keen to continue making sure that its controllers can be used by the widest variety of people possible, without any hassle. Hence the new controller is apparently designed to fit smaller hands better.
Plus, throughout the design, buttons have been changed to matte finishes, while the triggers have gained tactile dots to help you grip them. All this, according to the Xbox team, will help make the controller easier to use for more people.
- Pad has a dish shape
- Designed for responsive play
Probably the most immediately noticeable change on the controller is the new D-pad, which is a hybrid between the Xbox One controller's four-directional pad, and a rounded diagonal pad.
It's got a dish-shape to hold your finger or thumb comfortably, while its designers say that you'll need hardly any leverage at all to get a button pressed, making for responsive play.
This sort of hybrid D-pad is an interesting choice - for most players, it will probably be completely fine, but we'll have to wait for the release to see how it holds up for expert platformers and fighting game players, who typically favour clearer directional delineation.
Of course, they can always revert to the Xbox Elite Controller 2, which lets you choose your preferred style of D-pad.
Connectivity and battery
- New wireless radio standard to work with phones including both iOS and Android
- Bluetooth Low Energy
- USB-C port so you can charge and play
On the technical side of things, Xbox is also making a few changes to the way the controller works, which should all be clearly for the better. For one thing, the controller will work with existing Xbox One systems, just as Xbox One controllers will work with the Xbox Series X.
Microsoft is using what it's calling Xbox Wireless Radio as a standard to ensure that the new controller will also work with iOS and Android phones, as well as with people's PCs. It'll also use Bluetooth Low Energy to do so more reliably and quickly, apparently.
One big bit of news is that the controller with have a USB-C port to let you charge and play at the same time - something that bafflingly has been missing from Xbox controllers until now. That suggests that the controller will have a built-in battery that you can charge up, rather than the AA batteries that have been required for its controllers previously. That's a change we'll welcome with open arms.
Finally, the new controller also has a system called Dynamic Latency Input which matches your button-presses to frames on-screen to minimise any possible lag, making for input so fast that you should never notice any delay.
Sharing is caring
- Share button now on the controller
One more addition to the new controller is a share button, right in the middle of the unit, below the white Xbox button. That's an interesting change, which brings Xbox into line with the Playstation 4 (and presumably the PS5 as well), along with the Nintendo Switch is having a way to take a screenshot with one button press.
Of course, it could do more than that, including letting you share your screenshots and recordings with friends and social media networks.
Price and availability
- Still slated for late 2020 on-sale date
One area that the Xbox team hasn't touched on yet is exactly when the controller will be available - it will launch with the Xbox Series X, but the release date is still a vague "Holiday 2020". At the moment Microsoft says that the COVID-19 pandemic won't affect that date, although we'll see if that's borne out by time.
We also don't have a price yet, either for the console bundle or for a standalone Xbox Series X Controller. You'd expect it to be roughly the same price as the existing Xbox One controller, but it's not impossible that it'll end up positioned somewhere between that and the Xbox Elite Controller 2.