Now that Sony has finally revealed the DualSense, the controller for PlayStation 5, we can compare it with Microsoft’s controller for its next-gen console, Xbox Series X. Each one presents interesting features of their own, and speaks to the objectives that Sony and Microsoft have for their new consoles. So, let’s take a closer look at the similarities and differences between the DualSense and Series X controller.
Currently, both PS5 and Xbox Series X are scheduled to release in Holiday 2020. Though we still don’t actually know what the PS5 looks like, we do know most of the internal specs for both next-gen consoles, which we compare in our PS5 vs. Xbox Series X spec guide. You can’t pre-order either console yet, but you can sign up for PS5 pre-order notifications.
Both the DualSense and Series X controller reiterate similar design philosophies from their respective predecessors, the DualShock 4 and Xbox One controller. Neither one is exactly like what came before, of course, but if you’re used to holding a DualShock 4 or Xbox One controller, you’re not going to have to relearn thumbstick and face button layouts.
DualSense utilizes PlayStation’s traditional design philosophy where the thumbsticks aren’t offset, with both the D-pad and four face buttons placed above both sticks. Starting at the top and going clockwise, the face buttons are still Triangle, Circle, Cross, Square. Both the lightbar and touchpad return as well, though the lightbar now sits on the edges of the touchpad as opposed to being on the top like on the DualShock 4.
On the other hand, the Series X controller continues Xbox’s tradition of offset thumbsticks–the D-pad is below the stick on the left, while the four face buttons are above the stick on the right. Similar to its predecessor, the face buttons are, starting at the top and going clockwise: Y, B, A, X. Unlike the DualSense, the Series X controller has a hybrid D-pad, making it easier to do diagonal inputs. Also, with no touchpad, the Series X’s Xbox home button is at the top of the controller, whereas the DualSense’s PlayStation home button rests at the bottom.
In terms of just overall shape, both controllers are fairly similar–at the very least, they’re far more alike than the DualShock 4 and Xbox One controller are. However, the DualSense is a bit more narrow in the middle and the Series X controller has slightly larger bumpers and triggers.
The Series X controller continues the traditional monochromatic color scheme that standard Xbox controllers have had. In this case, the default color is black. Like previous Xbox controllers, its Y button is yellow, its B button is red, its A button is green, and its X button is blue. The Xbox home button glows white while the controller is powered on.
Sony, however, shakes things up with the DualSense and goes for a two-toned color design scheme. The standard controller is white and black. Unlike previous PlayStation controllers, the DualSense’s face buttons are devoid of color–they’re white too. The spark of color instead comes from the lightbar, which by default glows blue when the controller is turned on.
Without the actual controllers in our hands, it’s difficult to do an exact comparison of their sizes. However, in terms of size, both controllers seem likely built to better appeal to smaller hands than their predecessors do.
In a PlayStation blog post, Sony senior vice president of platform planning and management Hideaki Nishino writes that the DualSense is made to “feel smaller than it really looks.” Similarly, in an Xbox blog post, Xbox senior designer Ryan Whitaker said that the Series X controller was made to better accommodate “hands similar to those of an average eight-year-old” and is thus slightly smaller than the Xbox One controller.
The Series X controller includes a Share button that allows you to more easily capture and share both screenshots and gameplay clips. Although a button dedicated to this is new for Xbox, this already exists on the DualShock 4 and Nintendo Switch Joy-Con/Pro controller.
The DualSense ditches the DualShock’s Share button for a Create button, which seems to accomplish much the same task with the added benefit of additional, though currently unannounced, features. The DualSense also includes a built-in microphone, allowing you to quickly talk with your friends without a headset mic. It features adaptive triggers as well, which allows developers to customize the triggers’ resistance.
Both the DualSense and Series X controller have haptic feedback, which allows developers to customize the level of vibration a controller produces–helping game developers better convey a message to the player through their sense of touch. Additionally, both controllers have a traditional 3.5mm headset jack, allowing you to keep whichever headset you currently use. Neither controller includes paddles or apparent first-party support for the attachment.
Both the DualSense and Series X controller use the same method of power as their respective predecessors. The DualSense has an internal battery that you’ll have to keep charged. On the other hand, the Series X controller supports external batteries–meaning you can use AA batteries or rechargeable ones. In terms of recharging or connecting either controller to a console or PC via a cord, both the Series X controller and DualSense utilize a USB-C port.
Sony has neither confirmed nor denied whether the DualSense will be able to connect to a PS4, but Microsoft has already announced that the Series X controller will be compatible with Xbox One. In fact, Xbox One controllers will be forward compatible too–you’ll be able to use your old controllers on Xbox Series X, including the Elite controllers.
Neither Sony nor Microsoft has announced a price point for their respective next-gen controllers.
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