Xbox Series X Controller Review

November 5, 2020 at 7:00am
By Jason Stettner

When it comes to a new generation of gaming, the controller is an important part of that experience. While I’ve taken time to create a review of the general Xbox Series X console, I also thought it made sense to provide one for the wireless controller that will be the staple of the platform over the course of the generation.

Now, I do anticipate that we’ll see minor revisions over time though this will be the primary option across the ecosystem. It’s really about refinement with this offering, taking an already incredible existing controller and improving various elements of what it has to offer.

Do note that while this is specifically the model known as the Xbox Series X controller, it is the same gamepad design as the Series S and in general the line-up is simply called the “Xbox Wireless Controller”. That means this review will encompass the general design no matter what color scheme, Design Lab or other weird customizations come into effect over time.

Going back to what I had mentioned, this is all about refining an already great offering. The form factor has been slightly adjusted to allow more individuals to have an easier time holding it. This being on the smaller end of hands scaling wise. It sits very comfortably within your hands being quite ergonomic. It features a matte black design to it, removing the glossy elements present within the previous generation options.

This provides a sleeker look, that is far more striking. This carries the traditional layout from the platform. That means diagonally positioned thumbsticks with a D-Pad on the left bottom portion and primary input buttons on the top right portion. There’s not much to discuss about the colored buttons, they’re basically the same as before.

The thumbsticks also come across as rather similar. The D-Pad has received a significant upgrade over previous models. It’s far more tactile, and will allow for a great level of precision. This is great for those that enjoy fighter games, or perhaps even some 2D platformers. It looks better, and just comes across as far more accurate during gameplay.

In the middle of the controller, this area has been slightly adjusted. There’s the traditional light up Xbox logo, followed by now three buttons below it. The start and back buttons, alongside a share button. Now, I know the naming did change for start and back, but old habits die very hard.

Currently they’re called the menu and view buttons if you’re wondering the correct naming scheme. The share button is a small, but nice extra. Take a screenshot by tapping it which is way better than opening a guide menu to do so, and then hold for a clip.

A subtle change, but one that makes sense for the modern sharing climate we’re part of. The bottom inside contains a 3.5mm port for a headset, and also the regular plug-in spot for official headsets and or older plug-ins.
Xbox Series X Controller Review
At the top middle we get a USB Type-C port which is welcomed and also a syncing button. It’s worth noting that this has Bluetooth support, specifically BTLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) for a very smooth connection. This allows it to work on devices such as PC, tablets and even mobile devices such as on IOS or Android operating systems. Beside this middle top section are the bumpers and triggers. While similar, these are refined and feel much better.

The triggers have been shortened, and given a tactile dot pattern that feels great. This makes it just a tad better to hold onto and press when needed. They definitely come across as responsive and that’s the case with the tweaked bumpers as well. They’re slightly changed, and hopefully longer lasting due to the adjustment in how they’re implemented.

This is battery powered, and the lifespan will vary in that regard. I will note that the inside top of the battery area is slightly tweaked. My previous Snakebyte rechargeable battery packs do not hook on anymore due to the shortening of the space where they would slide in. Disappointing, but more of a specific niche note I suppose that doesn’t really factor into my scoring here.

The final adjustment to mention is where you hold the controller in your palm, there’s the same dotted grip that was previously mentioned. That makes it feel really nice to hold onto. In general they’ve really cleaned up the controller well, I don’t want to go back. It’s a strange situation as I have this super nice Evil Controller with some nicer upgrades, but the form factor of this design feels ever so comfy and having the share button is just really nice.

It was a smart choice to include, but other than that it’s very similar to what you might be familiar with. It’s just better though, which makes complete sense. The same features carry over in regards to the rumble, the integration of haptic feedback triggers and so forth. Oh, and you can plug it in if you need to though it’s best as a wireless controller.
Xbox Series Controller Review

The Conclusion

The Xbox Series X controller is an excellent wireless option that brings subtle, but great refinements to what was already the best gamepad in gaming. It’s seriously awesome to hold, and just snugly sits there while you play.

It felt better no matter what genre I was applying it to and it’s the smaller changes that really do make this controller just that much better. I loved having the share button for quick images without being distracted from what I was doing and the grip makes it just that much nicer to hold. You’ll feel what I mean the first time you go to hold onto it.

The D-Pad is also a major improvement over the previous one. I know I’m not the biggest candidate to appreciate the D-Pad changes, but I know many really do care about how it’s presented and I think you’ll be very happy with the tweaks that were made. I do hope the adjustments to the triggers and bumpers are better in terms of being long lasting though we’ll have to see about that I suppose. They are definitely improved.

It’s just really well done, I was very happy with it and surprised. I had initially wrote it off entirely until I unboxed it and held onto the thing. Upon playing many, many hours of gameplay ahead of launch for this review I can say it sets a new standard for the platform. Definitely impressed, and it greatly exceeded my expectations. It will be perhaps an overlooked upgrade that’s part of this overall next generation offering.

Read our Xbox Series X Review
View our Xbox Series X Hub

Xbox Series X Controller Review Tested with Games, Console, Mobile & Windows 10 PC
Review Product Provided by Microsoft

Rating Overall: 9.2

Gamerheadquarters Reviewer Jason Stettner