The New Xbox One S Controller Reviewed, Tested and Compared

When I published the Xbox One S unboxing video recently it was obvious from the comments that people were really interested in the new Xbox controller. It’s no surprise: the new wireless Xbox controller has a few new features that, while not game changing, are indeed nice additions.

Obviously, as you can tell from the photo above or the video overview embedded below, there’s a new color scheme at play. I’m calling this the Stormtrooper redesign because the new Xbox One S and the accompanying controllers are all black and white. And I think it looks awesome (no surprise to DailyTekk’s YouTube subscribers). Of course, it’s a matter of opinion: some people will like the new color and some won’t, but one thing is certain: it shows dirt and grime quicker/easier than the previous black controller.

Along with the new color comes a very slight redesign which Microsoft has labeled “more streamlined.” In reality, it’s hard to notice the difference. This alone is definitely not a reason to upgrade from the previous generation.

But one new feature that is pretty awesome is the new textured grip. It’s one of the first things you’ll notice when you hold the new controller, though it’s not overly grippy (just grippier). I don’t think this is going to alter anyone’s actual game playing abilities in a major way, but I imagine people with sweatier hands will appreciate it more than others. This is a small feature addition that makes me pretty happy for some reason — probably because it makes the Xbox experience as a whole feel more thoughtful.

At this point I must take the opportunity to whole-heartedly disagree with CNET’s review which has nothing good to say about this new Xbox controller. In no way does this new controller feel cheaper than the older one and I’ve found the triggers, buttons and D-Pad to be very tactile. Plus, the control sticks are now made out of a slightly more durable material. So it’s all good as far as I’m concerned.

The biggest feature on the new Xbox controller might be the switch to Bluetooth connectivity. Now users can easily pair the controller with gadgets other than their Xbox: think PCs, tablets and even phones. In my testing, the new controller paired with my computer easily — no problems there. But I ran into some issues trying to get it paired with my iPad Pro. At first I thought it was because I was running a version of the iOS 10 beta, but when it also wouldn’t work on a regular iPad Air, I knew something was up. I expect this to get fixed quickly, though, as all signs point to Microsoft bringing Xbox game streaming to iOS and Android in the near future.

Still, it was a bummer since I wanted to try out Call of Duty Strike Force, Halo Spartan Assault and a few other controller-enabled iPad games for this review.

But the Bluetooth also means this controller has a longer range than the older model: in fact Microsoft claims it will double the range. I tested this by having my wife stand in front of the TV while I took the controller outside. She let me know when it disconnected and sure enough range was almost exactly 40 feet. So the new range is legit.

One disappointing thing about this controller is the lack of wireless charging (or a rechargeable battery at the very least) — still. For the moment, you’re going to be stuck using those Duracells or Energizers a bit longer (I’m guessing Project Scorpio will feature wireless controller charging next year).

This is a great controller though the upgrades are incremental to be sure.