There's been no shortage of PS5 controllers hitting the market since the console dropped almost three years ago. However, while we’ve praised the DualSense extensively for its feature set, the lackluster battery life holds it back from being the definitive pad for the console.
Many third-party companies have attempted to innovate and iterate on the standard PS5 controller, usually with mixed results. While battery life has definitely been improved with some of the best PS5 controllers, it often comes at a far higher cost. If you want to fix the DualSense’s battery life problem, you’ll often end up paying upwards of three times as much for the privilege.
I’ve argued in the past that you shouldn’t bother with PS5 pro controllers when the standard model is nearly perfect – apart from the poor battery life. There's also a glaring omission of budget PS5 controllers for which the console is in desperate need. This isn’t a factor with the best Xbox controllers, and yet Sony remains so far behind. The key to resolving this issue is simple; release a competitively priced controller with a vastly improved battery.
For all the praise that I’ve given the Razer Wolverine V2 Pro and the Victrix BFG Pro, they are both too expensive to recommend as viable replacements for PS5. What these two officially licensed PS5 controllers have in common is that they both lack haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, but compensate for this restriction by offering around four times the battery life, lasting between 20 and 25 hours each instead of the four to six you can expect from the DualSense. However, at $249.99 / £249.99 / AU$475.95 and $179.99 / £179.99 / AU$269, the controllers are a harder sell than they have to be.
Sony has given its blessing to third-party companies to create PS5 controllers, so it stands to reason that the same official licensing could extend to a proper budget offering. Moreover, there’s nothing stopping the Japanese hardware manufacturer from developing a cheaper alternative to its DualSense from a more affordable price point. We’ve seen gamepads forgo the fancy tech inside the proprietary pad, so what’s stopping third-party brands from going cheaper?
Designing the definitive PS5 controller
There are two alternative routes that can be taken when designing the definitive PS5 controller. I’ll start with what’s the most likely to happen in the current console climate, and that’s a third-party company making a gamepad that’s competitively priced. The trade-off here would involve trading the adaptive triggers and the haptic feedback for a controller that has significantly better battery life.
The sticker price has to be right; no more than $100 / £100 / AU$150. That way we could have a way to keep playing for hours on end without having to constantly charge up the DualSense – a vital feature given that play sessions with some of the best PS5 games often go longer than four hours. If the build quality was there, then such a controller would easily be a 5-star pad.
The second and far less likely reality is that Sony itself would put out a second version of the DualSense that improves the battery life for an increased price. This mid-range option would sit somewhere between the stock model and the DualSense Edge, but where the latter offering actually makes battery life worse in pursuit of its pro features, this version would keep things simple.
In terms of naming conventions and build quality, Sony could go for a name like the “DualSense Plus” and sell the controller somewhere around the $100 / $100 / AU$150 mark. The new pad could be billed around playing for longer without giving up the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback which makes playing on the PS5 so exciting to begin with.
It’s all pure speculation, but as someone who has reviewed almost every PS5 controller on the market over the last year or so, this is what the next step needs to be. No more expensive pro controllers taking away more than they offer. But giving us, as gamers, a viable alternative to keep playing for longer without the exorbitant price gouging.