Xbox Series X controllers won't ditch AA batteries for a while yet – here's why

Xbox Series X
(Image credit: Micosoft)

Xbox has always been known for sticking to its guns when it comes to traditional battery packs. As far back as the Xbox 360, players have been given the option of powering their gamepads using AA batteries, and it’s an outdated feature that has also found its way into the next generation of consoles. Yes, Xbox Series X controllers still take AA batteries – but there’s a reason, we guess.

Unlike PlayStation’s DualShock (and now DualSense) series of controllers, which have always used an inbuilt rechargeable battery, the Xbox controller range has, at least, given players options when it comes to how to power their controllers. But the real reason for Microsoft dragging its feet on batteries lies in a long-lasting deal struck with Duracell. 

In an interview with Stealth Optional, Duracell UK’s marketing director, Luke Anderson, suggested “there’s always been” a partnership with Duracell and Xbox. He said: “It’s a constant agreement that Duracell and Microsoft have in place [...] for [Duracell] to supply the battery product for the Xbox consoles and also the controllers’ battery.”

So, perhaps giving the player options wasn’t always at the forefront of Microsoft’s reluctance to ditch traditional batteries. On whether it’s a partnership that will continue into the future, Anderson clarified the deal is “going to go on for a while… it’s been going on for a while and I think it needs to go for a while [more].”

If we’re honest, the signs of a deal between the two companies have been hiding in plain sight for several years. The Xbox Series S and S both come with two Duracell-branded AA batteries, rather than Microsoft’s Xbox-branded battery packs, and Duracell’s online marketing campaigns also frequently feature Xbox controllers.

Is there change ahead?

But Microsoft could be willing to concede defeat on other aspects of its controllers, after an Xbox console experience survey went out to customers asking for suggestions on how it can improve the overall user experience – including, tellingly, a question on whether users are “aware of features on PlayStation controllers” that they wish were on Xbox controllers.

It’s a question that makes reference to the PS5 Dualsense controller’s adaptive triggers and haptic feedback, features that aren’t included in the new Xbox Series X controller. 

Could Microsoft be regretting its reluctance to update its line of gamepads? Only future updates will reveal the answer – just don’t expect the company to ditch Duracell batteries any time soon.

Axel Metz
Phones Editor

Axel is TechRadar's UK-based Phones Editor, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest AI breakthroughs as part of the site's Mobile Computing vertical. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion.  Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.