What is the difference between the Xbox One, Xbox Series and Xbox Elite controllers?

What is the difference between the Xbox One, Xbox Series and Xbox Elite controllers?

Back in November 2020, the Xbox Series S|X was released along with a new version of the Xbox controller.  The Xbox Series controller looks very similar to the previous Xbox One controller, but there are subtle differences and improvements which we will explain in this article.  More recently, another Xbox Elite controller (Series 2) has been released causing further confusion as to which is the best controller to buy for the Xbox console.

Thankfully, all Xbox controllers are backward and forward compatible with existing Xbox consoles, meaning you can use Xbox One controllers on the new Xbox Series S|X consoles (and the other way around), nice work Microsoft!  If you've managed to grab the latest Xbox Series console and you have a spare Xbox One controller lying around it might be worth hanging on to for some co-op play or as a backup.

There are various models to choose from and therefore plenty of choices you'll need to make to inform your decision. You might have a lot of questions in need of answering. One of the most pertinent ones is the difference between Xbox One gamepad designs.

Gamers of a certain age will no doubt recall the N64 Halcyon / PlayStation One days when a competitive advantage could be gained or lost depending on which player was lumbered with the slightly off-feeling third-party controller.  While that trend has died away somewhat thanks to the advent of online multiplayer, the trend had something of a comeback during the Xbox One generation, which boasted three main ranges of officially licensed Xbox controllers over the course of its 7-year lifespan.

Let's kick off with the difference between the Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox Series controllers.

Cosmetically, the difference between the 3 controllers is minimal. The major technical difference between them is the presence of Bluetooth within the One S and Series S|X controller, as opposed to the original which didn't have it.

The addition of Bluetooth allows a little more flexibility on where you can use your controller. For example, you can connect the controller to your PC without the need for a dongle should you want to use it on your PC (just make sure your PC supports Bluetooth connectivity).  You can also use a Bluetooth compatible controller on mobile devices, such as Apple iPhone or Android devices, ideal if you enjoy utilising the Xbox Cloud Gaming service.

The new, updated controllers also offer a better range in how far it will connect from your console, although the original controller has as much range as you're ever likely to need.

Over time, they've improved the weight and grip of the controllers. The handles on the Xbox One S controller boast a slightly improved texture for grip when compared to the uniform plastic found on the grips of the original controller.  The Series S|X controller is slightly smaller and has been designed to fit smaller hands, apparently small enough for children as you as 8 years old!

Another difference is the headphone jack. The original Xbox One controllers didn't come with one, however, one was added to controllers that shipped with original consoles from 2015 onwards; the One S and Series S|X controllers feature a headphone jack as standard.

How can you visually tell the difference between the Xbox Original and Xbox One S controller?

Whilst it is a lot easier to spot the difference between the Xbox Series controllers when compared to the Original and S (take note of the different D-Pad design), its tough to spot the difference between the 2013 Original and 2016 S controllers.  

Thankfully, there's one quick, clear way to help identify the difference between the two generations of controller.

At the top of the centre of the controller sits the Xbox logo button which calls up your home screen when pressed in game. On the original controller, the plastic surrounding this button is noticeably glossy, unlike the matte finish used elsewhere on the controller, whereas on the Xbox One S update, it's more consistent with the rest of the controller. Also, there is a notable difference on white controllers, this plastic around the top of the original controller is white, whereas, on the S controller it's white.

The edging is also slightly sharper around the edges of the analogue sticks on the Xbox One S controllers.  The original has a smoothed ridge, whereas the Xbox One is a little sharper and more refined.

We've put together some common questions below when comparing the three controllers...

Does the Xbox One S controller work with the original Xbox One mode?

Yep!  Despite its upgraded internals and slight design differences (see above), the One S controller is completely compatible with the original model Xbox One.

Is the Xbox One S controller backwards compatible with the original Xbox One model?

Again, yes. If you update your Xbox One from an original to an S, or buy a second hand original controller, it will work with your One S console.

Can you use Xbox One controllers on the Xbox Series S|X Console?

You sure can! All Xbox One controllers are compatible with the Xbox Series S or X models, so you've no need to worry about losing controllers if you upgrade from a Xbox One to an Xbox Series S|X

Is the Xbox Series S|X Controller backwards compatible with the Xbox One console?

Yes, Xbox Series X/S wireless controllers are fully compatible with previous Xbox One consoles, including the Xbox One, One S and One X.

Microsoft has added backwards compatibility to all of its Xbox controllers since 2013, allowing gamers to upgrade their controllers even if they're not ready to upgrade the console to the latest generation.

Which xbox controllers have bluetooth?

The original Xbox One controller (that was bundled in the green box) does not include Bluetooth compatibility.  All Xbox controllers released after the Xbox One S launch (in 2016) include Bluetooth as standard.

Does the Xbox Elite Series 1 controller have Bluetooth connectivity?

No, the original Xbox Elite Controller (often referred to as the Series 1) does not have Bluetooth connectivity.  The controller connects via a wireless connection to the Xbox console.  You can connect the Elite Series 1 controller to a PC but this will require a dongle. 

Is the Xbox Elite Series 2 backwards compatible with the Xbox One?

Yes, the Elite Series 2 can be connected to the Xbox One and Xbox One S consoles as well as Windows PCs.

Can you use the original Xbox Elite (Series 1) controller on the Xbox Series X or S console?

Thankfully, Microsoft has ensured that the original Xbox Elite controller (Series 1) is compatible with the Xbox Series consoles (Both X and S models).  We have to give credit for this considering the original Elite controller was released back in 2015, top work Microsoft!

The Series 2 looks like a more refined controller with better construction techniques which you would expect from a controller that is 4 years younger in its design and development.  The Series 1 features a few dashes of neon green which is a nice touch to the Xbox green branding/logo, the Series 2 is a little bit bland when you compare them as it's entirely black with white details.

 

What is the Xbox Elite Series 2 Core controller and how is it different to the Elite Series 2 standard controller?

Just when you thought you knew everything about Xbox controllers, Microsoft drops a new "core" version of the Elite Series 2.  

One of the major talking points of the Elite controller is the price, its RRP is £159.99 / $179.99 which is a chunk of money for a controller.  As we mentioned above, the Elite controller's target audience is designed for an "Elite" gamer who can value the additional benefits (such as adjustable stick tension and interchangeable thumbsticks).

However, do you actually need all of the interchangeable components? Well, it looks like even Microsoft isn't sure as the new Core model doesn't come with all the additional accessories, it's just the "Core" controller, hence the name.  Obviously, this then has a bearing on the price, the core is £114.99 / $129.99 - that's a whopping £45 / $50 saving over the Elite Series 2 standard controller.

With the Xbox Series 2 Core Controller model, you can still adjust the thumbstick tension (via a handy tool) but apart from the charging cable that's the only additional accessory you get in the box.

I know what you're thinking... if you manage to grab a different thumbstick from somewhere like ebay can you still use this in the controller?  Thankfully, Microsoft still lets you do this (phew!), in fact, they've actually put together a "Component Pack" which you can purchase separately.  See below for pictures of this pack...

 

We quite like this approach from Microsoft, ultimately it serves 2 purposes... 

  1. If you've purchased the Core version of the Elite Series 2 controller but would like to try the additional accessories - this pack gives you the flexibility to do this after purchasing.
  2. If you own the Standard Elite Series 2 controller (non-core version), these accessories can be used if you accidentally break the original components and need replacements.

The component pack includes:

  • 1 interchangeable D-pad (standard)
  • 4 interchangeable thumbsticks (2 classic, 1 tall, 1 dome)
  • 4 paddles (2 medium, 2 mini)
  • 1 carry case.
  • 1 charge dock.
  • 1 USB-C cable.

The case is really neat, and handy if you're on the move regularly and want to keep the pad safe.

 

Is the Elite controller worth the upgrade over a Standard Xbox controller?

The Elite controller is one of the most expensive controller options out there for any gaming platform, which had led many people to ask whether it's worth the money. We'll break down the differences between the Elite and standard controllers and let you make up your own mind up.

First is the controller grip. The standard controllers features a textured, yet still plastic, grip, while the Elite Series 1 and 2 offers a genuine rubberised grip for better traction, a particularly useful feature if you're someone who finds their palms get sweaty quickly when playing. It's worth noting that this enhanced grip is especially important given the Elite controllers weighs substantially more than the original gamepad (about 360g with all attachments against around 260g).

Second is the d-pad. The standard controllers feature a classic-looking d-pad, whereas the Elite features a striking geometric disc-style d-pad, closer to the design of the d-pad found on the classic Xbox 360 controller. This is designed to allow more complicated and precise inputs. As with many aspects of the Elite controller, this disc can be replaced with the standard d-pad similar to the one found on the S controller. This silver disc is also one of the quickest ways to visually identify what is an Xbox One S controller and what's an Elite controller when buying.  It's worth noting the Xbox Series controllers do include a more tactile d-pad which is slightly closer to the Elite range - but the Elite d-pad still feels more premium.

Speaking of customisation, this is perhaps the biggest selling point of the Elite range, and sets it apart as the definitive controller for serious gamers on the system. Everything from the joy sticks (three different versions of the sticks are included) to the amount you need to press the trigger in order to register a click is customisable. The Elite also comes with four paddles designed to sit on the inside of the grips in a similar manner to paddle gearboxes in cars. Controls can then be custom mapped to these from whichever face buttons you want.

In short, if you're someone who frequently finds the regular controller awkward to use on certain games and perhaps lacking the extreme degree of precision that you require (particularly on games where highly accurate inputs are required at higher difficulty levels, such as the Street Fighter series), then the Elite controller may very well be the one for you.  If you're a casual sofa gamer, right now we'd recommend the Xbox Series X|S controller which has a great feel to it and won't set you back a small fortune!

 

What is the price difference between the Xbox One, Series and Elite controllers?

You're in the right place for that question.  Here at GamingDeals.com, we've collected the best deals for each controller model, click on your preferred controller to take a look at the latest prices below:

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