Microsoft has already revealed the full specification of the Xbox Series X console today, but the wireless controller it will ship with has been redesigned, and now we know the details.
Will Tuttle, Xbox Wire editor in chief, sat down with Ryan Whitaker, a senior designer at Xbox, to discuss how the Series X wireless controller has been updated. The design tweaks are subtle, but come together to create a controller we should all enjoy holding and using more.
The first thing we’ll all notice when picking up the new controller is it’s actually smaller. Microsoft found that by “accommodating hands similar to those of an 8-year-old,” it was able to produce a more comfortable experience for smaller hands without impacting larger ones. The reduction in size is subtle, though, as it was achieved by “rounding the bumpers, slightly reducing and rounding parts around the triggers, and carefully sculpting the grips.”
The D-pad has also got a new look. Microsoft offers swappable D-pads on its Elite controllers, allowing gamers to select between a D-pad with well-defined edges for up, down, left, and right movements, and the “facetted dish” design when reliable diagonal or sweeping movement are important. So for the Series X controller, the two were combined into a “slightly deeper dish” coupled with clearly defined edges that taper away the closer you get to the center of the D-pad.
Input latency for the controller is greatly improved due to Microsoft implementing Dynamic Latency Input (DLI), which consists of improvements across the controller, console, and HDMI connection to a TV. For the controller specifically, Microsoft increased the frequency of input data being sent to the console and matches it to exact frames within a game. The end result is milliseconds being shaved off latency.
Microsoft also improved the texture of the controller by using a tactile dot pattern on the triggers and bumpers. A more subtle pattern is on the grips, and to offer the same feel regardless of whether your hands are dry or wet, a matte finish is applied to the triggers, bumpers, and D-pad.
Finally, Xbox owners will be happy to hear the new wireless controller is compatible with previous generations of hardware. It’s also possible to use it for controlling games on PC, Android, and iOS, and because it uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE), pairing is much easier. There’s also a share buttons directly below the Xbox logo on the controller for quick and easy sharing of images and video.