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The Real Reason Xbox Plans To Still Use AA's

We're nearing the start of a new console generation, and that means we'll soon see two new machines that are far more powerful than their predecessors. The PlayStation 5 will perform leaps and bounds better than the PlayStation 4. The Xbox Series X will outdo the Xbox One on just about every level.


But while there are some hardware changes coming, not everything is getting a major shakeup.

Have you seen those PlayStation 5 controller patents? That pad sure looks like the one that's accompanied every other PlayStation console for over two decades. And we've seen the Xbox Series X controller in photos and videos. It doesn't appear Microsoft will be changing that much at all.

In fact, Microsoft will still support the use of AA batteries in the Series X controller, much to the chagrin of many gamers.

Why is Microsoft still sticking to old-school batteries, even though most newer controllers have rechargeable batteries inside? The company's partner director of program management, Jason Ronald, explained why AA batteries are still the default option on the Series X gamepad.


"What it comes down to is when actually talking to gamers, it's kind of polarising and there is a strong camp that really want AAs," Ronald told Eurogamer. "So just giving flexibility is the way to please both [sets of] people [...]"

Microsoft's approach, it seems, is targeted at offering choice instead of forcing a particular design decision on customers. Those who prefer to use AA batteries still have the option to do so, and can simply swap in one set of batteries for another when it becomes necessary. Those who want the experience that comes with a rechargeable battery can use a battery pack.

There is one pretty big advantage to supporting AA batteries and rechargeables. As Digital Foundry's John Linneman mentioned, omitting a built-in battery means your controller could feasibly work for several years without taking a hit on the battery side of things. A built-in battery, on the other hand, gradually loses its ability to hold a charge over time. If you own a smartphone, you've probably experienced this phenomenon.

Of course, there is a downside to letting customers fend for themselves on the battery side of things. You can't just pick up your controller and take it over to a friend's house, for example, without also carrying some spare batteries along for the ride. If you go the battery pack route, that'll be an extra cost on top of the controller you're buying.


And there's the environmental impact to consider, too. How many batteries will you run through over the life of your controller? Could you have reduced a significant amount of waste by having a rechargeable battery built into your gamepad? It's very possible.

But it seems we know the hand we're being dealt, and it doesn't seem likely that Microsoft will change its mind prior to the Series X launch. Those who buy Microsoft's newest Xbox console will be getting a controller that still uses AA batteries. Love it or hate it, you'll have to live with it (or buy a PlayStation 5).

If you're an Xbox One owner who was hoping to see Microsoft throw more curveballs, don't worry. Though the Series X controller is very, very similar to the one found on the Xbox One and even the Xbox 360, the Series X hardware couldn't be more different than the prior machines Microsoft has put out.

For one thing, the console's form factor is more akin to an upright PC tower; something like a mini-ITX build in a small rectangle. The entire box appears to be very packed together and very dense. Microsoft has some impressive cooling tech keeping the console's temperatures in check (while also keeping the Series X quiet). It looks small enough to fit in a backpack with ease, which should make traveling with the console a lot easier.


And in terms of power, you'll probably be blown away by the Series X. Microsoft has spared no expense with the hardware it's using in the new machine, which could be worrying on the price side of things. But it's safe to say at this point that Microsoft will likely have the more powerful console with the Series X. The specs touted by Microsoft are pretty bonkers.

You'll still have to wait a few more months for the Xbox Series X to launch, and in that time, you'll probably get another look at the console and the games coming to it. If Microsoft shows off more Series X-related goodies, we'll be sure to update you.