I think the PS5 DualSense controller is the best gamepad Sony has ever made. Symmetrical analog stick placement aside, the PlayStation 5’s clever controller continues to delight me with its innovative adaptive triggers and haptic feedback nearly a year after launch.
However, the one sticking point I have with the DualSense controller is its average battery life. It has never been able to rival the likes of the Xbox Series X controller, which can use AA batteries or a ‘Play and Charge’ pack. But, I’m worried it could get worse.
During Nerdshala’s PS5 review in November 2020, I conducted an unscientific test tracking the DualSense controller’s battery life. Using my phone’s stopwatch, I would start the punch while playing games and proceed to stop the clock whenever I turned off the PS5.
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Using this admittedly crude method, I recorded the PS5 DualSense controller flicking between Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and the extravagant Astro’s playroom for an impressive 12 hours of playroom with the DualShock 4 controller. The pathetic battery life of the latter was a welcome surprise.
However, over the past few months, I’ve noticed that the ‘wireless controller battery is low’ prompt popping up more often – to such an extent that the idea of hitting those heady highs of ten plus hours of battery life seems like an impossibility. Now.
Arkane Studios’ brilliant Deathloop—a game that uses the DualSense controller’s adaptive triggers and haptic feedback quite liberally—has only served to exacerbate this concern. On several occasions my playing sessions have been badly interrupted by the now-familiar battery level indication, even though I’ve only hit six hours of playtime.
So has the DualSense controller’s battery degraded over time? Well, the controller has received several updates since its launch, but nothing significant.
Again, the simplest explanation is that the games I initially tested probably don’t drain battery life as much as the new PS5 titles could. But that still wouldn’t explain the huge disparity between the six-hour battery life and the previous double figures I recorded.
Returning to the old stopwatch method, I decided to time the DualSense’s battery life once again. I went back and forth between The Medium, Deathloop, and Sackboy: A Big Adventure over a weekend and also did a few other non-gaming tasks: watched YouTube, browsed the PlayStation Store, and left the controller idle.
It’s worth noting that my settings on the controller have remained unchanged since launch – the haptic feedback and lightbar are all on ‘standard’ – and I usually use the PS5 Pulse 3D wireless headset plugged into the controller, and I’m not sure how to use it. I alternate between using wirelessly.
It took less than an hour for the first bar of the DualSense’s three-bar indicator to disappear—about 53 minutes, to be exact, which was worrying. By the time I reached the five-hour mark, only a battery bar was visible, and after six hours had passed, my controller appeared to charge.
Now, as someone who generally wants to listen to the advice of their devices (surely they know best?), I usually switch to a new gamepad whenever this prompt appears. .
However, now the results of this common scenario have led me to believe that my PS5 DualSense controllers have 50% less battery life than they did before, which is terrific. However the reality is quite different from this.
What I discovered during my second round of testing is that while, yes, some games end DualSense quicker than others, it’s Sony’s low battery life prompt that’s making things worse than theirs. .
I’ve found that the low battery life indicator will show up around the six-hour mark, but you’ll get a comfortable nine to 10 hours of playtime before the controller dies. In my book, this is an incredibly early warning from Sony, especially when Microsoft’s controller warns you when you have about 15 minutes of juice left.
stay charged and move on
So what is the solution? The most obvious fix, it seems, is for Sony to change the low-level battery alerts to more reflective of when the controller is out of charge. And if you want to squeeze some more battery life out of the DualSense controller overall, you can always turn down the haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, and intensity of the controller’s light bar.
To make life easier, I’d also recommend picking up the PS5 DualSense Charging Station Dock, which lets you switch pads at a moment’s notice if you have a spare on hand. It’s a much more appealing solution than simply having a USB cable running from the front of your console.
Although the DualSense controller’s battery will inevitably wear out slowly over time—as do all built-in lithium-ion batteries—it looks like my initial fears may have been over. at least for now.
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