Whatever wireless Xbox controller you have—whether it’s a controller for an Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, or Xbox One—more battery life is always good. Here are our top tips for extending your controller’s battery life, both in the long and short term.
Power off Your Controller to Save Battery
The easiest way to make your controller’s batteries last longer is to simply turn it off when you aren’t using it. You can do this manually at any point while playing a game: Press and hold the Xbox button in the middle of the controller, then choose “Turn Off Controller.”
If you don’t touch your Xbox controller for 15 minutes, it will power off automatically. Unfortunately, there’s no way to override this setting at present (as you can on Sony PlayStation consoles).
Got a Play and Charge Kit? Charge Smart
The Xbox controller comes with a single set of disposable batteries. The easiest way to upgrade your controller to be rechargeable is to purchase Microsoft’s official Play and Charge Kit ($24.99). The kit includes a Lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack and charging cable with a USB-C connector (for Xbox Series X|S).
These batteries take around four hours to charge completely and contain around 1400 mAh. That should last for around 30 hours of gaming, although your mileage may vary depending on factors like rumble usage and whether you’re using a headset.
You’ll get a longer life out of lithium-ion batteries using partial discharge cycles and avoiding full discharge cycles. That means using 20-30% of the battery’s capacity, then charging it back up. At the same time, you don’t want the battery to spend too long in a fully charged state either. That means plugging in your controller frequently, but not for too long.
You can check your battery status in the Xbox dashboard by pressing the Xbox guide button and looking in the top-right corner of the screen. Unplugging your controller before it reaches 100% capacity could extend its life, as could avoiding letting the battery get too low on charge. It’s better to charge for an hour while you play a game than it is to leave your controller plugged in all weekend.
Temperature can also affect the condition of your battery, particularly low temperatures. Avoid exposing your controller to sub-zero temperatures (like leaving it in your car overnight during winter). For long-term storage, charge your batteries to around 40% and turn them off.
If you’re still using an Xbox One controller, then you’ll need to use a Micro USB cable instead (The battery packs themselves are interchangeable between console generations.).
Consider Using Rechargeable AA Batteries
The Play and Charge Kit is convenient, but only provides 1400 mAh or 30 hours of gameplay. You can get much more than this out of a set of high-capacity nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) rechargeable AA batteries. A decent set will cost you around the price of a Play and Charge Kit and comes with a charger and four AA batteries.
Make sure you fully charge any Ni-MH batteries the first time you use them. You don’t need to fully discharge them before you recharge them every time, but it’s a good idea to fully discharge Ni-MH cells once every few months to avoid crystal formation in areas that aren’t being discharged.
Using an ultra-fast charger may get your batteries charged quicker, but you’ll only hit around 70% capacity using this method. It’s better to charge them slowly overnight and hit the full 100% capacity. With a set of four batteries, you can leave two in your controller and have two charged and ready to go.
The main drawback to this method is that you’ll need to physically remove the batteries from the compartment on the back of the controller and replace them every now and again. This isn’t as convenient as plugging in a USB cable or sitting the controller on a charging cradle, but it provides the best bang for your buck.
Panasonic Eneloop batteries are some of the best rechargeable batteries on the market. They include internal circuitry, which shuts off the battery once charged, and Panasonic reckons they’ll maintain 70% of their charge in a drawer for ten years when not in use.
Avoid Connecting Headsets to the Controller
The Xbox One controller can accept headsets via an adapter, while the Xbox Series X|S controller comes with an in-built 3.5mm jack. These may be convenient ways of connecting your headset, but they may also significantly increase battery drain. You can avoid this by plugging your headset directly into your console where possible.
If that’s not an option, consider upgrading to a wireless headset. Not only will you free yourself from wires, but you’ll also take the strain off your controller in terms of power consumption. Keep in mind that wireless headsets also include batteries, so that’s another device that you’ll need to keep charged if you go this route.
Turning off Rumble May Help
When your Xbox controller is low on battery, rumble is automatically disabled to preserve what little power remains. You can use this principle to extend the battery life of your controller even when it’s fully charged. You will lose rumble entirely, which means you’ll get less feedback from games, potentially impacting reaction time or immersion.
To do this, go to Settings and select “Ease of use” on the left side of the screen. Choose “Controller,” then disable “Turn on vibration” to disable the feature entirely. It’s no secret that the controller is a bit lifeless and dull with rumble disabled, but there’s no doubting the fact that you’ll get more playtime from a single charge this way.
Keep Some Disposables Handy
It’s easy to throw some alkaline AA batteries in a drawer just in case. It may seem a bit old fashioned that Microsoft still provides disposable AA batteries with each controller sold, but it provides lots of options in terms of how you power your controllers.
The alternative is Sony’s approach, where each controller contains a lithium-ion battery that’s not accessible without taking the gamepad apart. In the case of the DualShock 4, battery life was poor from the get-go and only declined over time as the cells began to lose capacity.
If you’re buying some spare AA batteries, make sure you avoid smoke detector batteries, as those are designed for low-drain devices.
You Can Always Play Wired Instead
Depending on your setup, playing wired may be a better option. You don’t need to put any batteries inside the controller to do this, either. It’s worth noting that the controller feels a bit light with an empty battery compartment, so even expired batteries might be better than nothing.
The Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S consoles use a different connector for their respective controllers, but there’s a good chance you have both lying around already. These are:
- Xbox Series X|S controller: USB-C connector
- Xbox One (including One S, One X): Micro USB connector
Don’t Forget to Replace Your Rechargeables
Unlike Sony’s DualShock 4 and DualSense controllers for the PS4 and PS5, Microsoft has stuck with replaceable batteries for the Xbox Series X and S. This means you can easily replace the battery pack in a few years when it starts to show its age.
If you notice that your controller isn’t lasting like it used to, consider replacing your rechargeable battery with one of the solutions mentioned in this article.
Do you have a PlayStation 4, too? There’s one simple thing you can do to make a DualShock 4 last longer on a single charge.
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