With the Xbox Series S|X line of consoles now out in the wild, there’s never been a better time to try and pick up a bargain Xbox One controller. Why? because Microsoft has been explicitly clear that all existing Xbox One controllers will work flawlessly on the new console platform, as they did on Xbox One. So, if you’re determined to enjoy what could be the most impressive console gaming experience there is, why not forgo the new Xbox Series S|Xcontroller design in favour of the existing gamepad model?
Unfortunately, even with the Xbox One controller, 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 halcyon N64/ 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 has had something of a comeback with the Xbox One, which has, unusually, boasted three main ranges of officially licensed controllers over the course of its lifespan.
Already know what you're looking for? Here's our current cheapest prices for the classic white One S controller and the Elite:
What is the difference between the Xbox One and One S controllers?
Both major versions of the Xbox One controller, the original and the One S pad, launched with their respective consoles, in 2013 and 2016.
Cosmetically, there are few differences between the two controllers, so from an aesthetic perspective, you don’t need to worry too much if you end up with both types of controller - they won’t look mismatched. Check out the section below about telling the difference so you don’t accidentally buy the wrong version.
The major difference between the two controllers is the presence of Bluetooth within the S controller, as opposed to the original which didn’t have it. This has two benefits. Firstly, you can connect your controller to your PC without the need for a dongle should you want to use it for PC games. Secondly, you can connect a pair of wireless bluetooth headphones to the One S controller.
The new, updated controller also offers a somewhat better range in terms of how far it will work from your console, although the original controller has as much range as you’re ever likely to need.
The handles on the One S controller also boast a slightly improved texture for grip when compared to the uniform plastic found on the grips of the original. One exception to this is the special “Lunar White” original controller, which features the same rubberised diamond grip as found on the Elite controller (see below for our section on that controller version).
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; the One S controller features one as standard.
How can you visually tell the difference between the original and the S controller?
As the One S controller has largely replaced the original One controller, it’s normal to worry that if you see a particularly good offer on an Xbox controller, you might accidentally be looking at an original rather than an updated S gamepad.
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 in game. On the original One controller, the plastic surrounding this button is noticeably glossy, unlike the matte finish used elsewhere on the controller’s body, whereas on the S update, it’s more consistent with the rest of the controller. On white original controllers, this plastic will also be black, where on the S controller it’s white.
Another method of telling the white controllers apart is the D pad. The popular “Lunar White” controller option featured a gold D pad and triggers, whereas the S controller features the standard black.
Does the One S controller work with the original model Xbox One?
In a word, yes. Despite its upgraded internals and slight design differences (see above), the One S controller is completely compatible with the original model Xbox One.
Does the original Xbox One controller work with the Xbox One S?
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.
Does the original Xbox One controller work with the Xbox One X?
It sure does! All Xbox One controllers are compatible with the Xbox One X, so you've no need to worry about losing controllers if you upgrade from a One or One S to One X.
What is the difference between the Xbox One S and Elite controllers?
Unlike the Xbox One S controller, which was designed as a direct replacement for the original One controller, the Elite was created to coexist alongside the regular controller.
The Elite controller is one of the most expensive controller options out there for any gaming platform, which had led to many people to ask whether it’s worth the money. We’ll break down the differences between the Elite and S controllers and let you make your own mind up.
First is the controller grip. The S controller features a textured, yet still plastic, grip, while the Elite 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 controller weighs substantially more than the S gamepad (about 360g with all attachments against around 260g).
Second is the d-pad. The S controller features 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.
Speaking of customisation, this is perhaps the biggest selling point of the Elite, 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.
What is the difference between the original Elite controller and the Series 2?
After months of speculation, Microsoft finally launched a revamped version of the Xbox One Elite controller in 2019, dubbed the Series 2. Though broadly similar, the Elite Series 2 does have a set of altered features.
- Instead of needing AA batteries, the Elite Series 2 comes with a rechargeable battery. One potential downside to this, however, is that the battery is not removable.
- The textured grips now reach right the way around the handles of the controller, improving grip. These are also reported to have been improved generally, as there were reports of the grips eventually peeling on the original.
- Like the controller now found with consoles as standards, the Series 2 has Bluetooth connectivity.
- You're now able to store three separate profiles on the controller, meaning if you're using different set ups for different games, you can swap between them easily.
- It also comes with additional stick 'styles' to let you swap more in and out, and you can also adjust stick tension to give yourself an edge in those split-second duels online.
Compare prices on the Elite Series 2 here:
Will the Xbox One controller work on the Xbox Series X?
After a long run, the Xbox One's time is coming to an end, as Microsoft prepares to launch the Xbox Series X this year. However, Microsoft have made one of their big features of the Series X the console's backwards compatibility, as they encourage people to remain within the Xbox ecosystem.
Past console generations have completely abandoned the hardware of their predecessors, but Microsoft have already confirmed that all official Xbox One controllers will continue to function on Xbox Series X.
This is obviously fantastic news if you already own an Xbox One, and if you've been on the fence about a new controller because you weren't sure if you'd still be using it once you moved to the Series X, you can now rest easy! Check out all of our price comparison on Xbox One controller deals. Or if you just want to know right now what the best deals are, see our top picks below.