Is there anything more frustrating than sitting down after a long day to FINALLY play that game you’ve been waiting for, only to find out your controller has run out of charge?
Of course, there is, but it’s still annoying when it happens. Thankfully with an Xbox controller, it’s not usually that big a deal. Let’s explore why that’s the case…
What batteries do Xbox controllers take?
Since the launch of the Xbox 360, wireless controllers have been available that all run on AA batteries. However, you can also buy a Play & Charge Kit, which replaces the batteries with an enclosed battery pack.
There have been no wireless Xbox controllers that have a completely sealed battery. Nintendo’s wireless controllers have varied, while PlayStation’s wireless controllers have always had a sealed battery.
Xbox One Play and Charge Kit
- Compatible with Xbox Series and Xbox One controllers
- Fully charges in under 4 hours
- Automatic shut-off when you stop playing
How to Charge Your Xbox Controller
How you charge your controller depends on the type of batteries you’re using. If you’re using AA batteries and you buy rechargeable ones, you’ll need a separate charger. For the Play & Charge kit, you can either plug the battery into a USB cable, or place the battery pack or controller onto a charging station.
Using a USB cable is often the easiest solution since it means you can play while the controller chargers – you just need a cable long enough to run from the console to your chair or couch.
Of course, if you’re using AA batteries, then you could always swap in another set instead, which means you can game wirelessly without interruption. If you have rechargeable batteries, just make sure you have a second set charged and ready to go – when one set dies, replace it with the other while you charge the dead set.
Energizer Rechargeable AA Batteries
- Up to a 5-year battery life
- Designed to prevent leaks
- Can be charged hundreds of times
- Made with 15% recycled materials
Why do Xbox controllers use batteries?
Xbox has always insisted on using batteries or removable battery packs for their controllers because it means that the controller has a longer lifespan. When the battery wears out, it can be replaced without replacing the entire controller.
This is a very consumer-friendly option because when a controller costs around $70 (as they do now), you don’t want to have to replace one when the battery gives up. And to be clear, a PlayStation 5 controller with an enclosed battery will last a long time – you’ll need to keep charging it via the cable or a dock, but it should run well for a few years.
But if you game a lot, it will wear out sooner, and when it does you have to buy a new DualShock5 controller. Not so with an Xbox controller.
And that feeds into another major plus of the Xbox controllers – they’re cross-generational. You can use an Xbox One controller with an Xbox Series console, and vice versa. It gives you added incentive to upgrade, as you then have an extra spare controller for multiplayer games, or that you can use with your PC.
The downside – depending on your outlook – is weight. DualShock controllers for PlayStation consoles have a much lighter battery and so the controller weighs a lot less, which is usually more comfortable. In contrast, wireless Xbox controllers are pretty hefty.
It’s not noticeably uncomfortable, but over time it will cause a little more muscle fatigue. If you want to check the difference, pick up any wired Xbox controller that’s the same size. You’ll see just how much lighter they are.
Is the Xbox rechargeable battery worth it?
Buying a rechargeable battery pack for an Xbox controller is usually worth it. They have a good lifespan – around the same as the lifespan of rechargeable AA batteries – but they can be charged while you play via a cable.
If you use AA batteries, even rechargeable ones, you can’t charge them up with a USB cable. Once they’ve run out of charge you need to stop and charge them up, or replace them with other batteries.
Plus, you can get special docks for the rechargeable battery which means they’re still wireless. Just place the controller in the dock when you aren’t playing and it’ll charge up for you, ready to be used next time you’re gaming.
Do wired Xbox controllers need batteries?
Wired Xbox controllers don’t need batteries. They’re powered through the cable. It’s important to use the cable that comes with the controller – while they might seem like a standard USB/micro USB cable, they support power delivery as well as data.
Some cables can’t do both, and so the controller won’t work properly. As long as you’re using the cable that came with the controller, it will work fine.
Wired controllers are therefore a great option if you always sit within a short distance of the console and you don’t mind being tethered to it. You never need to worry about batteries dying mid-way through a crucial game.
Can you put triple A batteries in an Xbox controller?
If you only have AAA batteries, then you can use these in an Xbox controller although you do so at your own risk. You’ll need coins or aluminum foil to act as a connector so that the batteries reach the terminals.
Again, this is up to you. It shouldn’t damage your controller but there’s a chance it could, and it’s definitely not a trick that Microsoft would recommend.
If you’re desperate to play and AAA batteries are your only option, watch this video to see how people do it…
How to make a battery pack for Xbox 360 controller
You can make your own battery pack for the Xbox 360 controller using just two batteries, a small amount of foil to connect them, and some paper to keep the batteries separate and held in place. It is not recommended but it is possible.
Here’s a video that demonstrates the trick…
The drawback of the Xbox 360 controller is that you either need a battery pack, or you need the proper battery holder for the back of the controller. If you lose or damage that battery controller, you can’t use batteries – later controllers fixed this issue by just using a normal battery port.
But following the method in the video, you can use foil to connect the two batteries at the terminals on the top, and then paper to stuff them into place and hold them in position. It’s not ideal and may fail, but it will work to some extent.
Why do my Xbox controller batteries die so fast?
There are a number of reasons why your controller for your Xbox could be dying so fast. It might be that the battery is old, the charger isn’t working effectively, or you aren’t giving it sufficient time to properly recharge between gaming sessions.
Let’s start with the most common – the battery is just getting old and won’t retain a charge. This happens with rechargeable AA batteries, or with the Play & Charge kit – eventually, they just wear out.
Plus, if you’ve bought cheap batteries or a cheap, third-party battery pack, then it’s likely going to die much sooner. Regardless, the issue here can only be fixed by replacing the battery.
The second potential cause is a faulty charger – whether that’s the USB cable or the dock. If you’re using a cable, make sure it is properly connected at both ends. If the cable feels loose in the controller, check for debris – you can use a needle to clear out any dirt.
If the connections are solid then it might just be a faulty cable.
Finally, make sure you’re giving your controller time to recharge properly. If you’re charging it with a cable connected to the Xbox console, make sure the settings are allowing the controller to charge while in standby mode, otherwise, it won’t be having time to draw power.
Don’t do short charges – leave the controller plugged in for a few hours at a time. That’ll help preserve the battery.
And don’t assume that you can charge it while you’re using it and it’ll fully recharge. While it will slowly recharge, it’ll use more power to keep the controller working. Charge it while you aren’t using it for the maximum impact.
The Best Rechargeable Batteries for Xbox
If you’re looking for a cheap set of rechargeable batteries for your Xbox controller, then this PowerA set is one of the best you’ll find.
Rechargeable Batteries for Xbox
- Charge batteries in or out of the controller via micro-USB cable
- Includes two 1100mAh rechargeable batteries with LED charging indicators – up to 40 hours of gaming
- Works with Xbox Series and Xbox One wireless controllers
PowerA is a third party but they’re often recommended by official brands like Xbox and Nintendo for their quality products. This twin pack lets you keep two controllers charged, or have a pack ready to go when one dies. And they’ll last for up to 40 hours of gameplay, which is pretty reasonable.
If you’d prefer to use a dock to charge the packs, then this double-pack makes it easy.
Xbox Controller Charger Station
- Compatible with all Xbox Series and Xbox One controllers
- Unique ‘X’ Shape LED indicator
- Easy to use & battery safe certified
- Can be recharged over 2000 times
They won’t last as long as the PowerA packs, but if you keep remembering to replace the controllers in the dock after every gaming session then you should be fine – unless epic marathons of 16 hours or more are common for you.
And finally, if you want an Xbox 360 rechargeable battery pack then this two-pack with dock is a good choice:
2-Pack Xbox 360 Rechargeable Battery
- 3600mAh high capacity rechargeable battery
- Charge two Xbox 360 controller batteries simultaneously
- Easily know your battery charging status by the light display
They’ll last longer than most AA batteries will, and there’s a dock for fast charging when you aren’t using the packs. The dock doesn’t accept the whole controller but you can easily disconnect the battery packs to charge them.
The Bottom Line
By using batteries and rechargeable battery packs that are replaceable, Microsoft’s Xbox controllers are much more consumer-friendly, which is often a rare trait in the gaming hardware space.
I’d recommend using rechargeable battery packs since they’re long-lasting and better for the environment, but rechargeable AA batteries will also do a good job. I wouldn’t recommend the hacks for using AAA batteries, but they’re there if you want to use them.