One of the oddities of the Xbox console over the last few generations has been that, while Sony and Nintendo have started using built in rechargeable batteries for their controllers, the Xbox has stuck with using a pair of AA batteries by default, bundling in a pair of single-use Duracell batteries with controllers and consoles.
It now turns out that this is, at least in part, down to a long-running partnership and marketing deal with Duracell.
In an interview with Stealth Optional, Duracell UK’s marketing manager Luke Anderson said, “There’s always been this partnership with Duracell and Xbox… It’s a constant agreement that Duracell and Microsoft have in place.”
He continues, “[The deal is] for OEM to supply the battery product for the Xbox consoles and also the controllers’ battery. So that [deal is] going to go on for a while… it’s been going on for a while and I think it needs to go for a while [more].”
MCVUK followed up on this with Microsoft, who replied, “We intentionally offer consumers choice in their battery solutions for our standard Xbox Wireless Controllers. This includes the use of AA batteries from any brand, the Xbox Rechargeable Battery, charging solutions from our partners, or a USB-C cable, which can power the controller when plugged in to the console or PC.”
That choice is something that a fair few Xbox users do champion, whether it’s grabbing a bespoke rechargeable pack or using rechargeable AA batteries. If your controller runs out of charge mid-session, it’s easy to grab a second pair of batteries, pop them in and carry on playing untethered.
Of course, there are advocates for built in batteries. The first and foremost upside is a reduction in waste, with single-use batteries not the best option for the environment, but there’s also the simplicity of just needing a supplied cable to recharge. The Xbox Series X|S just come with disposable batteries and don’t have a USB-C cable in the box.
Xbox have stuck with AA batteries ever since the launch of the Xbox 360 in 2005, but made one notable step away from this partnership with the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 that launched in 2019. That controller has a built-in battery which can run up to 40 hours between charges, and it at the time led to rumours that they might be shifting to built-in batteries for the Xbox Series X|S controller. Of course, we now know that’s not happened.
Perhaps the best option for consumers and the future of the planet, if Microsoft does wish to continue to feature a AA battery bay on their controller, would be for Microsoft to start bundling in some of Duracell’s rechargeable batteries and make any changes necessary to the Xbox controller circuitry to allow them to recharge regular batteries, and not just bespoke battery packs.
UPDATE: Microsoft have denied the claim made by Duracell.
We intentionally offer consumers choice in their battery solutions for our standard Xbox Wireless Controllers. This includes the use of AA batteries from any brand, the Xbox Rechargeable Battery, charging solutions from our partners, or a USB-C cable, which can power the controller when plugged in to the console or PC.