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These 4 tips will help you max out your Xbox One controller’s battery life

The Xbox One gamepad might be the best feature of Microsoft’s last-generation console, which makes the fact that it works on the Xbox Series X and S even better. Its comfortable triggers, easy-to-reach analog sticks, and, most importantly, energy-efficient design allow you to play games for weeks on end without having to swap out your batteries. Eventually, though, your controller is going to die — and, likely, your character along with it– and you’re going to have to replace those AAs if you want to continue gaming.

Thankfully, we’re here to point out what works and what doesn’t when it comes to your battery life, so you can keep yourself in the game with minimal interruption.

Further reading

Buy a rechargeable battery dock

Unlike the PlayStation 4’s DualShock 4 and the Switch Pro Controller, the Xbox One doesn’t use an internal battery. By default, it requires standard AA batteries. You can use any type or brand, including higher capacity alkaline batteries, but the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly choice is a rechargeable nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery. They are less toxic when you do eventually throw them away, and, unlike older nickel-cadmium batteries, they don’t develop battery memory. You can purchase an Energizer 1 Hour Charger with four rechargeable batteries for $35, and with space for all four in the charger, one pair can always be ready to go when the other is drained.

Don’t bother with the Play and Charge Kit

Xbox One Controller Charger

Microsoft sells a rechargeable battery pack made especially for the Xbox One, the Xbox One Play and Charge Kit, which replaces your AA batteries with a lithium-ion battery pack that you charge using a Micro USB cable. Connecting the cable to your console also allows you to connect the controller without syncing it wirelessly.

The charge pack’s lithium-ion battery can get up to 30 hours of battery life and charges in four hours. That’s fine, but it’s nothing compared to what you can get with other rechargeable batteries. The Play and Charge Kit’s battery is only 1400mAh — just slightly above the PlayStation 4’s pack — while AA alkaline batteries can go all the way up to 3000mAh.

While it sounds nice, using a charging cable instead of replacing batteries isn’t as great as it sounds. Unless you want to charge the battery exclusively through the Xbox One, you need another charging block with a USB port. Also, the battery pack will be completely useless for anything other than your Xbox One controller.

Third-party charging stations can eliminate the need for another charger, but its battery still isn’t up to snuff. At only 1100mAh, it holds a smaller capacity than even the cheapest AAA batteries, and it will take you more than two hours to completely charge your pack.

Play games with a wired connection

If you’ve somehow managed to drain or destroy all of your AA batteries, you still don’t have to stop playing your Xbox One or Series X. An Xbox One wireless controller can be converted into a wired controller by connecting it to your console with any Micro USB cable. Unlike the Xbox 360, which would only charge wireless controllers over a connection, connecting the controller in this manner on the Xbox One actually allows data to transmit over the wired connection. While wired, the controller does not need batteries to run and will not drain any batteries in the controller. If you have the Play and Charge Kit, the battery will charge.

This method isn’t just an excellent way to save your batteries; it’s also just a better way to play games. For the gamers who are wired in, your console will rely on rapid reflexes, which is similar to fighting games like Dark Souls III. You may realize there’s a slight drop in your game’s input lag. That could ultimately prove pretty helpful, especially if you’re battling in Injustice 2 or Dragon Ball FighterZ, where every single moment matters. Finally, it’s beneficial to wire your controller to your console because then you’ll never have to worry about your battery dropping out in the middle of a fight again.

Don’t worry about leaving it turned on

Xbox One Controller
Will Fulton/Digital Trends

For the gamers with PlayStation 4’s DualShock 4 controller, you likely know that your controller can stay on forever if you match the settings correctly. It doesn’t even matter if you’ve left your controller idle for an extended period— it’ll stay on. The Xbox One’s controller functions a bit differently. No matter how you play with the settings, this controller will automatically switch off after 15 minutes of idling. We know this can be frustrating, especially if you’re watching Netflix and don’t have a mic set up for voice recognition. But it only takes a few quick seconds to reconnect your controller once you punch the Home button. 

If you’re using more than one controller and need to quickly check if any of them need a recharge, you can do so straight from the Xbox One home screen. Once you’re on the home screen, click the Home button on each controller. From there, a small level will pop up on your display, letting you know their corresponding battery levels. There you can also see which controllers are already connected via USB or are currently charging.

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