The past year and a half have been a mixed bag for Xbox gamers. On the one hand, we’ve had the release of the Xbox Series X/S. Along with that, we’ve seen a big expansion of Xbox Game Pass, with scores of games now available. On the other hand, supply chain disruptions and the Covid pandemic created a shortage of new consoles. Similar issues forced developers to delay many of 2021’s most anticipated titles to 2022 or even later. But now, it seems that things are picking up again. The Series S is widely available, and even the coveted Series X is showing up at more retailers. Developers’ schedules seem to have stabilized, with a slew of new releases coming over the next year.
Now is a perfect time to outfit your new console with all the necessary accessories. As a gamer, your console is only part of the equation. You also want a reliable headset, plenty of storage, and a quality display. Along with all this, it’s essential to be able to rely on your controllers. That’s where a rechargeable battery pack comes in.
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We’re about to review three of the best Xbox Series X/S controller rechargeable battery packs. To figure out which one is the best, we’ll have to look at a handful of features. We’ll need to look at the physical design, and how the batteries are charged. We’ll have to talk about their capacity, and how long you can expect them to last. We’ll also need to discuss the safety features, and any extra gear that comes in the kit. After that, we’ll have a clear picture of how all three kits perform. That way, we’ll be able to deliver a well-informed final verdict. Let’s get started, and see how they stack up!
Xbox Series X/S Controller Battery Basics
Before we start, let’s talk about the Xbox Series X/S controller as it exists off the shelf. When you open up a new controller, it includes a pair of Duracell AA batteries. These are some of the most reliable AA batteries on the market, and will easily last for 30 hours or more. That said, they’re not rechargeable. When your batteries run dry, you have to throw them out and replace them. This can get expensive over time, especially if you spend a lot of time on your console. Just as bad, all of those old batteries end up in landfills, putting a strain on the environment. As a result, it should come as no surprise that many gamers outfit their controllers with rechargeable batteries.
Why Not Use the Microsoft Play & Charge Kit?
At first glance, it might make sense to use Microsoft’s official Play & Charge Kit. This kit comes with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, along with a Micro USB charging cable. It’s certainly effective, especially if you prefer to use a wired connection. By plugging directly into your console, you don’t have to worry about battery life at all.
Then again, the official kit leaves a lot to be desired. Most notably, the battery capacity is only 1,100mAh. By comparison, a pair of Duracell’s alkaline batteries has a total capacity of 5,000mAh. That’s not an entirely fair comparison. At any given size, an alkaline battery will outperform any modern lithium battery. But with some third-party battery kits, you can get significantly more capacity.
Another limitation of Microsoft’s Play & Charge Kit is that it’s only designed for the Xbox Series X. If you also want to use your old Xbox One controller, you’ll need a different Play & Charge Kit. On the plus side, the official kit does charge via USB Type-C, which gets you faster speeds than Micro USB. But that’s pretty much the only thing it has going for it. In most cases, it makes more sense to use a third-party rechargeable battery kit.
Are There Benefits to Using a Wire?
All of this ignores the elephant in the room. If you don’t want to keep replacing your AAs, you can always just use a wired connection. Obviously, this has some disadvantages. You can’t roam as freely, even if you have a long, 10-foot USB cord. And unless you have some kind of battery, your controller will shut off if the cord pops out. That said, using a wired connection has a couple of definite advantages.
For one thing, you don’t have to worry about battery life. With a wired connection, you can play your Xbox Series X or S indefinitely. Not only that, but you can use a wired connection in conjunction with many rechargeable batteries. This allows you to charge your battery for wireless use, and use a wired connection as a stopgap.
Beyond battery life, though, there’s an additional benefit of a wired connection: reduced latency. With a wireless controller, the signal has to be encoded at the controller end and decoded at the console. This takes a few milliseconds, which is pretty quick in general terms. But when you’re trying to fight a boss in Elden Ring, a few milliseconds can feel like an eternity. With a wired connection, the signal travels much more quickly from your controller. You’ll get a more responsive experience, particularly in games that require precise timing. For this reason, most pro gamers use a wired controller for competitive play. Then again, wireless controllers are very convenient. That’s probably why most of us non-pros still use a battery.
PowerA Play & Charge Kit
PowerA is a console accessory manufacturer with a long and successful track record. So when we started looking at Xbox Series X/S controller batteries, they seemed a natural fit.
The PowerA Play & Charge Kit is a simple, straightforward replacement kit. The main attraction is the pair of bright green lithium batteries. Each one is fat and broad, designed to take the place of a pair of AA batteries. In this regard, it’s a lot like the official Play & Charge Kit, but with one major advantage. You get two batteries instead of one, so you can power a pair of Xbox controllers. This is a great added value, especially if you like to game in person with your friends. In addition, each battery has an LED status indicator. When it’s plugged in and charging, the light will shine bright red. Once it’s fully charged, the light will turn green.
The battery capacity itself isn’t all that impressive. Each one can hold a charge of 1,100mAh, the same as the battery in the official kit. PowerA says you can get up to 40 hours of gameplay, and that’s technically true. But a lot depends on what you’re doing. The more button presses and thumbstick movements per second, the faster your battery will drain. For most ordinary games, you’ll get more like 30 hours of performance. And if you’re using a headset, that will drop to 20 hours or less. Of course, that’s still more than you’ll typically need to play in a single session. And you’ll have the benefit of a wired backup option if you really need to go longer.
The kit includes a 10-foot USB to Micro USB cable. This can be used to charge the battery directly, either from your Xbox Series X/S or from a USB wall adapter. The Micro USB charger isn’t as fast as USB Type-C, but it’s a bit faster than the one in the official kit. You can charge in as little as three hours, which is pretty fast. And because it’s Micro USB, you can also use this kit with the Xbox One. To that end, you get a set of four controller battery covers. Two of these are designed for the Xbox Series X/S, and the others are for the Xbox One. As an added bonus, the backs are open to allow charging on any PowerA charging station. So if you decide to upgrade with a charging station in the future, your controllers will already be compatible.
6amLifestyle Rechargeable Controller Battery Pack
The 6amLifestyle Rechargeable Controller Battery Pack is actually a two-pack. The batteries themselves are black and oval shaped, each one designed to power a single controller. Like the PowerA batteries, these have a capacity of 1,100mAh. That’s enough for around 20-30 hours of play time, depending on whether you’re using a headset. Another similarity between these two kits is the LED indicator. Each battery will light up red while charging, and the light will turn green when it’s fully charged. By default, you’ll charge via Micro USB, which takes around 3-4 hours.
This kit comes with a 5-foot Micro USB cable, so charging is a snap. You also get a set of four battery covers, two each for the Series X/S and the Xbox One. This makes the kit fully backwards-compatible with your last-gen Xbox. Or, if you only have one controller, you can charge the second battery outside the controller, using the cable. And just like the PowerA kit, you get some charger compatibility. If you decide to upgrade with a 6amLifestyle Xbox controller charger, you can use it right out of the box. You’re also covered by a 12-month manufacturer’s warranty. If anything fails prematurely, you’ll get a refund or replacement.
Ponkor Rechargeable Battery Packs
Ponkor is another company with an established track record. In fact, we just reviewed their Xbox One AC Adapter. It performed very well, so we were excited to check out their controller battery packs.
The Ponkor Rechargeable Battery Packs come in a two-pack, just like our last two choices. However, they’re considerably more robust. With a capacity of 2,600mAh, each one is more than twice as powerful as the official Microsoft batteries. As a result, you can get 60 hours or more of playtime on a single charge.
These batteries are compatible with both the Xbox Series X/S controller and the Xbox One controller. That said, there are no replacement battery covers. To play and charge, you’ll have to use your controller’s ordinary charging port. On the Xbox Series X/S, this will be a USB Type-C port. On the Xbox One, this will be a Micro USB port. Thankfully, there are USB Type-C and Micro USB cables included in the package. Just keep in mind that because of these batteries’ large capacity, they’ll take longer to charge. Typically a full charge will take around five hours, instead of three or four.
If you’re using the batteries with a single controller, you can avoid plugging in altogether. The package ships with an external battery charger, with two charging wells. Each charging well has an accompanying LED indicator, which shines red when you’re charging. They will turn green when you’re fully charged, or flash red to indicate when the battery has been inserted backwards. You can power the charger either via its short USB pigtail, or with the Micro USB or USB Type-C cable.
So, which of these Xbox Series X/S controller rechargeable battery packs is the best? Let’s go over what we’ve learned.
The PowerA Play & Charge Kit is similar to the official Play & Charge Kit, but with more benefits. You get two batteries instead of one, and the kit is backwards-compatible with the Xbox One. You also get compatibility with PowerA charging stations, should you choose to use one.
The 6amLifestyle Rechargeable Controller Battery Pack is similar in many respects. It comes with two 1,100mAh batteries, along with four battery covers. The Micro USB cable is a bit shorter, but the ability to charge outside your controller is a major plus.
The Ponkor Rechargeable Battery Packs provide excellent capacity, with 2,600mAh of power apiece. With Micro USB and USB Type-C charging, you can play and charge on the Series X/S and Xbox One. And with a beefy external charger, you can keep a spare charged independently of your controller.Please consider sharing:
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