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How a PS5 Pro DualSense can compete with the Xbox Elite controller

I'm all for a PS5 Pro controller existing, but Sony will need to really impress if it's planning on entering an already crowded market.

The PS5 has a phenomenal official controller in the DualSense, but Sony has been noticeably quiet on a more premium option. Recently, though, leaker Tom Henderson published a report detailing that an official PS5 Pro controller could well be on the way.

As it's just a rumor, it's worth taking Henderson's report with a pinch of salt. However, it details a controller that checks most of the boxes you'd expect from other Pro pads like the Xbox Elite wireless controller. Removable analog sticks, rear paddle buttons, and trigger stops for a heightened level of customization.

Yet besides that and a vague mention of "significant software upgrades," there's no inkling of how a potential PS5 Pro controller can really separate itself from the pack. Just how would the theoretical pad sit shoulder-to-shoulder with Xbox's elite offering?

New Sony PS5 dualsense colors

(Image credit: Sony)

Makes perfect DualSense

It makes perfect sense for a premium console to have a similarly premium controller. So why hasn't Sony jumped on the Pro controller bandwagon yet?

Perhaps the tech giant feels like its DualSense controller is already plenty premium. And that's fair. With its haptic feedback and adaptive triggers especially, the PS5 pad offers features that are a cut above the competition's base models.

But let's look at the aforementioned Xbox Elite controller for a second. When it comes to Pro pads, it's arguably as premium as it gets. Changeable sticks, comfy rubberized grips, and a sleek black finish characterize Xbox's high-end pad as a luxurious purchase – with a high price tag to match.

I expect a PS5 Pro controller to at least meet some of these criteria. It'll need to nail Pro controller fundamentals like customization and a premium finish. But it'll also need to go above that to make what's likely to be an expensive controller worth the asking price.

The DualSense is already a fantastic starting point, standing out from the crowd with its incredible haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. And it's in these finer features that, I believe, Sony can leverage to make a seriously competitive PS5 Pro controller.

Close up of the PS5 DualSense controller's microphone

(Image credit: Shutterstock/SolidMaks)

These two features are by far the DualSense's most valuable assets. Feeling the expertly designed haptics kick in when you screech around a corner in Gran Turismo 7, or block a vicious attack with your shield in Demon's Souls, never quite gets old.

Additionally, adaptive triggers make actions like driving or shooting vastly more enjoyable. They lend a more tangible feel to these virtual objects. A PS5 Pro controller could offer even greater accuracy when it comes to haptics and adaptive triggers. Not dissimilar to how the Wii Motion Plus accessory improved the Wii's unique selling point back in the day.

But that's not the only front a PS5 Pro controller will need to improve upon. Compared to its competitors in the Nintendo Switch Pro controller and the Xbox wireless controller, the DualSense's battery life is embarrassingly low.

An upgraded DualSense will absolutely need to address this. All the upgraded bells and whistles a PS5 Pro controller can muster will be for naught if its hours of battery life remain in the single digits. Features like haptic feedback are a drain on battery, sure, but I'd personally be willing to pay extra if it means I won't have to charge my pad every 4-5 hours.

Sony's got a real opportunity to make a splash in the market with a premium version of the DualSense. If it can offer common Pro controller features mixed with its bespoke haptics – and tie it all together with improved battery life – then Sony might just have one of the best Pro controllers ever made in its wheelhouse.

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