Xbox Elite Controller 2 vs 1 - In-Depth Look At The Differences

If you are upgrading to Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller from the Series 1 or another gamepad, this review is a must-read. Comparison, key aspects, main issues.

Xbox Elite Controller 2 vs 1 - In-Depth Look At The Differences Xbox Elite Controller 2 vs 1 - In-Depth Look At The Differences

In the summer of 2019, many gamers lost their sleep over the E3 Microsoft announcement about the Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller release. The controller has been out since November 2019. Those looking to try this Microsoft technology for the first time or upgrade from the Series 1 Elite controller, have been searching the Web and checking out reviews to help them decide if the Xbox Elite 2 is worth it.

I’ve had several months to check the product and test out all its new features. In my detailed review, I will dive into a direct comparison between the two gamepads, point out the main improvements, discuss commonly occurring Elite 1controller issues, and give an honest verdict on whether they’ve been fixed in the Elite 2 controller or not.

Xbox Elite 2 Predecessor

Xbox Elite 2 Predecessor

Before we start, let's go back to the Series 1 real quick. The Xbox Elite controller was Microsoft's first shot at the pro controller market. In 2015 they came out with the Elite Series 1, which was based on the original Xbox controller. It featured a variety of swappable thumbsticks, a fully remappable paddle system, and two swappable d-pads. On the back, users got the ability to lock the triggers and increase the sensitivity of the actual trigger pulls.

What’s In The Box

Xbox Elite 2 Controller - What's In The Box

Jumping over to the Series 2, things stayed pretty similar in terms of what users are getting, whether that be swappable paddles, swappable d-pads, or a variety of different thumbsticks. One extra component that wasn’t included in Series 1 is a new tool that can be used to tune in the actual thumbsticks.

The Exterior And Components Upgrades

Elite 2 Exterior And Components Upgrades

Overall the controller feels like a solid piece of hardware in the hands, and it's got a nice heft to it. I am a huge fan of the black tints that have been added to the Elite 2 as they make it look very slick.

In terms of accessories design, everything on the Series 1 had a lighter silver tone to it, while the Series 2 rocks matte black and dark tints all over the controller. I genuinely like the second variant better.

A major upgrade with the Series 2 is its new paddles - they're smaller and more tactile, which helped me stop pressing them accidentally as much as I did on the original.

The controller now has an internal rechargeable battery that can be charged up from the case or just a simple micro USB cable. My Elite 2 controller’s battery life has been pretty close to the announced 40 hours so far.

Another upgrade is a new case that can charge the Elite Series 2 controller while plugged in. The case itself has a little rubber cover on top of the micro USB C port, so you're not going to get any dust or debris inside that port while you're gonna be charging or going along traveling with the case. Can Xbox Elite Series 2 controller connect to iPhone? Yes, the Elite 2 now supports USB-C and Bluetooth so you will be able to connect to a variety of devices wirelessly.


Xbox Elite 2 Trigger Locks Xbox Elite 2 Trigger Locks

Triggers featured on the Series 1 Elite controllers come with a trigger stop which meant the actuation of the trigger was essentially cut in half by actuating the trigger stop, which made it possible to press the button quicker. Triggers on the Series 2 feature upgrades on multiple elements. They introduced a textured grip to the trigger, so your fingers aren't going to be slipping off the triggers on rapid presses, and they offer three different toggle settings for your hair triggers instead of two. You can set it to default, medium, and ultra-fast, which are going to click that trigger real quickly.


Xbox Elite 2 Sticks

The Series 1 Elite sticks get beat by the Series 2 when it comes to the thumbsticks. They now feature four different variations of thumbsticks - a domed grippy one, a standard one, a long thumbstick, and a set of concave sticks. All of these sticks are swappable due to the magnet in the base head of the thumbstick, so you are able to get a variation. The Series 2 sticks have another weapon underneath the sheets - these sticks' tension itself can now be adjusted for a more tense heavy feel or a more loose feel. It kind of replicates the original Xbox 360 controller with the heavier feel or you can always go back to the standard Xbox One feel.

Xbox Accessories App Upgrades

Another huge change for Series 2 is on the UI side of things. On the Xbox Accessories App, the Series 2 features a lot more customized abilities and is a lot more straightforward than the Series 1. It now features four onboard profiles - three customizable profiles and one default profile that can all be toggled through that main button, as compared to the two on the Series 1. Each customizable profile can be configured, customized, and then equipped to a specific slot depending on which configuration you want.


This is where you see the main difference between the Series 1 and the Series 2 Elite Controller. The latter one offers an entire button layout of what each button is currently mapped to. Compared to Series 1, we didn't have that ability - it was more of “pick-a-button-map-it” and then figuring out what button is already mapped to. Now it's more user-friendly, and you can just see everything much easier.

Shift Button

Another massive upgrade is the addition of mapping a Shift button. What a Shift button essentially does is, when pressed, it can remap a certain button to execute another action. Let’s take the X button as an example. The primary function is the X button, and I can remap it to be the A button upon a Shift button press. What that does is, when I hit or toggle the Shift button, that X button is now going to become the A button for the period that I hold that Shift button. When that button is remapped within the UI, you are going to get a little logo to show you what that button is remapped to. I remap the Shift button to B, so while holding the Shift button, Y will become B. You can also use a Shift button to toggle different sensitivity curves on your sticks - if you want to have a more aggressive sensitivity curve while holding the Shift button, you can. And while releasing the Shift button, you can have that default curve.

Sticks Customizations

Xbox Elite 2 Sticks Customization

Another difference you're going to notice between the Series 2 versus the Series 1 is there are a lot more customizable options. On Series 2 you can set Calculations for how your sticks are going to operate - whether Radial, Axis Independent, or True Diagonals. These Calculations are pretty much going to improve thumbstick precision and you're going to be able to tweak how the sticks react depending on the setting on these series.

Triggers Sensitivity

You're still getting the trigger adjustment settings you did with the Series 1 - you can configure trigger sensitivity and mirror the triggers depending on whether you want that. The trigger vibration and brightness settings are pretty much the same on both - you can configure the vibration settings whether you want the motors to be more aggressive or less intense. You can also configure the brightness of the LED if you don't want it to be really bright if you're gaming at night, for example.

Community Profiles

One thing that Series 2 doesn't have over the Series 1 is Community Profiles which were the profiles made by the community that would be tweaked specifically for different titles. Maybe in a future update, we're going to have them again, but that's just something to keep in mind if you're a huge fan of those.

Elite 1 And 2 Common Issues

Xbox Elite 2 and 1 Issues

I did the research while working on the review to give a fuller picture to count on other users’ experiences and give you guys more objective feedback. The Elite Controller Series 1 didn't have the best track record when it came to lasting very long. The three most occurring problems were stick drifting, bumpers breaking, and grip peeling off. I haven’t had a stick drifting problem, but my trigger lock was not switching correctly between 2 settings, so I could still use my triggers but wasn't able to adjust trigger stops. Just overall there were issues some people had good luck with it while others didn't.

Stick Drift

There is mixed user feedback on the annoying stick drift issue. Players complain about experiencing from insignificant to simply unplayable amounts of drift. However, everyone agrees the adjustable stick tension of the Elite Series 2 makes it better, as the higher the tension, the lower the drift is. Also from what I was able to see in the videos, the Series 2 stick modules (internal part) are made of metal, not plastic, which will take more time to develop drifting in general. I think it will be correct to say the drift issue in Xbox Elite 2 controllers has improved but hasn’t been permanently fixed.

Bumper Issue

Just recently both of my Elite 1 Controller bumpers have started failing. They only register input about 50% of the time, which means half of the time everything functions perfectly, and sometimes it takes seven clicks to register an input. It looks like Microsoft has done some work to improve the bumper problem, but there are still many complaints from users mentioning that the bumpers have become spongy and no longer responsive.

Grip Peeling Off

It looks like the developer team has listened to the complaints and redesigned the grip completely. Elite 2 Controller features the new, all-around grip which has held just great. There are no signs of the grips peeling off whatsoever, and I believe it’s safe to say this issue has been successfully resolved. Yahoo!

Is It Worth The Upgrade

Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 - Is It Worth The Upgrade

The ultimate question is if it’s worth upgrading from the Elite Series 1 to the Series 2 controller. My answer is a strong yes. I think the Elite Controller Series 2 is a massive upgrade over the Series 1 and will get your money’s worth. When playing a game, Xbox Elite 2 Controller feels better than the Elite 1, more hefty and solid. Everything Microsoft has thrown at this controller has been positive so far. The feel and finish feel better, they've improved with a new, internal rechargeable battery, ditching the double A. Refined paddles are better, and textured triggers have three adjustability options. If you're seriously thinking about emptying your wallet on a high-end controller, the Elite Series 2 is the one to get.

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