The new controller visibly changes little about the previous Xbox Elite controller, with a few tweaks to the styling. Most of the body eschews the shiny, metal accents found on the original, going instead for a darker metal. Gone, too, are the green accents of the original. It’s a strictly monochrome affair for the Elite Series 2.
It does have a few new additions. Most notably, it adds Bluetooth connectivity, enabling the controller to work wirelessly with more computers and mobile devices, though the 3.5mm headphone jack won’t handle audio while connected via Bluetooth. It also has profile indicator lights and a USB Type-C connection. The controller comes in a carrying case and includes a wireless charging pad that sticks into the case and hangs onto the controller magnetically. The charging pad works both outside and inside the case, as there’s a small port to let a USB plug into the back of the case.
Shape-wise, the Elite Series 2 is similar to its predecessor (and the standard Xbox One controller), but the grips are different. The palm grips of the controller have a diamond-textured rubber material all the way around, an upgrade from the material that had previously only appeared on the bottom of the palm grips. The main body has a soft touch coating.
The Elite model, like its predecessor, adds a few extra buttons to the undercarriage of the controller in the form of four paddles. This gives everything but the pinky fingers something to do while playing games. It also has a profile switch button.
The Elite controller stands out thanks to its customization options. All of the buttons can be re-mapped, so if you don’t like jumping with A, you can jump with a bumper instead. The rear paddles, D-Pad, and thumbsticks are attached to the controller magnetically, and can all be removed with a simple pull. They come off almost too easily – I seem to have left the house this morning without noticing the left thumbstick had popped off.
The reason they all come off is so different ones can be swapped in. This has the added effect of allowing individual pieces of the controller to be replaced if broken, so one damaged thumbstick doesn’t necessitate an entirely new controller.
Though there’s no substitute for the paddles, both thumbsticks and the D-Pad can be reconfigured. Beyond the two standard, textured thumbsticks, which love to collect dead skin faster than almost any tech accessory I’ve used, there are two more “classic” thumbsticks without the textured rubber and groove to exfoliate and collect thumb skin.
There’s also a dome-topped thumbstick, and an extra tall thumbstick. Taking the thumbsticks off gives you access to a screw which can adjust the tension of the sticks to three different levels.
The main triggers have a slider that can shorten their travel, allowing a long-, mid-, and short-range travel for different game types and play styles. The paddles on the bottom actually can be swapped around, but the result is one paddle being hard to use and the other paddle depressing both buttons at the same time.
Unfortunately, Microsoft has left the ABXY buttons seemingly unchanged from the standard controller – in other words, kind of mushy. What’s worse, they have issues. I experienced some minor sticking when rapidly pressing the A or X buttons, and users online have made similar reports (with some even experiencing unresponsive buttons). The paddles are a handy addition, and the switches underneath them are poppy and responsive. But they don’t make up for troubled ABXY buttons, especially since some players may not assign those inputs to the paddles.
These issues are concerning on a product that costs three times as much as a standard Xbox controller.