PlayStation's DualShock controllers are terrible and I hate using them

DualShock controller
DualShock controller (Image credit: Jennifer Locke / Android Central)

One of the first controllers I ever used as a kid was the DualShock 2. I hated it. Nothing about it felt comfortable to hold, and the way the thumbsticks were laid out threw me off. Nearly 20 years later, my opinion hasn't changed — much like the DualShock's fundamental design.

When the PlayStation 5 was announced, I had hoped — rather naively — that the DualShock's inevitable redesign could finally change my mind. While I haven't seen or held the controller yet, likely to be called the DualShock 5, early impressions don't sound too great. In fact, according to Wired, it just looks to be more of the same.

Source: Jennifer Locke / Android Central

I really don't understand Sony's thought process behind the design. The ergonomics are bad. It doesn't fit as comfortably in your hands as the Xbox controller (opens in new tab) does, the DualShock 4's light drains its battery — which is notoriously bad, and the symmetrical thumbstick layout doesn't feel natural. Even the triggers are lacking. They aren't shaped to mold around your fingers at a curved angle; they just abruptly come to a straight edge and drop off. It doesn't fit your natural grip.

Its giant touchpad does nothing of actual use other than take up space where a smaller button would have sufficed. Games generally aren't built to support the touchpad for anything more than a way to pull up a menu. It's a gimmick that's overstayed its welcome.

There's a reason a lot of premium third-party PS4 controllers — not always taking into consideration thumbstick position — look more like that of Xbox controllers, the Astro C40 TR (opens in new tab) and Razer Raiju Ultimate (opens in new tab) being two prominent examples. There's even one of a lesser-known brand that's just a wholesale ripoff of the Xbox One controller's design (opens in new tab). You'll be hard-pressed to find examples of the opposite where a third-party Xbox One controller looks like a DualShock clone.

The second I had a usable PS4 controller in my hands that wasn't the DualShock 4 was the second I realized I could never go back. As it stands my DualShock controller sits in a drawer collecting dust, which I only cleaned off to take pictures for this article.

Astro C40 TR controller

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

For everything that Sony does right with its hardware and software, I still can't fathom how it continues to drop the ball when it comes to the DualShock controller. A controller is one of the most fundamental aspects of gaming.

You can't deny that the next DualShock will pack some impressive features with haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, but those don't make or break a controller. The intrinsic physical design does. No matter how many bells and whistles you cram into it, there needs to be a solid foundation. And the DualShock doesn't have one.

Little victories

It isn't right to dismiss the DualShock 4 controller completely without acknowledging what it does well and where it bests its competitors. The Share button is a feature that I hope every company employs going forward. Gaming is a social experience now more than ever. The importance of being able to quickly share your favorite screenshots and accomplishments or just broadcast your gameplay to an audience with the press of a button cannot be understated. Sony was ahead of the curve on this one.

And its internal battery that can be charged via USB is something I hope Xbox will adopt as well. I hate wasting batteries, or using a controller until it's dead only to realize I don't have any batteries left. Sure, I could buy a separate battery pack, but it'd be even better if Xbox designed its controllers like that to begin with so that they are included in your purchase of a console. (Yes, the Elite Series 2 (opens in new tab) uses a battery rechargeable via dock or USB-C, but it's also $180.)

What do you think of the DualShock controller? Let us know in the comments below!

Jennifer Locke
Games Editor - PlayStation, Android, VR

Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life. You can find her posting pictures of her dog and obsessing over PlayStation and Xbox, Star Wars, and other geeky things.

81 Comments
  • The dual shock 4 is the best OEM controller ive ever had. I too have the Astro C40 but with symmetrical stick format and its also a joy to use. Ive always preferred the Playstation stick positioning as opposed to asymmetrical. When I briefly had an Xbox One I got an adapter to be able to use the DS4 and used it with the Switch as well.
  • Exactly, way better than that stupid huge box of xbox controller,dual shock,fits perfectly in my hands,like it was meant to be,
  • The reason you don't understand the thought process is simple; there isn't one. It may sound catty, but it's true. The DualShock controller wasn't actually designed, it's just a reaction to the Nintendo 64. The N64 launched with an analogue stick and a rumble Pak. And it turned out people really liked them. Sony panicked and crammed analogue sticks onto the PlayStation controller the only place they'd fit and for some reason have stuck with the bad, accidental design ever since.
  • Is there evidence to support this or just a theory? Nintendo originally partnered with Sony to create the PlayStation. It's just as plausible that they came up with their analogue positioning on their own. Nintendo didn't invent the analog stick design either. They just put it on the N64. It's definitely far from best implementation of it as well. The twin-stick analogue format has, however, stuck around as the standard.
  • This takes me back to the times playing Golden Eye using two controllers. I remember showing this option to friends and they all said it was too hard. It was amazing and eventually led to me abandoning the game as nobody would play against me any longer.
  • "I really don't understand Sony's thought process behind the design. The ergonomics are bad. It doesn't fit as comfortably in your hands as the Xbox controller does, the DualShock 4" Lol I Hate the ergonomics of Xbox controller lol not every people or gamer have big hands saying it, everything is a opinion and depend on every person hands
  • Actually lol the comment you replied to lol, mine, isn't opinion, it's fact. It's odd that you see it that way, because you need larger hands to comfortably use a PlayStation controller due to thumb position... You probably like it because it's what you're used to rather than because it's better.
  • There's nothing factual in your post other than the chance the sticks were actually added due to the N64. Literally no evidence supports that the Xbox controller is better. Just because you like it better doesn't make it factually better.
  • I have larger hands and I have been gaming for well over 30 years. The Xbox controller IS more comfortable than the dual shock. It's ok if someone criticizes Sony. Criticism is what leads to improvements.
  • I have PS4, and also XboxOne controller to use with PC games, I have to agree, i hate analog stick positioning on the Playstation, so inconvenient, Xbox one controller is so much better, analog sticks feel more natural to use, the only thing i hate is new implementation of battery replacement, they already had it perfect on old controllers, they should’ve make new Xbox One controllers like Sony did with Dual Shocks, charge the battery over usb, hopefully new version will be improved...
  • The psx was originally in development as a n64 add-on. Nintendo, as they like to do, tried to screw them. The psx was their response. Your theory falls flat bc Sony knew what Nintendo was doing looong before everyone else. Which is why the sticks were designed right by the D pad, within roughly an inch. Mean while, Nintendo placed theirs dead center. And used the awkward an inaccurate C buttons to control the camera. The original xbox controller was massive. The 360 controller was a huge improvement, but the ds4 is widely viewed as superior in all ways. Blindfold yourself and pick one up. Then press down with your thumbs. Your thumbs naturally come to rest on the joy sticks every time, by design. You actually have to contract your thumbs to reach the D pad and buttons.
  • I created a entire account to tell you how inaccurate and wrong you are lol.. “The psx was in development as a n64 add on “ ? No ,it was literally a name for what would have been the SNES CD ..Nintendo saw sega and NEC crash and burn with there own CD add ons and couldn’t agree with Sony about royalty splits ...and the OG dual shock WAS in response to the N64 ..nobody outright says it ,but I was around to see it first hand
  • mm I only post a msg y quote from this news,not supposed to replay to you. pd I don't take your theory as a fact maybe a opinion but no a fact have a nice day
  • I've been using the Xbox One's controller rechargeable battery pack for a year and the frequency I have to recharge it is obnoxious. The Dualshock 4 manages to still be worse, in addition to having worse range. I can pretty much sit however I want with my Xbone controller and not worry, but the DS4? Hoo boy, you better have line of sight. My PS4 even sits closer than my Xbox One, and it always has issues.
  • This is a highly irrelevant trash article. Talking crap about a old piece of hardware like its news, and linking a fancy aftermarket controller for icing on the cake. Lol.
  • Article is clearly click bait. Writer is getting a commission on sales of a over priced controller. And the article drops weeks before black Friday. Not a coincidence. Only people buying a ps4 this year are the people who have no intention of purchasing the ps5 at launch. $200 for a controller to an obsolete system which costs $200? Pass
  • Yeah, the Playstation DualShock is the design that all manufacturers need to be following. It is also the best OEM designed controller that I have also every experienced and I bring it over to play on the Steam box at a friend's house to play games so that I have a good controller there. The little trackpad though could be done without yeah. There isn't much need in that space. But, it's good to hear some differences in opinion out there against the popular review.
  • Still analog stick placement is horrible, Xbox One controller analog stick is more convenient.... I have both, so when it comes to playing FIFA, I choose Xbox One controller 100% for everything else Dual Shock is more than welcome
  • The symmetrical placement of thumbsticks on the Dualshock is the natural and logical position. I've never been able to play with the Xbox controller because of its unevenly placed sticks. Do Xbox fans have one thumb longer than the other?! If not then why place thumbsticks unevenly?!
  • I loathe the dualshock controller as well. It's absolutely terrible. (I'm also not paying $200 for a 3rd party controlled) Having both consoles I just play on the Xbox anytime I have the option. The Xbox controllers are so much nicer to use, the battery lasts longer and I can play longer while using it.
  • Are you saying you play longer than 4 to 8 hours in one sitting? The DS4 controllers have a battery life of 4 to 8 hours with continuous use. I can play for sittings day after day and charge it while im using it once it gives me the duelshock battery level low. BRUH.MP3
  • So basically what you're saying is you don't want a DualShock controller with better battery life and a more ergonomic redesign? You could make an argument that this article has some click bait in it due to advertising a 3rd party controller but some of the arguments made about the dual shock are valid. Your defense of Sony makes no sense unless they are paying you a salary.
  • 8 hours? Yeah, right. I have never gotten 8 hours out of a controller on any PS console. The DS version might be fine for casual gamers but it sucks for more robust continuous play.
  • 4-8 houra? Damn you must have ****** those batteries by constantly recharging instead of using the full charge before. Dude I have been straight up playing 24 hours with my friend last week and we still had plenty of charge left.
  • If you don't like the controller don't use it, very simple, it personally doesn't really bother me
  • Looks at Stadia controller, looks at dualshock. Seems Google agrees with Sony. Seriously this has been argued to death in gaming forums. Usually what happens is people who prefer Dualshocks hold controllers differently than those who prefer Xbox controllers
  • I know this sounds bad but you're holding wrong. Each other controllers your hands need to rest at different heights. They designed for that not to hold it like some other controller.
  • This article isn’t facts its opinions, they are both the same just with different mechanics, some are better that others but they’re still the same it’s just what you prefer.
  • Useless article. PS controller is the best!
  • You're right, the controller its awful, it doesn't feel right, and it's not comfortable.
  • I sort of agree, but to be fair the DS4 is the best Dualshock ever made. At least now it's passable. Everything up to the DS3 was abysmal.
  • Let us all stop fighting. No matter your preferred handle thickness, handle-pad angles and dimensions, or level of symmetry, we can all agree that the PS4's touchpad was a stupid gimmick.
  • I respectfully disagree. It's a matter of preference cos I find the PS4 controller to be more comfortable than the Xbox controller. The Xbox controller is too bulky.
  • If only DS4 had analog stick placement same as XboxOne... That’s the only reason Xbox One controller is more convenient to use....
  • Totally wrong I'm afraid. The Dualshock has the thumbsticks in the right place and it's Xbox that has it all so very wrong
  • I've never had a problem using either the PlayStation controllers, or Xbox. If there were a gun pointed at my head to choose, I would pick the Xbox design, but not by a wide margin. Both are comfortable and easy to use to me personally.
  • I love the DS4, this sounds like a you problem.
  • Sounds like an all around hissy fit by the author. I don't have the biggest hands, but I can use the PS controllers with no issue. The buttons are laid out fairly good, you can turn that light off, and the touch pad has multiple purposes. Personally I can use both the Xbox and DS controller. Useless article.
  • This is such an empty article. You have absolutely no substance. It is just opinion, WHICH IS FINE, but you present the opinion as fact. You dare talk about ergonomics? You don't seem to know the first thing about it. My hand literally fits around the controller naturally. Every button is in comfortable reach. The handle is a perfect shape to grasp. I cannot stand Xbox controllers. The thumbsticks suck. The concave design makes it harder to control and uncomfortable. The triggers feel awkward. The handles don't fit as naturally as the Dualshock. That's how I feel. Such a useless ranting article. Go post your frustrations on Reddit. Not a friggin entire article about it.
  • You're terrible and I hate using you. But really, I love the Dualshock design. The symmetrical layout works much better for me with basically any game. It's even more noticeable with 2D platforms when using the d-pad primarily. I even bought the SF30 Pro for the Switch because the Switch Pro controller has the dumb asymetrical design. I put up with the Xbox One's atrocious design just because of Game Pass (currently playing Outer Worlds, tempted to pay for it on PS4 just to have a proper controller).
  • I prepared to start ranting as soon as I saw the title. Now, I agree, the PS 2 controllers sucked, but Dualshock 4 was great. Xbox thumbsticks are way more akward to me, and it really just what we're used to. You can't just try to make other people hate their controller because you like Xbox controllers better. Everyone has different tastes, and we just need to go out separate ways and not make a big deal about it (Hippocratic yes, but needs to be said). The thing about it not being molded to fit your hands? Xbox handles and wide and uncomertable, again because of what I'm used to. Just don't pass opinion like fact and this would have never happened.
  • Xbox fanboy alert! This article stinks, symmetrical sticks are the way to go.
  • Much ado about an article intended to fetch clicks and push marketing links under the guise of encouraging discourse while generating controversy...
  • Well my DS4 controller is rechargable and came free with my PS4 can't beat that with a baseball bat. Imagine how much money was spent on batteries alone. They should change the touch pad to a usable gaming screen. That would change the gaming world in terms of mobility. Then Sony could start a OnStar type service to provide mobile internet like all the new cars do. Since they dropping TV service they should at least test that option in my opinion
  • What a we