The Xbox Series X controller is a lot like the console itself: a conservative upgrade, but a smart one. While the Series X controller is almost exactly like its Xbox One predecessor, it features a better D-pad, textured grips, improved shoulder buttons and a USB-C port for charging. However, the Xbox Series X controller will soon have one major advantage over its predecessor: a slick red-and-white colorway.
Microsoft announced the Xbox Wireless Controller – Pulse Red in a blog post, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. The device is identical to the black, white and blue Xbox Series X controllers currently on the market, save for the fact that it’s a bright, gorgeous red on the front with a stark white plate on the back for contrast. Like other Series X controllers, it works with the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, streaming players — you name it.
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There are two drawbacks to this striking peripheral, however. The first is that it will retail for $65 rather than the standard $60 that the black and white controllers command. This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who’s bought the blue Xbox Series X controller, as that colorway also commanded an extra $5 premium.
The second drawback is only temporary, though. The device won’t be out until February 9 in most territories, so if you need a controller right away, you’ll have to stick with black, white or blue. (Good news for Chinese readers, though: The Pulse Red controller will debut in China tomorrow.)
Beyond that, there’s not much to say. The Pulse Red Xbox Series X controller provides exactly the same functionality as the existing models, but in this writer’s opinion, it’s a much prettier color. (Or, at the very least, a bolder one.) Whether that merits an extra $5 is your call, but since the controller should last for at least seven years, it’s not much of a surcharge in the long run.
Generally speaking, we at Tom’s Guide are big fans of the Xbox Series X controller. In the past, I’ve praised its straightforward design and widespread compatibility, even preferring it over Sony’s more innovative PS5 DualSense controller. While it’s not radically different from the Xbox One model, the textured grips and shoulder buttons are welcome additions, and the USB-C port helps it charge faster.
That is, of course, if you shell out an extra $25 for a rechargeable battery pack. The one big flaw of the Xbox Series X controller (the Pulse Red model included) is that it runs on replaceable AA batteries rather than rechargeable packs by default. Microsoft has essentially passed a necessary cost onto the consumer, since it’ll cost you a lot more than $25 in the long run if you choose to use disposable batteries in the device.
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Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.