Xbox X | S and Xbox One Otterbox Power Swap Controller Battery Review
For better or worse, the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S controllers don’t come with rechargeable batteries. It arguably extends their life, making it possible to swap out new batteries, rechargeable batteries or rechargeable battery packs rather than relying on the life of a built-in unit. But that’s still another thing to consider when sitting down for a long gaming session.
Otterbox, best known for its mobile cases and accessories, is the latest company to come up with a solution, which works for both Xbox Series X / S controllers and older Xbox One gamepads. Having recently expanded into gaming accessories, Otterbox’s Power Swap Controller Battery Kit offers removable rechargeable batteries, with a twist – in theory, they should never run out of power.
So how does it work ? The kit consists of six parts: a USB C charging cradle that plugs into a free port on your console, two battery packs, two battery case cages (one for each Xbox One and Xbox Series X / S controller ) and a reserve living area battery.
It is this last piece that is the vital piece of the puzzle. Acting as an intermediary between the controller and the main Otterbox battery pack, it retains a small portion of its own charge (taken from the main battery pack). When the main battery is depleted, the reserve cell kicks in, giving you approximately 30 seconds to retrieve the second battery from the charging cradle and hot-swap it in the battery box. Swapping controllers in this way means the controller never dies and your game continues uninterrupted.
Is this a big deal? It depends on what kind of games you’re playing, really. Most single player games recognize when your controller is dead and pause the game appropriately. However, if you are a fan of online gaming, competitive matches await no one and you will be an easy target while battling batteries in the heat of the moment. With a quick release button on the Power Swap set, you have a much better chance of staying in the game.
So it’s a niche need, but luckily the rest of the idea is executed well as well.
Otterbox makes a cautious estimate that its batteries will last 10 hours of playtime, but I’d say that’s a bit of an underestimate. I pulled out a little more than that, maybe pushing at around 12 o’clock. But that’s still significantly less than the 20 hours cited by Microsoft for its Play and Charge battery packs.
To charge the batteries, simply place them in the supplied cradle, where four green LEDs on each battery indicate the amount of juice they contain. A button on each battery also lets you see that LED battery marker, and they should flash red when they need to be replaced – in theory, showing you at a glance the charge level by looking at your fingers, but in practice easily missed in the middle of a game. Yet that’s what the hotswap function is for. Charging time for a dead battery placed in the cradle is around four hours, so again, you should never run out of juice, and you can charge an in-game battery via USB-C as well.
Despite some bloat in Xbox controllers, Power Swap batteries are also surprisingly comfortable. They’re evenly weighted, which means there’s no extra weight added to either side of your pad, and despite the bump they add to the back of your controller, there’s still plenty of room. to place your fingers on either side.
There are then only a few reservations about the package. First, although it comes with two cages (one for each generation of controller), Otterbox only provides one spare battery in the box. As the main batteries cannot function without the reserve battery completing the power circuit chain on the back of your controller, this means that you cannot power two pads with a single kit, which would have added a little more flexibility to the kit beyond hot-swap functionality.
And then, of course, there is the price. Looking for $ 59.95 / £ 53.99 / AU $ 99.95 for Otterbox Power Swap batteries. It’s a bit more expensive than buying two Xbox Play and Charge kits (similarly packing you two batteries), but ignoring the extra charge of the official Xbox option, or the fact that they can be placed in two independent controllers without that one spare battery hook the Otterbox kit to grips with. So it’s worth thinking long and hard about how important non-stop gambling is to you.
Should I buy the Otterbox Xbox Power Swap batteries?
Buy it if …
You can’t stop playing …
… not even for a second. If you’re a professional gamer who can’t afford to be disappointed with dead batteries and still want to enjoy wireless gaming, this is basically your only option.
You don’t want to rely on disposable or rechargeable AA batteries
Power Swap Controller batteries are easy to maintain and swap out with their included charging cradle and quick release mechanism
Don’t buy it if …
You want high capacity batteries
The official Xbox alternative, for example, lasts longer between charges than the Otterbox offering.
You are running out of money
A set of standard rechargeable batteries can be purchased for much less than that.