PS5 DualSense expert predicts how long the controller will last — and it's bad news

(Image credit: Future)

Repair experts revealed the disappointingly low life cycle expectancy of the PS5 DualSense controller, and it all comes down to an age-old joystick module. Unfortunately, it will be quite familiar to those who own other controllers, too.

According to a recent teardown on repair site iFixit, the PS5 DualSense controller uses the same joystick components as those in the PS4 controller, Xbox Series X controller, Nintendo Switch Pro controller and even the very pricey Xbox One Elite controller. 

PS5 DualSense torn down

The joystick hardware for the DualSense comes from the Japanese company Alps. Taking a quick look at the product sheet of the joystick module — or, more specifically, the RKJXV series ThumbPointer — shows the operating life of the potentiometers (in layman's terms, the sensors for the joysticks).

It is revealed to be 2,000,000 cycles, which definitely sounds like more than enough, but iFixit broke down that number and put it in realistic terms. For those who play games that don't require intense joystick action, rotating 80 times per minute, gamers will make 2,000,000 rotations in 417 hours. That is only 209 days when playing an average of 2 hours per day. 

The repair experts also did the math for more extensive use for people who play games such as Call of Duty, which came down to a life cycle of just 139 days at 2 hours per day. So the joysticks are known to have a life expectancy of just less than a year. But the question is, how can stick drift happen more rapidly for some gamers and barely at all for others? 

One module fits all 

Well, iFixit stated that joystick drift could easily happen for a number of reasons, and even with the expected life cycle, it may not happen at all. Or, the joystick module could fail altogether before its time is expected to be up. However, it doesn't excuse how long the controller is meant to last.

As pointed out in the report, factors such as sensor wear, or wear to the gamepads, can result in incorrect inputs, and spring fatigue can stretch the self-centering mechanism, which makes a new central point that could constantly lean to the left. Other factors include the material of the gamepad stretching, loosening the joystick, and general grime, dust or moisture that gets stuck in the controller.

The study goes into further detail on how DualSense controller drift happens, and how to repair it (although you'll need a soldering kit to fix it). Check out the full teardown at this link.

This isn't the only issue the DualSense has seen since the PS5's launch as the controller's mic has also been blamed for weakening its adaptive triggers and haptic feedback. The good news is there's a relatively easy way to fix that problem.

Along with lawsuits being filed against Nintendo for Joy-Con drift, and the Xbox Series X controller also using the same age-old joystick modules that can cause drift, could we be seeing updated controllers in the near future? It would save all these companies from impending lawsuits while keeping gamers, their core customers, happy.

Darragh Murphy

Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from washing machines designed for AirPods to the mischievous world of cyberattacks. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for gadgets into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. With a Master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from The University of Sheffield, along with short stints at Kerrang! and Exposed Magazine, Darragh started his career writing about the tech industry at Time Out Dubai and ShortList Dubai, covering everything from the latest iPhone models and Huawei laptops to massive Esports events in the Middle East. Now, he can be found proudly diving into gaming, gadgets, and letting readers know the joys of docking stations for Laptop Mag.