Why do batteries last longer in a remote control than a Xbox One controller?


Xbox Batteries = 1 day

Remote Batteries = 3+ months

How is that??

In: Engineering

A remote will usually only use power at the moment you press the button to transmit the button press while a controller is staying on and transmitting how far the buttons are pressed which directing the analog sticks are pointing and similar. Basically the controller has a great deal more information to transmit and needs to stay powered to transmit it all quickly while a remote can just transmit the button press and go back to its off state.

There are a couple of basic pieces here that contribute to higher power consumption.

TV remotes aren’t connected to your TV, instead they only send out instructions when a button is pressed. This requires very little energy and also means that when you are not pressing a button there is no power drawn.

Xbox controllers are actively connected to the console, this requires some amount of energy to maintain. While it is not a lot(modern electronics are good with power consumption) it is a non-0 amount so you get a slow drain throughout.

The other (bigger) difference comes from the way instructions are moving.
TV remotes only send instructions in short bursts and don’t receive anything. This is pretty simple and doesn’t take much energy.
Xbox remotes have a back and forth with the console, you are sending and receiving many instructions per second (button presses, holding a joystick, rumbles etc.). This consumes much more energy because of the sheer number of things happening.

Apart from that, the rumble motors, various LEDs etc. all draw a bit of power and this adds up to reduce battery life.

A remote spends most of its life just sitting there and scanning the buttons to see if you’ve pressed one. This takes barely any electricity. If you do press a button, the remote sends out an infrared light pulse which also doesn’t need much power. Some remotes may pulse other signals, but regardless, the way you use a remote, you don’t press the buttons that much.

A wireless gaming controller needs to maintain a wireless connection, which consumes a lot more power. Bluetooth earbuds for example only last a few hours, though granted, they have much smaller batteries.

Gaming controllers tend to have LEDs that are constantly lit while they’re connected, and rumble motors consume a lot of power. The controller also has to send data constantly, hundreds of times per second to inform the console what you’re doing.

Lasting only a day seems kind of short though. If you are going through batteries that quickly, I highly recommend getting Eneloops. Just get a pack with a standard charger and 4 AAs. Keep two batteries in the charger, so you can always swap to a fully charged set whenever the ones in the controller go flat.