PS5 DualSense controller vs PS4 DualShock 4 controller: 7 massive changes (and 4 things that stayed the same)

How different is the PS5 DualSense controller to the PS4 DualShock 4 that we’re used to?

by Rob Leane

The PS5 controller has been revealed and some are claiming it’s the best they’ve seen in a long time.

The new DualSense, which replaces DualShock, was unveiled in an official blog post.

But just how different is it the PS4 DualShock 4 controller that you’ve been lovingly using for years?

Let’s break down the key similarities and differences between the snazzy new DualSense controller and the old familiar DualShock controllers…

Changed: Colour scheme

Sony has opted for a two-tone colour scheme this time around, with the first-unveiled version of the DualSense having a white/black design. Of course, the original PS4 controller was a simple all-black affair, but a lot of different colour options came later.

Not changed: Stick positions

A lot of ‘pro controllers’ these days opt for an ‘asymmetrical joystick’ design, with the left joystick sitting in the top left corner of the controller, Sony has decided to keep the two joysticks next to each other in the middle of the controller.

Why so symmetrical?

Changed: Vibration Tech

As Sony’s blog explained, instead of the old-hat ‘rumble’ vibrations of the DualShock controller, the PS5 DualSense controller has “adopted haptic feedback, which adds a variety of powerful sensations you’ll feel when you play, such as the slow grittiness of driving a car through mud.”

Not changed: D-pad

Although the D-pad is rarely used as the primary way to move characters around anymore, it still has a place in the heart of gamers, so it’s nice to see that Sony hasn’t binned it for the PS5 DualSense controller.

Read more: Is the next-gen launch window unrealistic?

Changed: Triggers

The triggers have moved slightly and there is more going on inside them, too, with Sony’s blog explaining that the developers of the PS5 “incorporated adaptive triggers into the L2 and R2 buttons of DualSense so you can truly feel the tension of your actions, like when drawing a bow to shoot an arrow.”


Triggers have been overhauled.

Not changed: Touchpad

Although developers rarely found memorable uses for it during the PS4 era, that big chunky touchpad above the joysticks is still present and correct in the DualSense. Given that there will be backwards compatibility with at least some PS4 games on PS5, you could argue that Sony couldn’t ditch such a major feature of the DualShock even if gamers don’t want it.

Read more: Has Sony made a mistake with backwards compatibility?

Changed: Microphone array

“DualSense also adds a built-in microphone array,” says Sony, “which will enable players to easily chat with friends without a headset – ideal for jumping into a quick conversation. But of course, if you are planning to chat for a longer period, it’s good to have that headset handy.”

Changed: Lightbar

Found on the rear on the DualShock 4 controller, the colour-changing lightbar is now wrapped around the touchpad on the front of the DualSense controller. Sony says this “will give it an extra pop.”

Read more: How to register interest in pre-ordering PS5

Changed: Motion Controls

Sony confirmed in the PS5 reveal that the DualSense will have motion controls. They have not yet elaborated on how this feature will work, but we can guess that it will work similarly to the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Cons.


Read More: PS5 motion controls confirmed

See the blue lightbar around the touchpad?

Changed: Create button

The ‘Share’ button of the DualShock is gone, replaced on the PS5 DualSense controller with the ‘Create‘ button. Sony says this button will be “pioneering new ways for players to create epic gameplay content to share with the world,” but the details of what that means haven’t been revealed yet.

Read more: PS5 DualSense controller vs Xbox Series X controller

Not changed:  X, Circle, Square and Triangle

Although their colour scheme has been washed out on the example images of the DualSense controller, long-term PlayStation fans will be glad to know that their beloved X, Circle, Square and Triangle buttons will all be returning on the DualSense controller for PS5.

Of course, you can expect heaps of variants on the DualSense controller to launch throughout the PS5 era, so we look forward to picking up a grey retro version with the correctly coloured buttons when that inevitably arrives on the market!

Read more: PS5 is apparently “much better” than Xbox Series X

Rob Leane