DualSense Edge Review: Sony's Premium Controller for PlayStation 5
The expensive and pro-style DualSense Edge game controller adds more customization and performance options.
Updated Jan. 23, 2023 11:00 a.m. PT
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Sean BookerVideo Producer
As a Video Producer at CNET, Sean has worked on more videos than he can count. He covers video games and video game hardware along with the occasional electric bike. He covers games both on and off camera, through livestreams, press events, and podcasts.
The DualSense Edge controller is a new premium accessory for Sony's PlayStation 5, and it offers a high degree of customization at an equally high price. The PS5's default controller, the DualSense, got its name from its ultraspecific vibration functionality. The Edge is a pro-style controller that improves on that by allowing players more options to fine-tune their inputs and, as Sony explains, "craft [their] own unique gaming experience tailored to [their] playstyle." However, this enhanced customization doesn't come cheap.
While a typical PS5 controller will cost you around $70, the new DualSense Edge, which comes with some accessories, is $200. Alongside the controller itself, the box includes a carrying case with a pass-through window to allow for charging, a USB-C cable and a connector housing to secure it to the controller, plus two separate options for back paddles and two options for analog stick replacements.
The DualSense and DualSense Edge controllers look similar at first glance. The controllers even weigh just about the same, with the DualSense coming in at around 281 grams while the Edge is slightly more at approximately 325 grams.
The Edge features a textured grip on the handles that helps the controller stay in your hands. It also has grooves on the trigger buttons, which is nice because you can more easily keep your fingers in the proper position. Textures and grooves aside, when the back buttons are removed, the controllers feel almost identical in the hand. The original DualSense has a notoriously short battery life, around seven to 10 hours. From my brief testing, I'm disappointed to report that the Edge comes in at an even lower five to seven hours. The included USB-C is pretty long, so I could at least still play games while the controller charged.
More buttons, more options
Pro controllers give players more options for how the buttons and triggers register inputs. When connecting the controller to the PS5 for the first time, a welcome screen shows the different customization options from both a hardware and software perspective. On the hardware side, players can attach either half-dome (rounded and short) or lever (skinny and long) back paddles to the device. These paddles sit close to where the player's middle or ring fingers rest and can be mapped to any other input on the DualSense Edge. First-person shooter fans often use these to keep their right thumb on the right analog stick so they can aim while still being able to jump or duck (an input often put on the X or O face buttons). While both paddles are comfortable to use, I prefer the half-dome option since it sits a bit further away and can't be as easily pressed by mistake.
These back paddles are also a great accessibility feature. Players with low range of motion for any of the primary controller fingers (the thumbs or pointer fingers) can swap one of those inputs to the back of the controller where they might have an easier time pressing a button.
It's worth noting that the DualSense Edge only has ports for two back paddles, one on each side. Some other pro controllers have four of these, like on Microsoft's Xbox Elite controller. Four is often the standard since it allows players to map each face button to the back and never have to move their thumb off the right analog stick. On the plus side, they slot in and out easily and are held in place magnetically. I appreciated this since I've used some pro controllers before where this process almost felt like I would break the paddles while inserting or removing them.
The next biggest hardware tweak is in the trigger buttons on top of the controller. Next to each trigger is a mechanical switch that adjusts how much the L2/R2 buttons can be pressed before registering a full push. Players can choose between three ranges of motion. Fans of twitch-based games often prefer shorter distances so they can press quicker and more often. For example, being able to shoot a gun more rapidly will give Call of Duty players an advantage. Again, the Xbox Elite controller has similar options for its triggers.
One exciting feature that is unique to this controller is the ability to remove the analog stick modules entirely. By pressing the release button on the back, the front cover can pop off. Then, lifting a lever will unlock the module and you can slide it out. This is great for any players experiencing stick drift or any failures in their analog sticks specifically, a component known to break down most frequently. Typically, you would have to return the whole controller itself for repairs but since they're removable, you can easily swap in a working module. Sony sells individual sticks for $20 on their website.
These analog sticks are also customizable and the kit comes with three options. The standard caps, which are the same as on the original DualSense and two rounded options, high and low dome. These dome options feel the same to the touch but just sit at different heights. Adjustable stick caps are another welcomed option as they allow the sticks to be maneuvered at different speeds and comfort levels. They're easily swapped out by simply pulling the cap off the module and pressing the new one back into place.
Customizing the software
Customization options are set via the PS5 accessories settings screen, and the intensity and dead zone customization options are the most exciting. These menus can adjust how fast the input curves are for any of the controller's analog inputs. For example, if you want to physically use the full range of the trigger buttons but want the controller to register that input more quickly, you can fine-tune that on a surprisingly granular level. This goes for the analog sticks' movement, as well. In addition, you can adjust the dead zone (the center part of the stick where the controller registers no input) to be wider.
All of these software options can be saved into a user profile. The DualSense Edge features two Fn (function) buttons, located below the analog sticks. Holding either of them down and pressing any of the face buttons will let you toggle between four assigned profiles. It seems like a missed opportunity that both of these buttons do the same thing when held down and don't have the ability to map different commands to each one. That said, being able to swap between profiles midgame was quite useful, especially when jumping between different games. For example, Fortnite and Overwatch have different crouch buttons, so using the same profile wouldn't be helpful.
The standard DualSense controller can be used for PC gaming through both a wired or wireless connection. The DualSense Edge can connect and register with the PC but I wasn't able to get any games to work with the new controller yet. I'm assuming this is because this controller is so new but, considering the first controller works, I'd assume that functionality is coming in the future.
Who is this controller for?
Every game you're going to play on your PlayStation is thoughtfully designed to use the standard DualSense controller. But the back paddles on the more-advanced Edge are great for shortcuts and offer more accessibility for those who might lack the ability to use the typical controller properly. Otherwise, the Edge is geared towards players wanting a more competitive edge to their twitch-based gaming. If you're someone who comes to Sony for their huge triple A narrative experiences, like The Last of Us, Horizon, or God of War, then you probably won't get a huge benefit out of spending $200 on this. For those of you who play a lot of multiplayer games, specifically first person shooters, or any game where the milliseconds it takes to press a button are important, then you could see some advantages to the Edge's customization.
The DualSense Edge fills a hole that was missing from PlayStation's portfolio. Small additions like the textured grip and the grooves on the triggers are appreciated. And being able to adjust deadzone and completely replace an analog stick gives this controller a much longer life. But it's also disappointing that the short battery life of the original DualSense got even worse on the Edge. The controller feels good and offers new and more personal ways for any player to connect with a game but its high price means it only makes sense for the really dedicated.