PlayStation 5 Gamepad: a surprisingly short lifespan for mini-sticks?

Written by Guillaume
Publication date: {{ dayjs(1614618054*1000).local().format("L").toString()}}
This article is an automatic translation

Since the release of the PlayStation 5, some users seem to complain about the life span of certain components... iFixIt points the finger at the DualSense mini-sticks.

Released on November 12 in North America and Japan, and a week later in the rest of the world, the PlayStation 5 is an undeniable technical success. Sony has managed to design a powerful, relatively compact machine that's very well optimized overall, with limited heating and noise pollution. On this last point, a first "concern" was raised by various users only a few weeks after the console's release. Indeed, at the heart of the cooling system is a fan for which Sony had to negotiate with several suppliers. Unfortunately, the fans are not exactly equivalent and, for the same air flow, some are noisier than others.

Recently, a second problem came to disturb the sweet peace of a product that has to deal with almost constant shortages due to high demand / important shortage on some components. Some users have noticed that the famous DualSense controller - one of Sony's pride and joy - has mini-sticks that can be described as "fragile". It has been reported that there are "drifting problems": these are phantom movements operated by the electronics of the controller while the mini-stick seems, in itself, perfectly still.

Specializing in disassembly / reassembly and testing of all kinds, the site iFixIt has looked into the matter and for its experts, the problems are not surprising. Indeed, Sony would have used some elements known for their lack of long-term reliability. Thus, after a more or less long period of time, the springs in charge of maintaining the mini-stick in its neutral position get tired and are no longer able to fulfill their task. iFixIt even "amused" itself by calculating the average time before failure. It appears from their calculations that the elements used by Sony will fail after 139 to 209 days with two hours of daily play.

This is because the potentiometers used by Sony - the Alps Alpine RKJXV - have an approximate lifetime of 2 million cycles. A game like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) requires an average of 120 rotations per minute. To reach the 2 million cycles, it would therefore "only" take 16,666 minutes, or about 278 hours. From there, at a rate of 2 hours per day, we get the "only" 139 days. Using games that are a little less demanding than a fast-paced FPS makes it possible to improve this result a little: iFixIt then mentions 80 rotations per minute and a result of about 209 days. A bit short for a gamepad, though.

That said, iFixIt's main complaint is the difficulty of repairing a controller like the DualSense. The site's experts have already blasted Apple or Microsoft in the past: here they point the finger at the 16 welds used by Sony to fix the potentiometers in question. It's clear that this doesn't simplify their replacement!