Are PS4 and PS5 Thumbsticks the Same?


Sony has completely redesigned the PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller from its predecessor, the PlayStation 4’s DualShock 4. You may wonder if the thumbsticks on both controllers are still the same, given that they look identical. 

The thumbsticks in the PS4 and PS5 controllers are the same in size, layout, and material. The only difference is texture, as the PS5 analog stick has a smooth center while the PS4 one has a rougher middle. However, both thumbsticks are at risk of drifting in the long run.  

In this article, I will compare the analog stick designs of the PS4 and PS5 controllers. I will also tell you about stick drifts, a common fault in the DualShock 4 and DualSense.

The Thumbsticks in the PS4 and PS5 Controllers

The thumbstick, or analog stick, is a joystick variant that game controllers use for two-dimensional input. As the thumbstick is operated with your thumbs, it is positioned in the middle of the PlayStation controllers as two protruding analogs. 

Sony uses the same off-the-shelf analog sticks for their controllers, meaning that you will be hard-pressed to find these thumbsticks in retail stores anywhere. In fact, the thumbsticks are the only component that is the same in both controllers. 

TronicsFix reveals the identical thumbsticks in this video, where they compare the components of the DualSense and DualShock 4 by taking the controllers apart: 

The analogs are made from the same hard rubber material. The two controllers do differ in thumbstick texture, though — the DualShock 4 has an all-around “dog nose” texture with a raised rim, while the DualSense has a textured edge with a smoothed-out middle. 

Is the PS4 and PS5 Thumbstick in the Same Position?

Sony completely revamped their controller design with the DualSense — the PS5 controller looks nothing like the DualShock series that came before it. With a sleek profile and updated ergonomics, the DualSense has a more futuristic look. 

The PS4 and PS5 controllers have identical button layouts, including the position of the analog stick. The thumbstick placement for both controllers is beneath the D-pad. However, the DualSense has longer and thicker grips, making it more comfortable to use its analog sticks. 

Some gamers report that the DualShock 4 was uncomfortable to use because of its flat design, which caused muscle cramps in some people’s thumbs. However, the DualSense improves on this aspect by having a thicker body, which makes it more ergonomic for those with larger hands or longer thumbs. 

Thumbstick Accessories for the PS4 and PS5 Joysticks

The cross-section of the thumbsticks for the PS4 and PS5 controllers have similar dimensions, meaning you can use the same accessories for both generations. So if you have thumb grips for your DualShock 4, they will fit the same on the DualSense. 

Thumb grips are nice because they increase the height of the analog stick, helping you reach the sticks quicker and reducing muscle fatigue in your hands.

If you’re looking for thumb grips, check out the KontrolFreek FPS Freek Performance Thumbsticks (available on Amazon.com) for the PS4 and PS5 controllers. It’s made of a rubber compound that improves your grip and helps your overall gameplay. 

Stick Drift in the PS4 and PS5 Controllers

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Stick drift, or analog drift is a common problem for both PS4 and PS5 users. You can tell if your thumbstick is drifting when you have in-game movements occurring when your hands are not pushing the thumbsticks in any direction. 

If your analog stick has a drifting issue, you may notice it in these in-game scenarios:

  • The game character starts to move in one direction on its own.
  • You lose control of vehicles, sometimes steering them off the side unintentionally. 
  • The camera begins to pan in circles. 

Unfortunately, stick drift is something that the DualSense inherited from the DualShock 4, seeing as they have the same analog sticks. 

At the time of the PS5 controller’s release, Sony failed to rectify the issue despite being a prevalent issue with its earlier generation of controllers. This led to a class-action lawsuit suing Sony for knowingly selling consumers faulty hardware. 

However, Sony has recently released a new range of DualSense with improved analogs, seemingly solving the issue of stick drifts. Owners of the older iteration of the PS5 controllers will still have to watch out for this issue. 

Reasons Why Stick Drift Happens

There are a few reasons why drifting happens. The chances of a thumbstick drifting go up as the controller ages, but it can also happen if something goes wrong internally. Stick drift occurs because: 

  • Dust accumulates inside the controller around the analogs. 
  • Wear and tear of the analog stick from friction. 
  • Software malfunctions. 
  • The mechanical parts are faulty. 

How To Solve Stick Drift

You can attempt to fix stick drift yourself if you’re looking to save on repair costs. If the problem persists or you’re not sure what is the root cause of the issue, take it to the shop instead. 

Sometimes, drifting can be solved with quick and easy fixes at home. Here are some tips you can try: 

  • Reset the controller. At the back of the PS4 and PS5 controllers is a little button you can reach with a pin. Pushing this button forces the controller to reset itself, which may resolve drifting. 
  • Update the software driver. Sometimes, software bugs can cause controller malfunctions. Check that your controller and console operating system are up-to-date on their software versions.  
  • Clean the thumbsticks. Dirt, grime, and dust can obstruct the joystick’s sensors or movement. Dab a cotton bud in rubbing alcohol and gently swab the base of the analogs or use compressed air to blow out dust. 
  • Take it to the shop. If DIY doesn’t work, take your controller to an official retailer who can fix it. Don’t attempt to take the controller apart yourself since damaging the seals will void the official warranty. 

Related Content: Why Do DualSense PS5 Controllers Die So Fast?

Conclusion

The PS4 and PS5 controllers have the same thumbsticks. The DualShock4 and DualSense have thumbsticks that have the same dimensions, same layout, and are made from the same material. The only minute detail that is different is the texture of the joysticks. 

However, having the same analog sticks means that both controllers have the same issue with analog drifting. The PS4 and PS5 controllers suffer from stick drift as they age or when an inner part is faulty. Fortunately, this can be fixed at home or in a shop. 

John Hammer

I'm John Hammer. Ever since growing up I've purchased and tinkered with all kinds of tech, gaming gadgets and software applications. To this day my curiosity has never left, and I continue to experience and dive in to the latest excitements of the consumer electronics industry.

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