Update: I have added a new section to the article that takes a brief look at whether we’ll see the expansion port on future iterations of the Xbox controller. I have also updated some of the products I’ve linked too. Thanks for taking the time to read my article. Every minute you spend on CareerGamers is massively appreciated. All the best, and stay safe. Nick.
Ever since I slid my first Xbox One under my TV, I’ve always wondered what the Expansion port on the bottom of the Xbox one controller was used for.
My interest was piqued even further by this mysterious gash in my controller on hearing that a similar expansion port is found on the new Xbox Series X controller.
Having sunk thousands of hours into gaming on my Xbox, I decided, enough was enough. I wanted to know, once-and-for-all, what the Expansion port on the Xbox One Controller was used for.
This is what I found…
What is the expansion port on the Xbox One And Series X Controller? The Xbox One controller Expansion port is used for a number of peripherals including:
- The Official Xbox One Chat headset
- Headphone adaptors that add extra functionality to 3rd party headsets
- Miniature Xbox One controller keyboards used in multiplayer
Ok, let’s take a look at each of these expansion port possibilities in more detail. And keep reading to the end as I’ve included one extra bonus idea for you…
The Xbox One controller Expansion port is used by the official Xbox Chat Headset Accessory
The first thing that I discovered that the Xbox One controller’s expansion port could be used for was for the Official Xbox One Chat Headset.
Now, I’m pretty sure these headsets get included in the box when you first buy the Xbox.
So you’d think that would give me some clue as to what the expansion port was used for.
However, I have a reason for my ignorance.
I play all of my online games on PS4 and PC. Sorry Xbox, but other than myself, hardly anybody I know plays online.
Anyway, back to the headset. The official chat headset slots directly into the expansion port, but you don’t just get a basic comms headset.
Oh no, you get much more.
For starters, you get a little control pad built into the plug of the microphone that extends the Xbox controller’s functionality.
The addition of 3 buttons for mute, volume up, and volume down, means you don’t have to go rummaging through the Xbox’s settings to turn off your microphone mid-game. Believe me, it’s an ego saver. I remember years ago, mid-tournament, my mother walked into my room, and told me not to stay up late because I had school in the morning. As you can imagine, I’ve never lived that down since. Thanks, Mum!
So, having that all-important mute button within fingertip reach is very good.
In addition to the extra, and welcome, buttons, the headset needs no extra batteries or power to operate other than the power delivered by the Controller’s batteries.
And fortunately, because of the lower power usage of the headset, it hardly affects battery consumption at all.
However, there is one downside of this headset, the single mono speaker for the left year, is only for communications. You can’t listen to in-game sounds with this headset. So, if you want to a headset to listen to in-game sounds as well as talk to your friends, you’ll need an alternative headset
If you think this headset is enough for you, take a look here to pick up an Xbox Chat headset.
However, if you want a step up in quality (let’s be honest, don’t we all?), you should definitely take a look at the next section…
The Xbox One Controller Expansion Port Is Used To Plug-In 3rd Party Headset Adaptors
This is the business end of what the Xbox expansion port offers. Because of the increased data bandwidth afforded by the proprietary connector, many 3rd party companies have produced specialized adaptors to enhance the use of Xbox compatible headsets.
These headset adaptors are designed to enhance the sound or functionality of existing 3.5 mm jack headphones.
For example, this adaptor by Turtle Beach can target important low volume sounds, such as in-game footsteps, and can enhance them to help you easily pinpoint where enemies are located relative to your position.
So, these adaptors can actually give you a tangible advantage when playing multiplayer games.
And these adaptors offer other advantages.
In the Turtle Beach example, it comes with a plethora of buttons to help tune the sounds sent to your headset, and how much sound is picked up with your microphone.
For example, you can, on the fly, change the balance between in-game sounds and chat sounds. I found this incredibly useful in a number of situations, such as, when starting a map on Call of Duty, the team as we spawn would discuss strategy and tactics. As I’ve aged, my hearing isn’t what it once was, so it’s great to be able to turn down the in-game noise briefly so I can clearly hear my teammates chatting.
Once I get into the action, I can turn the in game sounds volume up so I can hear all the details such as the footsteps I mentioned earlier.
Plus, there’s the all-important mute button, and another two buttons on the front of the adaptor that let you save game-specific profiles.
None of this would be possible without the expansion port’s ability to deliver more power to the adaptor.
A downside of using an adaptor is it will drain your controller’s battery quicker. So you need to take that into account when gaming.
It might even be worth you buying extended battery packs to ensure your controller doesn’t run out of juice mid-game. For example, a rechargeable battery pack set made by 3rd party peripheral maker Ukor offers a rather huge 2600mAH battery capacity. This is a 1200mAH upgrade over the official Xbox controller battery.
You can find the Ukor charger here.
So, if you want to take advantage of your Xbox One’s Expansion port and add a load of cool new features that will actually help you play better, check out the headset adaptor by Turtle Beach.
The Xbox One Controller Expansion port is used for Keyboard peripherals
I often tend to play games in the same room that my partner likes to watch TV, so talking to other games while playing is not always an option.
This is where the Xbox One Expansion port excels for me as you can plug in a keyboard. So I can play my favourite online games while still silently communicating, albeit a little slower, with my online teammates.
I use one on both the PS4 And the Xbox one controller and I have found them invaluable
If you’re interested, check the one I use on my controller here.
BONUS: Bluetooth Headphone Adaptor
Ok, most top-end headphones these days are wireless. For example, I use a pair of Sony WHY100XM3 when gaming, and they produce stunning sound. Better than any Dolby Atmos System I’ve used, never mind other headphones.
However, you can’t hook Sony’s headphones up to the Xbox Controller without using a wire.
Or so I thought…
It is actually possible to use a Bluetooth 3.5mm adaptor with the Xbox One Controller. And then, you can sync up your wireless headphones with your controller with no wires just waiting to get tangled up between your fingers.
To make this work, you have to buy a separate Bluetooth transmitter, such as this one.
However, this is a little bit of a cheat.
Because this Bluetooth adaptor doesn’t actually make use of the expansion port. It just plugs into the 3.5mm jack to the side of it.
But still, it’s a fantastic little piece of kit, and it’s a highly recommended Bluetooth adapter if you’re thinking about using a high-end pair of headphones such as those from Sony or Bose with your console.
Now I know what you’re thinking, this thing will dangle down near your controller while you are playing. Yeah, that would be annoying. However, there is an easy way to fix the Bluetooth receiver to the underside of the controller so it won’t hang free.
First, buy some sticky velcro tape. Next, cut a square off. Stick one side of the square to the Bluetooth adaptor. Next, stick the other side to the underside of your Xbox One controller. Now, the Bluetooth adaptor will be kept safely out of the way while you game, but can be easily detached when you need to charge it.
Check out the Bluetooth transmitter here.
Predicting the Future: Will the Expansion Port Continue in Next-Gen Xbox Controllers?
The future of gaming, much like the dark caverns in a dungeon crawler, is full of unknowns. However, certain clues can give us some insight into what might lie ahead. Xbox’s emphasis on backward compatibility and accessibility may suggest the expansion port will continue to feature in future controller designs.
The expansion port is the bridge between the controller and a variety of accessories, making it a valuable feature for gamers who appreciate a customizable experience. Much like how a skilled RPG player selects their gear and loadouts carefully, Microsoft may choose to keep the expansion port in its arsenal for the future, providing a versatile tool to enhance the gaming experience.
However, just as every quest has its challenges, so too does the question of the expansion port’s future face certain considerations. The development of wireless technology, the rise of VR/AR gaming, and changes in gamers’ preferences could all influence the decision.
The current trend towards wireless technology could lead to a shift away from ports and toward Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity for peripheral devices. Similarly, the growth of VR/AR gaming might require new forms of interaction, possibly making the traditional expansion port obsolete. It’s akin to swapping your longsword for a magic staff – both are effective tools, but they suit different scenarios.
I think we will eventually see, on a next-generation controller, the expansion port eliminated. And I think we’ll see some form of wireless controller charging technology, similar to how smartwatches charge today.
So, the Xbox One’s Expansion port actually has a number of unique uses that can really enhance your gaming.
These uses include:
- The official Xbox One chat headset
- Headphone adapters such as this one from Turtle Beach.
- Xbox One Controller compatible Keyboards such as this one by Gamers Digital.
- BONUS: Bluetooth Headphone adapter such as this one. (It doesn’t actually use the Expansion port, it just covers it. But still, worth a mention, right?)
I’ve noticed the PS4 controller has a similar expansion port on it called EXT. What does it do? The EXT port on the PS4 controller acts in a very similar way to the expansion port on the Xbox One controller. It’s used for 3rd party accessories such as headphones. However, unlike the Xbox One Controller, the PS4’s EXT port can also be used for charging. Check out our in-depth article on the PS4’s EXT port here.
I can’t charge my Xbox One controller with the USB port anymore, what can I do? The Xbox One Controller can’t be charged through the expansion port. However, Some 3rd party accessories let you charge the detachable USB power packs via little metal connectors on the back of the controller. Take a look at this charger here for a better idea of what I’m talking about.
I can’t charge my Xbox one Controller with the USB port anymore and I don’t have room for a charging dock. What should I do? Your best bet is to buy a removable power pack that can plug into a small separate charging dock. I recommend the Ukor Xbox One Controller pack charger. You can find it here.