Which console should I buy – PS4 vs Xbox One?
Now powered by Windows 10, the Xbox One has a tonne of new features and a brand new UI that give it the edge in the entertainment department. And this Christmas, Microsoft's console certainly has the stronger line-up and partnerships.
But, the PS4 still has the better looking games, a stronger PS Plus game selection and a better console design.
We're edging towards the Xbox One nowadays, especially with an Xbox One Elite Controller in our hands. But it's still a tricky decision, especially when you think of the exclusives coming out next year.
And before you accuse me of being an Xbox One/PS4 fangirl, I ended up buying both consoles because I just couldn't decide.
On this page we’ll explore the price differences, the key exclusive games, design and connectivity, the all-important controllers and the user interfaces.
If you want to read about accessories, graphics, processors and power, head to page two of this PS4 vs Xbox One comparison.
PS4 vs Xbox One – Video Comparison
Check out our PS4 vs Xbox One comparison video:
Xbox One vs PS4 – Price
Although the prices of both the Xbox One and PS4 can fluctuate slightly, the new-gen consoles are more level pegging when it comes to pricing than ever before. That does make your decision even harder, though.
The Xbox One originally retailed for £429 with the Kinect sensor and no games, but Microsoft released a Kinect-free console last year for £349 – matching the RRP of the PS4.
You’ve also got to consider that both consoles can now be bought with a larger 1TB hard drive, appealing to those of us who love to have our games library stored digitally – or just buy lots of games with chunky install sizes.
PS4 Ultimate Player 1TB Edition – £299.99
Black/White PS4 console – £285
PS4 Bundles – £329
Xbox One 1TB Console – £289.99
Xbox One console – £270
Xbox One bundle – £299
Prices correct at the time of writing 11/09/2015
Xbox One vs PS4 – Design
We could go into the ins and out of the differences between the designs of the PS4 and Xbox One, but these are the four things that could influence which console you buy...
The PS4 is a smaller console
The Xbox One is a lot larger than the PS4, measuring up at 7.9 x 27.4 x 33.3cm compared to the PS4’s 5.3 x 27.5 x 30.5cm dimensions.
That’s quite the difference for your TV unit, but if your new console is being hidden away then the size potentially doesn’t matter.
It’s also too early to tell, even though the Xbox One and PS4 are both nearly two years old now, but the Xbox One’s larger size and additional ventilation system might make it last longer than the PS4.
The Xbox One has a chunky power brick
It’s not just the box itself you’ve to consider when it comes to design. There are the power cables too. The Xbox One has a huge power brick along its cabling that can make your neat wire organisation a little tricky. You’ll need to make space for it behind your TV.
Sony’s PS4, on the other hand, only requires a single power cable that runs from socket to console without a power brick, making it easy to install, but also to move from room to room if required.
The Xbox One has better connectivity options
There’s no point having a shiny new console if you can’t connect it to your TV. And the Xbox One has the edge on connectivity options, including three USB ports to the PS4’s two. We’ll show you more about this in the next section.
The PS4 is ultimately the better-looking console
With its slanted design and light running down the centre, the PS4 is slimmer, sleeker and more attractive than the Xbox One.
Microsoft’s latest console is, after all, an imposing black (or white) monolith. It might have a top that’s half a glossy panel while the other is taken up by vents, but at the end of the day it’s still a big box.
Related: PS4 vs PS3
Xbox One vs PS4 – Connectivity
As we’ve mentioned before, the PS4 has far less ports than the Xbox One. So let’s start with that.
Sony’s latest console has two USB ports along the front alongside the Blu-ray disc drive, which you’ll need to use your charge your controller. You’ve also got the power and disc eject buttons.
Around the back, there’s the power port at the bottom left-hand corner, and along the top row you have optical out, HDMI, Ethernet and AUX ports running from left to right.
Related: Xbox One vs Xbox 360
But, on the Xbox One you’ve got a lot more ports to consider. From the front it’s pretty simple. There’s the disc drive and the eject button, with the Xbox logo acting as a capacitive touch power button.
Along the left-hand side of the console is a hidden USB port, which you can use to charge your controller if you’ve purchased the Play and Charge kit. Above that is an accessory-pairing button.
Around the back of the console is a small army of ports, which give it the edge in terms of being the better home entertainment console.
Running from left to right you have the AC port for power, an HDMI out for connecting your console to your TV, optical out and an HDMI for feeding your cable TV box into your Xbox One.
Then there’s a pair of USB ports, the Kinect port, IR out and the Ethernet port.
There’s even a lock port that allows you to connect a laptop security loop to tether your console to something, if you need to.
Related: Xbox One tips, tricks and secrets
Xbox One vs PS4 – Controllers
Before we go into the nitty gritty of the Xbox One and PS4 controllers, take a look at them in all their glory.
Both bear the genetic material of their forebears, but the DualShock 4 feels like more of a change. Microsoft has stuck with what worked so well in the Xbox 360 controller, and as such the Xbox One pad is more of a tweak than a full ground-up redesign.
There are two main changes. The Xbox One pad has rumble motors built into the triggers to give you feedback when, for example, shooting guns. But those rumble triggers easily make the Xbox One the better console to play racing games on – sorry, DriveClub and Gran Turismo. Just having the feedback of the tyres on the tracks in your fingertips is the best feeling.
Microsoft has also made huge improvement to the D-pad. The mushy Xbox 360 D-pad has been switched for one that's much more clicky and responsive. It'll work wonders on Street Fighter-style fighting games.
Sadly, the Xbox One controller still requires a pair of AA batteries as standard, rather than being rechargeable like the PS4's DualShock 4. You'll probably want to buy the Play and Charge kit separately for each controller for £19 a go.
However, if you do stick to AA batteries, you'll definitely see your Xbox One controller pack a longer play time than the PS4 controller, which we seem to have to charge after every single extended play session.
Again, like with the UI, PC gamers will prefer the Xbox One controller because of its familiarity and its resemblance to the Xbox 360 pad.
Related: PS4 Tips, Tricks and Secret Features
The DualShock 4's changes are more marked. It's a bit chunkier than the previous DualShock controllers and a lot heavier too, giving a firmer feel than the last-gen DualShock 3 pad.
Sony has also massively improved the analogue sticks in the DualShock 4. Where the DualShock 3 wasn't really much cop for first-person shooters, the new pad is great for almost all types of console games. There's also a new touchpad on the front, between the sticks and the main buttons, and a Share button to make uploading your gameplay videos easy.
We will say that after nearly a year of using our PS4 DualShock 4, the rubber on the right analogue stick is starting to wear away a touch. We know it's been an issue for some PS4 users, with some even having to replace them already. It hasn't been an issue for us with our Xbox One or for the wider community either.
After all that, have we really found a victor? Not as such. If you loved the Xbox 360 pad, you'll probably prefer the Xbox One controller. However, the DualShock 4 has a robust feel that previous PlayStation pads simply haven't had.
But there’s also the Xbox One Elite Controller to consider, which is available now – albeit in limited quantities. If you’re willing to pay the staggering £120 you can get yourself this customisable controller. It’s just perfect for those looking to get a more professional gaming experience from a pad.
Swappable D-pad and analogue sticks, Hair Trigger Locks, interchangeable rear paddles and a rubberised diamond grip and customisable inputs thanks to a companion app for Xbox One and PC; you pretty much couldn’t want any more from a controller.
See also: PS4 tips, tricks and secrets
Xbox One vs PS4 – Exclusive Games
But of course, a console isn’t a console without the games.
In the nearly two years since the Xbox One and PS4 were released, we’ve seen a basketful of top games launch for both consoles.
For our picks of the top games to launch this year, you should head to our best PS4 games and best Xbox One games features. But for anyone who’s thinking of buying either console in the near future, you should consider the exclusive games expected to launch in the near year or so.
These might just be the games that swing your compass in favour of one console or another.
Top Xbox One Exclusives
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Due November 13 2015
The follow-on to the successful 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, Rise of the Tomb Raider looks to be one of the defining Xbox One games – even if it is a timed exclusive. The game will see intrepid explorer Lara Croft hone her survival, combat and hunting skills that will ultimately lead her to accept her destiny as the Tomb Raider.
Due October 27 2015
Halo has been one of the pillar Xbox exclusives since the very first Xbox console. Now Halo 5: Guardians is the first to launch on Xbox One and it’s also the first to introduce four-player co-operative gameplay. It tells the story of two distinct fireteams, one led by Master Chief itself and the other led by Agent Locke. What the story is, though, we just don’t quite know yet.
See also: Halo 5 Guardians tips and tricks
Release date TBC
The latest title from Platinum Games, Scalebound is a game about a teenager called Drew with some attitude, dragons and hunting monsters. This is a JRPG with many of the tropes you’d find in a Final Fantasy game. There’s lots of awesome combat. And dragons, lots of dragons.
Gears of War 4
Due Q4 2016
We’ve been waiting forever for Gears of War 4 and it was finally announced at E3 2015. It won’t be a new entry in the Marcus Fenix and crew story, but it’ll instead involve two new protagonists called JD and Kait. There are new enemies and a new cast, but no doubt there’ll still be strong elements of the Gears we know and love. Hopefully that involves chainsaw guns.
Release date TBC
From the makers of Metroid Prime comes ReCore, a brand-new Xbox One exclusive that tells the story of one of the last remaining humans. In this action-adventure title, you’ll forge friends with robot companions as they join you in the mysterious, dynamic world.
See also: Best Xbox Live Games 2015
Top PS4 Exclusives
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Due March 18 2016
Uncharted is one of the defining PS4 exclusive series and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is the last entry in the Nathan Drake story. Drake, a now retired fortune hunter, has settled into normality but his life is suddenly turned upside down when his long-believed-dead brother makes an appearance. It’s time for Drake to have one last globe-trotting adventure.
The Last Guardian
Release date TBC
The Last Guardian is one of those games that’s been rumoured for a number of years. So much so that it became somewhat of a myth. But Sony finally showed a trailer for the game at E3 2015 and it’s coming to PS4. It tells the tale of a young boy who befriends a giant bird/dog-like creature and together they must solve puzzles to progress through the world.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Release date TBC
In a tale of a rather different post-apocalyptic world, Horizon Zero Dawn shows an Earth where mechanised creatures are the top dogs and humans have regressed to a tribal hunter-gather existence. You are Aloy, a skilled hunter who goes on a compelling journey to discover the secrets of a forgotten civilisation.
No Man’s Sky
Release date TBC
You’ve probably already heard of No Man’s Sky. This science-fiction game is set in an infinite procedurally generated galaxy, where you are the explorer responsible for discovering and naming its planets, flora and fauna. It’s an infinite galaxy and where you go and what to do is up to you.
See also: Best PSN Games 2015
Xbox One vs PS4 – User Interface and Dashboard
The PS4 has a simpler, somewhat less ambitious user interface. As it leaves you scrolling in just one direction most of the time, we have always found it a more intuitive experience than the Xbox One's software. There are rungs of content: the lower bar offering all your Recently Used content and holding all your games and apps in the Library icon at the end, while the top rung has the Settings, your PSN account, friends, notifications and other more system-related functions.
There is room for improvement, though. For example, at present you can't bring out the Netflix app to the top 'recently used' layer of the UI, even though it's a PS4 favourite for many people.
However, all your content is easily accessible without having to delve into sub-folders and the like. It's definitely the more straightforward of the two UIs.
See also: PS4 vs PS3
Well, that was until the New Xbox One Experience landed on our consoles. Gone has the Kinect-focused Xbox One UI from launch, instead there's a slick Windows 10 powered version that's far easier to use and access.
Not only is it easier to use than the previous interface, it's faster too and has a strong focus on community, games and news.
At the top there's all your recently accessed content, with their associated Game Hub integrated right into the listing.
Pull the right trigger and you'll be transported to your pins, while pressing RB and LB takes you to the Community, OneGuide and Store hubs.
Double tapping the Xbox logo on your controller anywhere on the UI will also now bring up your new Side Panel – a magical beast that contains your friends list, messages, notifications, Snap Menu and finally an easy way to access the Settings menu.
Related: Xbox One Windows 10 update guide
Top reasons to buy an Xbox One
It’s your all-in-one entertainment system
We said before that we’ve purchased both the Xbox One and PS4 and there’s a clear winner when it comes to all-round entertainment. You can feed your cable TV signal (and Freeview too if you buy the Xbox One digital TV tuner) through the Xbox One to make everything sit within one UI.
The OneGuide works really well, offering all your live TV coverage within your Xbox One with the ability to pause your favourite programme to make a cup of tea. Early next year, you’ll also be able to record live TV and set series links so you never miss an episode.
What’s more, you can make it so your Xbox One turns on your TV too, meaning the whole process is a lot quicker and simpler.
Xbox 360 game backwards compatibility
Although the PS4 might have PlayStation Now, Microsoft wipes the floor with Sony with its elegant solution for Xbox One backwards compatibility for Xbox 360 games.
You can read all about it in our Xbox One backwards compatibility guide, but basically you can insert any supported Xbox 360 disc into your Xbox One and play it natively on your new console. Or, if you owned the Xbox 360 games digitally, you can simply download them from the Games & Apps panel of your Xbox One as normal.
And it’s totally free if you already own the games. Plus, any Xbox 360 titles offered on the Games with Gold service will also be backwards compatible from now on.
Xbox One supports USB drives for external storage
Although you can tinker with the internal hard drive of the Xbox One, it’s a lot easier to upgrade your Xbox One storage by simply plugging in an external hard drive.
And it really is that simple. Nab yourself a USB 3.0 hard drive that’s 256GB or larger (the Xbox One can actually support two of these) and attach it via one of the USB ports and the Xbox One will guide you through the set-up process.
It’s a quick, inexpensive and effective way of getting you a lot more Xbox One storage without you having to reach for a screwdriver.
It’s the only console with EA Access
EA Access is an Xbox One exclusive service that gives you unlimited playtime of top Electronic Arts games for a monthly fee. For £3.99 a month or £19.99 a year, you get to play EA’s best Xbox One games, play some of them before they are released and get a 10% discount off any other EA digital purchases on Xbox One.
The titles we’d recommend on EA Access right now are Titanfall, Dragon Age: Inquisition and, if you’ve not played it, Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare.
All you need to do is install EA Access on your Xbox One.
Xbox One is going to get so much better with Windows 10
Windows 10 is coming to Xbox One this November and it’s going to make it an even better console. A revamped UI, universal apps and more are coming to Xbox One.
And if you have a Windows 10 device, you can plug in your Xbox One controller and stream your console games directly to your monitor, tablet or laptop. The Xbox app on Windows 10 lets you access a load of other features too, including native PC game DVR, Xbox achievements for PC games and more.
Top reasons to buy a PS4
The PS4 UI is better
At present, the PS4 UI is a lot more user-friendly and better presented than the Xbox One version. It’s easy to see where all your content is, you can access the settings within a few steps and you don’t need to learn how to use it.
The PS4 is not only easier to use, but it’s also better looking. Although the new Xbox One UI is rather lovely.
Games look better on the PS4
Even though we’re nearly two years into the life cycle of both the Xbox One and PS4, developers still have a tendancy to launch games with better resolutions and framerates on the PS4.
You usually see a cross-platform game run at 1080p Full HD and 60fps on PS4, while the Xbox One edition might be 900p HD even at that buttery smooth 60fps.
We’re not sure why this happens, as Xbox One exclusives will always run at the maximum resolution and framerate. But at the moment, if you want your console games looking the very best they can be, you need the PS4.
We might argue that you won’t tell the difference between 900p and 1080p in practice though, so how much this matters is very much down to you.
The PS4 has Share Play
PS4 Share Play is definitely one feature that you won’t find on the Xbox One. It allows you to let other PS4 owners play your games, play with your co-operatively or watch what you’re playing without having to own the same games as you.
Sony calls it a virtual couch experience, making it feel like you're playing games with your buddies when they’re right there, but it’s all done remotely.
PS Plus is a better service
Although Xbox’s Games With Gold service is slowly improving, PS Plus and its Instant Game Collection is still far better value for money if you buy a PS4.
You always get at least three PS4 games out of the six offered each month, and the PS4-specific offerings are usually exclusive new indie games that you can’t get anywhere else.
Backwards compatibility through PlayStation Now
Although it doesn’t have the elegance or free price tag of Microsoft’s backwards compatibility solution, PlayStation Now is still something you’ll want to consider before buying a PS4.
It’s in a way offering you the ability to play PS3 and older games on your PS4, by streaming them from the cloud as you would a movie or TV series via Netflix. There are hundreds of titles on there to play, but there’s a catch. It’ll cost you.
At the moment the UK doesn’t have access to the PlayStation Now membership options available in the US. Instead you need to rent titles individually, and it doesn’t come cheap. Rental prices start at £2.99 for a two-day rental, going up to 37.99 for a 30-day rental.
It’s a good service for those looking to brush up on older titles before the next series entry arrives.
We’re still torn. There’s no clear winner in the war between the PS4 and Xbox One – both consoles have their pros and cons, and most games launch as multi-platform titles.
However, we’re edging towards the Xbox One if we were to buy a brand-new console right now. Windows 10 is making it a far stronger proposition, it can be easily upgraded, and backwards compatibility is an invaluable feature for Xbox 360 gamers.
Plus, Microsoft’s latest console has a far stronger line-up of exclusive titles this Christmas.
Turn to Page Two to read more about the processors, graphics and power potential of the Xbox One and PS4