PS4 Controller Only Works when Plugged in? (Here’s Why)


The PlayStation 4 controller, also known as the DualShock 4, is one of the most advanced video game controllers, capable of doing a wide variety of functions. Motion controls, touchpad, built-in speaker, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to use it wirelessly. This allows you to use it from across the room, no cord needed. 

Of course, you would still need to charge it from time to time, but thankfully, you can use it while it is charging. But some have reported that their PS4 controller only works when plugged in. But why is that?

In most cases this occurs because of a common pairing issue, resetting your PS4 controller should solve the issue in most cases.

But what other reasons might a PS4 controller not be working unless plugged in? And what can you do to make it work properly?

PS4 Controller Only Works When Plugged in

Reset Your PS4 Controller

Your PS4 controller may be confused, preventing it from working normally. This may be because it is not properly paired with your PS4 console. Take your PS4 controller and hold down the PS button (located in the middle of the controller) and Share button (the button to the right of the touchpad) for about five seconds. Regardless of whether it is plugged in or not, the PS4 controller, so long as it is working right, should cause the PS4 to show the controller on the screen. Select the controller, and it should now be able to be used on that PS4.

If the PS4 controller is already paired with the PS4, you may need to unpair so you can pair it again. While plugged into your PS4, navigate to Settings, then Devices, and finally, Bluetooth Devices. Highlight the controller you want to unpair, and press the Options button (located to the right of the touchpad). From the menu that comes up, select Forget Device. After this, do the pairing instructions discussed above.

If a soft reset is not working, you can also try a hard reset. To do this, turn the PS4 and PS4 controller off. Next, use a straightened paperclip to push a tiny, normally inaccessible button on the back of the PS4 controller near L1/L2 for five seconds. After this, plug the PS4 controller into the PS4 via USB and power the console on. This should pair the two devices.

Your PS4 controller may have a drained battery

While this is not typical, especially for a controller as comparatively new as the PS4 controller, it is possible that the PS4’s battery has been completely drained. As a result, the PS4 controller is not able to function through Bluetooth, and needs to be plugged in instead. Thus, where the PS4 controller would normally charge by having it plugged into the PS4, the cord now simply acts as a conduit between the controller and the device. If your PS4’s battery is only comparatively drained, however, it should still be able to connect to your PS4 via Bluetooth.

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The device being used does not have Bluetooth

This is typically a problem with non-PlayStation devices, such as computers. Most of the time, your computer will come with Bluetooth capability, ensuring that you can connect near any Bluetooth device to it. However, there are still some exceptions to this rule. For example, some laptops and PCs, especially older ones, do not come with Bluetooth installed. Meanwhile, if you get a pre-built PC, you have to specifically have Bluetooth built into it. Otherwise, you will have to purchase a Bluetooth adapter.

Bluetooth adapters are relatively inexpensive, although they require a USB port in order to work on your computer.

Another issue is that your Bluetooth functionality may be disabled, or Airplane mode may be enabled. This would explain why your device is able to use the PS4 controller using a USB cord, but not wirelessly. To enable Bluetooth on Windows, either search for Bluetooth on your Search icon, or click on the speech bubble in the bottom-right corner of the screen to enable Bluetooth. You can disable Airplane mode using the same methods.

Can you replace the battery of your PS4 controller yourself?

If you have been experiencing issues with your PS4 controller’s battery, you may need to have it replaced or repaired. But can you do that yourself? Well, unfortunately, the only way for you to replace the battery yourself is to have both the skills and tools necessary. Honestly, even though it is theoretically possible to do it yourself, it is not really worth it. Your best bet to get a new battery for your PS4 controller is to get in contact with Sony customer support and have your PS4 controller repaired or replaced. Alternatively, you could also simply buy a replacement controller if you deem the repair cost to be too high.

Does the PS4 controller come with a warranty?

Whether the PS4 controller has an active warranty or not will ultimately determine whether you should even bother trying to get the PS4 controller repaired by Sony. When you buy a PS4 controller or a PS4, a one-year warranty is included. This warranty applies both in the case of a controller bought on its own or the controller that is included with a new PS4.

Both the PS4 and PS4 controller come with a one-year limited warranty, which only allows for coverage if what is being covered is a defect in the device. This means that if your PS4 controller’s battery is not working because of a spill or dropping the PS4 controller, or if it is outside of the warranty period, you will likely not be able to get a free replacement or repair. The only way to expand the coverage to include accidental damage, or beyond the first year, is to purchase an extended warranty.

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