So you ordered a PS4 controller online, and after playing with it for a while, you feel like it’s kinda sus. How can I tell if a PS4 controller is fake or legitimate? Did you really just drop $40 USD on a fake controller?
I actually was in the exact same situation. After comparing my new controller with my legit PS4 controller, researching the issue, and running various tests, I realized the one I bought was fake.
Before we get into the details, I have some advice for you. Even though controllers are quite expensive, it’s always best to buy them from a legitimate seller.
There are lots of fake controllers sold on eBay and other online platforms, and the sellers usually have great reviews too. Even Amazon sells fake controllers.
Something like 90% of controllers sold online is fake. Controllers are almost never on sale too, so if there’s a deal, it’s probably suspicious.
Where to Buy Legitimate Controllers?
When it comes to buying Playstation controllers, only buy them from either a physical store or an official website. You can visit the official Playstation store on Amazon.
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Bear in mind, that there are lots of fake PS4 controllers being sold on Amazon. I found one under a company called “PlayStation 4” and even “Sony” that is clearly a fake. Be careful.
Now let’s look at the exact steps to check if a PS4 controller is fake. It helps if you have a legit PS4 controller to compare the fake one to. Fake controllers are getting really hard to spot these days, so it’s time to be a detective.
If you’re looking to buy a new controller, might I recommend a controller charging station? This one is really cool:
Before we get into that, take a look at my article on how to fix PS4 controller trigger buttons not working properly.
How to Tell if a PS4 Controller is Fake:
A legitimate PS4 controller will have smooth and shiny buttons, specifically the arrow and shape buttons. Fake controllers will use a plain and plastic material that’s not smooth or shiny and looks greyish.
(Some legit controllers use non-shiny plastic for the buttons too, if you’re not sure about that, move on to another step)
If you made it this far, I’m sure you already have a good idea if your PS4 controller is fake. But here’s something else you can check.
If you have an accurate scale, pop the controllers on. Counterfeit PS4 controllers weigh less than genuine ones, usually 20 grams less. The reason for that is probably because fake controllers are made from generic low-quality plastic, while genuine controllers use more premium materials.
PS Button not Aligned, Crooked, or Loose
The PS button, the button between the analog sticks, should remain in place. On fake controllers, the PS button will often be loose or out of place. Try moving it with your thumb, if it rotates, chances are it is a fake PS4 controller.
These are the easiest to spot, and you can usually find them on the rear of the controller in the serial number location. If it says something like “SNY” instead of “Sony” that’s a pretty clear sign.
The serial numbers can be tracked too, but that’s a little more complicated. Look for spelling mistakes on the box too (more on that later).
In the serial number area, take a very close look at the fonts and logos. These are a bit hard to spot, and as I said, it’s better to have another controller to compare to.
But you’ll probably notice the fonts on the fake one are thinner, more spread out, and not as bold. It can be very subtle, so if you’re not sure, move on to another test.
Stiff Analog Sticks
Specifically, the left analog stick. This was the first sign that made me think the controller I bought was fake. The analog sticks should smoothly rotate in every direction with no resistance or stiffness.
My left analog stick kept getting stuck in the top left corner, and moving it up or down was janky. It’s easy to think a new controller will have stiff keys because it’s never been used, but that’s not true, legitimate controllers are always smooth.
Run Analog Stick Tests:
I think is probably one of the easiest ways to check if a PS4 controller is fake, and there are a few ways to do it. The easiest one would be this site, Gamepad Tester. Steam and Windows have similar tests too.
What you want to look at is the analog test. You’ll see two circles with a white dot inside, those are your analog sticks, and the white dot is the direction they’re pointing in.
This is important because that little dot represents your accuracy in games. If it’s all over the place, you won’t be able to hit anything at all (or maybe you’re just bad, like me).
If it’s smooth, and you can hold the white dot in certain spots, and make little circles, with no issues, your controller is probably legit.
I ran this test with my fake controller, and the site detected it as a PS4 controller. The problem was the analog sticks were super inaccurate, I couldn’t even rotate the dot, it was moving in squares, and shaking all over the place. Pretty sus!
Unfortunately, I can’t show you because I already returned the controller, but the differences between the tests on the legit one and fake are night and day.
You can’t really check this without opening the controller (which is fairly easy to do, although there’s a risk of breaking something).
You probably noticed that your fake controller has much worse battery life. Do you feel like your PS4 controller keeps dying? This is probably the reason.
Here’s the thing:
Genuine PS4 controllers will have a rather thick battery with 800 mAh capacity, logos, specification details, and even a QR code. It’s also usually dark grey.
Here’s a picture:
Counterfeit ones… well.
Fake controllers have a really generic, thin battery, with very few details on it, and it’s often white. The fake ones have between 300 to 600 mAh, so the battery life is obviously shorter.
Fake PS4 controller battery:
Does your controller’s battery look like that?
Box & Packaging Red Flags:
If you pay close attention, you might be able to spot a fake PS4 controller by simply looking at the box without having to open it.
Here are some things to look for:
The Box Includes a Charger (Important)
Real PS4 controller boxes don’t come with a USB-C cable. Counterfeit PS4 controllers always include a USB-C cable.
I’m not sure why real controllers don’t come with a cable but that’s Sony’s decision. If you see a USB-C cable inside the controller’s packaging it’s most likely a fake controller.
It’s a very simple thing to overlook.
The Box has Japanese (or Arabic) On It
There are a few fake PS4 controller boxes, and one of the most common has Japanese written on it. I figured since Sony is a Japanese company, it makes sense, but that’s not the case. Another common one has Arabic on the box.
There are regional variations in PS4 controller packaging but almost all legitimate PS4 controllers are either all in English or have text in three different languages.
If all the text is in one language besides English, that might be a little suspect. It doesn’t necessarily mean the controller is fake, it’s just something to consider.
Controller Has a Thin Plastic Over Touchpad
If there’s a thin plastic over the touchpad that you peel off, it’s probably fake. Real controllers don’t cover the touchpad. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe the counterfeit creators thought Sony would include these little quality-of-life improvements, guess again!
Speaking of touchpads, did you know you can use them as a mouse?
Spelling Mistakes, Weird Fonts, and Descriptions
Again, examine the box for spelling mistakes. In some cases, they misspell “DualShock”. Look at the fonts too, Sony’s are usually thin on the box (but bold on the controller) while fakes are the reverse.
Look at this abomination:
Also, in the description on the side of the box, it will probably say the controller is “Jet Black” regardless of what is inside, it could be a white controller inside. Legitimate controller boxes will have descriptions that always match what’s inside.
Funny enough, I actually found the box of the exact same counterfeit PS4 controller on Alibaba, a website to source products from factories in China. It might be worth doing a quick search on there to see if any of them match the controller you bought or plan to buy.
Hint: literally every controller on Alibaba is fake!
Analog Buttons Loud
Try pressing on the analog sticks (L3 and R3) and see what it sounds like. On real controllers, you’ll hear a faint click. The sound on fake controllers analog buttons are completely different, much louder, usually a hollow, plastic sound.
Another way to tell a PS4 controller is fake is to simply shake it and listen. Unless you dropped your controller a few too many times, nothing should rattle inside.
Fake PS4 controllers will almost always rattle when you shake them, it sounds like something heavy bouncing around, even when it comes straight out of the box. That’s pretty weird.
Do Fake PS4 Controllers Work?
Yes. Fake PS4 controllers work but the quality and accuracy are much lower than genuine PS4 controllers.
However, there are lots of people who don’t mind using a less-accurate controller as a backup option. Most fake PS4 controllers will pair to your PS4 and other devices over Bluetooth. Not every game requires extremely high accuracy.
Nevertheless, if you don’t mind using a fake controller, look for one that’s under $20 because you don’t want to pay full price for that.
What To Do If My PS4 Controller is Fake?
If you bought it from an online store such as Amazon, I would suggest requesting a refund and sending the controller back. If you bought it from elsewhere, there’s not much you can do.
It sucks to spend money on fake products, but it happens quite often, and it’s not your fault. Again, avoid buying PS4 controllers from third-party sellers on any eCommerce platform.
Either buy from their official website, an official Amazon store, or a physical location. Most of the time, if you do buy a fake, you can still get a refund, so it’s not the end of the world.
Do you have any tips on how to check if a PS4 controller is fake? Thanks, and good luck!