Using a Dualshock 4 Battery in a Dualshock 3

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November 23, 2023

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Back in 2017, Sony announced the discontinuation of their 7th Gen home console, the PlayStation 3. In 2022, all after-sale support was ended, marking the end of hardware support from the manufacturer.

The PS3 was the first Sony console to feature official wireless controllers. Each controller is powered by a Li-Ion battery, with a few different capacities used across the lifespan of the console.

With the first controllers being released in 2006, the original batteries in these controllers could be up to 15 years old. Official replacements are scarce, and could still be a few years old at this point. Third-party replacements are often hit-and-miss, potentially giving a much lower battery life than the original.

In this article, we’ll show you how you can breathe new life into your Dualshock 3 controller, using an official battery from a PS4 Dualshock 4 controller.

This modification was completed on the version of the Dualshock 3 using a VX7 motherboard. Compatibility with other models is not known – check the design of your controller before proceeding.

Comparing the Batteries

The first thing to point out is that multiple different batteries were used in the Dualshock 3. The original models (without rumble, technically called the Sixaxis) used a lower capacity battery.

The Dualshock 4 battery design is much more consistent, with the same general design used for all controllers.

battery comparison 1
Dualshock 3 battery on the left, Dualshock 4 battery on the right.

The two batteries are a similar width, with the Dualshock 3 being slightly longer than the Dualshock 4 battery.

battery comparison 2
DS4 battery on top, DS3 battery below.

The Dualshock 4 battery is thicker, though, which is how it manages to pack in a higher capacity. The Dualshock 3 battery here has built-in tabs, which slot into the plastic frame inside the controller. Not all DS3 batteries have these – it depends on the version of the controller the battery is from.

The connector on each battery is also different. The Dualshock 4 battery uses the smaller JST-ZH, while the Dualshock 3 battery uses a JST-PH connector. There’s a variant of the DS4 battery which uses the PH connector, used in the first revision of the controller. It will be easier to swap one of these in due to the matching connector, though bear in mind these batteries will be at least 6 years old at this point.

Checking Compatibility

The VX8 version of the Dualshock 3, used in this guide, has plenty of space inside for the new battery.

rear shell
Rear shell of a VX8 controller. Note the flat rear where the battery will sit

What’s important here is the almost completely flat interior of the rear housing, allowing the battery to use all of the available space. In addition, the board itself is tiny, meaning there are no large components that will sit under the battery.

If you have a different version of the Dualshock 3, consider the placement of components and the design of the rear shell to consider whether this change will work for you.

Removing the Shell

For all of their console controller batteries so far, Sony encase the battery in a plastic shell stamped with battery information.

Inside this shell, you’ll find a silver pouch which will look familiar to anyone that has worked with generic rechargeable batteries in the past. Open a Li-Ion powered device with a non-user-replaceable battery, and you’ll probably something similar.

Due to the smaller space available in the Dualshock 3, we’ll need to remove the pouch from the shell.

SAFETY WARNING

Before going any further, please ensure you are aware of the risks involved when dealing with Li-Ion batteries. Puncturing the battery can result in a violent fire, which could lead to a loss of life. If you are not comfortable handling the battery, do not proceed any further with this modification. It is also recommended to read ahead before making any changes, to better understand what you’re working with.

When opening the shell, only use blunt instruments to separate the top and bottom halves. We recommend starting with the short edge where the wires leave the shell – the join is slightly weaker due to the holes. In addition, the battery protection board is found on this end of the battery. This gives a few millimetres of shell with no battery pouch below, which is a little safer to work with.

Once you’ve started to separate the top of the shell, you should be able to start essentially peeling it upwards along the length of the battery. We find using pliers to gently pull the lid upwards is a good technique.

Once the top is removed, it should be easy to remove the other half of the shell. Take extra care not to short the tabs holding the battery to the board – these tabs are on the other side of the protection board, so there is no cell protection here whatsoever.

Exposed battery, fully removed from the shell

Replacing the Connector

If you need to change the connector on the battery, replacement leads can be purchased cheaply online. It’s easier to buy pre-crimped wires with the connector already attached, so the wires only need to be soldered in place.

Take extra care when doing this – the Li-Ion battery will not take kindly to having a soldering iron dropped on it.

Something important to note here is that Sony wire their battery connectors the opposite way to a typical Li-Ion battery. Check the orientation of the connector in relation to the colour of the wires – you’ll probably find they need to be swapped. Simply lift the tab holding each wire in place, and slide the crimped end out. Make sure to check the polarity is correct BEFORE plugging the battery in to the controller.

Fitting the New Battery

Ensure the battery protection board is covered in something insulating, to prevent it from making contact with the controller PCB.

battery fitted
Battery fitted into the Dualshock 3

At this point, it really is a case of plugging the battery in, and closing up the shell. Take care when doing this, as the battery will be a reasonably tight fit.

Conclusion

The new battery gives a boost in battery life, owing to the much greater capacity than the original. We’ve been using this for over a year now, and have had no problems since the change.

It’s worth remembering that the oldest Dualshock 4’s are approaching 10 years old, so a heavily used DS4 battery may not give as great of a battery life extension.

As a final note, which is somewhat relevant to this article, is that the official PS4 wireless ‘gold’ headset uses the same type of battery found in the DS3 we were looking at, even down to the legs on the battery case. This was released after the PS3 was discontinued, suggesting either official batteries were being manufactured at this point, or Sony had a batch of them they wanted to use up.

The PS5 Dualsense controller continues the trend of Sony using an internal Li-Ion battery which is not designed to be user replaceable. It’s a shame more thought isn’t put in to making the battery replaceable, to give them a longer working lifespan – particularly once official support has ended.

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