A drifting analog stick is one out of 14 buttons/moving parts on a DualShock 4, which is why it’s such an insidious problem. Who wants to replace an otherwise 93% functional controller, right? It’s even worse when it comes to a Joy-Con with drift because buying a new one leaves you with the extra half of the old pair… taunting you…
If you subscribe to the Pinoy mentality of repairing things before throwing in the towel (hello, electric fan shops) then the P700 analog repair service offered by Fixee.Ph is very tempting.
With a new Joy-Con set retailing at P3,795 and a DS4 at P2,990-3,490 (depending on the colour scheme) we decided to risk P700 and send over one of each to see if controller repair is really legit.
Fixee.PH Background Check
To be honest, there are a lot of repair services on Facebook but we chose Fixee as their profile looked professional, they had legit-looking user reviews, did community-minded things like streams and contests and, last but not least, an eye-catching doggie mascot. Founded by a bunch of like-minded engineering students, we asked for a brief backgrounder.
The traditional model is “paayos sa Greenhills/GH or Gilmore.” Why go online only?
We wanted to establish a brand, because when you say “GH” you don’t refer to a particular store. Now, with the online model, we have the means to not be part of the “tara parepair tayo sa GH pare” “sige saan?” (let’s get a repair at GH, ok but where?). Instead, people can say “let’s go to Fixee.”
Being online only can seem hella sketchy, like disappear-with-your-stuff sketchy though.
Initially, people wanted home service but we didn’t have the means to go house to house, so we came up with the online model as our idea. Masakit man sabihin (it’s painful to admit but) actually Covid-19 benefited us.
It helps that your page looks professional and not so fly-by-night to an extent.
Fixee’s motto is service you can trust. That’s why our logo is a dog because you can trust a dog! Another thing with the GH model is that it’s not as professional – or not at the certain level that we want. We want to take the profession of “online repair center” into a higher tier.
(For non-Pinoys: Greenhills is full of generic repair service kiosks that do stuff for cheap but the caveat is that you have no idea how good they are and any of these stalls can suddenly disappear overnight, so say goodbye to your stuff in that case)
Fixee does not charge a diagnosis fee so you can have your device sent over for checking and the only cost would be the courier. In our case, we asked them to diagnose the controllers first to see what the process is like.
Using the Switch’s built in-tester and a PC-based DS4 tester revealed clear drift issues for the left stick of both controllers. We were informed it may be possible to cure the DS4 analog via cleaning, which costs a little cheaper at P500.
However, disassembly showed that the control surface of the faulty analog (right) had visible scratch marks through its natural black coating. It was also at this point that we threw out any ideas about fixing the DS4 ourselves as a soldering gun was involved.
Meanwhile, the smaller Joy-Con mechanism is harder to open and much more fragile, according to Fixee. Thus, drift issues immediately warrant a replacement.
The parts used aren’t original Sony or Nintendo-badged pieces as the console makers don’t release official repair bits to the public. According to Fixee, they use that adhere to “original equipment” specifications. Cheaper “replacement” grade parts are available but they’ve experienced defects when testing them. These are not worth it as they are only between P20 and P50 cheaper.
Before sending the controllers back, Fixee took videos using the same calibration tool.
Round trip costs for Grab were around P300 (this author lives in the south), meaning a total of P1000 to repair an individual controller. As cautious customers, we did a quick legit check upon receiving them.
First, we confirmed that serial numbers of the controllers were the same. Then we had a non-gamer blind test the sticks and see if they could tell which one was replaced. In both cases, they identified the crisper, snappier new left analog sticks.
Fixee offers a one-month warranty for their repair services and as of this article’s publication, we’ve used both controllers for over a month and a half now and have not noticed any issues with them in terms of performance or recurrence of the drift.
Will they break after a year? Obviously we can’t tell yet, but if it lasts as long as the original Sony or Nintendo part before breaking again, then we’d say that’s a good deal for P700.
Disclaimer: For impartiality, IGN SEA paid for both repair jobs as a normal customer would.