Things Your PS4 Can Do That PS5 Can't

The PlayStation 5 is objectively more powerful than the PlayStation 4 thanks to an SSD and a GPU capable of rendering ray-traced light effects. Even the once-impressive PS4 Pro trails behind by a significant distance. However, consoles are more than just top-of-the-line components you can plug into your TV. Often, weaker platforms pull off feats objectively stronger consoles do not. The PS4 is just more evidence.

If you are only interested in playing games, the PS5 is the way to go since it supports video games, including PS4 titles, at higher framerates and with greater graphical fidelity. Such is the power and importance of backward compatibility, and Sony is probably trying to make up for the mistake of not letting the PS4 play PlayStation 3 titles. That being said, the PS5 isn't a true case of "everything you can do, I can do better." Some aspects of the console, from UI to design, are actually inferior to the PS4. These features (or lack thereof) shouldn't scare you off buying a PS5 if you already own a PS4, especially because Sony will eventually stop producing PS4 games. However, there are some notable weaknesses in the PS5 that stand out when compared to its predecessor.

Fit in Smaller Areas

This is a bit of low-hanging fruit, but the PlayStation 5 is a monolith of a console. When placing one in your gaming space, you need to free up far more room than other consoles, including the PlayStation 4. Not only is the PS5 difficult to store because it looks like a modern art piece, but the console stretches a full 4.1 inches by 15.4 inches by 10.2 inches.

Comparatively, Sony has had enough time to manufacture three different PS4 models of varying processing power and dimensions, all of which are tiny compared to the PS5. The original PS4 is 2.09 inches by 12 inches by 10.8 inches, which lets it squeeze into tight spaces, and even the more powerful PS4 Pro isn't that much bigger, coming in at 2.17 inches by 12.9 inches by 11.6inches. But if you are strapped for space, the PS4 Slim is absolutely tiny at only 1.54 inches by 11.3 inches by 10.4 inches.

That being said, the console's designer, Yujin Morisawa, told The Washington Post the PS5 was originally going to be even larger. We should probably consider ourselves lucky the console is only slightly more than twice the size of the base PS4, but that's cold comfort when you are trying to cram it into the same space your PS4 occupied.

Customize Your Experience With Themes

The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 were the first game consoles to emphasize the experience of owning a console as much as playing games on them, and their successors improved on those trends. Unfortunately, the PlayStation 5 is a bit of a step back.

Themes are arguably the best customization options for the PS4. Essentially wallpapers for the console, themes let you change the home screen that greets you each time you boot it up. Most themes are images either designed by artists or ripped from video games, but the cream of the crop are dynamic themes that sport animated images and alter the PS4 home screen's music and icons. If you don't like what's available in the PS4 store, you can always make your own themes by copying images to a USB and saving them as your new console theme. For some reason, Sony didn't want to keep customizable themes for the PS5, but it didn't ditch them altogether.

For the PS5, themes are determined by your active game library. Each time you start up a title, it shows up on your home screen, complete with its own wallpaper. Sometimes these demi-themes change the console's home music, sometimes they don't, but no matter what, you have to use these wallpapers each time you play a game. Even if you hate a particular game's wallpaper or music, you have to sit through it if you want to play its associated game. Quite the step back in customization.

Easily Back Up Save Data to USB

It's always a good idea to back up data. You don't really need to back up games since you can always re-download them, but saved files are another matter. Nobody wants to lose 80+ hours worth of progress in "Death Stranding," but it's easier to keep the original PlayStation 4 version's save files intact than it is to maintain the PlayStation 5 Director's Cut's saves.

Preserving your data on the PS4 is as easy as copying it to a USB. If you want the save files back in your PS4, just copy them from the USB. Easy peasy. You can even do this with PS4 save files on your PS5, but if you want to store your PS5 saves outside the console you either need to use an unnecessarily restrictive process or fork out cash for a subscription.

The easiest way to preserve PS5 save data is by copying it to the cloud — which requires an active PS Plus subscription. If your subscription lapses, your data is automatically deleted after six months, but so long as you keep the subscription money rolling, you can copy save files to and from the cloud. Without a PS Plus subscription, you can only back up your files to a USB. The difference here is that when backing up data, you can't pick and choose which saves to copy; it's all or nothing. More importantly, if you want to transfer the saved files back to your PS5, you have to use its restore function to reset the console back to factory settings but with the saved data added during the process. It is inconvenient, to say the least.

Easily Find Your Trophies

Trophies serve multiple purposes. These digital rewards work as checklists to help gamers keep track of in-game activities required for game completion, and also function as bragging rights. However, these trophies are much harder to use on the PS5 than they are on the PS4.

On the PlayStation 4, you can view trophies simply by scrolling to a game. Before you start it, just press down on the analog stick, select "Overview," and then pick "Trophies." You now can see every trophy you've earned for this game, as well as all the trophies you've yet to earn. Pick the trophy you are interested in, and the PS4 provides a quick summary, including how to acquire it. Of course, many trophies will be hidden, but you can pull back the veil by pressing the square button, which tells you how to earn the trophy. However, if you do so, be warned that you may accidentally expose yourself to spoilers.

At first, the PlayStation 5's trophies seemingly work like PS4's trophies. Just scroll to a game and hit down on the analog stick until you reach the "Activities" tab, which delivers a list of trophies. Unfortunately, this isn't a complete list. To see all the game's trophies, you have to select your profile icon and pick "Trophies," which pulls up a list of all the games you own. To find the trophies you're missing, you have to scour the list for the game you want and then select it to view the trophies. You can do the same on the PS4, but that's an optional method; on the PS5, it's the only way you can see the full list.

Organize Games Into Folders

Organizing the media you have on your device is also a critical function that a system should be able to handle. You can organize these collections on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, but it's easier to do so on the former.

On the PS4, you can place your games into folders. Just start by pressing the options button on a game and select "Add to Folder." This action creates a new folder, and you can add more games to it either when creating the folder or from your library. Plus, folders aren't limited to games; you can also insert entertainment apps on your PS4. Once a folder is set up, you can access it from your library or the console's home screen. 

The PS5 has a similar system to organize game collections, but it isn't as robust. Instead of folders, the PS5 uses what it calls gamelists. As the name suggests, these are lists you can use to organize your game libraries, and you can create them from your Game Library tab. However, therein lies the gamelist's biggest flaws: You can only add games to them and you can only access them from your Game Library — no media apps, no home screen functionality. Gamelists are far from unusable, but they're certainly a step down from the cataloging power of the PS4's folders.

Remote Play With PS Vita

Thanks to the miracle of the internet, you don't need to sit in front of your PlayStation to use it. Remote Play lets you stream your games to different devices almost anywhere in the world. While the PlayStation 5 can stream to plenty of tablets and computers, the PlayStation 4 has more Remote Play options due to one of Sony's failed handhelds.

In order to use Remote Play, you need to first download its free app onto your tablet, phone, or PC. So long as your device is connected to the internet and your console is in sleep mode, you can start streaming your games from your console. Also, be sure to pack your controller since PlayStation games typically don't support mice and keyboards. This feature works with both the PS4 and PS5, but the PS4 has one extra way to play.

Back when Sony was still pushing the PS Vita as the company's answer to Nintendo's 3DS, Sony introduced the option to stream PS4 games onto the Vita via Remote Play. Sure, the Vita has plenty of worthwhile games, but who can say no to a handheld that lets you stream PS4 games without the need to pack an extra controller? However, Sony officially discontinued the Vita in 2019, so the company didn't bother implementing Vita compatibility into the PS5's Remote Play. Even though Sony no longer supports the Vita, you can still use it to Remote Play your PS4.

Switch Apps With a Double Tap of the PS Button

Ever since consoles started including home screens, manufacturers had to implement controller buttons meant to access these screens. These buttons also serve as remote power switches and also pack in a few hidden functions as well. However, these secretive purposes weren't created equal.

If you double tap the PlayStation logo button on the PlayStation 4's controller, the console will automatically swap between the game (or app) you are using to the function you used beforehand. Say, for instance, you were scouring the PS store for some DLC and then decided to play a game. Pressing the PS button twice will automatically switch back to the console's storefront, and pressing it twice again will take you back to the game. Th PlayStation 5 includes a switcher program so players can easily swap between games. However, double tapping the PS button on the PS5 controller is reserved for several different functions.

Instead of switching between games, double-tapping the PS5 logo button serves one of several purposes. If you're on the console's home screen, it brings up the news and tips window, but if you're playing a game, it summons the game's card. On one hand, this function helps gamers who want to keep track of how close they are to acquiring certain trophies, but on the other hand, swapping between games on a console designed to run multiple games at once would be easier with the literal (double) press of a button.

Easily Use A Web Browser

While modern game consoles can do more than just play video games, they aren't known for their web-browsing prowess. Still, all contemporary consoles have some form of web browser built into them, or at least into their games. Although these browsers are easier to find on some consoles than others.

To access the PlayStation 4's web browser, just visit the console's Library and select the Internet Browser app from either the All or Applications tabs. While you can use the triangle button to search the web, the program is slow compared to computer-based browsers and doesn't cooperate with some websites. Honestly, you'd probably be better off using your phone, but at least the PS4's web browser is somewhat functional, which is more than can be said for the PlayStation 5's version.

At first glance, the PS5 doesn't have a browser. The console does, but the app is so hidden and restrictive that most gamers will probably go through their entire PS5 ownership without finding it. To access the PS5's internet browser, go to the Settings menu, select Users and Accounts, and finally Linked Services. Most services connect accounts with a QR code and alphanumeric string, but Twitter uses a pop-up. Click on "Sign up for Twitter" at the top of the screen and log into your Twitter account, sign up for one, or X out of the page. Then click on any link on Twitter and it will send you to the corresponding page. That is the only way to use the PS5's web browser aside from someone sending you a link.

Use PSVR Without Adapter

If you want to buy a new VR headset for your PlayStation, you will need to spend as much money as you did on the console. Unfortunately, while the PlayStation 5 is compatible with PlayStation 4 games, the same can't be said for the VR headsets. You can't play PSVR games with a PSVR2, and you can't use the PSVR with the PS5 — without the proper accessory, that is.

Technically speaking, you can't use the PSVR on the PS4 without accessories either, specifically the PlayStation Camera. The headset requires the camera for tracking since both were built with the PS4. The PS5's HD camera isn't compatible with the PSVR — probably because the PSVR2 doesn't require a camera — and the PS Camera doesn't work with the PS5 out of the box, either. In order to make this camera cooperate with the PS5, you need a special adapter, and we do mean special. You can't find these accessories in stores; you have to call a specific phone number and request an adapter, and you can only get one per household. You need to provide your PSVR processor's serial number if you want an adaptor, probably to help Sony avoid scammers.

Unless Sony patches in backward compatibility to let PSVR2 owners play PSVR games, you probably won't ever get to play PSVR games on the PS5 without this adapter.

Be Fancy, Custom, And Limited Edition

Game bundles are an excellent way to buy new consoles. Yes, bundles are more expensive, but that's because they also include games. Most of the time, these titles are the cream of the crop or at least console exclusives, and once upon a time, Sony knew how to make these bundles even more special.

Throughout the PlayStation 4's life (and the PlayStation 3's as well), Sony released a slew of limited-run consoles that stood out from other PS4s. Some were simple in design but fantastic in execution, such as the PlayStation One-themed 20th Anniversary Edition and the golden Taco Bell PS4 (yes, seriously). But why settle for a simple recolor? Why not purchase a red and white PS4 emblazoned with Spider-Man's iconic sigil? Or how about a PS4 Pro with a fire-breathing Rathalos etched into the surface? Many game bundles hooked customers on their custom consoles and accompanying controllers with shared thematic iconography. It's hard to deny the appeal, and it's also a shame the PS5 doesn't feature such fanciful colors.

While people can purchase PS5 bundles, no matter which game is included, each bundle is only stocked with the standard vanilla-white console. As of this writing, PS5 owners can only customize their consoles with official and unofficial plates, none of which sport patterns more imaginative than solid colors or camo. Gamers can also buy limited edition controllers, but these accessories are all sold separately.

Sony might eventually start selling limited edition PS5 shells with special patterns, but so far that is one feature the PS4 holds over the PS5.