For the thumbsticks, Sony has traded the convex, edgeless thumbpads of the DualShock 3 for a concave design with a distinct, raised trim. But the benefit isn't purely for comfort and tactile identification, it actually has a clear impact on precision and consistency. With the DualShock 3, I often found my fingers sliding off the thumbsticks when making fast, pronounced adjustments to my character's movement or aim. With DualShock 4, I was able to keep a firm grip even with just an edge of my thumb clinging to the edge. It's a small, but critical improvement for reducing the travel time from the the thumbstick to an action button or the d-pad.
Sony has also managed to make the already stellar PlayStation d-pad even better by making the buttons slightly higher and giving them a slight, angled indent toward the center. It doesn't quite make the design any more or less precise, it just feels better. Similarly, the textured, rubberized material on the back side of the controller feels much better than the soft, matte finish of the DualShock 3.
But of course, the most important improvements have been made to the triggers and shoulder buttons. Just like the thumbsticks, gone are the DualShock 3's horrid convex triggers, replaced by a thinner, concave design. While still not nearly as pronounced as the Xbox One controller, the curve of DualShock 4's triggers provides a distinct lip for your index fingers to grip onto. The travel distance between the extended position of the triggers and when they're fully depressed is much wider, which makes taps feel much more substantial. But even half-depressions for burst fire felt better. The triggers are springy and responsive, snapping back into place with sharp, fast taps.
Unfortunately, I wasn't provided with any opportunity to test out the integrated trackpad or speaker, but I'm curious to see how shooters and games as a whole will put them to use.
I can confidently say that the DualShock 4 is better than the DualShock 3 in every way — it's more comfortable to use and hold and unquestionably more precise. Shooter fans that have been apprehensive about adopting a PlayStation platform or have simply suffered from the current controllers less-than-ideal design will be relieved to find that, thus far, the DualShock 4 delivers upon Sony's promises.