The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is a perfect option if you need a beefier gamepad. The Nintendo Switch’s detachable Joy-Con controllers were the bell of the ball during the popular console’s launch. However, those tiny controllers can get pretty uncomfortable when playing for long periods.
Sure, the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons are an ingenious design for on-the-go, transformable play, but they are nothing to write home about when it comes to long-term use. Players with bigger hands may also feel uncomfortable, thanks to these mini-controllers. Even sliding them into one of the optional Grip accessories, turning the Joy-Con halves into a more traditional single unit left many wanting.
Enter the Pro Controller, a perfect match to the DualShock 4 for PS4, alongside the Xbox Wireless Controller for Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. In fact, in many respects, it may even best those pads, even if it is one of the pricier offerings. Like any official accessory, it works for Nintendo Switch Lite and Nintendo Switch OLED, too.
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller: design
The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller doesn’t break the mould in design. Where the split nun-chuck look of the Joy-Cons takes some getting used to, the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is instead your standard two-analogue stick, handle-gripped pad. It feels like an Xbox 360 controller if a little curvier in hand.
It is nicely weighted for balanced play and has a slightly translucent finish to its plastic casing, with a circuit board-style pattern delicately etched into its surface. Suppose you found the Joy-Con buttons a little fiddly. In that case, the Pro Controller is far beefier, with larger A, B, X and Y buttons sat in the traditional diamond formation on the right-hand side, backed by two triggers and offset analogue sticks.
The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller feels a little chunkier than its PS4 and Xbox One counterparts, but that could be down to its class-leading battery life. Where you’ll get around six or seven hours from a DualShock 4, you’ll get a whopping average of 40 from the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. That’s a hell of a lot of playtime, so a little top-up now and then means you’ll probably never see it totally wiped out.
It’s a forward-thinking pad too. It features a USB-C reversible charging port, meaning you won't have to fiddle around to get it to plug in, while there’s also NFC built-in for connecting up your Amiibo collectible figurines. If the black aesthetic isn't to your liking, Nintendo's released several themed options over the years, including tie-ins for Splatoon 2 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller: functionality
As innovative as they are, the Joy-Con pads can be an act in perfecting hand contortion when used singularly, and the optional Grip pads still don’t quite make up the difference with the competition.
The Switch Pro Controller is much better, however. Its sticks have a great level of resistance and are comfortably offset, and the face buttons also have a perfect amount of depth. When it comes to the D-Pad, Nintendo has had the best since the days of the NES, allowing for pinpoint accuracy in 2D sidescrollers.
It’s still present and correct with the Pro Controller here and really shows up just how lacking the split-button D-Pad attempt on the right-hand side of the Joy-Con (when used in a singular set-up) is.
If there’s one point of contention, it’d be with the rear triggers, which don’t have quite the depth we’ve come to expect from triggers on other pads. They’re far closer to additional shoulder buttons than deep triggers. That’s not an issue with many games, but it can be a bit jarring with shooters or racing titles.
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller: verdict
The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is an excellent pad. It’s a must-have if you primarily use your Nintendo Switch at home, but it is great for tabletop mode too. However, it is also one of the more expensive pads on the market compared to those paired with rival consoles at $69.99 / £59.99 – but none offers its NFC capabilities or capacious built-in battery capabilities. It’s a premium addition to your Switch set-up, but we’d say it’s also essential.