HORI Split Pad Pro Daemon X Machina Edition for Nintendo Switch review: The best way to play in handheld mode

HORI Split Pad Pro
(Image: © Rebecca Spear / iMore)

iMore Verdict

Bottom line: It's kind of expensive, but definitely worth it for a better handheld experience. These give you a D-pad, extra back buttons, Turbo buttons, and reduce hand strain when using your Switch.


  • +

    Better handhold for most players

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    Turbo buttons

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    Awesome color scheme

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    Has a D-pad

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    Extra back buttons

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    Dock friendly


  • -


  • -

    No internal batteries

  • -

    No motion controls, rumble, or amiibo functionality

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I absolutely love the Nintendo Switch's small and innovative design. However, I can honestly say that I don't like using the Joy-Cons for extended periods. They aren't ergonomic and they don't feel large enough for my hands. On top of that, my pinky fingers inevitably go numb when trying to hold those tiny controllers and I have to wiggle my fingers around awkwardly while playing to get the feeling back. It's definitely not pleasant.

When I saw that HORI had released a Nintendo Pro-like attachment for the Switch, I was ecstatic. I immediately bought them and ended up testing them for over 20 hours. They feel amazing in my hands and don't cause any of the unpleasantness brought on by the extended use of the small Joy-Cons. I can't say that they are perfect, but I can't see myself going back to Joy-Cons after using them. Here's my full review of the HORI Split Pad Pro.

Better grip and feel

HORI Split Pad Pro What I like

HORI Split Pad Pro

HORI Split Pad Pro (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

When I first laid eyes on this accessory I knew I wanted it. It looked like just the thing I needed to make my Switch gaming sessions more comfortable. After testing it out for over 20 hours, my initial impression has proven true. Here are all the things I love about the HORI Split Pad Pro.

Traditional controller feel Awesome design and grasp

While these don't feel exactly like a Pro Controller, the Split Pad Pro feels way more like a traditional controller than Joy-Cons do. Most importantly, it puts less strain on my fingers when playing and is still relatively lightweight. That's because there aren't any internal batteries in either of the grips, which I'll talk more about later in this review. Due to this design, your hands are less likely to cramp - or in my case go numb - while playing your Switch in handheld mode.

It puts less strain on my fingers and is still relatively lightweight.

In addition to feeling great and having the perfect design to fit my adult-sized hands, I absolutely love the Split Pad Pro's color scheme. It's actually supposed to be Daemon X Machina-themed, but it's such a subtle nod to the game that you don't have to be a fan to enjoy the look of this accessory. The biggest tie-in is the X button, which features a logo from the action game. Even so, it looks like this could just be a stylized font and not a logo at all.

HORI Split Pad Pro (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

Something that's oh so satisfying about the Split Pad Pro is that you can slip the Switch into the dock with the Split Pad Pro attached. The controllers stick out a little farther than Joy-Cons do, so depending on your setup you might have to move the dock around a little to make sure everything fits in place. I'm just happy the Split Pad Pro is dock friendly and I don't have to remove them from the Switch whenever my console needs a recharge.

Enhanced controls Turbo, D-pad, and back buttons

This is really an ideal accessory for anyone who likes to play intense or competitive games. All of the buttons and joysticks press in nicely and have been enlarged to make them easier to use. One of my favorite things about this accessory is the large D-pad on the left side. It gives me more control when playing certain games and just feels good to the touch.

HORI Split Pad Pro (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

There are extra buttons on the backside for those who like mapping unique controls along with Turbo buttons on either side of the Split Pad Pro. The back buttons are really subtle and don't get in the way of your grasp while the location of the Turbo buttons makes it so they won't get in the way of the other controls.

I was surprised when I noticed that the Turbo buttons, screenshot button, and the + and - buttons are all made of a soft rubber while the rest of the buttons are a regular plastic. It feels a little strange at first, but it also makes it easier for you to find those smaller buttons without looking down.

Can't be used in Docked or Tabletop mode

HORI Split Pad Pro What I don't like

HORI Split Pad Pro (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

HORI Split Pad Pro (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

Source: Rebecca Spear / iMore

As with most things in the gaming world, these accessories aren't perfect. They are pretty darn close, though. Here are the things I don't like about HORI's Split Pad Pro.

They're expensive More than some other controllers

True, the Split Pad Pro is less expensive than the Pro Controller or a pair of Joy-Cons. However, they still cost a decent amount. While I love having better handholds on my Switch, this is a little steep for some budgets. For that reason, I have mixed feelings on the price.

I'd feel better about the price if it had batteries like Joy-Cons do.

Many other Switch controllers out there work wirelessly or wired while costing less than $50. However, the innovative design of the Split Pad Pro makes it unique and a little more worth the cost. As I've said before, it really helps relieve hand and finger strain, which also makes it a good purchase. I'd just feel a lot better about the price if this accessory had batteries like Joy-Cons do. If that were the case, the Split Pad Pro would be more versatile and could be used in more scenarios.

A few limitations No docked mode, tabletop mode, or carrying cases

When I first saw the Split Pad Pro online, I figured I'd be able to detach them from the console and then slide them together to form a normal-looking controller. But I was disappointed to find that the grips don't have internal batteries, which means they don't work unless connected to the Switch. That also means they don't have motion controls, amiibo functionality, or rumble. As such, the grips are more limited than I would like.

HORI Split Pad Pro (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

The way they are, they cannot work when in tabletop or docked mode. Now, if they did have internal batteries like I wanted, they'd be a lot more like the Joy-Cons and would thus be a lot more expensive. So, not having independent power keeps them from being way too costly.

Another downside to using these grips is that since the Split Pad Pro makes the Switch much longer than when Joy-Cons are attached, none of the small Switch carrying cases I've seen will be able to fit the Switch and attached Split Pad Pro inside of it. When traveling, your Switch and Split Pad Pro will have to be stored separately or in a larger carrying bag, which might be less convenient for some folks.

HORI Split Pad Pro Bottom Line

HORI Split Pad Pro

HORI Split Pad Pro (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

After testing the Split Pad Pro. I can honestly say that I will never willingly use Joy-Cons over these accessories when playing in handheld mode if I can help it. They feel amazing in my hands and prevent my fingers from becoming uncomfortable during long gaming sessions. I absolutely love the way they're designed and the look of them too.

The only thing that could have made them better is if there were batteries in each grip and if it offered motion controls, NFC functionality, and rumble. However, while they aren't as versatile as I would have hoped, they're still worth it considering it reduces strain and gives me plenty of extra controls when playing intense games.

Rebecca Spear
Gaming Editor

Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.