Bottom line: The ergonomic design feels great in your hands and all of the buttons you need are there, plus some. This makes for a great accessory for anyone who often finds themselves playing in handheld mode.
Vibration and motion controls
Works with Switch and Switch OLED
Pass through PD Fast Charging
Doubles as protective case
Right joystick is a bit low
Cannot scan amiibo
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While the Switch is a hybrid device, Nintendo revealed a few years ago that the majority of players mostly use it in handheld mode. Thing is, many players find those small Joy-Con controllers uncomfortable since they don't offer an ergonomic grip. In my own experience, my pinky fingers tend to go numb if I hold the Switch in my hands for too long.
Fortunately for people like me, there are many third-party Switch controllers out there that work well and provide a more comfortable hand grip, like the NexiGo Gripcon for Switch and Switch OLED. I had the opportunity to test this controller out for the last week and I can say that it responds the way it should while providing me with a far more comfortable handheld experience. Though, it isn't without its flaws.
NexiGo Gripcon for Switch OLED: Price and availability
The NexiGo Gripcon has an MRSP of $44.99 and comes in three designs: red and blue, black, and blue and green. It does not have an internal battery, but it does offer vibration and motion controls. Additionally, it works with both Switch or Switch OLED. You can purchase it on Amazon or the official NexiGo website.
NexiGo Gripcon for Switch OLED: What's good
As long as players have Pro Controller Wired Communication turned on in the settings menu, the Switch will work with this controller. Since I already had this option turned on, the Gripcon connected to my Switch OLED the first time I slid it in place. I've never had an issue with it connecting. As far as installation goes, it's just as easy to slide the Switch off of the case as it is to slide it on and it has always felt secure.
|Category||NexiGo Gripcon for Switch OLED|
|Compatible devices||Switch, Switch OLED|
|Charging Port||USB-C pass through on bottom|
I was concerned that this accessory would feel bulky when attached to my console, but the shape of the grips combined with the textured backing makes holding the Switch OLED comfortable for long stretches. It also never felt too heavy or like it would slip from my fingers. The buttons all press in nicely and the joysticks are just as responsive as they should be.
This version of the Gripcon is designed for the larger Switch OLED, however, it also works with the original Switch by including plastic sliders that you install on either side of the Switch display before placing the display into the Gripcon. There are also four additional thumb grips which you can easily swap out with the ones on the Gripcon for a different feel. I personally preferred the ones that came installed on the joysticks, so I continued to use those throughout my testing.
The vibration and gyro responded beautifully as I played various games. However, as with most third-party controllers, the Gripcon does not offer amiibo scanning. Of course, this is only a bad thing if you like to play games that offer this ability and if you have amiibo to use.
Battery life testing
Unlike Joy-Cons which have internal batteries, the Gripcon's vibration and motion controls work using the Switch's battery life instead of their own independent power source, meaning that this controller drains the Switch's battery life faster than using the Joy-Cons. It's important to note that the length of the Switch or Switch OLED's battery life differs depending on brightness settings and how intensive of a game is being played.
I've previously tested how The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (BotW) affects Switch OLED battery life and found that it could run for roughly five and a half hours when on Airplane mode and on half brightness. So, to test this Gripcon controller out, I played BotW on my fully charged Switch OLED for as long as I could with the display brightness at halfway and Airplane mode on. I eventually ran out of juice within about four hours and 45 minutes, which is 45 minutes shorter than usual.
Fortunately, the USB-C port at the bottom of the Gripcon offers pass-through PD Fast Charging, so I often charge my Switch while playing to make up for this battery difference.
Doubling as a protective case
One of the best things about this controller is that it kind of doubles as a protective case. The controller plastic follows along the backside, giving the Switch a more sturdy feel, while the top and bottom of the Switch are mostly uncovered, allowing me to access the cartridge slot and headphone jack with ease. This also doesn't block the Switch's heat vents as some other cases do.
The extra plastic does make it weigh a bit more than the Switch on its own, but it never felt too heavy while I tested it. It's worth noting that the Switch or Switch OLED cannot fit into their respective docks when installed in the Gripcon. So you will need to remove the Switch display from the Gripcon controller if you want to put it in the dock.
NexiGo Gripcon for Switch OLED: What's not good
Overall I love the larger buttons and joysticks on the Gripcon as this makes them easier to press with my adult hands. However, the placement of the right joystick is lower than where it is on the Joy-Con and requires me to stretch my thumb uncomfortably to reach it. Now, if you have large adult hands you might not have any issues with this. However, I believe anyone with medium adult hands or smaller might find this placement straining.
Additionally, the Gripcon blocks the Switch's kickstand and since the Gripcon doesn't have a kickstand of its own there's no way to easily prop your console up for tabletop mode. Now, obviously the Gripcon was designed for handheld mode only, so this isn't surprising, but it's something to be aware of. I was able to get the Gripcon to balance using the obtruding USB-C port, but this isn't ideal for viewing, as it tilts the Switch downward.
NexiGo Gripcon for Switch OLED: Competition
If you'd like better grips but don't necessarily want them in the form of a case, the Hori Split Pad Pro is a great option. Like the Gripcon, it gives you a better hold in handheld mode but doesn't have an internal battery. It's also missing other features like rumble, motion controls, and amiibo scanning. However, since it's officially licensed by Nintendo it comes in a number of designs including Pokémon, Sonic, Monster Hunter Rise, Mega Man, and more.
NexiGo Gripcon for Switch OLED: Should you buy one?
You should buy this if ...
- You often play Switch in handheld mode
- You want ergonomic grips
- You'd like something that offers motion controls and rumble
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You want controllers that attach separately on either side of the Switch
- You need a controller that can scan amiibo
- You have small hands
All in all, the NexiGo Gripcon is an impressive third-party controller that fits adult hands better than the Joy-Cons do. The ergonomic grips combined with the controller's gyro and vibration provide a comfortable handheld gaming experience for Switch or Switch OLED.
The right joystick is a bit further down than I would like making it a little awkward to reach, but the large buttons and responsiveness of the controls is perfect. Something else to be aware of is that since the Gripcon doesn't have an internal battery, it does drain the Switch of its juice faster than the Joy-Cons do. However, it will still last a few hours on its own and there's pass-through charging if you need it.
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.
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