For Guests

Joy-Con

For Yourself

Pro Controller

These two halves of a controller work together to deliver a unified gamepad experience. When operating as one, this controller gives you an Amiibo docking station, intense vibration feedback, and all of the buttons you expect in a modern gamepad. As two, you can enjoy local multiplayer in any game that supports it.

$70 at Amazon

Pros

  • Replacements if original Joy-Cons fail.
  • Attach to Switch, use in Joy-Con grip, or use as two mini controllers.
  • Size and weight make it great for children with small hands.

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Not great as a primary controller option

Nintendo's Pro Controller for Switch is a plain black gamepad designed to look and feel like something familiar to Xbox and PlayStation gamers. It's great if you're just using it for yourself, but you'll need to buy more for guests unless they use Joy-Cons.

$60 at Amazon

Pros

  • More Comfortable
  • Long battery life
  • Better control in your games.

Cons

  • You only get one.

Nintendo's Joy-Cons are capable controllers on their own, but the real draw is its ability to convert from a traditional controller in the grip or flanking each side of the Switch into multiple controllers when you have people playing with you. The Pro Controller is far superior on its own, but it probably isn't worth stocking up on more than one.

It depends on who's playing

Joy-Con vs Pro Controller

By default, the Switch ships with unique controllers called Joy-Cons. It's actually two controllers, and they work together to behave as a single controller when connected to a special dock or on the sides of the console.

The Joy-Cons are special in that when detached, they can act as two separate controllers in multiplayer games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate or Mario Kart 8. This makes them fantastic options for hosting game nights or if you just have a lot of family and friends who like playing together often.

Joy-Con vs Pro Controller

There's more value in this package, then, if you're buying for bulk. Instead of having to buy 4 Pro Controllers for household multiplayer at $60 each, you can buy a pack of Joy-Cons for $70 and use them alongside the pair that came with the Nintendo Switch. Those Joy-Cons could also essentially be emergency replacements in the event that you lose one or more.

Battery life isn't great on the Joy-Cons, however. Nintendo says it can go as long as 6 hours, but that depends on what game you're playing. For instance, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild would drain the Joy-Cons in about 3 hours.

And while we list the controller's size as a negative for serious gamers, the Joy-Con may be the perfect option for kids. The Joy-Cons practically weigh like feathers when detached, and even with both of them in the Joy-Con grip, it's far less heavy than the Pro Controller.

Joy-Cons Pro Controller
Price $70 $60
Quantity 2 1
Battery Up to 6 Hours Up to 40 Hours
Weight 3.52 oz 14.1 oz

But just because those Joy-Cons are the better value don't mean they're the better controllers to use with the Nintendo Switch. The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is unmatched in its design. It's a quality controller that has that solid weight gamers like, the comfort you need for long sessions, and the button design that's perfect for games where you want as much precision as you can get. It also lasts a whopping 40 hours, so you won't have to interrupt your long sessions for a charge break.

Joy-Con vs Pro Controller

The Joy-Cons lack in all those regards. They work fine, but put two equally matched opponents up against each other in games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate or Dragon Ball FighterZ — one using a Pro controller and the other on Joy-Cons — and you'll likely see the Pro Controller user with the edge.

Of course, you could always get multiple Pro Controllers (you can connect up to 8 at one time!), and if you have the money to do that then kudos to you. But that configuration comes with its own set of challenges. For instance, if you want to travel with all your controllers then you'll need space to put them. You'll also need multiple charging docks if you fancy those.

Joy-Con vs Pro Controller

It's worth noting that you don't have to sacrifice one for the other. You can totally use a Pro Controller while your guests use Joy-Cons. You'd probably get some dirty looks for this, but it is possible. Think about the games you play and who you play them with and determine which route is right for you.

As such, we'd say the ideal setup for most folks will be to buy a Pro Controller for their own personal use. This way, you have the more comfortable Pro Controller for normal usage, and you already have the two Joy-Cons that came with your Switch for anyone tagging along. If you anticipate more than two people playing with you then you can always stock up on more Joy-Cons.

Ultimate Control

Switch Pro Controller

The Switch Pro Controller will take you further than more Joy-Cons will.

It makes the most sense to buy this first if you're buying for yourself first. The Switch Pro Controller will improve your gaming performance in high-octane titles like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and you still have your original Joy-Cons for multiplayer.

Two for One

Switch Joy-Cons

You already have two of these with your Switch.

These are great as replacements or if you anticipate playing with four or more people. Otherwise, one person can use a Pro Controller while one or two others use Joy-Cons, and it'll all work out just the same.

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