For guests

Joy-Con

Nintendo Switch Joy Cons In Grip

For yourself

Pro Controller

Pro Controller

These two halves of a controller work together to deliver a unified gamepad experience. When operating as one, this controller lets you scan amiibo, feel intense vibration feedback, and offers all of the buttons you expect in a modern gamepad. It can also function as two independent controllers allowing you to easily enjoy local multiplayer with any compatible game.

$69 at Amazon

Pros

  • Attach to Switch
  • Comes with Joy-Con grip for more traditional controller feel
  • Size and weight make it great for children with small hands
  • 20 hours of battery life

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Not great as a primary controller option
  • Known drift issues

Nintendo's Pro Controller for Switch is a more traditional gamepad designed to look and feel similar to an Xbox or PlayStation controller. It offers a much better grip for adult players and charges via a USB-C port. It can scan amiibo, has excellent battery life, and it's great for intense single-players or competitive multiplayer gaming sessions.

$70 at Amazon

Pros

  • More Comfortable in your hands
  • Long battery life
  • Provides better control in your games
  • Fits adult hands better
  • 40 hours of battery life

Cons

  • You only get one
  • Doesn't work with some games

Nintendo's Joy-Cons are capable controllers on their own, but their real draw is the ability to convert into three different modes: A traditional controller in the grip, attached controllers flanking each side of the Nintendo Switch, or two separate controllers when you have people gaming with you. The Pro Controller is far superior on its own, but it won't work with certain multiplayer games.

Joy-Con vs. Pro Controller: What's the difference?

Nintendo Switch Joy Cons And Pro ControllerSource: Rebecca Spear / iMore

Joy-Cons and Pro Controllers are different from each other even though they offer many of the same features.

Specs Joy-Cons Pro Controller
Price $80 $70
Quantity 2 1
Battery Life Up to 20 hours Up to 40 hours
Charging Time Up to 3.5 hours Up to 6 hours
HD Rumble
amiibo Functionality
Motion Controls
Weight 3.52 oz 14.1 oz
Colors & Designs Gray, Neon Red / Neon Blue, Neon Pink / Neon Green, Mario Red, Neon Purple / Neon Orange, Neon Yellow, Blue / Neon Yellow, Neon Green / Skyward Sword Edition / Fortnite Edition Black, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Edition, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Edition, Monster Hunter Rise Edition

What do these differences mean for you?

By default, the Switch ships with unique controllers called Joy-Cons. It's 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 because, when detached, they can act as two separate controllers in multiplayer games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate or Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. This makes them fantastic options for hosting game nights or if you just have a lot of family and friends who like playing together.

If you're playing alone and want more comfort with games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, then the Pro Controller is what you want. Not only is the ergonomic design more comfortable for your hands, but the familiar feeling of a traditional gamepad makes it easier to complete challenges in games that require more dexterity and faster reflexes.

Joy-Con vs. Pro Controller: Use matters

The small size of the Joy-Cons is a setback for serious gamers, but these dimensions make them a perfect option for kids. Joy-Cons practically weigh the same amount as feathers when detached and are much lighter than the Pro Controller. However, the Pro Controller's ergonomic grips will keep adult hands from cramping, while the Joy-Cons can be uncomfortable to hold after long stretches.

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and Joy-ConsSource: Rebecca Spear / iMore

With a max battery life of 40 hours, Pro Controllers have double the battery life of Joy-Cons. This once more makes them a great option for long gaming sessions. But the 20 hours afforded by Joy-Cons is nothing to sneeze at. As long as you're charging them between playing sessions, you'll never run out of battery in one go.

The Pro Controller is a quality gamepad with a weight we love, the comfort needed for long sessions, and a button design that's perfect for better performance. The Joy-Cons lack many of the benefits the Pro Controllers have. 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 the Pro Controller user will have the edge.

Since both Joy-Cons and Pro Controllers feature amiibo scanning, HD rumble, and motion controls, you won't miss out on any of these features by choosing one gamepad over the other.

Joy-Con vs. Pro Controller: Price

Nintendo Switch Pro ControllerSource: Rebecca Spear / iMore

Just because Joy-Cons are a better value doesn't mean they're the better controllers to use with the Nintendo Switch.

Just because Joy-Cons are a better value doesn't mean they're the better controllers to use with the Nintendo Switch. The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is unmatched when it comes to design. You'll just have to determine how you plan on using the Switch to figure out which controller option is better for you.

For instance, say you wanted to get a total of four controllers to play multiplayer games with family and friends. You'd have to purchase four separate Pro Controllers, which would get rather expensive. However, if you decided to go with Joy-Cons, you'd only have to buy one additional pack of Joy-Cons and then use them alongside the pair that came with the Nintendo Switch to have four controllers ready for multiplayer action. Now, if you're mainly planning to play solo adventure games or online shooters, then you'll be better off with the Pro Controller.

Joy-Con vs. Pro Controller: The curse of Joy-Con drift

Nintendo Switch Zelda Joy Con ControllerSource: Nick Sutrich / iMore

Unfortunately, the joysticks on both the Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo Switch Lite suffer from drift. This means that the Switch is receiving signals telling it to move an on-screen character even if you aren't touching the Joy-Cons. As you can imagine, this can make gaming sessions frustrating. This problem is so prevalent that several lawsuits have been filed against Nintendo because of it.

Many people have attempted to figure out how to fix Joy-Con drift, and while some of these methods can help, it's still frustrating that this issue is so common.

Now, it's also possible for the Pro Controller to have drift issues. However, there aren't rampant cases of joystick drift for this more traditional-looking controller. In that way, it's a more reliable option.

Joy-Con vs. Pro Controller Which one should you get?

Joy-Con next to a Pro Controller with a Zelda mug between themSource: iMore

If you're specifically looking to buy more controllers so you can play multiplayer games, it will be easier to purchase more Joy-Cons since they spread farther. The downside is that you'll need space to put them if you want to travel with all your controllers. You'll also need multiple Joy-Con charging docks if you fancy those.

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 when determining which route is right for you.

After taking all of this into consideration, here's our take. At the very least, you should buy a Pro Controller for your personal use. This way, you have a comfortable Pro Controller for normal usage plus the two Joy-Cons that came with your Switch for anyone tagging along.

Ultimate control

The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller

The better competitor

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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