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.

$57 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.

Benefits are determined by how you use them

Joy-Con controllers next to Pro Controllers

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 because, 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.

If you're playing alone and want more comfort with games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate then the Pro Controller is what you want. Not only is it more comfortable for your hands, but the familiar feeling makes it easier to complete challenges in games that require more dexterity and faster reflexes.

Comparing the price of a Joy-Con vs a Pro Controller

Joy-Con vs Pro Controller

When it comes to the Joy-Cons, there is more value in this package if you're buying for bulk. Instead of having to buy 4 Pro Controllers for the household at $57 each, you can buy a pack of Joy-Cons for $70 and use them alongside the pair that came with the Nintendo Switch. The Joy-Cons could also be emergency replacements in the event that you lose one. With two pairs of Joy-Cons, one coming with the console and the second bought for $70, you would have four controllers for multiplayer games. You would need to buy two Pro Controllers for a total of $120 to have four controllers and double that number if you want four controllers for guests to use.

What are each of these controllers capable of?

Joy-Con next to a Pro Controller with a Zelda mug between them

Battery life isn't great on the Joy-Cons. 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 can drain the Joy-Cons in about 3 hours.

Joy-Cons Pro Controller
Price $70 $57
Quantity 2 1
Battery Up to 6 Hours Up to 40 Hours
Weight 3.52 oz 14.1 oz

The size of the Joy-Con is a negative for serious gamers, but the Joy-Con is a perfect option for kids. Joy-Cons practically weigh the same amount as feathers when detached and are much lighter than the Pro Controller.

Joy-Con vs Pro Controller

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.

It's a quality controller that has a weight we love, comfort needed for long sessions, and a button design that's perfect for better performance. It also lasts a whopping 40 hours, so you won't have to interrupt your long sessions for a charging break.

The Joy-Cons lack all 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.

Final thoughts?

Top view of the Joy-Con and Pro Controllers

You could always get multiple Pro Controllers and connect up to eight at one time, 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.

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 own 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

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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