Before I started the long, cold, and boring wait in a line outside my local mall on a Thursday night awaiting the midnight release of the Nintendo Switch, I had already decided to buy the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. I took one look at the at the Joy-Con Controllers and preemptively passed judgment upon Nintendo's newest innovation, and confident in my choice, marched up to the counter at 1:23 a.m. Friday morning and purchased my Switch, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and the Pro Controller with a grin on my face.
After playing the Nintendo Switch with every spare moment I have had over the past five or six days, I can now say with 100% confidence that the Joy-Con Controllers are, 1. better than I thought they would be and, 2. I'm very glad I also got the Pro Controller.
I thought the Joy-Cons would suck
I have fairly large hands and holding anything small can be a challenge as I just don't have fantastic dexterity with my digits. As you probably know, the Joy-Con Controllers are tiny compared to other console controllers on the market. Each Joy-Con comes in at around 4-inches by 1.25-inches. There are no hand grips to be found on the controller itself and the coating on the outside of the Joy-Cons didn't look particularly grippy.
I can practically hear you yelling through your screen right now, "Luke, the Switch comes with the Joy-Con grip! You idiot!." I didn't forget about the Joy-Con grip, but its square-ish physique did not appeal to me at all and was a drastic difference from many other controllers I'm accustomed to using.
Yes, in short, I was a Joy-Con pessimist; however, when I finally I got my actual hands on them, I was shocked.
The Joy-Cons actually don't suck
Let me say right off the bat, I never thought using the Joy-Cons in tablet mode would be a problem, and it turns out I was right. The Joy-Cons, when connected to the Nintendo Switch console itself, are perfect. Your hands can rest easily on the back of the console as you are handling the thumbsticks and buttons on each side with ease. What truly surprised me was the Joy-Con Grip - the controller extender that comes with the Switch.
It's quite comfortable and not a pain to use at all; even my large hands feel right at home using the Joy-Con Grip. I have spent many hours playing my Switch with the Joy-Cons in the Grip and not once have my hands cramped up or felt any sort of fatigue. The experience is pretty comparable to a more traditional controller experience; however, the Joy-Con Grip doesn't solve all my issues with the small controls.
As you can see in the picture above, although my hands feel comfortable, my fingers are constantly pressing other buttons when I reach A, B, Y, or X. and that has caused some problems during my gaming sessions. While the odd misfire is to be expected during intense gameplay on any controller, I find myself accidentally performing the wrong actions at crucial moments far more often with the Joy-Con Grip than I would like.
Enter: The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
While the Joy-Cons aren't as bad as I had expected them to be when I purchased my Switch, I am so glad I invested in the Pro Controller. As an avid console gamer, my hands long for the slightly rectangular shape of a traditional gamepad, and my fingers prefer buttons that are squished together like sardines. While the Joy-Con Grip doesn't feel too bad in your hands, the Pro Controller is much more comfortable, especially for longer periods of use.
On top of overall comfort level, the Pro Controller has practically every button laid out in a much more convenient manner. This makes the biggest difference on the "-" and "+" buttons, which are infinitely easier to press on the Pro Controller than on the Joy-Con Grip configuration. Plus, the entire controller just feels well constructed. The hand grips are textured to help prevent the controller from slipping away from your hands, and every button and thumbstick has a distinct feedback that makes the entire controller feel — you know, pro.
While the Pro Controller doesn't look fancy or colorful, it has all the bells and whistles you need out of Nintendo Switch controller. In my experience playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the motion controls work flawlessly and are just as precise for aiming as the Joy-Cons. The HD rumble feature is just as responsive and prominent. Bonus! The NFC capabilities for Amiibo support are also built right into the Pro Controller.
Get to the point! Is the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller worth $70?
I'm very pleased with my purchase of the Pro Controller, and am glad I decided to shell out the extra cash. Not only does it eliminate the configuration issues of the Joy-Con Grip, but it also has all the features you need to get the most out of your Switch experience, and it even has a longer battery life (approx. 40 hours) than the Joy-Con Controllers.
While I commend Nintendo for making the Joy-Con grip pretty comfortable and not as difficult to use as I had imagined, I still spend most of my time playing my Switch with the Pro Controller.
If you're looking for a more traditional console experience out of the Switch or your hands are on the larger side, the Pro Controller is a worthy investment.
Note: As of this writing, the Pro Controller is out of stock at most retailers. You can still pick one up in-store from Target if you have one near you (I suggest calling first to be sure they still have it in stock).
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Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way.
Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.
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