Nintendo Switch Pro Joy-Con Charging Grip vs Pro Controller: Which should you buy?

These controllers are both decent options if you want to upgrade from the standard Joy-Con, but the Pro Controller clearly outshines the PDP Charging Grip. The Pro Controller has longer battery life, feels better in your hands, and has plenty of other features to make it worth the high cost.

The differences

The Pro Controller is undoubtedly the serious Switch gamer's controller of choice. It feels similar to the standard controllers you find for PlayStation and Xbox consoles. The fact that the joysticks and buttons are enlarged from the Joy-Con makes it the ideal choice for Super Smash Bros competitions and intense action RPG play sessions. The comfortable feel of the ergonomic handholds is also a major plus.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Pro ControllerPDP Pro Joy-Con Charging Grip
BatteryUp to 40 HoursUp to 20 Hours
Weight8.6 oz8.2 oz (with Joy-Cons)
Supports amiibo
Motion controls
Plug and playx

It reacts to motion controls for quick movements and includes amiibo functionality. The D-pad and larger buttons also make this controller easier to use. You can play with this controller for up to 40 hours before it needs a recharge. If you forget to recharge it between gaming sessions, don't worry: Simply plug it into a USB cable and play as it charges.

The bottom line: The Pro Controller just feels better in your hands than any other option out there and it will give you an extra amount of control during high-adrenaline gaming sessions.

The PDP Pro Joy-Con Charging Grip works by taking two Joy-Cons and sliding them into place, but it's more than just an easy way to hold Joy-Cons. It makes the little controllers easier to use. It's a little wider than a regular grip, making this controller hybrid feel more like a real controller. The grip makes the L, R, ZL, and ZR buttons stick out more so they're easier to use. Additionally, if you attach the thumbstick caps that come with the grip, the joysticks feel larger and the rubber material makes them respond quickly to minute thumb movements.

However, when it comes to holding the controller the back piece of plastic gets in the way of your fingers (especially for adults or people with large hands) so you can't get as good of a grip around the textured handholds.

The charging stand has an attached USB cable, but the package doesn't include an outlet plug so you will need to supply one yourself. Similarly, since the USB doesn't detach from the stand, and the grip charges with the use of metal prongs you cannot plug a USB cable directly into the grip. That means that there is no plug-and-play ability. If your Joy-Con batteries are low you'll have to wait and let them charge.

The bottom line: The PDP Pro Joy-Con Charging Grip isn't as comfortable to hold as the Pro Controller and you cannot plug and play if your battery is low. However, it's a great alternative for anyone who is wallet-conscious.

Is price the big factor?

The Pro Controller is definitely a pricey item. The regular black version sells for $57 but you'll need to pay $85-$99 if you want one of the themed Pro Controllers. If you also want a charging dock you'll need to pay extra, too. So you could potentially spend over $100 for the Pro Controller setup you want.

If you're really concerned about the price, you'll probably want to choose the Pro Joy-Con Charging Grip. At $22 it's about a third of the cost of a Pro Controller. Of course, you'll need to use an existing pair of Joy-Cons to slide into the grip. If one of these were to break, you'd have to replace it (a pair sells for $67-$70, depending on the color).

In the end

Both of these controllers are decent options, but the Pro Controller is clearly the better of the two. It outperforms any other Switch controller on the market, bringing you amiibo functionality, motion controls, HD rumble, and enlarged buttons and joysticks all in one controller.

If you typically play multiplayer games locally with friends and family, it might be worth purchasing two Pro Controllers. But if that's a bit too pricey you could compromise by purchasing one Pro Controller and as many PDP Pro Charging Grips as you have pairs of Joy-Cons. That way you save money but still give a comfortable gaming experience for everyone involved. Just make sure to charge those controllers between playing sessions!

Rebecca Spear
Gaming Editor

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.