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Nintendo Switch Pro Controller review

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller review: a great controller that shames the Joy-Cons

The official Nintendo Switch Pro controller is the most obvious option for Switch gamers, but it's expensive compared to third-party options.

(Image: © Nintendo)

Our Verdict

With most third-party controllers not being up to the task, the Nintendo Switch Pro controller is the best option for gamers wanting a traditional controller experience for longer games, or increased accuracy that the Joy-Con's analogs can't offer.

Pros

  • Solid heft and feel
  • Analogs feel fantastic
  • Responsive control inputs

Cons

  • Expensive for a controller
  • Looks a bit boring in black
  • Other colors are super rare

If you've sat down to read a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller review, you're almost certainly wondering if it's worth the money. Let's face it, it's expensive for a traditional-style controller and there are certainly a lot of far cheaper third-party alternatives on Amazon. 

You've probably also noticed that some of them seem a bit on the dodgy side to say the least. Stick with us though and we'll run through why we think the Pro is one of the best Nintendo Switch controllers

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller - Design

Nintendo has kept things simple here with the traditional Xbox-style asymmetric design for the analog stick positioning. Four face buttons and four shoulder buttons are in the traditional places, with no GameCube-style shenanigans spicing things up.

The Joy-Con's home, share, plus and minus buttons are all present too although you'd be forgiven for not quite noticing the share and home buttons as the buttons aren't raised at all. A row of LEDs on the bottom indicates which player number the controller is currently assigned to.

A USB-C slot for charging (a cable is included in the box) is on the top side of the Switch Pro controller with a small LED that glows orange while charging and goes out once fully charged. You can also charge the controller with your USB-C phone charging cable too which is handy if you want to top up the controller while the Switch isn't powered up so you can use it straight away next time you play.

If you're one of those players who see a weighty controller as a sign of quality then you'll be very happy with the heft on the Switch Pro Controller for sure. Pleasingly, it also feels really solid - there are no awkward hollow plastic noises when you tap your way around the chassis and button presses don't produce any awkward loud clicks - when did we all get so fussy?

The Switch Pro Controller's handles are ever so slightly textured too, adding some extra grip to the pad which means you won't have to worry about it squirming around in your hands during those Blue Shell-fearing final laps in Mario Kart 8. We appreciated the extra grip during some of the more sudden motion control elements in games too, as we didn't have to worry about the controller flying across the room.

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller - Features

Despite the Pro in the name of this official Nintendo Switch controller, this isn't what we'd associate with 'Pro' adjustable controllers on other consoles like the Xbox Elite Series 2 controller or Nacom Revolution Unlimited on PS4. This is cheaper than those fancier models though to be fair.

There are no remappable buttons, extra buttons around the back, adjustable weights or interchangeable analog sticks or swappable d-pads. So you'd be forgiven for thinking the name is a little misleading.

Motion-controls are available with the Switch Pro Controller though, so you won't miss out on steering functionality in Mario Kart 8 or the slightly cheaty spin move attack in Super Mario Odyssey where you jerk the controller sideways to initiate.

Rumble vibration effects are present as is NFC-functionality. So if you have any Amiibos lying around, you'll be able to tap them on the controller when prompted for a few extras in select first-party Nintendo titles.

NFC-functionality is very much an optional part of games though, but it's something to be mindful of with third-party controllers as we've noticed most of them don't have this ability. And rumble features are often a casualty too. So if you are after the complete feature set, the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is the way to go and the top of our list picks for the best Nintendo Switch accessories.

Nintendo Switch Pro controller review

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller - Performance

Long story short, after picking up a Nintendo Switch Pro controller, the Joy-Cons have barely left the dock on my Nintendo Switch. If you're playing a game where any sort of precision is required, be it nailing a drift in Mario Kart or navigating a tricky platform section in Super Mario Odyssey, the Pro leaves the Joy-Cons for dead.

It's all about the analog sticks. They're larger than the tiny ones on the Joy-Cons and much more comfortable under the thumb. They offer more resistance too (without ever being too stiff) meaning there are far fewer instances of frantically over-correcting precise jumps and ballsing it up royally because the left analog feels too loose, which is a frequent complaint for me with the Joy-Cons' lightweight PS Vita-like analogs.

The face buttons are raised surprisingly high from the controller's body and would have benefitted from sloping down or being rounded off at the edges a little. But despite the height of each button, responsiveness doesn't seem to be an issue at all and they're reasonably quiet, especially compared to some of the third-party controllers we've got our hands on. I'm also relieved the buttons are much bigger than the Joy-Cons' little thumb pokers.

The wireless connection to the Switch is super simple and reliable. Once synced up you won't have to do it again. Unlike some of the really cheap Switch controller alternatives out there which constantly forget all about the console between gameplay sessions and need plugging in again and again to resync.

The built-in rechargeable battery in the Switch Pro controller is seriously impressive and lasts around 40 hours between charges. It takes around six hours to fully charge when you do fully deplete it but seeing as you have a range of charging options (plug it into the console, the mains or a portable battery) it's more than fair.

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Overall

While more expensive than the standard controllers found on PS4 or Xbox One, we have to admit, the official Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is the best one to buy to enhance your gameplay experience on the super popular console. So if you're sitting down with a longer title like Zelda: Breath of the Wild, or want to ensure perfectly-judged jumps in Super Mario Odyssey, or to line up a perfect shot in Overwatch then this is a great purchase. Can we have some more exciting color choices anytime soon though please, Nintendo?

The Verdict

4.5

4.5 out of 5

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller review: a great controller that shames the Joy-Cons

With most third-party controllers not being up to the task, the Nintendo Switch Pro controller is the best option for gamers wanting a traditional controller experience for longer games, or increased accuracy that the Joy-Con's analogs can't offer.

More Info

Available platformsNintendo Switch

Brendan is the Managing Editor of the Hardware & Gaming team for all things eCommerce at GamesRadar. Formerly the Deals Editor at our sister site, TechRadar, he's obsessed with finding the best tech, games, gadgets, and hardware at the lowest price. He spends way too much of his free time trying to decide what new things to watch on Netflix, then just rewatches It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia instead.