Nintendo Switch Pro Controller Vs Joy-Cons Should You Upgrade?

As a switch owner, I’m sure you’re asking yourself if you should buy a Nintendo Switch Pro controller? I own one myself but I decided to find out the pros and cons of the controller and if it’s worth 1/4th of the Switches price to upgrade to a Pro controller.

The Pro controller is worth the money, it has a beautiful weighted design with an excellent 40 hours battery life and everything feels premium. It gives you a far better gaming experience than the joy-cons with certain games like Super Smash Bros and first-person shooter games.

However, as Switches accessories go the controller is genuinely quite expensive at roughly 1/4th of the Nintendo Switch and there are genuine concerns if it’s worth it if you play your switch in handheld mode.

Don’t fret as everything will be analysed so you get the best resource you can if deciding if the Pro controller is worth your investment.

Nintendo Pro Controller Detailed Look

Front Of The Pro Controller
Back Of THe Pro Controller

The Nintendo Pro controller is a plain black controller that will be very familiar with most gamers who have different consoles most notably the Xbox controller. It has two analogue sticks with the right-hand stick facing lower than the other buttons, a directional pad, four face buttons with four shoulder triggers, and several navigational buttons in the centre.

It has a fantastic battery life of around 40 hours and according to the official Nintendo website “The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller takes approximately 6 hours to fully charge. When fully charged, the battery for the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller can last approximately 40 hours.

The charge lasts more than 6 times the full charge of the joy-cons where I can tell you from experience always need to be recharged and maybe one has charge and another doesn’t. The pro controller does not suffer from this issue as it’s all one unit and I can tell you from experience it rarely needs to be charged and it destroys the DualShock 4 in every single department.

It also is a solid choice for PC gaming and can be connected via both blue tooth and wired connection. Check out this handy tutorial below for a guide on how to do it

I personally think it is one of the best controllers I’ve used because everything just works so well. The fantastic battery life together with the weighty expensive feel of the controller and general responsiveness of the triggers really make you feel you’re having a premium gaming experience.

The joy-cons just feel cheap and flat in comparison especially the analogue sticks feel like the 3DS really they are handheld controllers when the Switch is a real home console controller.

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller Vs Joy-Cons

Joy-ConsPro Controller
BatteryUp to 40 hoursUp to 6 hours
Weight3.52 oz/ 98 grams14.1oz/394 grams

Nintendo Pro Controller & Joy-Cons Usage Differences

You get 2 joy-cons with the original Switch and they either behave as a single controller when connected to the Switch or attached to a controller grip. The strength of the joy-cons is the variety as if you have friends over for multiplayer games like Super Smash Bros Or Mario Kart 8 you can simply detach the joy-cons to double the controllers for others to play with.

If you have 2 distinct joy-cons then already that’s a possible 4 separate controllers for everyone to use and enjoy. It’s a fantastic choice for family gaming just see the Nintendo video below to see what I mean.

Whereas the Pro controller is for the optimal home gaming experience as it is far bigger than the joy-cons and much more comfortable in adult-sized hands. Games that require complicated input and faster reflexes like playing Super smash Ultimate to a high level simply require a Pro controller over joy-cons.

If you play on your TV a lot then the Pro controller is the most important Switch accessory. It is very comfortable for long gaming sessions and whenever you want to use the Switch in the portable mode you can simply leave the joy-cons included in the Switch attached rather than doing the long process of disconnecting the controllers from the controller grip and reattaching them, and you’re ready to be out and about.

Certain games like Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection(buy from Amazon here) cannot really be played on the joy-con as noted by Andrew Freeman a staff writer for the popular gaming website Tom’s Guide. As executing difficult combos require the traditional Pro controller D-pad something the joy-con lacks.

“Fighting games would suck on the Joy-Cons,”

Andrew Freeman

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller Vs Joy-Cons Price Differences

Image result for family nintendo switch

If you buying for your family or for group gaming sessions then arguably there is more value in an additional set of joy-cons. As another pair will set you back $69 but give you two different controllers, giving you 4 controllers in total.

However, if you wanted 2 additional Pro controllers you would need to pay $118, $69 more and double that to a price of $236 if you wanted 4 Pro controllers. So it appears the Joy-cons offer better value overall if you favour party games or play the Nintendo Switch as a family.

Although the MASSIVE issues are they have numerous technical issues and sub-par battery life. Whilst they are advertised at having 6-hour charge it is highly dependent on what game you’re playing, A labour intensive game like Breath Of The Wild will suck the very soul out of your joy-con controllers which will last around 3 hours charge less than half what is advertised.

My joy-cons always needed to be recharged whilst playing BOTW but after upgrading to a Nintendo Pro controller this simply doesn’t happen anymore and I can enjoy hours upon hours of gameplay without seeing that low battery sign on my TV.

Nevertheless, you can purchase a separate charging grip for around $20 in Amazon here which allows you to charge the joy-cons in a controller grip. But is it really worth roughly the additional $20 when you can get the best Nintendo controller ever produced in the Pro controller for only $39 more? I don’t think so, just get the Pro controller instead.

Pro Controller Vs Joy-Cons Physical Differences

Joy-cons when attached to a controller grip Front View
Joy-cons when attached to a controller grip Back View

The size and weight is the biggest difference with the Pro controller being over 4 times heavier with a lot more tangible feel to it. The joy-cons whilst playable in a controller grip just aren’t ideal for long gaming sessions if you have medium-sized hands; which probably steps from Nintendo being a Japanese company and the hardware being the same globally.

Contrastingly the joy-cons are a fantastic size for children and when separated they weigh less than 2 ounzes/50 grams, meaning your child can play for hours and hours without getting tired.

But having bigger hands makes the experience uncomfortable especially when playing for hours, although they are included with the Switch console so buying a Pro controller for yourself and letting your kids use the 2 included joy-con controllers is an easy compromise.

Joy-Cons Issues

The joy-cons have been plagued with an issue called the Joy-Con Drift from the Switches launch which is an issue when one or both of the detachable joy-con controllers movement is being detected by the Switch even if they are not touching the thumbstick on a Joy-Con.

This can be fixed via opening up the joy-cons which you can see a handy tutorial on how to fix your Joy-con drift down below.

Nintendo America was faced with a lawsuit over this issue by the firm  Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith on the basis of selling the Switch and Joy-cons despite being “aware of the defect through online consumer complaints.”.

Nintendo recently has announced that they will refund those who need their controllers fixed according to a leaked memo received by Vice and released the following statement.

At Nintendo, we take great pride in creating quality products and we are continuously making improvements to them. We are aware of recent reports that some Joy-Con controllers are not responding correctly. We want our consumers to have fun with Nintendo Switch, and if anything falls short of this goal we always encourage them to visit so we can help.”


This is nice to see but clearly the joy-cons are cheaply produced and prone to other areas such as becoming lose with plastics locks and a tendency to lose Bluetooth connections something I have experienced myself multiple times.

For a $69 product, you simply expect more from Nintendo and the Pro controller just lacks all these technical issues and it seems to me will last a very long time. I just can’t say the same with the joy-cons and in the long run, the Pro is a lot better value for money in my opinion.

Why Should You Avoid The Pro Controller?

The biggest reason is some people exclusively play the Nintendo Switch in portable mode and having the joy-cons attached to the tablet of the Switch is the ideal way to play portable mode aside from using the kickstand and the Pro Controller which is quite awkward to pull off.

Assuming you ALWAYS and I mean always use the Switch in portable mode when you’re on a plane/train/commuting then I don’t see the point in purchasing a Pro controller as it is simply inconvenient.

The controller grip is also very compact and easily fits in all Nintendo Switch cases(check out my guide to all the best Switch accessories here) and actually imitates the look and feel of a traditional controller quite well, but especially if you have big hands it is a bit too small.

Although I understand the logic, I myself left my Pro controller at home when I backpacked China the Pro controller is by far the best way to play the Switch when docked.

If you exclusively play your Switch on portable mode and want the very best experience? Really and truly you should buy the Nintendo Switch Lite(get the best price on Amazon here) for the very best handled Nintendo Switch experience.

So Should You Buy The Nintendo Pro Controller Or Joy-Cons?

blue, orange, nintendo switch, table, nintendo, console, game, video, play, controller

Since you already have a pair of joy-cons you know the benefits and limitations of the Nintendo controllers. But ultimately it all depends on your needs. Do you play a lot of party games or regularly host people at your house and need that extra ability to make one controller into 2 and love the freedom that gives you?

Or want the best possible home gaming experience for your Switch and relish the incredible 40-hour battery life with a weighty premium controller that is way better than the Dualshock 4 and rivals most other gaming controllers? Regardless if you play your Switch exclusively on the go then I cannot recommend the Pro controller despite how much I love it.

Purchasing a Pro controller is the best option as you already have that joy-con included with the Switch and you can always ask your friends to bring their own joy-cons when playing multiplayer games.

The improved button layout and ability to play on PC considering it is $10 cheaper than another set of joy-cons make it a no brainer purchase for me.

Having one in your home setup just gives you the best of both possible worlds, as you have the joy-cons when you need to use portable mode and your trusty pro controller is always at home waiting for you.

Honestly, at only $10 more than the Dualshock 4, the quality difference between both controllers is astounding. I can’t see it breaking or having any charging issues for a very long time whilst the Dualshock just seems and feels so much cheaper and less premium.

Buy a Pro controller if you even occasionally play your Switch in docked, trust me it is worth it. The joy-cons in comparison despite being cheaper just feel a lot tackier and will not last as long.


Can you use the Switch Pro controller in handheld mode?

Yes, you can use the Pro controller whether the Switch is docked or in handheld mode regardless of mode.

What does the Nintendo Switch Pro controller come with?

It comes with the controller itself and a charging cable (USB C to USB A). Included motion controls, HD rumble, built-in amiibo functionality and more. Certain KontolFreek thumbsticks are compatible with the controller.

Just out this unboxing video to see what comes with the controller in your own eyes.

Is the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller good?

I believe it is one of the best gaming controllers in the market with its incredible 40-hour battery life sleek weighty premium design and excellent gaming precision. It is Nintendos best ever controller and is designed to last.

How Much Is The Pro Controller?

It retails from around $58/£44 and you can get the best price from Amazon right here

How Long Is The Pro Controllers Battery Life

The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller takes approximately 6 hours to fully charge. When fully charged, the battery for the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller can last approximately 40 hours

Do You Need A Controller For Nintendo Switch?

Everything you need to play the Nintendo Switch is included in the box such as a docking station and a pair of joy-con controllers. The Nintendo Pro controller you will have to buy separately.

Recommended Products

Nintendo Joy-Con Charging Grip(Amazon Link)

Nintendo Switch Lite – Turquoise(Amazon Link)

Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons(Amazon Link)

Nintendo Switch Pro Controllers(Amazon Link)