Comparison of Nintendo Switch controllers

Comparison of Nintendo Switch controllers

The table belows provides a feature comparison of official and 3rd party controllers compatible with the Nintendo Switch.

This table is intentionally not complete; it’s possible to use many controllers with the Switch via adapters. I only included controllers that seemed popular on Reddit or that were otherwise interesting. It’s entirely possible I missed some controllers that would make this a better guide.

Some important terms that initially confused me:

Hardware comparison (prices are at the time of this writing):

Name Image Price Battery Connectivity Vibration Motion controls Styles Technical issues
Joy-Con $70 on Amazon 525 mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery. 20 hour battery life. 3.5 hour charging time. Wireless Bluetooth 3.0 HD Rumble Accelerometer, Gyroscope, IR motion camera Multiple colors Analog stick may drift after only several weeks of normal use with no way to repair. No D-pad.
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller $63 on Amazon 1300 mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery. 40 hour battery life. 6 hour charging time via USB-C. Wireless Bluetooth 3.0 HD Rumble Accelerometer, Gyroscope Black, some special edition styles Controversial. Many people love this controller. They like the ergonomics and many claim they have had no issues. However, multiple people reported that they experienced drift, though it’s unclear over what time frame. Others complain about the D-pad lacking a ball in the middle, which makes it easy to accidentally input a diagonal. People comfortable with modding have had success improving the D-pad.
PowerA Wireless for Nintendo Switch $36 on Amazon 2 AA batteries. 30 hour battery life. Wireless Bluetooth 5.0 No rumble Accelerometer, Gyroscope Multiple colors Officially licensed by Nintendo. Similar design to the Pro, but no rumble or Amiibo NFC. Includes one program button and two mappable buttons on the back of the controller. People complain about drift, but there is a 2 year warranty.
8BitDo SN30 Pro $45 on Amazon 480 mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery. USB-C charging. 14 hour battery life. 1-2 hour charging time. Wired USB connection or Wireless Bluetooth Eccentric shaft gear motor Yes Super Nintendo (“SN”), Game Boy (“G-Classic”), and formerly Super Famicom (“SF”) color schemes Lacks grips, which is less ergonomic for some, but is smaller and lighter than the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller as a result. Cannot wirelessly wake up the Switch. Issues with D-pad similar to the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. Some report issues of input latency and connectivity issues when many controllers were connected to the system (perhaps from Bluetooth interference?).
8BitDo SN30 Pro+ $50 on Amazon Rechargeable battery pack or AA batteries. 20 hour battery life. 4 hour charging time. Wired or Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 Regular rumble Accelerometer, Gyroscope Black, Game Boy, and Super Nintendo color schemes Similar to the SN30 Pro, but customizable (via what 8BitDo calls “Ultimate Software”) and has handles which may improve ergonomics. L2 and R2 are now analog triggers instead of buttons.
8BitDo N30 Pro 2 $40 on Amazon 480mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery. 18 hour battery life. 1-2 hour charging time via USB cable. USB-C Wired or Wireless Bluetooth Linear vibration motor Yes NES, N64, Gamecube, and Wii styles Similar to SN30 Pro, but smaller, and intended to be more portable. Some complaints about the smaller analog sticks and the arrangement of the shoulder buttons (L1, L2, R1, R2), which are side-by-side, rather than one-behind-the-other like the SN30 Pro.
8BitDo SN30 Pro USB Gamepad $25 on Amazon N/A Wired USB Regular rumble No Game Boy Similar to SN30 Pro, but cheaper, wired, lacks motion controls, incompatible with Android and macOS, and firmware cannot be upgraded.
Nintendo Wired GameCube Controller + adapter <$50 for used controller on Craigslist1 + $15-20 for an adapter N/A Wired Regular rumble No 3 solid colors, plus many special editions Did not find any complaints. The design lacks a left shoulder button, stick click, and system buttons. Has analog triggers.
Nintendo WaveBird Wireless Controller + adapter <$50 for used controller on eBay2 + $15-20 for an adapter 2 AA batteries Wireless No (would reduce battery life) No Grey / Platinum Similar to the GameCube Controller. Some people in the Smash community dislike these, since there is a slight lag compared to wired controllers.
PowerA Wireless GameCube Style Controller $40 on Amazon 2 AA batteries. 30 hour battery life. Wireless Bluetooth 5.0 No rumble Accelerometer, Gyroscope Multiple colors Officially licensed by Nintendo. Similar design to the GameCube controller, but has a larger D-pad, a left shoulder button, and system (home + screenshot) buttons. Triggers are digital instead of analog. Doesn’t require an adapter. Can wake the Switch wirelessly.
PlayStation Dualshock 4 (DS4) + adapter $45 on Amazon + $20 for an adapter 1000 mAh Li-ion battery Wireless Regular rumble Accelerometer, Gyroscope Didn’t look carefully at this. Probably only interesting if you come from a PlayStation background?

Takeaways:

Other comments:

Sources:


  1. Nintendo no longer sells these controllers, so the only option is to buy them used. Beware of bad knockoffs online. Original GameCube controllers can be distinguished by the presence of the “NINTENDO GAMECUBE” print on the front. A complete list of special editions along with images can be found here.↩︎

  2. Nintendo no longer sells these controllers, so the only option is to buy them used. Beware of bad knockoffs online. Original GameCube controllers can be distinguished by the presence of the “NINTENDO GAMECUBE” print on the front. A complete list of special editions along with images can be found here.↩︎