The Nintendo JoyCons are pretty amazing controllers. It’s not a stretch to say that they’re a big part of the reason the Switch has been such a commercial success — they boast motion control, compatibility with a variety of accessories, and are the main reason players can swap the Switch between docked and handheld mode. That versatility comes at a price, however. The JoyCons aren’t very ergonomic, and holding up the Switch for long periods of time can get strenuous.
That’s why Hori released the Split Pad Pro controllers. These third-party controllers are officially licensed by Nintendo and offer an affordable and much more ergonomic solution for handheld gaming.
Zoom In: Specs
- Ergonomic design
- Assignable rear triggers
- 11 different unique design options
- Price: $49.99
Unboxing and Build Quality
All that comes in the box is the controllers themselves and an instruction booklet. The controllers do not have a charging cable, as they draw power directly from the Switch itself and do not work wirelessly. There are eleven different design options to choose from, including Pokémon, Monster Hunter Rise, Pac-Man, Mega Man and Sonic editions. The version we reviewed was Translucent Black, which has red accents.
The controllers themselves are light to the point of feeling a little bit cheap. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, since they are designed to be used in a handheld mode and users don’t want to add too much weight to the Switch, but it does feel a bit like holding onto hollow plastic casing.
The buttons and thumbstick are bigger than those on the JoyCons and feel satisfying to use. The shoulder buttons aren’t quite as nice, but they’re perfectly serviceable. The wider spacing also serves to make the hands feel less cramped. The grips are comfortable to hold and make for an overall much more comfortable handheld gaming experience.
Gaming with the Hori Split Pad Pro
The Hori Split Pad Pro is incredibly easy to use. You simply attach the controllers to the sides of the Switch the same way you would with the JoyCons, and then they’re ready to pair.
We tested them out playing some Pokémon Legends: Acreus, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and Metroid: Dread. The controllers were comfortable and responsive throughout all of our testing. There weren’t any issues with dropped button presses or lag of any kind.
The controllers each have rear paddles and turbo buttons which add some functionality as well. I personally found assigning the “shoot” button in Metroid: Dread much more convenient than tapping X.
Is the Hori Split Pad Pro Worth the Money?
The Nintendo JoyCons are fairly expensive, coming in at around $80 for a pair. That can make third party alternatives like the Split Pad Pro seem pretty attractive, especially when they make the Switch more comfortable to use in handheld mode. There are a few competitors like the HyperX ChargePlay Clutch and some of the options from binbok, but none that are officially licensed by Nintendo.
The main downside to the Split Pad Pro is that the controllers don’t work in docked mode without an accessory that costs an additional $80. For that price, you could get a Switch Pro controller or even two of a cheaper option, like the EasySMX YS07. Other than that, the Split Pad Pro is an affordable, ergonomic solution for handheld Switch gaming that rivals all of its competitors.
Zoom Out: Verdict
The Hori Split Pad Pro is an affordable and ergonomic Nintendo Switch controller that serves as an excellent alternative to the JoyCon in handheld mode. The controllers’ light weight and mediocre build quality can make them feel a little cheap, but they perform well and are comfortable over long gaming sessions.
- Ergonomic design makes handheld gaming more comfortable
- Assignable paddles and turbo mode add functionality
- More affordable than official JoyCons
- Do not work in docked mode without an expensive extra accessory
- Cannot be docked on an OLED Nintendo Switch
- Light weight and mediocre build quality makes them feel a little cheap