The Nintendo Switch is one of the best-selling home consoles of all time. Its controllers, the Joy-Cons, are well known for their portability, versatility and also for the notorious amounts of stick drift — a problem that still hasn’t been fixed in 2022, five years after the Switch’s release.
The size of the Joy-Cons also poses obstacles for gamers with larger hands. The world of after-market gaming components is filled with Joy-Con alternatives, but they are not all created equal. Whether you’re looking for larger controllers or you just want a Joy-Con alternative that performs a bit better (and lets you run in a straight line in Super Mario Odyssey), these are some of the best Joy-Con alternatives for Nintendo Switch.
What Causes Joy-Con Drift?
There are two main explanations for what causes Joy-Con drift. The first is that dust and debris make their way into the controller and affect its operation, but this isn’t really the common cause. If it were, dust could easily be removed with compressed air, but stick drift affects many people, even those who take fastidious care of their gaming peripherals. The more likely reason is that the contacts inside the Joy-Con wear down and result in poor operation.
The downside is that Nintendo has not given any official explanation for what causes this problem, but they do the next best thing: Nintendo will repair broken Joy-Cons with stick drift for free. You have to go to the form on their website and fill it out. Unfortunately, this only applies to those that live in the United States or Canada. Anyone outside of these areas must use a local Nintendo repair center.
But outside of repairs, if you’re looking to get your hands on some new or different Joy-Con alternatives for the Nintendo Switch, read on! I’ve found the best of the best for your gaming pleasure.
Best Joy-Con Alternatives At A Glance
- Best Overall: Hori Split Pad Pro – $44.98 from Amazon
- Most Comfortable: FUNLAB Cons – $39.99 from Amazon
- Best For Hands-Free: Nyko Dualies – $44.17 from Amazon
- Best Replacement: Hori D-Pad Controller – $27.99 from Amazon
- Best For Animal Crossing Fans: Singland Joy-Con – $43.59 from Amazon
- Best Visual: NexiGo Wireless Joypad – $69.99 from Amazon
- Best RGB: ECHTPower LED Joy Con – $55.99 from Amazon
- Best For Cat Lovers: Kinvoca Joy Pad Controller – $40.99 from Amazon
- Best For Tiny Hands: 8bitdo Zero 2 Controller – $19.99 from Amazon
- Best For Weight: NexiGo Ergonomic Controller – $44.99 from Amazon
The Hori Split Pad Pro handheld controllers are one of the few officially-licensed-by-Nintendo Joy-Con alternatives on the market. They feature full-sized analog sticks and larger shoulder buttons, a larger size and better support. If you have larger hands, these controllers provide much more comfort during those marathon play sessions.
The Hori Split Pad Pro controllers also include noteworthy features not often seen on modern controllers, such as Turbo functionality. They sport assignable rear triggers, too. Unfortunately, these controllers don’t support motion controls, HD rumble or Amiibo.
Many Nintendo Switch games expect you to play using only the Joy-Cons, like Mario Party or 1-2-Switch. The FUNLAB Cons present a more angular grip that makes them easier to hold over long play sessions, as well as a different button shape. The first time you use these controllers, they must be connected directly to the Nintendo Switch. After this, you can remove them and use them with the back supports.
Like many third-party controllers, the FUNLAB Cons don’t support Amiibo use, but they do rumble and support motion controls thanks to a built-in six-axis gyro. They’re designed with comfort in mind and are described as holding a “wooden boomerang.”
The Nyko Dualies are unique among Joy-Con replacements in that they don’t actually fit into the Switch; in fact, they’re designed for completely hands-free usage. This makes them ideal for backups for guests. The design makes them easier to hold on to and the low price point is much more affordable than picking up a spare set of Joy-Cons from the store.
The Nyko Dualies charge through the use of an include USB-C cable and utilize motion controls and rumble feedback. Again, there is no NFC support, so no Amiibo functionality.
This is the second Hori entry on this list, but it’s well-earned. One of the reasons so many users need a set of replacement Joy-Cons is because of left stick drift, a problem that has plagued the Nintendo Switch since its first iteration. The Hori D-Pad Controller is an inexpensive replacement for the left Joy-Con that includes a proper D-Pad, but it comes with a few drawbacks.
First, it’s intended for use in handheld mode only — it does not work wirelessly. It also doesn’t support HD rumble or NFC support. All of these features were left out to keep the controller at the $20 price point, but it’s not all bad. If you play a lot of D-Pad-intensive games, such as those found on Nintendo Switch Online, then this is a great way to immerse yourself in the games of yesteryear.
If you missed out on the official Animal Crossing Switch, you might want something that kind of fits the theme. These replacement Joy-Cons from Singland fit the bill with their green and orange coloration. It’s not quite the same, but it evokes images of the Nook family.
The Singland Joy-Cons also come in traditional red and blue, as well as grey. They support motion controls and have built-in vibration, along with a 20-hour battery life. Like every other entry on this list, though, they don’t support NFC. It’s almost impossible to find third-party Joy-Cons that do.
If what you’re looking for is a visual vibe rather than anything else, then the NexiGo Wireless Joypad has you covered. This funky controller comes in a few different styles, and has most of the features you’d expect from a joy-con.
Just keep in mind that it’s a little larger than the official Joy-Con controllers, so you might need to think about that if you’re travelling. Despite that though, this controller feels a little more ergonomic, and comfort is a big deal when you’re gaming.
Look, we all love a bit of RGB. Well, maybe not all of us, but it’s becoming increasingly popular for a reason, and while having it on a controller isn’t the biggest deal, it’s still nice if you’re all about the vibe.
The ECHTPower LED Joy-Con isn’t just easy on the eyes either; it also has a macro button, turbo mode, and looks great when attached to a Switch OLED. The shape is also a lot more comfortable for larger hands than official Joy-Con, which is a nice bonus.
Some people love cats, and they want accessories that reflect that. If you like the idea of using a cat’s face as your Joy-Con, then we’ve got good news for you, because that’s exactly what the Kinvoca Joy Pad Controller is.
Aside from being cute, this controller has turbo features, vibration, a macro button, can be used in handheld mode or as its own little controller, and has a far kinder shape for people that don’t have hands shaped like Joy-Con, which should be just about everybody.
Okay, this isn’t technically a Joy-Con controller, but it fills a similar niche thanks to its tiny size. Plus, 8bitdo make some truly magnificent controllers, so you know that you’re in good hands here.
This miniature controller isn’t going to be ideal for long gaming sessions, but it works well for kids, and it’s great if you’re going on a trip and you want to save as much space as possible. It even works with Windows, Android, macOS, and Raspberry Pi too.
Finally, we have another “not technically a Joy-Con,” but we like this controller, and it’s unique, so let’s just go with it. The NexiGo Ergonomic Controller is specifically designed for handheld play, but rather than just slotting the controllers either side of the Switch, it has a proper rest for it.
Not only does this controller still have the likes of 6-axis gyro and dual motors for vibration, but it can also be plugged in for longer gaming sessions. The extra bit of weight can make it a lot more comfortable for some people too.