This Nintendo Switch Controller Drastically Improves Portable Play

For the past couple of years, I’ve switched back and forth between Satisfye’s grip and Hori’s Split Pad Pro for handheld mode on Nintendo Switch. Satisfye’s grip adds ergonomic handles to the regular Joy-Con, while Hori’s Split Pad Pro features larger sticks and buttons and big handles. Both are great options, and I always have one or the other attached to my Switch. Recently, though, I started using NexiGo’s Gripcon, a third-party controller/grip that hasn’t received nearly as much attention as the aforementioned accessories. The NexiGo Gripcon meets my two previous favorite options in the middle: It rivals Satisfye’s grip in terms of ergonomics and the Split Pad Pro when it comes to its buttons, sticks, and triggers.

The Gripcon is a one-piece design that is easy to set up. You simply slide your console along the back panel and into the USB-C port. It takes a bit of force, but don’t worry, as the soft material doesn’t scratch the back of your console. The snug fit allows the console to feel secure even if you jostle it around. The most recent Gripcon model supports both the Switch OLED and regular Switch. If you have a regular Switch, you simply insert brackets on the side of the console to get the same cozy fit. I tested it with both models and found them to be equally secure. You can charge your Switch with the Gripcon attached, but you can’t use the Switch’s dock to do so (without an extender). After connecting your Switch, you have to go into the Switch’s settings and turn “Pro Controller Wired Communication” on. From there, you can calibrate the joysticks and you’re good to go.

NexiGo Gripcon

My favorite aspect of the Gripcon is the shape of the handles. While the Split Pad Pro is comfortable to use, it makes the Switch quite wide. For people with large hands, the Split Pad Pro is probably comfortable for hours of use. For me, however, it starts to become straining. The Gripcon fixes this issue, as it is more compact while still offering a curved, conventional handle shape that makes it feel like you’re holding a regular controller.

Much like the Split Pad Pro, the Gripcon’s controls are superior to the Joy-Con controllers. The offset sticks are taller, there’s a normal D-pad, and the face buttons, triggers, and bumpers are larger. The triggers have an upwards curvature that feels like natural resting places for your index fingers. I’ve always felt that the Split Pad Pro’s sticks were a tad too loose. The Gripcon remedies this with a tighter feel. While still not as good as the sticks on the Switch Pro Controller, they are solid and easy to get used to. The D-pad, on the other hand, is worse than the Split Pad Pro. It’s too rigid. It’s still better than using the button layout on the Joy-Con controllers, though.

The Gripcon also has more customization than the competition. It comes with six joystick caps that can be easily swapped. I tested the black model, which comes with three red and three black joystick caps. The blue/red and green/blue models come with all black caps. The caps have different sizes and materials. The caps for the left stick have a rubberized feel, while the right caps are plastic. All of the cap styles and materials feel great. I mainly use the default stick caps that are attached out of the box, but if you prefer convex or shorter sticks, you have that option.

It also has four mappable back buttons, two on each side. These can be mapped on the fly and are positioned in ideal spots for ring and pinky fingers. Since there are four of them–versus two on the Split Pad Pro–you can map every face button input to the back panel, so that you don’t have to move your hands much, if it at all.

The NexiGo Gripcon is a stellar Switch controller for handheld play. If you’re already happy with your Switch grip or the Hori Split Pad Pro, it’s probably not worth switching. But if you’re sick of using the Joy-Con and you don’t want something as bulky as the Split Pad Pro, the Gripcon is an ideal choice.

If you like the idea but also want to play on your TV…

The Gripcon is the best NexiGo option for handheld mode, but NexiGo also makes a wireless “Joypad” that can be used in handheld, TV, and tabletop modes. The Joypad is very similar to Hori’s recently released Split Pad Pro Attachment Set, except NexiGo beat Hori to market and offers a wireless design instead. The three-piece Joypad comes in various colorful designs. you can attach the right and left controllers to a block to use it as a wireless controller while your Switch is docked or in tabletop mode; or you can snap each side of the controller into the console itself for handheld mode.

Overall, It’s a pretty good controller for docked play, though it doesn’t quite achieve the premium feel or ergonomics of the Switch Pro Controller or third-party options from 8BitDo. It does offer neat RGB lighting around the joysticks and a turbo function, which are nice bonuses.

NexiGo Wireless Joypad
NexiGo Wireless Joypad

As a handheld controller, the Joypad is great–just not as great as the Gripcon. The handles are the same general shape, but they lose some of the ergonomic “bulk” on the back side. It also only has two mappable back buttons, slightly smaller triggers, flatter face buttons, and smaller sticks. Though it doesn’t beat the Gripcon in most areas, it rather ironically solves my main issue with the Gripcon: the D-pad. The Joypad has an awesome D-pad with just the right amount of mush to it.

So if you play games that favor D-pad controls, the Joypad might be a better all-around pick, especially since it works as a wireless controller when the console is docked, too.

The versatility of the Joypad–and its reasonable $50 price–make it one of the better Switch controllers out there, too. It just falls short of the Gripcon for handheld play. You can’t go wrong with either of these controllers, though.

The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors. GameSpot may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.

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