This Nintendo Switch controller dramatically improves handheld gaming

The past two years I have alternated between Get started with Satisfye and Hori Split Pad Pro for handheld mode on Nintendo Switch. Satisfye’s Grip adds ergonomic grips to the regular Joy-Con, while Hori’s Split Pad Pro has larger sticks and buttons and large grips. Both are great options and I always have one or the other strapped to my Switch. However, recently I have started using NexiGo’s Gripcon, a third-party controller/handlebar that hasn’t gotten as much attention as the aforementioned accessories. The NexiGo Gripcon fulfills my two previous favorite options in the middle: it rivals the Satisfye Grip in terms of ergonomics and the Split Pad Pro in terms of its buttons, sticks and triggers.

Gripcon is an easy to install one piece design. 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 won’t scratch the back of your console. The snug fit makes the console feel secure, even if you push it. The latest Gripcon model supports both OLED Switch and standard Switch. If you have a regular Switch, simply insert brackets into the side of the console to achieve the same comfortable 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 docking station to do so (without an extension cord). After connecting your Switch, go to Switch Settings and enable “Pro Controller Wired Communication”. From there you can calibrate the joystick and you’re good to go.

NexiGo Gripcon

My favorite aspect of the Gripcon is the shape of the handles. Although the Split Pad Pro is comfortable to use, it makes the Switch quite wide. For people with large hands, the Split Pad Pro is likely to be comfortable for hours of use. For me, though, it’s starting to get exhausting. The Gripcon solves this problem by being more compact while offering a curved, conventional grip shape that feels like you’re holding a regular controller.

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Like the Split Pad Pro, the Gripcon’s controls are superior to Joy-Con controllers. The offset sticks are larger, there’s a normal D-pad, and the face buttons, triggers and bumpers are larger. The triggers have an upward bend that feels like natural resting places for your index fingers. I’ve always found the Split Pad Pro sticks to be a bit too loose. Gripcon solves this with a tighter feel. Although they are still not as good as the sticks on Switch Controller Pro, they are strong and easy to get used to. The D-pad, on the other hand, is worse than the Split Pad Pro. It is too stiff. However, it’s still better than using the button layout on Joy-Con controllers.

The Gripcon also has more customization than the competition. It comes with six joystick caps that can be easily replaced. I tested the black model, which comes with three red and three black joystick caps. Blue/red and green/blue models come with completely black hoods. Plugs come in different sizes and materials. The left thumbstick caps have a rubberized feel, while the right thumbstick caps are plastic. All caps and all materials are comfortable to wear. I mostly use standard 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 buttons on the back that can be mapped, two on each side. These can be mapped on the fly and are placed in the ideal locations for the ring finger and little finger. Since there are four – compared to two on the Split Pad Pro – you can map each face button input to the rear panel, so you don’t have to move your hands much, if at all.

The NexiGo Gripcon is a great Switch controller for handheld gaming. If you’re already happy with your Switch grip or Hori Split Pad Pro, it’s probably not worth switching. But if you’re tired of using the Joy-Con and 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” which can be used in laptop, TV and table mode. The Joypad is very similar to the one recently released by Hori Split Pad Pro Accessory Kit, except NexiGo has beaten Hori to market and instead offers a wireless design. The three-part Joypad comes in various colorful designs. You can attach the right and left controllers to a block to use it as a wireless controller when your Switch is docked or in tabletop mode; or you can click each side of the controller into the console itself for handheld mode.

Overall, it’s a great controller for rooted gaming, though it doesn’t quite reach the advanced feel or ergonomics of the Switch Pro controller or 8BitDo’s third-party options. It offers nice RGB lighting effects and a turbo function, which are nice bonuses.

NexiGo wireless joypad
NexiGo wireless joypad

As a handheld controller, the Joypad is great, but not as great as the Gripcon. The handles have the same general shape, but they lose some of the ergonomic “bulk” at the back. It also only has two mappable buttons on the back, slightly smaller triggers, flatter buttons and smaller sticks. While it doesn’t beat the Gripcon in most areas, it ironically enough solves my main gripe with the Gripcon: the D-pad. The joypad has a great D-pad with just the right amount of crunch.

So if you play games that prefer D-pad control, the Joypad may be a better all-around choice, especially since it also doubles as a wireless controller when the console is docked.

The joypad’s versatility — and its reasonable $50 price — also make it one of the best Switch controllers. It only lacks the Gripcon for handheld gaming. However, you can’t go wrong with any of these controllers.

The products discussed here are independently selected by our editors. GameSpot may receive a share of revenue if you purchase something featured on our site.

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