Hori released the crowd-pleasing Split Pad Pro in 2019, the Joy-Con alternatives that make playing games so much more comfortable. It’s basically like using Nintendo’s Switch Pro controller in handheld mode, giving you bigger buttons, analog sticks, and cozy grips to accompany your play sessions.
Now, it’s experimenting with a slightly smaller pastel-colored version called the Split Pad Compact. In the US, the Compact is releasing on October 2nd at Best Buy for $49.99 (with more retailers following later in the month), the same price as the Pro model. You’ll be able to buy it in light gray with yellow (as pictured throughout this post) or in apricot red.
It’s cute. I’ll give it that. Though, I’ll say right up top that there’s little reason to buy it if you already own the Split Pad Pro. This model has the same features and the same limitations, like being total paperweights once detached from the Switch. It lacks rumble, NFC for Amiibo, and any other Joy-Con features that rely on having an internal battery. (I haven’t tested it to see if they work with the Split Pad Pro Attachment, though I intend to do that soon).
Despite not having “Pro” in the name, the Compact comes with the same customization features as the Split Pad Pro, including assignable back paddles and the option to engage turbo mode for superfast button presses. I personally don’t get a whole lot of use out of these buttons, but they’re here if you want to have a custom experience, which is great for a set of $50 controllers even if you rarely utilize it.
As for its differences, Hori made some adjustments so the Compact fits in smaller hands. The pointed grips on the Pro model are gone here, smoothed over to sit flush with the Switch console’s design. There’s still some grip (not to the same degree as the Pros) located on the back side of each part of the controller. The shoulder buttons don’t have the same levels of bounce as those on the Pro model and, for better or worse, some of the buttons that are rubber on the Pro (home, screenshot, plus, minus, and the “assign” and “turbo” buttons) are plastic on the Compact. One change that I really like is that each analog stick has a textured center, making them grippier than the comparatively smooth sticks on the Pro.
I mentioned that the Split Pad Compact will be available starting October 2nd at Best Buy, but it’s coming to more retailers later in the month. It’ll launch at Target on October 10th and at Walmart starting October 20th. Given that the Pro model is on Amazon, I imagine it’ll be available there, too.
Photography by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge