Hori Split Pad compact review: Handheld mode never felt so good

Sayem Ahmed
Split Pad Compact header

The Hori Split Pad Compact is a riff on the hugely popular Split Pad Pro, boasting a smaller size. However, does this pad still manage to feel as good as Joycons?

Nintendo’s Joycon might be one of the most popular game controllers around. But, they also have their own fair share of issues. From drift to their tiny size, while Nintendo’s default controllers might appear to look great, they could stand to be more comfortable. The answer to this? Hori’s Split Pad Pro, allows handheld Switch users to have a more comfortable experience while gaming on the go. However, these were incredibly large in comparison to the Joycon. So, to alleviate this, the company created the Split Pad Compact, which we’ve used extensively.

Key specs

  • Remappable rear buttons
  • Turbo function
  • Officially licensed
  • Price: $49.99
  • Where to buy: Best Buy

Included in the box: Hori Split Pad Compact


Split Pad Compact design

The Hori Split Pad Compact functionally looks incredibly similar to a bulbous version of Nintendo’s own Joycon. However, it has a few slight upgrades all-round. The face buttons are domed membrane, like most modern controllers, as is the D-pad. Then, you have a standard-sized analog stick, which looks and feels great. The controller is also fully equipped with every other button that you’d expect on a Nintendo Switch console. The shoulder buttons also feel great to use and are larger than the normal Joycon. However, there are also a few other additional tricks up its sleeve.

You get an “assign” button for the rear button on the back of each Joycon, in addition to a Turbo function button. These do look odd on the front of the Split Pad Compact, and who in 2022 really uses a Turbo button?

We tested the unit with a yellow and gray colorway. The gray materials used on the front and on the buttons feel smooth and high-quality. However, the yellow plastic on the rear of the device does feel slightly cheap. There’s a textured finish to the plastic, which is nice. But, something about the shade of yellow being used here just puts us off a bit.

Split Pad Compact rear

In addition to an extra button, you also get an ergonomic groove on the back, which helps with handling the controller while connected to the Switch. In addition to this, there is a small bulge that helps the Split Pad Compact stay attached to the console, but does look fairly unsightly.

The whole unit, when connected to the Switch via the rails on either side of the Split Pad Compact is wider than a standard Joycon. However, what it offers when it comes to comfort delivers in droves.


Split Pad Compact features

The Split Pad Compact is not a wireless controller. If you want to use it, you’ll have to use your Switch in its handheld mode. There are a couple of other notable features which are not present on the Split Pad Compact in comparison to the Joycon. You do not get any HD Rumble features, NFC functionality for Amiibo support, or an IR camera. On the other end of this, you get an extra remappable button, in addition to turbo functionality.

In order to assign the additional rear buttons, all you have to do is hit the “Assign” button, and then click the button of your choice to remap. This can be great for games with awkward control schemes.

Gaming performance

Split Pad Compact

For single-player titles like Xenoblade 3, the Hori Split Pad Compact performed excellently. We never felt like we missed any features like IR or HD Rumble in the games that we tested. In the Street Fighter 30th anniversary collection, we were really able to put the controller through its paces.

The D-pad felt great when hitting multiple Shoryuken motions, with the buttons providing great and firm feedback when trying to batter our foes. In games that rely on analog movement like Zelda: Breath of the Wild, we found the analog sticks to be responsive at every turn, though we expect that they will be using a potentiometer-based stick.

Through long gaming sessions, we made use of the more comfortable controls and ergonomics, however, we couldn’t shake the feeling that the controller could have used slightly higher quality materials, as it ends up feeling incredibly light.

Should you buy it?

The Hori Split Pad Compact is an excellent Joycon alternative for those who take their Switch on the go. It passed almost every test we could throw at it with flying colors. Coming in at an incredibly reasonable $49.99, it almost feels like a no-brainer recommendation for those who use handheld mode. We do wish that this controller was also wireless, as it would simply replace our usual Joycons.


The Hori Split Pad Compact does have a couple of downsides, its materials could be slightly higher quality, and you do lose out on some features. But, for $49.99, it becomes difficult to argue how great these are, compared to the minimal downsides.

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