Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a small commission if you make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you. For more information, please visit our Disclaimer Page.
The Nintendo Switch is a unique console that lets you play games in a few different ways. You also get Joy-Cons, wireless controllers that come in different colors and are great for those who don’t like wired containers. Some fans called out Nintendo for making Switch controllers that break easily, but there’s a lot you need to know about these containers.
Table of Contents
Nintendo released the Switch in 2017, but it didn’t take long before gamers flooded the web with complaints. One of the biggest complaints was that the company made cheap Joy-Con controllers that easily broke. They noted an issue called drift and problems with the grips wearing down. While you don’t need to worry about sending a controller through your TV screen, you do need to worry about buying cheap controllers that you need to replace often.
Everyone has different experiences, so it’s hard to tell you how long your Switch controllers will last. Joy-Con controllers have an average lifespan of two to four years. If you have a habit of getting mad at games and tossing or slamming the controller around, expect it to last as little as a year or less. As long as you take care of your Joy-Cons, they should last for at least two years.
Your use of your controller also depends on whether you buy licensed Nintendo products or accessories from other brands. While third-party brands do let you save some money, their products are not the same as the ones Nintendo makes.
You might notice that they feel a little heavier in your hands or that they are slightly shorter. While we found a few websites that claim third-party and Nintendo Switch controllers are the same, hardcore gamers and Nintendo fans prefer those that come directly from the company.
Joy-Con controllers consist of two analog sticks that function similarly to the sticks on old gaming controllers. They allow you to quickly move your character through a game and get them to the right spot.
While drifting makes your character respond without you doing anything, you also risk your character not responding at all when you move your controller. This can happen because your console loses its internet connection.
An outdated Nintendo Switch will often have issues with unresponsive controllers. Updating your system is easy because you just need to turn on the console and go to the “Home Menu” and “System Settings.” Click on “System” and then “System Update.”
This tells the Switch to look for any available updates. It will download those updates and install them for you before the system restarts. While it can take a few minutes or longer to update your Switch, there’s a good chance it will fix the issue.
A dead battery is another reason why your controller is less responsive. How do you feel when it’s late in the day and you run out of energy? You probably have a hard time doing simple tasks and just want to head to bed.
Your controllers feel the same when they have a dead or dying battery. If the controller becomes unresponsive, go to “System Settings,” “Settings,” and “Console Battery.” This tells you how much battery life you have. You might find that it’s time to let the controller charge and take a break.
Anyone who wears glasses or has poor eyesight knows that the closer they are to people and things, the better they can see them. Do you have a Switch controller that isn’t responsive, but it responds faster when you use it in different areas of the room? The odds are good that you keep stepping outside the Switch’s range.
The Joy-Cons have a range of around 37 feet. If you use your Switch in a bigger room, your controller may become unresponsive because it’s too far away from the console. Try moving closer to see if that helps.
Interference can refer to a few different things. The first thing is electrical interference, which is when you have other devices and electronics that interfere with your Switch. They can include wireless items like a printer as well as small appliances
. If those items are within three feet of your Switch, they can cause interference. You can also struggle with interference caused by big or heavy things close by, such as your TV or a bookshelf. Now is the perfect time to move or remove anything that can cause interference.
Cleaning the Joy-Cons can also help. Press down on the power button on the controller until the Power Options appear on your screen. Select Shut Down to turn it off. You also want to remove the cover if you have one.
Use a dry cloth across the controller’s surface and around the thumbsticks. You may want to try canned or compressed air, too. Avoid using cleaners and sticky solutions that can leave behind residue. Restart the controller to see if it responds the way it should.
The Joy-Con drift is such a common problem that it even has its own entry on the Nintendo Switch Wiki. This problem occurs when the controller detects some type of movement and causes your character to move when you don’t do a thing.
You might have the controller sitting next to you on the couch while you take a phone call and look up to find that your character wandered off a cliff and died.
This issue caused such a problem that lawyers filed a class action lawsuit against Nintendo. Nintendo responded with an extension of its warranty that allows customers to request a new controller. While there isn’t an exact cause for why the problem happened, there are some great remedies that let you fix it. You can try these fixes before you file a warranty claim or see if you still have a valid warranty.
Nintendo calibrates the thumbsticks on every controller it sends out, but there’s no guarantee that it will retain its original settings. Many gamers believe that Joy-Con drift occurs due to wear and tear or regular use, which is why it only hits older controllers.
You can calibrate your controller and see if it fixes the drift. Turn on your Switch and open “System Settings.” Go to “Controllers and Sensors” and then select “Calibrate Control Sticks.”
Your Switch will ask you to press down on the stick that drifts. While you may need to hold it down for 10 seconds or longer, the process is usually quick.
The Switch may also ask that you press each stick at different times in response to things that happen on your screen. Once you finish the calibration process, restart your Switch and try playing a game to see if it worked.
Many gamers do not realize that Joy-Cons have firmware they need to update regularly. Do you have a Switch that you keep taking offline because you have too many devices on your network?
Maybe you only play physical games and never had a reason to connect it to the web. Taking your Switch online lets you keep an eye out for updates and install them as Nintendo releases them. If you never updated the firmware or ignored recent updates, check for new ones.
After turning on your Switch, use the controller to navigate from Settings to the Controller Menu. Scroll down to Update Controller to check for updates and install any you find. You must have your Switch connected to the internet to look for updates. Without a connection, it has no way to download and install the updates your controllers need.
Canned air is a must-have for computer users and fans of electronics. Also known as compressed air, it is a handy remedy for a drifting Switch controller. Your console may drift because dirt or dust got under the thumbsticks. If you have pets, you also risk their hair and dander getting under the sticks.
Hold the controller in one hand as you look for the seam that sits right below the stick. Aim the canned air right at this seam and give the nozzle a quick burst to shoot air under the stick. You may need to use a few bursts of air. Do not attempt this fix unless you turn off the controller first.
As part of the class action lawsuit, Nintendo agreed to extend the Joy-Con warranty and continue accepting warranty claims outside of the original period.
If you buy a new controller, you get a 90-day warranty. However, if you buy a bundle with a Switch and one or more controllers, Nintendo extends your warranty to a full year.
Don’t worry if you can’t remember when you buy yours though. Nintendo lets you search for the serial number and view your warranty details.
To see if your Joy-Cons has coverage under your original warranty, head to Nintendo’s official website, click on Customer Support, and then Set Up a Repair. You can check in as a guest or use your official Nintendo account.
Using your official account requires that you know your Nintendo account’s email address and password. The site will walk you through a few steps and ask if you tried to troubleshoot the problem yourself.
After you confirm that those steps didn’t fix the problem and that you have an issue with drifting, Nintendo asks you to fill out a repair form and print a return shipping label. You can send back up to four controllers with one shipping label.
Only those who live in North America or Latin America qualify for free controllers repairs that are outside the warranty window. Those who live in other regions need to repay for their repairs. A few users also reported that Nintendo charged them $4 to send back their controllers.
Now that you know how to get a free repair or a new controller, you might wonder why you should bother trying any of the DIY fixes. Switch controllers came out in various limited edition designs, such as the Super Smash Bros. Controllers in different shades of gray.
Games like Dragon Quest and Pokemon also came with unique controllers that you could only get with a bundle. Nintendo has no obligation to replace your old Joy-Cons with exact replicas. Many users received the same classic red controllers that the Switch now includes rather than the unique ones they sent back.
From what Nintendo says, you cannot use a Switch Lite as a controller for the Switch. You can, however, use the Switch Lite as a controller if you dock your Switch with a local multiplayer game. This also requires that you play the game in split-screen mode.
Feel free to load a game and play with a friend or roommate while using your Switch Lite as a controller. As soon as you change games or modes though, the controller will stop working. You should also know that the Switch Lite will not work as a controller with your PC.
Did you pick up a used Switch that didn’t come with Joy-Cons, or did you just send yours off to Nintendo? You don’t need to give up on playing your favorite games because you have a few options.
Head over to the app store on your phone and download the JoyCon Droid app. Once you install and set it up, the app turns your phone into a convenient controller. You just need to open the app and pair it to your console.
You can also use controllers from other consoles. Pick up a Magic-NS adapter and plug it into your Switch before you connect it to a PS4/PS5 controller. You’ll need to turn on Wired Controllers in your menu before using it.
The Switch is compatible with several Xbox controllers and those designed for older Nintendo consoles like the GameCube. You need to turn on the Wired Controllers in the menu and you may need a special adapter. To set up a new Switch or bring the console out of Sleep Mode though, you must have a Joy-Con controller.
While the Switch is an expensive console, it comes with Joy-Con controllers that break quite easily. Use this guide to find ways to deal with unresponsive controllers and Joy-Con drift. Make sure you know when and how to file a warranty claim for a new controller from Nintendo, too.e.com/how-to-connect-ps4-xbox-controllers-to-switch-4707374