Nintendo Switch Pro could have a Joy-Con upgrade — here's how

Nintendo Switch Pro could redesign the Joy-Cons of the current Switch
(Image credit: SOPA Images | Getty Images)

A recently-approved Joy-Con patent might be our first glimpse of what the controller on the Nintendo Switch Pro will look like. 

Spotted by Nintendo Academy on USPTO, this patent features a Joy-Con with a redesigned and repositioned D-Pad similar to the one found on the Nintendo Switch Lite and the Nintendo 3DS. It also includes a Circle Pad underneath the main joystick, again similar to the pad featured on the Nintendo 3DS. 

We’d definitely be pleased to see Nintendo bring the Switch Lite’s D-Pad over to the Joy-Cons proper; it’s a significant upgrade over the original Nintendo Switch which features four individual buttons.  

We’re not quite so enthusiastic about the prospect of a Circle Pad being added to the left Joy-Con. While we always appreciate more input options on a controller, the Circle Pad was not universally loved on the 3DS and it could be quite a chore to use, especially in games that require precision.

Nintendo Switch Joy Con patent

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Aside from these additions, the general look of the controller is pretty much identical to the Joy-Cons of the current Switch. No tweaks have been made to the rail system used to slide the Joy-Cons onto the Switch itself, and the triggers remain untouched as well. This patent very much hints that Nintendo is looking to make smaller tweaks, rather than completely redesign the Joy-Cons. 

The big issue that any redesigned Joy-Cons would need to fix is the persistent joystick drift issue that has plagued the Nintendo Switch pretty much since launch. It’s got so bad that Nintendo has faced multiple lawsuits over the problem, so we’d certainly expect a controller re-design to address this problem. 

Nintendo Switch Joy Con patent

(Image credit: Nintendo)

The patent was originally filed in 2018 but has only been approved this month. Of course, it’s worth noting that companies often file patents for products that don’t ultimately end up entering production. So there’s certainly no guarantee that this tweaked Joy-Con will ever see the light of day. 

Nevertheless, the discovery of this patent has got plenty of gamers speculating as to whether this is a further indication that the Nintendo Switch Pro is indeed real, and coming this year. 

Bloomberg recently indicated that the Nintendo Switch Pro could make use of Nvidia’s AI technology to upscale games to 4K resolution. This report only added further fuel to the Nintendo Switch Pro rumor fire, which has been growing steadily over the last few weeks. It definitely seems like Nintendo has something in the works, this patent could be the latest hint. 

With so many rumors and theories flying around about the Switch Pro hopefully, Nintendo is planning an official unveiling this year. And if this patent is any indication we could be getting a refreshed set of Joy-Cons alongside the more powerful device. 

Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.