I have used quite a few 8bitdo controllers over the years, and the SN30 Pro + has always emerged as one of the best for me. 8bitdo has billed itself the SN30 Pro + as the most advanced console it has ever built, but now it’s got a successor: 8bitdo Pro 2. You’d be forgiven if you thought the Pro 2 was the SN30 Pro + on the first blush, because the two consoles look very similar. However, there are some major differences the Pro 2 brings to the table, and it will obviously be the new 8bitdo flagship console.
In fact, if one were to compare the faces of both consoles side-by-side, then surely one would be right to question whether it was really necessary to launch an entirely new console with an entirely new one. After all, both controllers look almost the same, except for the button that is located between the two joysticks in the Pro 2. This is the Profile button, and finally, it lets you change between three profiles that you can select in the Ultimate program from 8bitdo.
This is a very big deal for those who want to have precise control over their console layouts or prefer to have specific layouts for different platforms. While you can customize the layouts on the SN30 Pro +, there was no way to store multiple profiles on board. For those who want to switch it, this means that you have to contact Ultimate Software every time you want to change your button mapping, which can be time consuming and annoying depending on how often you want to change things.
With Pro 2, you can only select three profiles at once through the Ultimate Software app, sync them with the console, and then switch between them whenever you want with this button. If the goal is to have a console that you can use between platforms with ease, then having this button definitely brings us closer to achieving this goal.
The profile button insertion is nice, but there are more changes when we turn our attention to the back of the controller, as there are two new back-facing buttons, an input switch, and a battery compartment (which comes with a rechargeable unit battery pack).
The back-facing buttons are self-explanatory – they’re two extra buttons that you can assign as you like – but I want to point out that I accidentally hit these buttons a few times. Usually with the back buttons, I find I hit them when I really don’t intend to, possibly as a result of holding the controller during tense gameplay clips and forgetting them there. The Pro 2’s rear buttons are placed away from the handle, so they are not in the way and are not inadvertently activated as a result. With both hands on the console and both index fingers on the triggers, my middle fingers are perfectly on the back buttons, so I’d say they’re definitely well positioned.
Although the profile button is very useful and it looks like the back buttons are not only well-designed but well placed, this enter key is what interests me the most. Like the SN30 Pro +, the Pro 2 comes with four different input modes: Switch, macOS, X-input (Windows), and D-input (Android). On SN30 Pro +, starting in one of these modes requires pressing the start button in addition to a specific face button.
I’ve started SN30 Pro + in wrong input mode enough times for this to be frustrating, but in Pro 2 it’s as simple as setting the switch to the position you want, pressing start, then pushing the controller into pairing mode (only required the first time you want it). You connect to a new device). Adding this little switch makes the pairing more consistent, so it’s nice to have it with you during the trip.
8bitdo quotes 20 hours of battery life when fully charged, which is in line with what I tried in my test. That’s the same amount of battery life we were told to expect from the SN30 Pro +, so if you’ve used one of these controllers before, you already have a pretty good idea of how long the Pro 2 will last. In fact, 8bitdo appears to include the same The 1000mAh battery pack comes with both controllers, so there aren’t any surprises in the battery department.
It should be noted that the battery pack is removable, and taking it out of the battery compartment allows you to use two AA batteries in place. Admittedly, the scenarios in which you prefer to use AA batteries rather than the battery pack are probably very limited, but this flexibility is useful for times when you don’t expect to be able to charge the battery pack constantly. Years from now, when that battery pack starts to lose capacity after so many recharge cycles, it’d be a good idea for the controller to support AA batteries as well.
Another big change shipped with the Pro 2 is 8bitdo’s Ultimate new functionality, which is now available on iOS and Android. The iOS and Android versions of Ultimate Software only work with the Pro 2 (for now at least), but as far as I can tell, the mobile apps offer all the same functionality that Ultimate Software does on Windows. You can create three profiles with unique button mapping, change the sensitivity of sticks and triggers, change the intensity of the Pro 2’s vibration, and even set macros.
We can do most of that with Ultimate Software and SN30 Pro +, but this is the first time we’ve been able to do this on a smartphone. When used on a mobile phone, the app connects to your console via Bluetooth, allowing you to sync your changes wirelessly – whatever they are.
The mobile app appears to work fine, as I had no problem setting the back buttons on the controller or adjusting the sensitivity of the triggers and thumbsticks (which you can also invert or even switch using Ultimate Software). With the SN30 Pro +, I didn’t think there was much use for macros since there were no options to assign to the buttons that weren’t really talked about, but those back buttons in the Pro 2 are perfect macro buttons this time.
Not sure what it is exactly, but the Pro 2 feels a little better in my hands than the SN30 Pro +. I’m not sure if this is the added texture on the back of the knobs or if 8bitdo slightly changed the curves on those knobs, but whatever it is, the Pro 2 is a very comfortable console with an excellent build and sturdy.
All the buttons look great, and the D-Pad in particular is probably the best D-Pad I’ve used since the SNES days. If you’re a fan of old-school or 2D games and need a good D-Pad, the game in Pro 2 won’t disappoint you – I bought the SN30 Pro + because of the D-Pad and I imagine people will buy the Pro 2 for the same reason. The sticks look solid too, so don’t think my praise for the D-Pad means this is just a good choice for retro players.
If I have one complaint about the console layout, it’s that the star and flip buttons are in somewhat awkward positions. I prefer them in a more central location, just because they can be difficult to press in the thick of the action, but like all the controllers out there, the arrangement of these buttons requires a little getting used to it before everything is fine with the world again.
8bitdo Pro 2 verdict
Aside from the back, enter, and profile buttons, not much has changed on the SN30 Pro +. That’s not a bad thing – there wasn’t much of a change since the SN30 Pro + is a good controller to start with. The Pro 2 keeps what is good about the SN30 Pro + and upgrades it with new useful and focused functions. This is what any good upgrade should do.
I think this is a good controller for old and new players alike. It can also be used as a backup for the Switch Pro console – and at $ 50, it’s a lot less expensive than the Pro console as well – but there are a few things to keep in mind if you plan to use this in the first place for the Switch.
The bigger consideration is the fact that you can’t use the Pro 2 to operate the switch like you can with the Pro Controller, which is disappointing. The Pro 2 also doesn’t come with NFC support or HD rumble, which is not surprising since every third-party controller I tested for the Switch doesn’t have these features either. Pro 2 Do Support for motion controls, though, if you want to use those for shooting in shooting games, you’ll be able to keep doing so with Pro 2.
Is Pro 2 worth the upgrade if you already own SN30 Pro +? That’s an excellent question and I think it depends on how much you use the back buttons and support for profiles on board. For most casual gamers, I’d probably say that if you already own the SN30 Pro + then there’s no reason to rush in and buy the Pro 2, but for those who want to have that precise control over things like button layout and want to use the controller between multiple platforms, The fact that you can store three built-in profiles on the Pro 2 makes a huge difference.
If you don’t already have the SN30 Pro + and are looking for a solid third-party alternative to the expensive first-party games out there, the Pro 2 is it. It is without a doubt the best external controller I have ever used, and the only thing I wonder right now is where 8bitdo goes from here.