8Bitdo’s Pro 2 sneaks premium features into a $50 gamepad

And it’s compatible with almost everything.

8Bitdo Pro 2 controller (Mat Smith, Engadget)

8Bitdo’s series of third-party controllers has gone from strength to strength, and the Pro 2 gamepad is the latest addition. At first glance, it looks almost identical to the Pro+ that we tested in detail right here, but there’s the notable addition of two new button bumpers underneath each controller arm, adding some truly customizable buttons perfect for macros and itchy trigger fingers.

Like the Pro+, the 8Bitdo Pro 2 works with Nintendo's Switch, Windows, macOS, Android and Raspberry Pi and while the new controller has a PlayStation 1-inspired grey color scheme, it still borrows heavily from Nintendo controllers of the past.

There’s still a cross-shaped D-pad on the left (something you might miss on your Switch JoyCons), start and select buttons in the middle and circular A, B, X and Y buttons that are more clearly labeled this time. It is 2021, so of course, there are dual analog sticks, too. The Pro 2 also includes a controller profile switcher button that lets you swap between three different input configurations without having to boot up the companion app — which now comes in iOS and Android versions in addition to PC and Mac.

The Pro 2 has a removable battery pack which you can swap out for AA batteries if you’re ever unable to recharge it through its USB-C port. I haven’t performed a full battery rundown, but you can expect roughly 20 hours of playtime. It’s a solid controller, and 8Bitdo has added a textured finish which helps make the Pro 2 feel a little more premium than its predecessor. However, the major upgrades are on the back.

8Bitdo Pro 2 controller
Mat Smith, Engadget

I’ve inadvertently become the back button controller reviewer here at Engadget, but I’m not mad about it — I wish all controllers had them. The Pro 2’s back paddles blend into the body of the controller, and while a little shallower than trigger buttons elsewhere, they’re perfectly placed and are sensitive enough that I’ve already reassigned the L2 and R2 buttons to them. You will have to use the aforementioned smartphone app to map functions to these new buttons.

8Bitdo’s controller app is more useful this time around, as those extra controller buttons are a blank canvas for your macro setups, whether that’s a shortcut button for your hardest move in Street Fighter, or even automated menu inputs when you’re looking to grind an RPG and level up while you sleep/make a grilled cheese.

Instead of the easily-forgettable button combinations needed to sync the Pro+ controller to each platform, the Pro 2 has a switch for swapping between all the different supported platforms. That, sadly, still doesn’t include iOS, and if you’re thinking of using it as your go-to Switch controller, note that there’s no NFC support or HD Rumble — features that Nintendo hasn’t exactly been pushing anyhow.

8Bitdo Pro 2 controller
Mat Smith, Engadget

But these are minor quibbles for a controller that offers customizable back paddles and rings in at $50. If you’ve held off on getting a second controller (or maybe you’re looking for an upgrade for your Stadia habit), the Pro 2 makes a convincing case.

This article contains affiliate links; if you click such a link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission.