I have two sets of Joy-Con controllers, both of which suffer from analog stick drifting. If you’re lucky enough to have avoided that (so far, at least — it comes for us all, I believe), it’s when your sticks lose accuracy and sometimes register movement even you’re not moving them. The drifting occurs when each of the sticks’ sensors are worn down from use to the point that not even recalibration within the Nintendo Switch’s system settings can save them. Given how close we are to the release date of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, that’s not ideal.
Hall effect joysticks are the answer to this problem, and a company called GuliKit sells replacement Joy-Con sticks for about $27 a pair at Amazon. They claim to be drift-resistant due to relying on magnets to send input signals, rather than needing the stick to physically rub on the sensor to register movement. It’s not new technology; Sega used them in the Dreamcast controller, and both GuliKit and 8BitDo make some fantastic Switch controllers featured here that have them, too.
I’m recommending them here because I recently bought a set and replaced my Joy-Con sticks. Not only was it fairly easy, it fixed my problems immediately. Better yet, the kit linked above that Amazon and Aliexpress sell includes all of the tools required to open your Joy-Cons (as well as replaceable joystick tops if you want a different look). However, note that opening up your Joy-Con will likely void its warranty, so follow along at your own risk. If you aren’t experienced with opening up your tech, or eager to learn, I’d recommend that you stop reading and just reach out to Nintendo to see if the company will fix your Joy-Cons, especially if you own a Nintendo Switch Lite (that process is a lot more involved).
If you need a hand with the process, I wrote a guide for The Verge (with great photos from Verge photographer Amelia Holowaty Krales) on how to take out all of the Joy-Cons’ components to do a case swap for cosmetic purposes. Some of that info isn’t important for this job, so I’ve distilled the most important steps relating to the stick installation here.
How to replace the joysticks in a Joy-Con
- After removing the four Y00-type screws holding the case together, slide the opening pick around the edges of the Joy-Con to open it up. Photo: Amelia Holowaty Krales
- Gently pry the battery out, and try to keep its adhesive dust-free so that it retains some stickiness when you reinsert the battery later on. Then, unscrew the black plastic cover that’s held down by two J00-type screws. Store them carefully, then lift out the plastic to reveal the main board. Photo: Amelia Holowaty Krales
- You now have access to the analog stick housing. In the left Joy-Con shown here, it’s the square metal piece near the top, next to the shoulder buttons. Photo: Amelia Holowaty Krales
- Gently unscrew the two screws holding the stick down, and lift up the small black latch securing its short ribbon cable before you pull it out. Install the GuliKit stick in its place with two screws, attach its ribbon cable, push down the black latch to secure it, then reassemble your Joy-Con by following this gallery in reverse. Photo: Amelia Holowaty Krales
- This image shows the inside of a right Joy-Con, which has a slightly different layout. However, the steps for reaching and installing a joystick are similar. Photo: Amelia Holowaty Krales