PowerA Nano Enhanced Wireless Switch Controller Review

Honey, I shrunk the gamepad.
PowerA Nano Enhanced Switch Header

When I reviewed PowerA’s Fusion Pro controller a few months ago, I boldly stated that this controller will change the way you play on Nintendo’s hybrid console. This controller made it feel like you were playing the Switch with an Xbox pad, and it was transformative. Just as transformative (for your wallet) was a price point that is more than what most people are likely to want to spend.

Pro controllers aren’t for everyone, and so PowerA has released a new option — the Nano Enhanced Wireless controller. A shrunk down partner to PowerA’s standard ‘Enhanced Wireless Controller’, it comes in at the same £39.99 price point, but still packs some pro features into its minimised shell.

PowerA Nano Enhanced Switch Size Comparison

The Nano Enhanced Wireless controller up against the Fusion Pro.

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Size matters

Anyone who tells you that size doesn’t matter isn’t talking about controllers. When it comes to playing video games, the size of the controller absolutely matters.

Now, anyone who knows me knows I have rather large hands; in many ways I’m the opposite of Donald Trump. For me, the Fusion Pro was an excellent size, but I realise that it’s probably a little on the large side for younger kids or smaller adults.

The Nano addresses this by shaving off roughly a third of the size and weight, coming in at an impressive 183g to the Fusion Pro’s 285g (we don’t have the regular Enhanced Wireless controller to compare). If this size difference doesn’t sound like a huge amount, in practical terms it means I can hold the Nano in my left hand and push the Y button with my left thumb without adjusting my grip.

This controller is a lot smaller than a typical full-sized pad, but it does bundle in one decidedly pro feature: programmable back buttons. There’s two rear buttons built into the diminutive grips that can be easily assigned to duplicate face buttons. Do you have the feel of clicking in an analogue stick? Want to be able to reload or jump while keeping your thumbs on the sticks? This has you covered.

PowerA Nano Enhanced Switch Back Buttons

It might be tiny, but it’s still got some “pro” features.

While it kind of feels like a clown driving a tiny car when I hold it, I fully appreciate that I’m not really the ideal consumer for this size of controller. So how does this feel for those with smaller hands?

This is where I roped in my brothers, sisters and girlfriend, asking what they thought. Everyone, regardless of hand size, preferred the Fusion Pro, though my brother said the Nano was better sized for his kids. That could be the ideal market for this controller, catering to families with young children and those wanting a bit of an upgrade over when playing with a single Joy-Con for when Player 2 enters the game.

What’s gone is gone

My brother then made another very good point. As a parent, having your kids play games with headphones on is important, and the Nano lacks the 3.5mm jack of the Fusion Pro. This is a restriction of the Switch console itself, and there’s no controllers out there that support audio while playing wirelessly. To support audio, you need a dual-function controllers like the Fusion Pro with a dedicated toggle for wired play. If this is going to be a dealbreaker for you, this is good to know going in.

The Nano also lacks an NFC interface for niche Amiibo features, and the feedback that you get of rumble. It’s not just missing the nuance of HD Rumble, it has no kind of rumble at all.

PowerA Nano Enhanced Switch Feature Comparison

If you want rumble or a headphones jack, you will want to look elsewhere.

Performance

By all other metrics, the Nano is an admirable controller. The buttons, analogue sticks and D-pad are all responsive, I’ve had no issues with disconnecting, the 20 hours of battery life is excellent, and the mappable buttons don’t get in the way, which is always a concern with non-removable mappable buttons.

It’s effectively a 1:1 match for the full-sized Enhanced Wireless Controller, just shrunk down in size and with a 20 hour battery instead of 30 hours. That in mind, it makes sense that they have the same £39.99 price point, even if you might initially double-take at a smaller controller not being cheaper.

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Summary
If you're after decent gamepad for smaller hands or as a quick Player 2 pad, then the Nano Enhanced Wireless may well be the one for you. Just be aware of what this controller does and does not have – most notably the headphone jack and rumble – before you dive in.
Good
  • Smaller size could be preferable for children's hands
  • Still packs features like programmable back buttons
  • Decent price for the features
Bad
  • It won't suit larger hands as a main gamepad
  • No headphone support, NFC for Amiibo or rumble
8