Review: SN30 Bluetooth Gamepad by 8Bitdo

Thanks to GearBest for providing GWW with this review unit.

  • Compatible with Windows, Switch, Android and Mac OS
  • Feels a lot like the original SNES controller
  • Wireless with rechargeable battery

The SN30 is the best replica retro controller I’ve ever used. The multiple connectivity options and general comfort of this controller allows for a natural cross-generational usability. Unfortunately, for Switch fans, Nintendo doesn’t allow third party controllers to work within the Nintendo Online application. That’s a shame because when testing the SN30 via PC emulation, it was a dream come true.

What’s Good

The SN30 feels nearly exactly like the original SNES controller and manages to have modern connectivity. For me, that’s exactly what I look for in a replica controller. This controller is just $36.32 (at the time of writing) through GearBest, and comes in a variety of color schemes. The X, Y, A, and B buttons do feel a bit more firm than the original SNES controller, which I like. Although, my comparable original SNES controllers are 20 years old so perhaps they’re just worn out. Importantly, 8Bitdo retained the original D-Pad layout, so those retro titles that function as side scrollers and in grid layouts will control as intended.

I was able to connect the SN30 to my Switch but as you’ll read below, I couldn’t test it on a classic side scroller. So I did all of my testing on PC (note: my Windows 10 machine detected the SN30 as “Input” rather than “GamePad” as the instructions suggest). During my several hours of testing I did not experience any issues with the SN30’s button responses or Bluetooth connectivity.

What Needs Work

Connecting the SN30 to my PC, Switch or Android phone wasn’t a struggle because I carefully followed the instructions. You’ll want to keep them handy because the process varies based on the device you’re connecting to. The USB cable is MicroUSB to USB-A. USB-C would have been clutch, as the Nintendo Switch and PCs are leveraging USB-C now. But it’s really not a big deal as the included cable isn’t large. You can also afford to travel without a charging cable, as the advertised battery life is 16 hours. Since acquiring it about 10 days ago, and not giving the SN30 any charge, I haven’t had to charge it at all. I’ve probably put 8 hours into it so I’ll keep a close eye on battery life over the next few weeks.

While the jury is still out on battery life, to some degree, I can mostly say the SN30 is otherwise a smash hit for me. Nothing needs improvement at this point.

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Who is it For?

The SN30 is great for fans of retro games. It’s affordable and very well built, with a good battery. It’s excellent with classic side scrollers from the NES and SNES era. You can snag it, or similar controllers from GearBest today.

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