Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

What is a Hall effect sensor? The joystick and keyboard tech explained

You might have heard about Hall effect joysticks over recent years, primarily owing to issues with stick drift on the Nintendo Switch. If you’re wondering what they are, here’s our simple explainer.

Hall effect sensors have been around for some time but they are now cropping up in joysticks and keyboards alike. The technology has some benefits that some more seemingly modern options do not offer.

Whether you’re considering a product with hall effect sensors or you’re just wondering what the technology is ahead of it potentially cropping up on more devices in the future, we’re here to help. Read on for the basics.

What is a Hall effect sensor?

A Hall effect sensor is an electronic device that records an input when variance in a magnetic field is detected. Hall effect is named after the scientist Edwin Hall and his discovery in 1879.

In the context of switches used in gaming and computing peripherals, Hall effect sensors are found in keyboards and gaming controllers. The sensors detect a keypress or joystick movement using the Hall effect. It can be beneficial as, like optical switches, there is no contact between parts, avoiding wear and tear – the cause of stick drift with Nintendo’s Joy-Con controllers.

Apple Music

Apple Music

Apple Music gives you access to over 100 million songs and 30,000 playlists, ad-free. Listen online or off, across all your devices, and hear sound all around in Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking. You can now try 1 month for free!

  • Apple
  • Get 1 month free
  • £10.99 p/m
Sign up

Again, like optical switches, Hall effect switches are also beneficial in terms of speed, avoiding the delay in response that some mechanical switches feature. Hall effect switches can offer a degree of customizability as well, letting you adjust the actuation point, such as with the Corsair K70 Max keyboard.

The team at GuliKit created its own Hall effect joystick for Joy-Con replacement kit to help users fix the wear and tear issue which causes stick drift on the Nintendo Switch. A patent application has hinted Nintendo is working on a solution for Joy-Con drift, potentially for the Switch 2, that will use Hall effect sensors (via Dexerto).

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2003, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.