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How To Know if Nintendo Switch is Charging

Posted by Jamie on December 22, 2018

The Nintendo Switch has been a real hit, and it cements the idea that Nintendo likes to innovate and do things differently. Both a console and a portable gaming machine in one, it has had rave reviews and has seen a flurry of improvements since its launch. As a portable gaming machine, of course it uses batteries, so here is everything you need to know about charging the Nintendo Switch.

The Nintendo Switch comes with the Joy-Con handles, a dock to use it as a traditional console, a Joy-Con Grip to use as a controller, and the leads and straps to make it all work. It’s a neat package that offers fantastic performance for a very reasonable price.

The Nintendo Switch’s battery life depends on what and how you’re playing. In handheld mode, a single charge can last as little as two hours or as much as six hours. Helpfully, there is a battery icon in the top left of the screen, which fairly accurately reflects its state.

Charging the Nintendo Switch

To charge it, just place the Nintendo Switch into the dock and plug it into the mains, and it will recharge in around three hours. You can also plug the included charger directly into the Switch itself if you prefer to keep playing while charging. After all, no one wants to put a gaming session on hold because of batteries, and Nintendo knows that.

As well as charging the Switch itself, you also have to remember to charge the Joy-Cons. They each hold around 20 hours of charge. Battery drains when they are used separately from the Switch. When used connected, they continuously charge from the main unit. There is currently no way to remotely charge the Joy-Cons and you cannot charge them separately from the Switch.

This means you have to manage battery life a little. What you don’t want to happen is for your Joy-Cons to run low on battery and your Switch to also run low on battery while using them in TV mode, tabletop mode, or separately. You will have to connect the Joy-Cons to the Switch and then either plug it into the charger, or stop playing for a while as it sits in the dock.

The long life of the Joy-Con batteries is convenient, but it also means it is easy to forget just where you are in terms of power and recharging. As you would expect, there is an accessory for that: the Joy-Con Charging Grip. At $30, it isn’t cheap, but it does allow you to charge using USB-C.

Charging the Nintendo Switch while on the move

One of the benefits of being portable is that you don’t get tethered to your living room whenever you want to play a game. The downside to that is that battery management becomes more of an issue. There is a way around it, though, and that is to use a USB battery charger, or a battery brick.

You will need a USB-C cable to connect the Switch to the battery pack, though. There isn’t one included and the connection depends on the type of charger you get. When it comes to different types of chargers, a mobile phone booster will not work while you’re still playing. It cannot supply enough voltage at enough of a rate to charge while playing. They will only work while the Switch is off.

To game and charge at the same time while on the move, you will need a high-capacity charger, like those made for laptops. You could also charge from a laptop, USB car charger, or other USB power outlet.

If you use an external battery pack, it also may not be able to charge the battery when gaming, depending on the game. Testers have already found that when playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild, a battery brick cannot charge the Switch as quickly as the power drains, either so some kind of mains power or a larger battery is the only way to keep playing Zelda while on the move.

According to those same testers, the Switch will last between 2.5 and 3 hours while playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild. That’s not bad, considering how much power the amazing graphics and impressive gameplay demands.

Squeezing more time out of the Nintendo Switch battery

There are a couple of things you can do to get a little more life out of your Nintendo Switch’s battery, albeit not while you’re playing Zelda.

  • Use the Switch in Detached mode while not mains charging. This stops the Switch battery from continually charging the Joy-Cons, which should provide at least a few more minutes of life.
  • Turn on Airplane Mode. Airplane Mode, accessible through Settings turns off WiFi, NFC and Bluetooth. As long as you’re not playing multiplayer this should save battery too. If you want to use the Joy-Cons separately, however, then you’re going to need Bluetooth on.
  • Lower the screen brightness as much as is practical. This is a tip taken from smartphones. Go to Settings and Screen Brightness, and experiment with settings there. Lower the screen brightness until it’s as dim as you can comfortably play at, and this will help conserve a little more battery life.

The Nintendo Switch is an awesome little console that does a lot within a tiny chassis. Nothing is perfect and there will always be battery-related issues in a portable gaming system, but now at least you should be able to play for a little longer between charges for longer gaming sessions.

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