- Related Games:
- Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The battery life of Nintendo handhelds has gone steadily downward since the days of the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS. Though still quite lengthy on 3DS relative to the competition, the comparative horsepower and screen size of Nintendo Switch brings Nintendo handheld battery numbers, like it or not, to their lowest yet. Switch's 4,210mAh battery still manages a reasonable two-to-three hours for the likes of Zelda and substantially more for something like Shovel Knight, but it doesn’t change the fact that plenty of players would prefer it last even longer than that. In the absence of an officially sanctioned battery case from Nintendo, it was only a matter of time before an outside company picked up the slack, and that's exactly what’s already happening.
Enter SwitchCharge, a device being dreamt up by London’s InDemand Design, aiming to bring “all day battery life” to Switch in what appears to be a very impressive package. The all day moniker is meant quite literally, as the SwitchCharge adds a 12,000mAh battery to the Switch’s existing pack of approximately one third that capacity, simple math implying a combined effort then of 10 hours or more when playing something like Breath of the Wild. In other words, the SwitchCharge essentially brings the Switch from bottom of the barrel battery on the Nintendo scale, to top of the heap.
Like any charging enclosure this doesn’t come without a size increase, but the nature of Switch’s design is such that you really only have to worry about added weight. Joy-Con attachment is crucial to how the system is designed, meaning no accessory will make it any wider, whereas increased thickness is hardly as much of an issue as it might be for a smartphone that sits in a limited real estate pocket all day. Assuming the SwitchCharge is not so heavy as to cause fatigue, there should be little tradeoff here if you’re willing to invest the asking price.
A perhaps unexpected perk of the SwitchCharge is a meaty, full-length kickstand grafted to its back. In my experience the stock Switch kickstand works fine, but it's undeniably plasticky and small; it conjures memories (bad ones in my case) of devices like the HTC Evo or Thunderbolt, with flimsy strip-stands prone to breaking when excessively used or, more likely, mindlessly fiddled with. Considering that Switch is unable to be propped via kickstand while charging in its natural state (an unfortunate design oversight that I can only assume was unavoidable for reasons not publicly known), this bonus aspect of the SwitchCharge could actually sell the device on its own for a certain subset of players. Minor sure, but if you’re buying the thing anyway for a battery boost then it can’t hurt.
Unsurprisingly there’s a rub, albeit a temporary one – the SwitchCharge has not yet been funded. In fact, it still has over $65,000 left to go as of this writing, though the campaign does have an entire month remaining to accrue funds and bring the device to market. As a frugal spender, I’m torn on how best to proceed; on one hand, a cheaper alternative may reveal itself within a year. On the other, the “early bird” $75 price is quite good, crowdfunding tends to be more satisfying than tossing cash into the Amazon abyss, and there’s no guarantee imitators will provide an enhanced kickstand or extra cartridge slots as does the SwitchCharge. Plus, with Mad Catz gone, who even makes third party accessories anyway?
Jokes aside, you can head to the SwitchCharge’s IndieGoGo page if you’re interested in contributing, and there are a variety of support options both cheaper and more expensive than the aforementioned early bird to match differing budgets. My gut feeling is that I’ll likely contribute, as 90% of my Switch playing has been in handheld mode, and it would be nice to not have to hook up the 6-foot USB C cable every time I want to keep handheld mode going from my couch. Regardless of your choice, SwitchCharge appears to be kickstarting an exciting addon revolution for Switch, one that hopefully indicates Nintendo’s hybrid will be treated more like a gadget than a game console in the accessory department.