The Nintendo Switch was released back in March 2017, and it became a phenomenon worldwide pretty fast. It had the massive task of following up on the poor sales of the Wii U. But, till August 2020, the Switch has sold more than 63.4 million units. It has become insanely popular due to the hybrid nature of the console and its vast library of exclusive games. So if you are reading this post, chances are you already own a Nintendo Switch or planning to buy one.
However, it wasn’t all hunky-dory for the launch model Switch. Among many problems, players weren’t very pleased with the battery life, with the amount of playtime they were getting. In portable handheld and tabletop modes, the launch model Switch didn’t last very long at all while playing demanding titles. If you own any Switch system, be it the Switch or the Switch lite, you can go through our guide. We have put together a list of tweaks you can perform to your Switch in order to improve battery life. So let’s get right to them.
Table of Contents
How to Improve Nintendo Switch Battery Life
1. Change the Display Brightness
Let’s be honest. You don’t always need to play at the maximum brightness level possible. So lowering the screen brightness is one of the best and most effective ways to get more playtime. Here’s how you can do it:
- First of all, go to the home screen by pressing the Home button on the right Joy-Con.
- Then click on the cogwheel icon below. It will take you to the System Settings page.
- Go down to the Screen Brightness tab.
- If you have Auto-Brightness turned on here, just toggle it off by clicking on it. You need it to be turned off because you wouldn’t want your brightness automatically changing. Especially after you adjust it according to the available ambient light, if you have a Switch Lite, you won’t need to worry about this step. The Switch Lite doesn’t have an ambient light sensor, so the option for Auto-Brightness is unavailable there.
- Adjust the display brightness slider according to your needs from here. Even under harsh sunlight, 65 to 70% brightness should be more than enough.
If you are in a game, you might not want to revisit your home screen again to change the display brightness. Don’t worry; we got you covered. You can just long-press the Home button to toggle off Auto-Brightness and adjust the screen brightness slider. The Quick Settings pop-up on the right side of the display is very helpful in this regard.
2. Airplane Mode
As you all know, the Nintendo Switch does not have LTE. So the only way Switch connects to the internet is through Wi-Fi. The wireless chip inside Nintendo Switch isn’t really very good. And the Switch’s OS itself also doesn’t help, as the operating system always keeps looking for Wi-Fi devices to connecting. This is partly because the Switch infamously has a bad Wi-Fi range. But in the process, a lot of battery capacity gets used. And there is no option to turn it off either other than turning on Airplane Mode. So if you are not playing an online multiplayer title, you should toggle on Airplane Mode when playing handheld. Let’s get to know how to do that:
- First, you need to visit the System Settings back again.
- After that, go to the Airplane Mode section.
- Toggle on the Airplane Mode option from here by clicking on the same.
- Once you toggle it on, you should see three different options (Controller Connection, Wi-Fi, and NFC) appear below that.
- If you are playing on the tabletop mode, you might want to connect your Joy-Cons or other wireless controllers. In that case, simply toggle on Controller Connection (Bluetooth) below by clicking on it.
- If you want to scan your Amiibo figures and cards, you should toggle on NFC. Do remember that every time you turn off Airplane Mode, the Switch forgets the Controller Connection and NFC settings. So when you turn it back on, you need to visit the System Settings again to enable these settings manually.
Once again, you can turn on Airplane Mode right from Quick Settings as well. However, you can’t access the Controller Connection (Bluetooth) and NFC settings from there, as mentioned before.
3. Disable HD Rumble on your Joy-Cons
HD rumble is basically haptic feedback. It is one of the major features of the Switch Pro controller and the Joy-Cons. At the time of writing, the GuliKit Elves Pro is the only third-party controller besides them with HD rumble support. Even if you have third-party Joy-con supplements, they might have some form of rumble. Whatever the case may be, if you really need to conserve battery life in handheld mode, turning off rumble helps. The Joy-Cons stay connected and get charged from the Switch itself. So it draws more power if you have HD rumble enabled.
If you have a Switch Lite, you can ignore this method as it doesn’t have any form of rumble. But you can use a rumble-supported controller with your Switch or Switch Lite. You can use the steps below to save the battery life of the controller as well:
- Visit the System Settings again to start off with.
- Scroll down to the Controllers and Sensors tab on the left pane.
- In here, just click on Controller Vibration to toggle it off.
4. Keep the Joy-Cons disconnected from the Switch body when not in use
You can detach the Joy-Cons on either side if you have a regular Switch. You can just press the black button below the shoulder buttons of each Joy-Con and slide them out.
Each Joy-Con comes with a 525mAh battery packed inside. And they can last roughly up to an incredible 20 hours mark. So basically, it has almost triple the average battery life of a regular Switch system. And as we mentioned before, your Joy-Cons get charged while being attached to your Switch’s body. You don’t always need them fully charged up.
We wish Nintendo would have given us some option to stop the charging or at least control it somehow. It’d have been great to stop the charging process during portable handheld mode play sessions. But unfortunately, the Switch currently does not have an option for that. Maybe it’s going to be possible through a future software update. But for now, we recommend you keep your Joy-Cons unplugged from your Switch when not in use. If you are out and about, doing this will help you save a lot of battery life.
5. Change Sleep Mode settings
After a specific period of inactivity, both the regular Switch and the Switch Lite go into sleep mode by default. And it happens to save battery life and protect the display from burn-ins. In this state, the Switch enters a very low power draw mode saving the battery. However, the Switch still keeps every running application or game in its memory. So once you start your Switch again, you can start right back up from where you left off. For example, you can be in a Super Mario Maker 2 stage and put your Switch into sleep mode. Once you get back and press the power button, your game will startup from the same stage, in the same place. You can change the specific period of inactivity time the Switch takes before going to sleep according to your requirements. Let’s look at how you can do that:
- From the System Settings, go down to the Sleep Mode section on the left.
- Click on Auto-Sleep (Playing on Console Screen). Set it either on 3min or 5min. We don’t recommend setting it as low as 1min because your Switch can go to sleep during a long cutscene.
- If you watch YouTube or Hulu on your Switch, make sure to turn on Suspend Auto-Sleep While Playing Media Content. Otherwise, your Switch would be going to sleep while playing a video every time, and it will become very annoying.
- Toggle off Wake When AC Adapter Is Disconnected by clicking on the same option. This should prevent your Switch from waking up randomly in the middle of a charger disconnection.
6. Change Your Theme
The regular Switch and the Switch Lite both have a dark theme. Most prefer it over the light theme because it’s easier on the eyes. There may not be a massive improvement in terms of battery life because of the LCD screen. Still, you should check it out:
- Visit the Themes tab in System Settings.
- Just click on the Basic Black theme, and voila! Your theme should get switched right away.
7. Lower the Speaker Volume
This is an obvious tweak, and you can perform it very quickly. If you use the two speakers below the screen of the Switch, you can turn them down a bit. You can do that by pressing the VOLUME – and + buttons on top of the Switch. Or you can adjust the volume slider from Quick Settings. The best option here is to use a pair of headphones to not bother anyone besides you.
8. Stop the Switch from Charging upon Full Charge
As we all know, lithium-ion batteries deteriorate over time. That’s why you might have seen your couple of years old smartphones running out quicker than it used to. It deteriorates faster if you keep your device always fully charged. This is especially a problem with the regular Switch, as some players just leave it docked permanently. Now most modern smartphones and the Switch itself do come with overcharge protection. It basically leaves a bit of the battery empty to keep the battery in good shape for years to come. Still, it is a good practice to disconnect the charge as soon as it hits 100%. But the Switch doesn’t show that on the home screen for you to check quickly. You need to change some settings in order to see that:
- Visit the System section in System Settings.
- Click on Console Battery (%). It should be toggled on, and you should be able to see the battery percentage right from the home screen.
9. Change your gaming habit
Alright, so this one might be a bit unfair. But it’s necessary to get more playtime out of your Switch. Taxing games with massive worlds (e.g., Super Mario Odyssey) will obviously drain the battery much quicker. At the same time, less demanding games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe would use up a lot less battery. So you should only play demanding games at your house or where you have access to charging. And on the road, you can play less demanding games to get more playtime out of your Switch.
10. Power off the Switch Yourself
Rather than waiting for the Switch to put itself into sleep mode, you can do it yourself. You just need to press the power button beside the volume buttons on top of the Switch once. Or you can just click on the Sleep Mode icon beside the System Settings cog and select Sleep Mode. It is also accessible from the Quick Settings.
You can also power off your Switch entirely if you are not using it. Doing that will save you the maximum amount of battery possible. However, do note if you power off your Switch completely during gameplay, it won’t go back to the same state. And you’ll lose all the unsaved game progress. So we only recommend you do this once you are done playing a game. Here’s how you can do that after closing the game:
- Press and hold the power button on top of the Switch for a few moments.
- On the pop-up, click on Power Options.
- Click on turn off and wait for the Switch to shut down. Next time you want to turn up the Switch, you need to hold the power button down similarly. In a few seconds, your Switch should boot up normally.
11. Keep a spare charger with yourself
Nowadays, most outdoor places and transports have at least some kind of charging outlet for smartphones and other devices. You can refill your Switch battery easily at any of those places if you have a charger handy with you. Do note that we only recommend you use a Nintendo-branded charger or a Nintendo-branded Type-A to Type-C cable. The Switch has a USB Type-C port for charging, so many think that they can use their existing cables. Even though Nintendo says that the Switch is USB-PD compliant, in reality, it draws even more power. There have been many cases of Switch systems getting bricked due to third-party docks. And if that happens, you’ll be stuck with a bricked Switch due to the warranty being void. Only Nintendo knows how to handle the laundry list of errors that the Switch puts out during charging.
12. Keep an external Power Bank with yourself
External power banks do come in handy with the Switch. If you are traveling and don’t have an outlet near you to plug in your Switch, this is your next best option. Power banks have improved quite a lot, and they won’t add much heft to your Switch travel case. Any USB Power Delivery (USB PD) standard power bank will work with the Switch. But we recommend you get the Anker ones listed below, as they are certified with Nintendo. And if you use any power bank available to you while playing a game, your battery will gradually go down. This is because most power banks charge the Switch at an extremely slow pace. These battery banks will only prolong the death of the battery. We also recommend you only use a Nintendo branded USB Type-C cable that came with your Switch.
Typically Nintendo licensed accessories (other than controllers) cost more, and we don’t recommend going for them, especially the SD cards. And the Nintendo license itself costs a lot of money. But in this case, as said before, the Switch draws more power than what is capable through USB-PD compliance. So just to be on the ultimately safer side, you can go for these Anker ones. Shelling out extra money for this regular power bank with only a Nintendo logo slapped on it is worth it. You can get up to an additional 10 hours of playtime out of these. And these are probably one of the only power banks that can actually charge your Switch while playing a game. They don’t prolong the death of the battery. And you get a bit more juice out of them once they run out. Because while connected, they actually charge your Switch.
13. Upgrade your Switch
The original launch model Switch had a 20nm Nvidia Tegra X1 SoC inside. It can even some of the most demanding games (e.g., The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild) well. But it was very inefficient at using the massive 4310 mAh battery. It ran through the entire battery for anywhere between two and a half to six hours, depending on the game. And as we said before, many weren’t happy with the battery life.
To address this concern, Nintendo released a revised Switch alongside the Switch Lite back in 2019. Both of them came with a new and more efficient 16nm NVIDIA Tegra SoC with more efficient LPDDR4X memory chips. The performance of the Switch didn’t really improve with this upgrade. It ran the games pretty much at the same performance level as the old SoC. But what did improve is efficiency and battery life. Experts believe that battery life improvement was huge, by up to 78%. The Switch V2, as it’s known, lasts anywhere between four and a half to nine hours, depending on the game. Even the smaller Switch Lite at three to seven hours, lasts longer than the launch model Switch. Not to mention that it comes with a smaller battery (3570mAh) than the regular Switch. If you still have a launch model Switch, upgrading is your best option.
You can use your Switch for docked play sessions and use your Switch Lite exclusively for handheld play sessions. Or you can also upgrade to a Switch V2. Many retailers have both the old Switch and the Switch V2 in stock. So it can become a bit difficult to distinguish between them. The new Switch box comes in an entirely red background (the special editions don’t). The model number printed should read HAC-001(-01).
Our guide covers pretty much all the tweaks you can perform to improve Nintendo Switch battery life. Depending on your Switch variant, you should be able to get at least anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour’s worth of extra playtime out of your Switch. We hope this guide has helped you make use of that little bit of battery left to stomp more enemies.
FAQ about Nintendo Switch Battery Life
Before we conclude, let us take a look at some of the frequently asked questions about the Nintendo Switch battery life that many of you might have. We will try to keep the answers concise here.
The Nintendo Switch's battery life in handheld mode isn't that great. The original Switch model averaged 2.5 to 6.5 hours of portable playtime, while the updated version (Switch V2) can reach between 4.5 to nine hours, and the Switch Lite promises between three and seven hours. As with most lithium-ion batteries, the console battery life will gradually decrease over time. After about 800 charge cycles, the console battery life will decrease to about 80% compared to the battery on a new console.
There are several ways to extend the battery life on your Nintendo Switch:
- Lower the screen brightness
- Turn off Wi-Fi
- Use airplane mode
- Close unused apps
- Use a portable charger
- Play less demanding games
- Purchase an extended battery
The original Nintendo Switch had pretty ordinary battery life. Switch V2 bettered the battery by up to 1.5 times. While Switch Lite had better battery life as compared to the original Switch, Switch V2 has the best battery life among the three. The battery life for the original Nintendo Switch model ranges from 2.5 to 6.5 hours depending on usage, while the updated model can last up to 9 hours on a single charge.
Here are some signs that may indicate that your Nintendo Switch needs a new battery:
Shorter battery life
Go through this guide to check the battery life of your Nintendo Switch.
Absolutely. You can continue playing while the console is connected to power. When you connect the Nintendo Switch to the charger, it will start charging the battery. You can continue playing games while the device is charging, and it will not harm the battery or the device.
Technically, it's safe to charge the Switch overnight, but better to avoid it when possible. The Nintendo Switch is designed with a built-in mechanism that stops charging the battery when it reaches 100%, which helps to prevent overcharging and potential damage to the battery. It's also worth noting that constantly charging your Nintendo Switch to 100% may lead to slightly reduced battery life over time, as the battery degrades through regular use and charging cycles.
Ideally, it is better for the battery to charge it more frequently when it is closer to being full than to let it drain and do full charges from close to 0%. The only benefit of draining and then charging is that it recalibrates the battery gauge. To maximize the lifespan of your Nintendo Switch battery, it's recommended to keep the battery charged above 20% as much as possible and to avoid letting the battery completely discharge too often.
There is no easy way for the user replacement of Nintendo Switch battery. Google is filled with guides to do Switch battery replacement. But proceed at your own risk. We don't recommend it for novice users.
Replacing the battery in the Nintendo Switch can be a complex and potentially dangerous process. It involves disassembling the device, removing the old battery, and installing a new battery. If done incorrectly, it can cause damage to the device and even harm the person attempting the replacement.