A man playing a Nintendo Switch.

Nintendo’s hybrid console fuses big-screen play with pocketable portability, though how long you can play on the go largely depends on battery usage. The lithium battery will also inevitably age over time, so what can you do about poor Switch battery life?

How Do You Know It’s Time to Replace Your Battery?

Unlike modern smartphones, tablets, and laptops there’s no way of diagnosing a failing battery on a Nintendo Switch. The company neglected to add a battery status option in the Settings as seen on devices like the iPhone, so you’ll have to judge for yourself when the time is right to get your console’s battery replaced.

Depending on what you’re doing, your console’s battery should last between two and a half to six hours for an original console (released between 2017 and 2019), or four and a half to nine hours for the revised model released in 2019. The Nintendo Switch Lite is rated for three to seven hours, while the Switch OLED model gets the same four and a half to nine hours as the revised version.

The more demanding the game, the faster your console will burn through the battery. In general, 3D games like Breath of the Wild will use more juice than a 2D title like Stardew Valley. If your Switch battery seems to be depleting abnormally quickly, or you’re finding it almost impossible to use in portable mode (even for an hour or two) then a battery replacement might be worth it.

Another metric you can use is the age of your console. The older your console, the worse condition your battery is likely to be in. If you bought a launch console in 2017 and have never changed the battery, there’s a good chance you’ll see a noticeable boost in playtime when you make the swap.

Get Nintendo to Replace Your Battery

The easiest and safest way of dealing with a battery replacement is to get Nintendo to do it. A vague Q&A article on Nintendo’s support website invites you to “contact your local customer service center” if you want the battery serviced.

In the US this means heading over to the Contact Us section of the Nintendo Support website and using live chat, phone, or text message to notify Nintendo of your request.  If your Switch is still under warranty and exhibiting poor battery life, contacting Nintendo about a replacement is the best way to get a resolution without voiding your warranty.

There may be a charge for the battery replacement, depending on how old your Switch is, but Nintendo doesn’t disclose the exact fee on their website.

Replace the Battery Yourself

Replacing the battery yourself is also an option, especially if your Switch is already out of warranty. iFixit is a great source for parts a guides, with full walkthroughs and videos available for the standard Switch console and the Switch Lite. iFixit also sells the required tools and replacement cells, plus the adhesive card you’ll need to secure the battery in place again.

You can of course just use iFixit as a guide and source your own replacement battery and tools to get the job done. The process should take a few hours to complete, and is regarded as a moderately complicated procedure by iFixit.

Replacement Switch Battery

If your Switch is still under warranty then we recommend contacting Nintendo directly to organize a replacement, since opening your Switch will void your warranty.

What About Joy Cons?

You can also get Nintendo to take a look at the batteries in your Joy-Cons, using the same technique as you would for a console: using the Contact Us page on Nintendo Support.

Just like the console itself, a DIY replacement is also possible. iFixit has a video walkthrough, toolkit, and replacement cell to get the job done in around 10 minutes. You could also source your own replacement cells online and use the tools you have available to you. Joy-Con battery replacement is flagged as “moderate” by iFixit.

If your Joy Con is exhibiting signs of stick drift then you may want to contact Nintendo about a replacement, free of charge.

RELATED: How to Fix (and Avoid) Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Drift

Consider Battery Packs Too

Since the Nintendo Switch charges over USB-C, you can keep the console topped up throughout the day using rechargeable battery packs. Most standard USB power banks will do the job of charging your Switch while it is in standby mode, but due to the relatively high rate of power drain in use, the Switch will require a 30-watt charger (like the imuto 20,000 mAh bank) to charge and play at the same time.

Imuto USB power bank
Charge and Play Power Bank for Switch

Check out Review Geek’s best USB power banks for keeping your console charged while you play.

Ways to Maximize Your Switch Battery

Another way of extending your Switch playtime is to make some adjustments to the way that you use the console. Turning down screen brightness can save battery life, and you can do it quickly by pressing and holding the Home button while playing. Turning off auto-brightness and moderating the brightness yourself may be preferable.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth also drain your console battery, and both can be turned off using the Settings panel in the main dashboard. Naturally, you won’t be able to use online features (or validate services like the Super Nintendo Entertainment System), but for playing games offline you may see a small increase in battery life.

It should go without saying that playing in docked mode (with your Switch plugged into power and a TV) requires no battery life and will charge your console. Leaving your Switch plugged in all the time isn’t great for the battery though, since the lithium batteries found in the Switch are best kept below 80% (but above around 40%) for long life.

Stardew Valley

Finally, your choice of games will make a difference. If you’re going out for a whole day and aren’t sure what to play, the latest 3D title might not be the best choice if you’re hoping to make the battery last.

Some Games Tax Your Battery More Than Others

Puzzlers like Picross or Baba is You and 2D titles like Stardew Valley and Shovel Knight are better picks for long stints between charges. If you’re sitting at home on the sofa near an outlet then Mario Odyssey or Kirby and the Forgotten Land may drain your console quickly, but you’ll be able to top up when you need to.

A March 2022 firmware update added the ability to sort your Switch titles into folders, so you could even organize your games into “high drain” and “low drain” groups if you wanted.

RELATED: How to Use Nintendo Switch Folders to Organize Your Games

Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He's invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf.
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