Wishes and promises are nice, but real world performance always matters more than the ideal situations companies sell us when advertising their products. With Nintendo Switch consoles in the hands of some gaming outlets, the hybrid handheld’s 4,310 mAh battery life is finally being tested and we’re getting some real-world numbers that tell us how much game time we can expect out of the system.
Good news, everyone: actual playtime isn’t that far off from Nintendo’s promises. The company promised about 3 hours, and different test settings have shown us a few different numbers, all hovering right around that. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the only game currently available to reviewers, but its nature as a brand new, full-sized console game promises to push the system’s battery harder than some other games might and offers a single data point to compare against.
It’s about time
On the more extreme side we have GameXplain clocking in at just under 2 hours and 30 minutes of play time. They wanted to get the simplest test with the hardest push, so they strolled Link to the top of a hill and yanked the Switch out of its dock. With the brightness and volume cranked to the max, the team then let it sit, only hitting a button occasionally to keep the screen from going idle. The Joy-Con controllers were plugged into the Joy-Con charging dock instead of into the tablet, so as not to add another variable to the battery life.
British YouTube channel Arrekz took a less-scientific approach to the process and simply played the game for three hours with the Joy-Con controllers plugged in. Arrekz didn’t provide any information about brightness settings, but I’d venture a guess that he used default settings. He came away with 3 hours, 2 minutes, and 52 seconds.
Cnet had even better results. Playing the game with the brightness set to default and the Joy-Con controllers plugged in, they squeezed 3 hours and 15 minutes of game time out of the Switch tablet. GamesBeat also saw over 3 hours in the same situation, though they noted that setting the brightness to auto-adjust brought that time down closer to 2 hours and 45 minutes.
So, depending on your exact settings, your mileage may vary. Plugging in headphones might use a bit less battery than the speakers. Playing with the brightness cranked down and the Joy-Con controllers will help, too. But all told, these numbers align closely with Nintendo’s quoted number and, considering this is a full console game running at 720p, 3 hours is actually pretty good. Games like 1-2-Switch will likely hew closer to the higher-end 6 hour promise, as games like that ask little of the screen and more of the controllers.
And as with mobile phones, you can plug in a portable battery thanks to the USB Type-C port on the Switch to squeeze a few more hours out. You might want to hang on a bit before picking up a battery pack, though, as The Verge is saying that not every battery pack has enough bandwidth to get the Switch charging. Ars Technica had their Switch poop out while plugged into the popular Jackery Titan S battery.
You can start draining the Nintendo Switch’s battery when it and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild release on March 3.