First test: How long does the Nintendo Switch's battery last?

The Switch's best feature is its portability, but does it have the battery life?

James Martin/CNET

Nintendo's new console-handheld hybrid is great on the go... until it runs out of battery. The previous Nintendo 3DS series of handhelds boasted 3.5 to 7 hours of gameplay without requiring a charge, but there's reason to suspect we won't be seeing that kind of lifespan given the Switch's more ambitious hardware

And though the Switch's USB-C port opens up a wide world of alternative charging options, not everyone's going to have a fancy new USB cord with them at all times. So how long can the Switch last?


Please ignore when this test was conducted.

Screenshot by Morgan Little/CNET

Just over 3 hours, according to our first strenuous test. That's how long we were able to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in a pretty typical mobile scenario, and it lines up fairly well with Nintendo's claims.

Nintendo says the Switch can last up 6 hours away from its docking station, though that duration is impacted by the game you're playing. Soon after its big reveal, Nintendo said the Switch's most prominent launch title, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, can only run for about 3 hours. And it could also depend on your settings..

We played Breath of the Wild on the Switch undocked, with the Joy-Cons attached to the tablet at the default screen brightness (which is perfectly fine for a well-lit room) for 3 hours and 15 minutes before it shut off. During the final stretch, several low battery notifications appeared in the upper-left corner of the screen, and in the final few minutes, the system got noticeably warmer..

Your mileage may vary. With so many different ways to play the Switch, and some titles draining batteries quicker than others, we'll be updating this story as we conduct more testing.

Our friends over at Gamespot reported their Switch lasted 3 hours and 3 minutes while playing Breath of the Wild, while GameExplain seemingly pushed the Switch to the limit, resulting in a drained battery after just 2 hours and 28 minutes.