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Why the Nintendo Switch's short battery life won't matter

Commentary: You'll find this problem pretty easy to fix.

The Nintendo Switch launches March 3 for US $300.

The Nintendo Switch may have the worst battery life of any Nintendo handheld game system ever made. But I don't think you'll care.

And I'm not a battery life apologist or anything.

GIF by Sean Hollister/CNET

When Nintendo introduced the DS, I couldn't understand why I had to give up my 30 hours of Game Boy Advance battery life for maybe 15 hours on a charge. When Nintendo introduced the 3DS, I was angry -- and willing to bet nobody would buy a portable game system that lasted a pitiful 3-5 hours before giving up the ghost.

(I didn't just "get over it" when I tried them, either. I wound up waiting to buy Nintendo's later, better models with longer battery life, and I still got annoyed about dead batteries from time to time.)

So you can imagine how I might feel about the Switch, which Nintendo quotes at just 2.5 to 6.5 hours on a charge, depending on the game. (You can expect three hours of Zelda at a time.)

But the Nintendo Switch has one crucially important thing that no Nintendo portable has ever had -- a USB port for charging.


This changes everything, or will when USB Type-C becomes more commonplace. I'll never have to carry around a proprietary power adapter to charge a Nintendo Switch, because the standard charge cable that comes with any new phone, tablet or laptop will work with my game console too. Like today's micro-USB cables, people will just have them lying around -- unlike the USB to Nintendo DS converter cable I bought years ago and promptly lost.

Heck, I won't even need to find a USB charging port, because I'll be able to carry around a standard USB external battery pack, one that'll be dirt-cheap because there's so much competition.

And that's all without considering where the Nintendo Switch will generally live: In its own docking station, connected to my TV, constantly charging the battery while it doubles as my full-size game console.

The Nintendo Switch will be the first portable game system that's always ready to go, the one I'll never forget to charge and the easiest one to charge anywhere I go. Unless you count my phone.

Or unless the whole thing winds up under my couch, like the Wii. Battery or no, gadgets do tend to die when you stop plugging them in at all.

Update, January 17: Here's one wrinkle, though.

Update, March 10: You also may need a very specific battery to charge and play at the same time.