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The Nintendo Switch battery pack situation is more complicated than first thought

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Nintendo Switch

Update February 23rd, 3:30PM: These recommendations were based on assumptions made from reading Nintendo’s charging specifications that early tests from Ars Technica seem to refute. We’re looking into the issue and will update accordingly.

The Nintendo Switch is almost out, and chances are you’ll want an extra battery pack to juice up your console on the go (in addition to a couple other accessories, like a microSD card). Fortunately, the Switch has a standard USB-C port, which makes it the most universal Nintendo power system since the Game Boy took AA batteries.

The downside is that the wide range of devices that support USB-C make the standard somewhat of a tricky beast, especially when it comes to making sure you’ve got enough power to juice up your console. With that in mind, let’s break down what you need to know about charging your Switch, along with some battery pack, charger, and cable recommendations.

As we can see, the Switch actually outputs two power at two different level: 5.0V/1.5A and 15.0V/2.6A, which works out to 7.5W and 39W, respectively. This is a bit of speculation, but if I had to guess, those correspond to regular charging (7.5W) and actively being used as a docked console (39W), which presumably needs more power. (Update: This assumption appears to no longer be correct. It appears the Switch requires the full 15V/2.6A to charge)

What that means in practical terms, though, is that we have a rough idea of the kind of specs we’re looking for to charge up a Switch on the go. (For reference, a standard iPhone charger is 5W, and iPad is 12W, putting the Switch somewhere in between a phone and a tablet when it comes to power demands, which makes logical sense to me.)

Best battery pack:

(Update: This recommendation may no longer be accurate, we’re investing other battery packs that will properly charge the Switch) The Jackery Titan S with USB-C is the best battery pack we’ve found out there for the Switch. At $46 on Amazon, it’s cheaper than most of its competitors (like Anker’s similarly priced model), and has a USB-C port that outputs 5.0V/3A, which should be more than enough to charge a Switch at full speed. And with a 20,100mAh capacity, it should be able to recharge the Switch’s 4,310 mAh battery a couple times over.

Anker and RAVPower also offer similar options, but they’re both priced higher than the Jackery Titan S. While they offer some different functionality when it comes to Qualcomm’s Quick Charge support, either product will work just as well when it comes to charging the Switch.

Best extra charger:

(Update: These recommendations may no longer be accurate, we’re investigating other chargers that will manage to charge the Switch) The Switch comes with an AC adaptor in the box, but you’ll probably plug that into the dock for when you’re using it in full console mode. If you want to charge up your Switch away from your TV, you’ll need a second charger. Nintendo will sell you a second one for $29.99, if you’d like to keep things simple. Or, if you’ve got one handy, any of Apple’s USB-C MacBook and MacBook Pro chargers will also work, as will most other USB-C laptop chargers.

Alternatively, you can pick up a generic USB-C charger — so long as it outputs at least 5.0V/1.5A, it’ll be good enough for juicing up a Switch. This 24W Anker charger should work. If you’ve got a legacy USB to USB-C cable, you can also use a regular USB charger, assuming it can put out the power you need.

Best cable:

USB-C is infamous for poor cable standards that can fry your devices. Your best bet is to check that the cables you’re buying have been vetted by heroic Google engineer Benson Leung, whose made a hobby of verifying cable standards. Leung posts his reviews directly to Amazon and his Google+ page, but if you’re looking for a few simple USB-C to USB-C cables, here are few options.

Nintendo Switch First Look