This is the first thing you should buy for your Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch displaying Animal Crossing New Horizons
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Vantage_DS)

As with every gifting season since its release, many keen eyes might be on one of the most popular Nintendo consoles in history; the Nintendo Switch.

Despite being released in 2017, the Nintendo Switch continues to go from strength to strength, showing there’s still plenty of life in the relatively old dog. I’ve had my Switch since the console launched, and from day one, the battery life was my biggest bugbear. When playing a demanding title like Breath of the Wild, the Switch can burn through its entire battery life in just three hours, which makes it a reasonably rubbish travel companion on long journeys – or even if there’s no plug socket near your favorite gaming spot at home.  

That’s why a portable battery pack is the first thing you should buy when you get a Switch – yes, over and above even a case or one of the best SD cards for Switch, which at this point are both a given with portable devices.

Double the playtime 

You can get different types of portable battery for your Switch; general-use devices such as the Anker PowerCore 13400 Nintendo Switch Edition – charging cases like the Yobwin Nintendo Switch Charging Case, and battery packs such as the Nyko Power Pak. 

nintendo switch and anker power bank

(Image credit: Future)

If you want something you can just throw in your bag, supporting several device types, you’re likely better off with a general-use battery. These are often pretty lightweight, and as long as your cord is a comfortable length shouldn’t cause you any issues. There are a few considerations to picking the right one, though – we’ll return to this.

Charging cases and power packs, however, are fairly discreet and offer protection to your Switch when it’s out of its carry case. While you can’t use these with other devices, they can often come with neat added features that can benefit your Switch – plus, you don’t have to worry so much about compatibility.

Choose your charger 

After you’ve chosen whether you want to go for a general-use portable charger, a Switch-specific battery pack or a charging case, you’ll want to think about the specifics.

While pretty much any portable battery will work with your Switch, choosing one with the right specs is vital to make it worthwhile. First off is the most obvious; the cable. If you’re going for a general-use portable battery, it’s important to note that the Switch can only be charged via USB-C. When the console first came out, USB-C charging was much less common, so picking a portable battery that would work for other devices was trickier. Many portable batteries will support both USB-A and C, so if you’re buying a general-use portable battery, it’ll still be versatile enough.

Charging cases and battery packs designed for the Switch are obviously going to be compatible with it – but there are still some things to weigh up no matter what kind of battery you buy. One determining factor is the battery's capacity, which should, at an absolute minimum, match the Switch’s internal battery capacity of 4310mAh. The more milliamp hours, the better. 

A neon red Joy-Con on a table in the foreground, with a Nintendo Switch screen and blue Joy-Con lying on the table in the background, slightly out of focus

(Image credit: Enrique Vidal Flores via Unsplash)

Aiming for an 8,000mAh battery will net you two full recharges of your console, tripling the amount of time you can spend stomping Goombas in Super Mario Odyssey. You’ll also want to ensure the battery has the same output rating as the Switch’s power supply (15V / 26A / 18W) – this gives the device enough juice to run the system and continue charging even while you’re in-game. 

Whether you opt for a plug-in battery, a power pack, or a charging case, you don’t want to lose out on the key benefit of this hybrid console; portability. Depending on how often you’ll be using the portable battery and how hench your arms are, you might want to opt for a lower capacity, less robust charger. Greater capacity batteries may offer a lot more play time, but they can also get pretty heavy, and if you’re on the move, this is less than ideal.

As our lofty dreams of the Nintendo Switch Pro were squashed by the somewhat surprising announcement of the Switch OLED, we’re expecting that the original Switch, Switch Lite, and Switch OLED will be our go-to Nintendo consoles for a while yet – even if a Switch Pro is becoming long overdue. However, if you’re drawn to the Switch for its portability, you should most definitely make a portable battery your first purchase.

Josephine Watson
Managing Editor, Lifestyle

Josephine Watson (@JosieWatson) is TechRadar's Managing Editor - Lifestyle. Josephine has previously written on a variety of topics, from pop culture to gaming and even the energy industry, joining TechRadar to support general site management. She is a smart home nerd, as well as an advocate for internet safety and education, and has also made a point of using her position to fight for progression in the treatment of diversity and inclusion, mental health, and neurodiversity in corporate settings. Generally, you'll find her watching Disney movies, playing on her Switch, or showing people pictures of her cats, Mr. Smith and Heady.