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Nintendo Switch’s included Joy-Con Grip is not the same as $30 Charging Grip

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An extra charge to charge your controllers easily

Nintendo Switch preview event - Joy-Con controllers in Grip / Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
A guest at the Nintendo Switch preview event in New York on Friday, Jan. 13, plays Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with the Joy-Con Grip.
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Every Nintendo Switch comes with a Joy-Con Grip, an accessory that holds two Joy-Con controllers in a form factor that resembles a standard gamepad. But that unit won’t charge the Joy-Con devices — for that, you may want to buy a separate peripheral known as the Joy-Con Charging Grip.

This may or may not have been obvious to you; the Charging Grip is listed as a $29.99 accessory on the Nintendo Switch website. Either way, Nintendo didn’t make it completely clear until a livestream on Friday morning, during which Nintendo Treehouse employees showed off the Switch hardware and various games.

Nintendo Switch - Joy-Con Grip vs. Charging Grip
The Joy-Con Grip versus the Joy-Con Charging Grip.
Nintendo via Polygon

Nate Bihldorff, senior director for localization at Nintendo Treehouse, was discussing the standard Joy-Con Grip as he held it in his hands. He then explained the difference between the two Grips: “There’s also a Charging Grip accessory that’ll come as well, that you can actually plug these into — plug a spare set of Joy-Con into — and charge.”

As you can see in the image above, the two units are not identical. The Grip that’s included in the Switch box is opaque, with a matte gray finish. The Joy-Con Charging Grip is also gray, but it’s translucent — just like the $69.99 Switch Pro Controller.

In case it wasn’t clear, the standard Grip is essentially just a plastic shell that holds two Joy-Con controllers. Only the Charging Grip will charge the batteries of the Joy-Con pads; there’s a USB-C port on top of the unit. While you won’t need to buy the Charging Grip in order to keep your Joy-Con controllers powered — they’ll charge whenever they’re attached to the Switch unit — there does not appear to be a way to plug the Joy-Con pads directly into USB power or a wall outlet.

Joy-Con controllers contain a nonremovable 525 mAh battery that will last for approximately 20 hours, according to Nintendo. The company notes that the capacity of those batteries — as with all lithium-ion batteries — will degrade over time. Whether the pads are hooked up to a Charging Grip or a Switch, it will take about three and a half hours to charge them from empty to full.

The Nintendo Switch will be released March 3 worldwide for $299. For more details, read about its full hardware specifications.

Update: As our own Nick Robinson points out, this setup means that if your Joy-Con controllers die while you’re using them wirelessly and you don’t own a Charging Grip, the only way to keep playing is to use the Switch in portable mode — i.e., pick up the unit and slide the Joy-Con pads onto it, so you can use them while they charge. Not ideal!