Nyko’s Battery Pack for the Nintendo Switch is an interesting combination of good ideas that are marred by the reality of execution. It solves some problems while creating others but, on the whole, it’s a $39.99 product that will extend the usefulness of your Nintendo Switch if you like to use the system as a pure portable.
The Nintendo Switch can burn through its internal battery in as little as 2.5 hours, which means that it’s relatively common to run out of juice while traveling. The Nyko Battery Pack is an external battery that clips around the system to add a few extra hours of playtime while also adding a decent amount of weight and bulk to the portable. The battery adds approximately 6.75 ounces to a system that weighs close to 14.25 ounces with the Joy-Cons attached.
Installation is easy. You slide your system onto the battery so it fits snugly onto the USB-C connection and then snap the top portion of the battery around the top of your system to lock it into place.
You can then remove the battery by sliding two releases on either side of battery’s back and removing the top portion the same way. It was important to make the system easy to connect or remove because there’s no way to use the Switch dock when the battery is in place; this is an addition that’s only going to be useful when you’re using it on the road.
The peripheral will add a few extra hours of playtime to your Switch, which can be a lifesaver if you’re easily bored or just trying to get through a few lengthy quests in Skyrim. The external battery adds a lot of utility to the Switch as a portable, but it also adds enough weight and size to be immediately noticeable.
My hands naturally found a new way to hold the system to make it more comfortable after a few hours, but you may be surprised how even a small amount of additional bulk can change how it feels to play the system in portable mode, and not for the better.
The battery pack can be charged with a USB-C cable when it’s attached or on its own, and a series of lights on the back of the case will show you how much charge it’s carrying so you can see if it’s ready to go or needs to be topped off. You also need to remember to turn on the battery pack using the button on the back of the unit to begin using the extra power.
The battery doesn’t block any ports or fans or buttons on your Switch, but it does make it slightly more awkward to get to the cartridge slot or to hit the power button. It’s not a big issue, but it takes slightly more effort than you’re used to in order to work around the ridge of plastic that loops around your system when the battery is connected.
The included kickstand is also larger and more steady than the one included in the Switch itself — it has to be with the added weight — and that allows you to play in tabletop mode for longer sessions on a steadier support.
Removing the battery to play in docked mode is a bit annoying, but the process of removing the hardware is simple. It adds weight to the system, but not enough to kill the advantages of longer playing time. Flipping cartridges is a little harder now, but aren’t most people downloading their games anyway? These are problems without easy solutions if you want to add more power to your system. Nyko did its best to mitigate them in an inexpensive peripheral that adds a good amount of utility to your Switch.
The company sent me a unit to test a few months ago, and I’ve been using it steadily on trips and at home; you get used to connecting it before you head to the airport and then removing it when it’s no longer needed once you’re back home. Having a few extra hours of juice makes a big difference, and I’ve found it to be worth the extra weight.