The refreshed Nintendo Switch is officially in stores, promising 4.5 to 9 hours of battery life up from the original model’s 2.5 to 6.5 hours.
But how does that claim hold up in real world use? We bought one and put it side-by-side with our old Switch to find out. For science!
To see how the new Switch’s battery life compares to the old one, we ran an endless, 8-player CPU battle in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on both systems, with all of the items and AI difficulty turned up for maximum chaos. We cranked the brightness to max, and turned auto-sleep and auto-brightness off. It’s not an entirely scientific test, but it did give us a good idea of how each version of the Switch holds up after a long play session.
The new Nintendo Switch lasted for about 4 hours and 50 minutes before going dark on our Smash test, which is nearly double the 2:45 result we got from our old Switch. It’s worth noting that our old Switch was purchased in 2017, so its battery may have seen some wear and tear over the years. But still, based on our testing, the new Switch does indeed offer a significant battery bump over the launch model.
If you haven’t bought a Switch yet and aren’t interested in next month’s $199, handheld-only Switch Lite, you should obviously seek out the newer, better model. But should you upgrade to this version if you already own a Switch? That’s harder to say.
While the new Switch’s battery is significantly better, both systems will likely conk out during a long flight, and the old Switch’s shorter battery life can easily be improved with a portable battery pack. That said, if you are interested in trading up, GameStop is currently offering up to $225 in trade-in credit on older Switch models, which would effectively let you get the new one for $75.
Regardless of whether you decide to upgrade or not, it’s nice to see Nintendo make improvements to the Switch’s relatively short runtime in handheld mode. The upcoming Switch Lite is rated somewhere in between both models at 3 to 7 hours, so we look forward to putting the smaller Switch through its paces when it releases on Sept. 20.