It's fair to say that like so many amazing crowdfunded ideas, the SwitchCharge hasn't had the most comfortable routes to market. After comprehensively smashing its funding goal back in 2017, the accessory – which contains a 10,000mAh battery which quadruples the stamina of your Switch console – took a little longer than expected to become hard reality, and has been plagued by supply issues over the past month or so, with many backers completely in dark about when their unit will be arriving.
However, this isn't vapourware – the SwitchCharge unit we have in our very hands is proof of this fact. Crowdfunding any product is a difficult process and InDemand Design has learned the hard way that even when your initial campaign surpasses your wildest dreams, there are plenty of potential pitfalls waiting to trip you up later down the line.
Putting aside the issues relating to actually getting the device into the hands of backers for a moment, we're pleased to report that SwitchCharge delivers on its initial promises (well, aside from the capacity dropping from 12,000mAh to a still-respectable 10,000mAh). The unit bolts onto your Switch using a sturdy locking mechanism, and via its internal battery massively expands the amount of available playtime. Furthermore, it also acts as a kickstand (and one that is significantly more robust that the flimsy offering on the back of the console) and has storage space for two game cards. To top it all off, a USB port on the side also allows you to quick charge other devices at the same time. It's also worth noting that the SwitchCharge is not a dock, and won't potentially brick your Switch if you're on update 5.0 or higher.
At just over 300g, the SwitchCharge is quite heavy. While we've never experienced any issues with tired arms when using the 'naked' Switch, with the SwitchCharge connected we found that after an hour or so we started to feel a little uncomfortable. Naturally, if you're playing in tabletop mode, this isn't an issue. We're also pathetic weaklings, so you may find your arms have more stamina.
Another problem is that when the SwitchCharge is connected you can't rest your fingers on the back of the Switch, as you would normally. We wouldn't say that this makes the console harder to grip necessarily – it's just different. It takes a little getting used to but soon becomes second nature; it's only when you remove the device that you appreciate just how comfortable the Switch is to hold in its default form.
The SwitchCharge's battery is topped-up using a USB Type-C connector, and you can check on the battery level by pressing the button on the side – four white LEDs denote the amount of juice left in the tank. Charging a 10,000mAh battery takes some time – as you might expect – so it's best to leave it on overnight. Plugging in the Switch doesn't automatically trigger the charging system – you have to press that button again to start topping up the Switch's battery. Hold the button for three seconds and the charging process will stop.
According to InDemand, the unit clocked the following times:
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: 10hrs 40mins
- Mario Kart 8: 10 hrs 45 mins
- 1-2-Switch: 12hrs 55mins
- Fast RMX: 13hrs 20mins
- Snipperclips: 13hrs 30mins
- Shovel Knight: 14hrs 15mins
We've not been able to test all of those titles under the same conditions, but those times do seem to tally with our own experiences.
The SwitchCharge itself is a well-made piece of kit; it feels robust and dependable. It's covered in a grippy matte finish which picks up greasy fingerprints quite easily and gives off an unusual (but not unpleasant) smell. The kickstand has several different settings, the most extreme of which almost allows the console to be laid down almost horizontally on a table. The game card slots are handy, but be careful to only insert them label-up – we foolishly tried putting them in the other way around and had to use a knife to release them. It would have been sensible to include some kind of mechanism that prevents them being placed inside label-down, but this is minor gripe.
Along with the SwitchCharge we also got a carry case – which is large enough to house the Switch console with the SwitchCharge connected, six game cards and several leads – as well as a screen protector. The usual price is a whopping $120 / £88 / 100 Euros, but if you place an order now you can get one for a reduced rate of $85 / / £62 / 70 Euros.
Stamina has long been an issue with Switch, and SwitchCharge's ability to tackle this problem head-on should be commended. It's not a totally perfect product – 10,000mAh batteries are bulky and the unit almost doubles the overall weight of the Switch when connected – but in the short time we've had it, it has become an essential piece of kit, especially when we're on the road and need as much battery life as possible. If you backed the SwitchCharge in 2017 and are still waiting for your unit to arrive, rest easy – all good things come to those who wait, and InDemand Design has delivered on its promises, even if the actual process of getting units into the hands of buyers isn't going as smoothly as planned.
You can order a SwitchCharge for $85 here.