Do Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons Need Batteries?

The Nintendo Switch comes with a pair of fancy controllers called Joy-Cons.

Joy-Cons can be attached to the Switch for handheld play, or detached and used as two separate controllers in a multiplayer game on TV or tablet mode.

Recently while playing a Nintendo Switch co-op game with my friend, their Joy-Con controller suddenly died in the middle of the game.

Which led them to ask, while very upset….

Do Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons need batteries? Yes, Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons need batteries to function. That’s why each Joy-Con controller has an internal rechargeable lithium-ion battery which when fully charged can give you up to 20 hours of playtime. If you buy a Nintendo Switch Joy-Con AA Battery Pack you can recharge the Joy-Cons internal battery using AA batteries. With AA Energizer batteries in the Joy-Con battery pack, you could get almost 80 hours of gaming from your controllers.

Now that you know Joy-Cons are powered by batteries, read on to find out how to charge Joy-Cons, how to replace your Joy-Cons battery, and a lot more.

How do you charge the batteries of Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers?

AA battery packs, that cling to the back of joy-cons, can be bought relatively cheaply.

There are several ways to refresh the batteries of your Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons.

1: Attach the controllers to the Nintendo Switch and dock the console. With the Nintendo Switch docked both the console and Joy-Cons batteries will be charged.

2: Instead of docking the Nintendo Switch with the Joy-Con controllers attached, plug the USB-C end of the Nintendo Switch AC Adapter into the USB port at the bottom of the Switch, and the other end to a turned-on power socket. Again this will juice up the batteries of the console and the Joy-Con controllers. If you charge your Joy-Cons this way, you can continue using them to game in handheld mode.

3: When attached to the Nintendo Switch, Joy-Cons will automatically refill their batteries even if the Switch isn’t docked or connected to a power source. They’ll do this by drawing power from the Nintendo Switch’s lithium-ion battery/4310mAh in-built battery, and will only charge to about 50% for the console to reserve some battery.

4: If you don’t want to attach the Joy-Cons to the Nintendo Switch for them to charge then you should buy a Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Charging Grip from Amazon. With this device, you don’t have to worry about your Joy-Cons running out of battery as you game, because you’ll be able to charge them as you play your favorite Nintendo Switch games in TV mode. Note the Switch does come with a Joy-Con grip but this device doesn’t charge the controllers.

A Nintendo Switch Joy-Con AA Battery Pack will also allow you to recharge your Joy-Con controllers without having to connect them to the Nintendo Switch. To recharge your Joy-Cons the battery pack uses two AA alkaline or NiMH batteries for each controller. I like the Joy-Con AA Battery Pack, which you can also buy from Amazon because it gives you more playtime.

5: If you have more than one pair of Joy-Cons you could also purchase a Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Charger Dock. This will allow you to charge multiple Joy-Con controllers simultaneously.

If the batteries on your Joy-Cons are fully drained it will take about 3 ½ hours for them to fully charge.

You can check your Joy-Cons battery level by selecting “Controllers” from the Nintendo Switch Home Menu.

I recommend that you always leave your Joy-Cons charging using any of the above methods when you’re not using them. That way they’ll be juiced up and ready for your next gaming session.

How to replace the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Cons batteries

Pack like this cost very little and are great for breathing new life into your ageing joy-cons.

Over time the batteries of your Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons will wear out.

When this happens your Joy-Cons could refuse to turn on, not hold a charge or respond immediately to your commands, have a rapid reduction in battery life, etc.

Replacing the internal rechargeable lithium-ion battery in your Joy-Con controllers could fix these problems.

Nintendo warns against replacing the batteries in the Joy-Cons yourself and instead recommends that you send the faulty Joy-Cons to your local Nintendo shop for repair.

However, if you’re a fan of DIY projects, like me, you could change the batteries of your Joy-Cons easily yourself.

To do that you’ll need to buy this Nintendo Switch Replacement Battery from Amazon.

The Switch battery replacement I recommend comes with the tools needed to do the Joy-Cons battery change.

Once you get the Nintendo Switch replacement battery follow these steps to change your Joy-Cons battery.

1: Turn off the Joy-Con by pressing the SYNC button located on the flat edge of the controller. If the Joy-Cons are attached to the Nintendo Switch turning the console off will also power off the Joy-Cons.

2: At the back of your Joy-Con, unscrew the four screws that secure the controller’s case using the Tri-wing screwdriver that comes with the Nintendo Switch Replacement Battery. 

3: Slide the opening spudger, which also comes with the battery replacement, to separate the back and front case of the Joy-Con. The two cases separate easily so don’t use too much pressure to do this. Also, don’t insert the opening pick too far inside the controller as you could damage its internal parts.

4: With the top and bottom cases separated, slowly open the Joy-Con like a book. Two cables connect the Joy-Con charging rail to its motherboard. Be careful not to cause any damage to these cables.

5: Use a spudger to disconnect the battery connector from its socket on the motherboard. This will ensure the Joy-Con doesn’t turn on as you remove its battery.

Be careful not to damage the vibrator motor cable which is next to the battery connector. If you’re changing the right Joy-Con battery, watch out for the antenna cable at this point.

6: Use the open pick to remove the battery from the Joy-Con’s housing. 

7: Take the new battery and place it into the Joy-Con then connect it to its socket on the motherboard. And that’s it you have successfully changed the battery on your Joy-Con. You can then carefully proceed to close it up.

Charge the Joy-Con for at least two hours after changing the battery. After that, your Joy-Con should work perfectly.

Nick Sinclair

Nick Sinclair, a gaming aficionado since the Commodore 64 era, studied Creative Computer Games Design in university before founding his own gaming company. Discovering a passion for content creation, Nick now helps gamers squeeze every drop of fun out of their favorite gaming hardware

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