Nintendo Switch AC Adapter Review

The Nintendo Switch AC adapter is the charging adaptor that comes with the Nintendo Switch when you buy online or in store. This adapter is designed specifically to charge the Nintendo Switch itself and it does the job really well.

It also works well with the various accessories that come with the Switch. However, due to the limited power profiles offered on this adapter it is not great for charging other devices as it is incompatible with many of them. We would give this AC adapter an overall rating of 3.5 stars.

Nintendo Switch AC Adapter Review

Charging performance: 3.5 stars
Versatility: 2 stars
Design and Feel: 3.5 stars
Safety and durability: 4 stars
Portability: 3 stars
Overall rating: 3.5 stars

Product Review

One of the most commonly reported complaints about the fabulous Nintendo Switch is that it runs out of battery too readily.

The gaming console itself is so popular and addictive that you can understand why players become frustrated when their games are interrupted by low battery warnings.

The Console can be played on the TV screen when placed in the docking port, or in handheld portable mode if you want to play whilst on the go. However, if the battery runs low, you have to suspend your enjoyment until you can reach a power source to boost its juice. 

The console comes with an AC adapter so that it can be charged when in handheld mode and also in T.V. mode too. In this review, we will examine the pros and cons of the Nintendo Switch AC adapter, looking at versatility, performance, design, safety and portability.

We will look at how it compares to other similar adapters and whether it can be used for more general charging purposes other than those related to the Nintendo Switch.


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Specifications

Ports

In-built USB Type C cable

Input

100-240V, 1.0A, 50/60Hz

Output

39W USB-C power delivery 2.0 (5v / 1.5A, 15V / 2.6A)

Weight

6.1 oz / 173 g

Length

2.6 inches / 66mm

Width

2 inches / 51mm

Height

1.4 inches / 36mm

What we like

  • The Nintendo Switch AC adapter charges the console in both T.V. mode and handheld mode.
  • It also charges the Nintendo Switch controllers
  • It is made by Nintendo specifically for the Nintendo Switch so covered by 12 month warranty 
  • It is capable of charging some 12 to 13 inch laptops
  • It has worldwide compatibility with 100-240V power input, although may require a plug adaptor in certain countries
  • It includes an in-built USB Type C cable

What could be better

  • The Nintendo Switch AC adapter has limited compatibility with other devices due to a poor selection of power profiles
  • No fast charging abilities for USB-C phones
  • The power profiles features do not adhere to USB-C specifications
  • The cable length is limiting
  • The design is not very travel friendly
  • The unit is too bulky to fit inside most Nintendo Switch carry cases

Initial Impressions

On initial inspection this adapter is a little narrower than other AC adapters out there which is good, however it does still take up more than one space when plugged into a power strip.

The Nintendo Switch AC adapter comes with the console in the box, and can also be bought separately as part of the Nintendo docking and charging kit.  It has an in-built USB-C cable that is 5 feet long.

Although this is slightly restricting, it is still long enough for most T.V. set ups and charging needs. The adapter’s prongs do not fold, meaning that it is not the most travel-friendly design, but it is covered by Nintendo’s 12 month warranty which is a bonus.

What You Get In The Box

When you buy a Nintendo Switch AC adapter you receive the adapter as well as an in-built charging cable. This cable measures 5 feet in length, which is the equivalent of 1.5 meters.

What It Can Be Used For

First and foremost, the Nintendo Switch AC adapter can be used to charge the Nintendo Switch console and controllers. It can also be used to charge the Switch Lite and it is a useful extra charger to have at work or at home in case your original charger gets lost or damaged.

The AC adapter can also be used to charge power banks of 30W or higher capacity, iPad pros from 2018 or later, and 12 to 13 inch laptops that are compatible with USB-C profiles.

Charging Performance

Nintendo Switch Charging

We would expect this AC adapter to perform well when charging the Nintendo Switch as it is specifically designed for that purpose. Luckily, this product does not disappoint in this area.

It can charge the Nintendo Switch both in handheld mode and in T.V. mode, and the Switch charges at its maximum rate of 18W. This means that the Nintendo Switch  can fully recharge in 2.5-4 hours which is an impressive speed.

The adapter charges the Switch at a normal speed whilst it is sleeping and actually fast charges the Switch whilst you play, meaning that your gaming does not need to be put on pause until the device is powered up.

You can enjoy uninterrupted play even when using T.V. mode as the adapter is able to charge the dock as well.

  • 2.5 - 4 hour charging time
  • Dual voltage for fast charging

Nintendo Switch Accessory Charging

When it comes to charging the Switch’s accessories, this AC adapter also scores highly. Due to the fact that the majority of the Nintendo accessories draw less charge than a standard smartphone, the adapter is able to support them and provide a speedy recharge rate.

Items that can be charged using this adapter include:

  • The Joy-Con Charging Grip
  • The Pro Controller
  • The Pokeball Plus

Each controller only draws 2.5W of power, meaning that they can be fast charged with no problem. The controllers come with the necessary USB-A to USB-C cable which allows them to be charged in the Nintendo Charging Dock.

This is where you should ideally charge them as the Dock has 3 USB-A ports meaning the controllers can all be charged simultaneously. It is best to consider this AC adapter as a good back up option rather than the default charging method for accessories.

Nintendo Switch Dock Charging

You may be wondering, as were we, why Nintendo created a 39W USB-C charger for a console that rarely draws more than 18W even when it is docked.

Surely the company could have designed an 18W or indeed 30W adapter that would be more appropriate, as the 39W capability seems excessive. However, there is a method behind the madness…

The Nintendo Switch Dock has actually been cleverly programmed to not activate video play unless it detects a USB-C charger that supports 15V / 2.6A or higher.

This is so that users do not attempt to use a phone charger or weak power source to charge the device and accidentally end up draining the battery as a result.

Using a weaker power source will actually end up compromising the game play and will end in a poor user experience - which is certainly not what Nintendo want.

Of course, the device can be charged and powered by alternative adapters and power sources that have high enough outputs. Any charger with 45W or 60W USB-C capacities will in fact work well.

However, watch out for high output chargers that do not have 15V power profiles as these will not be sufficient to charge the Switch or docking bay.

Nintendo Switch Licensed Power Bank Charging

The AC adapter is also able to charge certain power banks that have been licensed by Nintendo, such as those by Anker.

These Anker power banks accept the 15V / 2A power input that the Switch adapter is able to provide, and other high output power banks of 30W and over can also be charged via this adapter.

However, power banks with a lower output of around 15-18W need an adapter with 9V or 12V power inputs to charge. Unfortunately the Switch adapter does not offer these inputs and only has a weak power output of 5V.

For this reason, most lower output power banks do not connect with this adapter.

Laptop Charging

The Nintendo Switch AC adapter is advertised as being suitable for laptop charging as well as console charging, and this is true to an extent. This charger is able to charge most USB-C laptops of 12 inches in size, and some 13 inch and 14 inch laptops as well.

However, it cannot supply power to all laptops because the amount of power that a laptop requires depends on the make and model, not just the size. The fact that this adapter does not have 20V limits its capabilities in this area, and it can only charge laptops that accept 15V inputs.

The 13 inch MacBook Pro is able to draw a maximum of 37W from the Nintendo Switch AC adapter, which makes sense when you consider inevitable energy wastage. Chromebooks are also able to be charged sufficiently well by this 39W adapter.

In general, 13 and 14 inch laptops are less likely to charge successfully, although some can if they are not under a heavy operational load. Overall, we would consider this adapter to deliver a limited performance in this area.

Smartphone Charging

First of all, it is important to mention that in order to use this adapter to charge your smartphone, your smartphone would have to accept the built-in USB-C cable and connector.

This instantly rules out many models, which is why we think this adapter would be better if it had a removable cable. That having been said, here is a list of 4+ Phones that are compatible with USB-C PD:

  • Xiaomi Mi 8/9
  • Apple iPhone 8/X/XR/XS
  • ZTE Axon Pro 9/10
  • Essential Phone
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 8/9
  • Google Pixel
  • LG ThinQ/V30
  • Samsung Galaxy S8/S9/S10
  • Razer

When the Nintendo Switch AC adapter was tested on these models it did not perform well. Its fast charging was compromised, and it ended up charging the phones at a slower rate than a standard USB-C charger without the Power Delivery element.

3.0 Smartphones that are compatible with USB-C chargers include:

  • Samsung Galaxy
  • HTC
  • ZTE
  • LG
  • Xiaomi Mi ⅚
  • Motorola
  • Sony
  • Nokia

Sadly, once again the AC adapter performed poorly as a charging option for these phones. Its 5V power profile proved too weak and only resulted in a slow 2W charge rate.

For this reason we would consider this charger incompatible with smartphone charging even when the phone has USB-C connection points and USB PD acceptance.

USB-C Power Delivery Spec Violation

USB-C Power Delivery Spec Violation

The Nintendo Switch AC adapter actually goes against the specifications of official USB-C adapters in that it only supports two different power profiles. The power profiles that the AC adapter does support are 5V / 1.5A profiles, and 15V / 2.6A profiles.

The 15V profile is so that it can support the Switch console and the Dock, and the 5V profile is so that it can charge the Nintendo controllers.

However, USB Power Delivery standards dictate that wherever a 15V profile is present, a 9V profile should also be included. This is not the case on this adapter as it does not support a 9V / 3A profile.

This is highly annoying, number one because it is a clear violation of the USB specifications, but also because it renders this adapter incompatible with most USB-C smartphone devices as the majority of these phones charge at 9V.

The adapter does not offer a 20V profile either, however this is not a specification according to USB standards. It does limit the adapter’s abilities to charge laptops and other more powerful devices however, as most prefer 20V to 15V.

Although the lack of a 20V profile is not breaking any rules, it certainly contributes to the limited performance of the Nintendo Switch AC adapter in terms of wider use.

Design And Functionality

In terms of design and functionality the Nintendo Switch AC adapter scores pretty highly in our books. The fact that the USB-C cable is built into the adapter means that it is at less risk of getting lost and needing to be replaced.

The in-built cable also makes this adapter incredibly user friendly as there are very little steps required for use. You simply plug the USB-C connector into the available USB-C port on the underside of the console, and plug the AC plug into the wall socket.

Alternatively, you can plug the USB-C connector into the available USB-C port at the back of the dock, or on the Nintendo accessories and connect to the wall socket in the same way. It could not be more simple.

Anyone who has ever charged a phone or tablet will easily be able to understand and use this adapter.

The only downside to the design of this AC adapter is that the cable can be restrictive during play. If you are charging the Switch during TV mode then the cable is plenty long enough to reach around most standard TV setups.

However, when using the Switch in handheld mode the cable length can feel a little restrictive.

What is more, although this adapter is narrower than many other chargers of its caliber, it is still wider than itself when plugged into a power stack, meaning that you cannot plug anything else into the socket immediately next to it.

Portability

This AC adapter is designed to be portable, so that you can enjoy playing on your Nintendo Switch wherever you go, and can top up the device whenever you need to as long as there is a power source nearby.

Its dimensions are fairly compact as this adapter measures 2.6 x 2 x 1.4 inches in size. Although this cannot be described as slimline, it is certainly portable, and at only 6.1 oz it is a very lightweight charger that will not add a substantial increase to your load.

You can easily pop this adapter in a backpack or handbag and take it on vacation, on transport, or carry it as you go about your day. 

Unfortunately, the AC prongs are non-foldable and this limits the adapter's portability. We think it would be improved vastly if the prongs could fold away as it would make the adapter a far less awkward shape to store and carry.

What is more, the Nintendo Switch AC adapter does not fit comfortably inside many of the carry case options that Nintendo offers. It is too large and bulky to slide in alongside the console and therefore has to be transported separately.

We recommend trying to wrap your adapter in a protective bag or layer when carrying it so that it does not sustain damage from bumps and knocks during transportation. This will not only help to protect the performance of your adapter, but also its lifespan.

Safety And Durability

The Nintendo Switch AC adapter scores very highly in the safety department. The designers have equipped this charger with plenty of  safety features to ensure that it does not overheat, short circuit or overload. The safety features of this AC adapter include:

  • Overheat protection
  • Overpower protection
  • Short circuit protection
  • Overcurrent protection
  • Overcharge protection
  • Overvoltage protection

With all these safety protections in place you can have peace of mind that this adapter is incredibly safe to use and will not cause harm to itself, you or your plugged in devices.

Comparison To Other Similar AC Adapters

Charger

Nintendo Switch AC Adapter

Inateck 45W PD USB-C

ZMI PowerPlug Turbo

Dimensions

2.6 x 2 x 1.4 in

6.1 oz

2.8 x 2.2 x 1.2 in

4.6 oz

2.4 × 2.2 × 1.1 in

3.6 oz

Output

39W USB-C PD

45W USB-C PD

45W USB-C PD 

Cable

Built-in cable

USB-C to USB-C cable

USB-C to USB-C cable

Features

Nintendo Licensed

Limited power profiles

USB-IF certified from the factory

Quick Charge 3.0

As you can see from the comparison table above, the Nintendo Switch AC adapter holds its own against competitor models in most areas, but falls short in others. 

In terms of size and dimensions, the Switch is slimmer than the other adapters in our chart, yet its width is still wider than a single socket slot on a power stack.

What is more, the Switch adapter weighs more than both our other example adapters, making it the bulkiest option for carrying about in a backpack or handbag.

The other adapters in our chart both offer 45W USB-C PD profiles, whereas the Switch adapter only goes up to 39W.

This means that the other adapters are more appropriate for laptop charging and will be better able to support high powered devices, whereas the Switch adapter can only cope with relatively small laptops and tablets.

We think that the Switch adapter’s built-in cable is an asset as it means that there is less setup involved and the cable will not get lost or separated from the adapter.

However, the other adapters come with detachable USB-c to USB-C cables which can be replaced if they become damaged.

The other advantage of a detachable cable is that the adapter has greater versatility as alternative USB-C to USB-A, HDMI, SCART and other connectors can be attached.

The Switch adapter is covered by the Nintendo warranty (although it only lasts one year), and it does not support many USB-C devices due to its limited power profiles. The other adapters are therefore more versatile and better suited to general charging use.

Summary

In summary, we think that the Nintendo Switch AC adapter is great at what it is designed to do - i.e. charge the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo accessories. However, we find this adapter rather restricted in terms of wider use. 

It is almost entirely incompatible with smartphone charging due to its 5V and 15V power profiles. Most USB-C smartphones require a 9V input which this adapter does not offer. At the same time, this adapter is not ideal for laptop charging as it does not offer a 20V profile.

Although it can be used to charge Chromebooks and other 12 inch laptops with small operational loads, you would be better off investing in an adapter that supports 20V if you want to reap the full benefits.

As a backup charging option for your Switch, this adapter gets the thumbs up. But as a general charger for wider use, we say look elsewhere.

Brett Jones