As we eagerly wait for Nintendo to reveal more official details about the Nintendo Switch on January 12, new information about the system continues to dribble out from unlikely sources. Today’s report suggests that the new console will do away with the company’s penchant for proprietary chargers and instead opt for the USB-C standard to get power to the system.
That suggestion comes via EB Games Australia, which briefly listed a trio of Nintendo Switch accessories from bargain hardware maker @play. Though the listings were quickly taken down, screengrabs from Technobuffalo and other sources confirm that the accessories included a “Nintendo Switch Extra-Long 3M Charging Cable,” alongside a picture of an apparent USB-C cable.
The listed product description as a “USB-A to USB-C Charging Cable compatible with the Nintendo Switch Console” leaves few questions about the Switch’s charging standard. And the retail leak comes on top of earlier reports, via multiple unnamed Nintendo sources, that the current Nintendo Switch prototypes use USB-C for their charging needs.
Adopting a universal standard like USB-C would be a big change for Nintendo, which has used a litany of proprietary charging ports and bulky A/C adapters for its consoles and portable systems over the decades. Back in 2003, that proprietary charging port also doubled as a replacement for the headphone jack on the Game boy Advance SP.
Nintendo has been able to stick with a single charger and port design for 2009’s Nintendo DSi up through last year’s New Nintendo 3DS XL. The company courted controversy, however, when it decided not to include a charger in the New Nintendo 3DS XL package “rather than raise cost… by charging consumers for a component they may already own,” as the Nintendo put it.
Using a cheap, commodity USB-C cable and wall charger would help reduce that cost and let users choose from a number of readily available third-party alternatives for car charging and the like. USB-C’s current capacity of up to 3A (or 5A in the “power delivery” format) could also help the Switch charge much faster than old Nintendo handhelds (the 3DS adapter currently maxes out at 900mA). And the USB-C standard can handle up to 100W of power in newer laptops, which should be more than enough for a smaller portable game console.
Interestingly enough, before the Wii U finally switched to HDMI, Nintendo used the same proprietary port for its composite A/V cables for every Nintendo home console from the Super NES through to the Wii. With the Switch using USB-C for charging and HDMI for output, though, Nintendo’s proprietary port days may finally be over.