The Switch is wonderfully portable, but not exactly a longevity champion with its 3- to 4-hour battery life. Its super-slim tablet-style form factor can also get pretty uncomfortable if you plan to test the length of that battery life in a single trip. HyperX, now expanding into console gaming gear, hopes to fix both of those problems with its aptly named ChargePlay Clutch.
The Clutch comes with three pieces: the central “chunk,” a rechargeable battery that clips onto the back of your Switch, and two grips that magnetically slot in and hold the Joy-Con controllers on either side. It’s an elegant design, but naturally, adding more stuff to the switch impacts its portability.
HyperX’s battery has some smart touches, like the way the frame side grips can function all on their own as a compact alternative to Nintendo’s own Joy-Con frame. I also love how the battery includes a big sturdy kickstand and enables easy recharging even while playing. That said, $60 is a lot to ask for what’s basically a fancy case, and I feel like the extended battery could be much more capacious.
“ChargePlay Clutch” is a bit of a mouthful. Let’s break it down into those distinct components, shall we?
The main component of this gadget is a 6000mAh battery that clips onto the bottom, back, and top of the Switch, recharging the console as it hangs onto it like a Remora fish. There’s a USB-C port that plugs into the switch on the bottom, and a plastic flap that locks the unit in on top. Another female C port on the back accepts charge and can operate while the battery and the Switch are powered on.
This model is for the original larger Switch; if there’s a Switch Lite version coming, we haven’t heard about it.
The rear panel is actually pretty well-designed. Huge ostentatious HyperX logo aside, the input port is nestled into a dedicated well, meaning almost any USB-C cable can fit. It works even when the large kickstand—almost the whole of the battery’s rear face—is extended. Note also the horizontal holes in both the battery’s case and the kickstand. Those are placed perfectly to avoid obstructing the Switch’s rear-mounted speakers. A similar cutout on the top flap makes sure the Switch’s exhaust fan works correctly.
Another cutout is on the rear, accommodating a small panel that holds the battery’s power button (sadly, it won’t power on and off automatically) and a four-LED array that gives the user a rough estimate of available power. The battery’s pretty chunky. In addition to being able to stand on its own via the kickstand, it can even stand up on the bottom lip of the battery.
The battery has enough output to charge up the Switch even while you’re playing, albeit slowly. If you want things to go faster, you need to let it sit and charge with the screen off. But all things equal, I got a little more than double my usual Switch runtime when using the fully charged battery. It’s nothing I couldn’t do with a standard USB battery (with at least 10 watts of output), but it’s certainly a more elegant solution than routing cables around your hands.
When using the battery alone, it’s surprisingly light and unobtrusive. It’s made in such a way that, with the side grips removed, you don’t touch the central column at all. If it seems unlikely that you’d want to use the cramped Joy-Cons on their own when grips are available, considering that the Switch is hugely popular with kids, whose hands might not be big enough for the full monty.
Taken as a whole, the Clutch does add some significant volume to the Switch, if not significant weight. There certainly seems to be room for more battery than the package actually contains. I assume that the battery was kept relatively small (only 1.5 times the mAh of the Switch itself) to save weight. But trying to get the Switch and this large grip into a case is going to be a challenge.
However, it might be worth it for a little more than double the battery life, plus a built-in controller grip that replaces the separate Joy-Con grip, and a much more reliable kickstand. Not to mention the ability to charge the Switch while it’s standing up, which needs another adapter gadget in most circumstances.
See those weird little blocks that poke out of the left and right on the battery? Those are magnetic clasps for the grips on either side. Applying or removing them is easy: Just get them roughly in the same area and they’ll snap right into place. Pull with moderate force, and they come apart.
HyperX’s engineers should be praised here: There’s a lot that might have gone wrong and didn’t. Users can keep the grips attached to the battery and slide the Switch in all at once, or keep them separate and snap them in from the side once the battery is applied.
What if you want to play with the Joy-Cons removed, and you prefer the feel of the grips? Then pop out these little tabs on either grip and slide the Joy-Con into place. They can be played separately, or the magnets in the grips can attach to each other—they’re mirrored so that they can attach to either the battery or the other grip. Nice!
Worth a Spot in Your Carry On
Is all of that a good deal for $60? From a pure value standpoint, not especially. As I said, most rechargeable USB batteries can get juice into your Switch, with far more energy capacity and enough money left over to buy you a more grippy case. This Anker battery and this case could perform all the same basic functions, with double the battery, for $10 less, but it wouldn’t be so elegant. Instead of a single unit thrown into your bag, you’d have three: the Switch and case, battery, and a USB cable.
If your budget can accommodate it, the ChargePlay Clutch makes a good traveling companion for the Switch. It could be smaller, or cheaper, or have a longer battery life, but it’s a solid ergonomic solution that’s flexible enough to be played alone or with friends. If you happen to find it on sale, snatch it up quick.
Here’s What We Like
- Solid but lightweight
- Easy to install
- Grips work as a separate controller
- Kickstand and ports work well
And What We Don't
- A bit pricey
- Could use more juice
- May be too big for kids