Don't plan to buy a bunch of rechargeable batteries for Nintendo's upcoming Switch console. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said a production prototype of the device "equivalent to mass-produced items" that it examined in August had a built-in battery that "the user can't remove" on their own.
Nintendo could modify the Switch's design before its 2017 launch, but if the prototype submitted to the FCC is the same as the final product, anyone hoping to use the Switch primarily as a handheld gaming console will have to get used to the idea of carrying the device's charger around with them. That's unfortunate; the whole point of the Switch is to allow people to experience their favorite games while lounging in front of the TV and on the go.
Creating the console without a removable battery is also a departure from Nintendo's recent design choices. Both the 3DS and the Wii U GamePad--the tablet-like controller at the center of the company's unpopular home console--allow their owners to pull out their batteries if they wish. Nintendo even provides step-by-step guides for removing batteries from both products on its support website; it didn't try to keep this option hidden from consumers.
It's not hard to guess at why the company designed the 3DS and Wii U GamePad this way. Both are unique gaming devices that have plenty to offer, and the most glaring problem with both is their battery life. It's never fun to die in the water temple in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D because the 3DS gave out, or to send a Wii U in to Nintendo because the GamePad no longer holds a charge, and a removable battery solves both issues.
All of the above makes the omission of a removable battery in the Switch even more baffling. Nintendo's pitched it as a mix between a home console and a handheld gaming device. Docking it to play on a TV shouldn't pose a problem, but picking up the device to play a marathon The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild session on a plane or engage in some Mario-style platforming that's a little more complex than the mobile Super Mario Run makes battery life vital.
There's still time for Nintendo to change the Switch's design before its anticipated March 2017 debut. We'll learn more about the console when the media is allowed to go hands-on starting in January.