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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

My Wii U GamePad's Battery Life Is Pissing Me Off!

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - My GamePad is basically on indefinite life support.

As the Wii U itself is basically seeing its life flash before its eyes, maybe I should feel bad about trashing any aspect of it right now. After all, Nintendo's less-than-normal-lifespan console is clearly too weak to defend itself.

Yet this has been bothering me for years, and it's noticeably been getting worse and worse. My Wii U GamePad basically has a lifespan of about half an hour at this point. It has less energy than JEB! Bush. It used to be an hour a few weeks ago, and when I got it over three and a half years ago it had a normal battery life.

According to Nintendo, the normal battery life for a Wii U GamePad is supposed to last 3–5 hours:

How Long Will the Wii U GamePad Remain Charged Nintendo support article
Here is the source article.

That's already abysmal, and now I'm at an extremely small fraction of that. It basically turns the GamePad into a wired controller, since it needs to constantly be recharging. That's definitely a problem, since one of the selling points of the GamePad was that it's wireless. That's an even bigger selling point for the Nintendo Switch, and if that thing doesn't have an amazing battery life, then it's going to be a complete failure.

Let's talk more about my GamePad, though. Maybe we can talk about yours, too. So, here's how my Wii U GamePad lives:

Nintendo Wii U GamePad charging cradle AC adapter settings
The GamePad sits on top of its Cradle, with the AC Adapter for the GamePad plugged into the Cradle at all times.

Nintendo suggests low brightness settings. I got that. I got Power-Saving Move on, too. Yet... still unacceptably terrible results. Am I the only one with this problem? I asked a prominent Facebook group about their own GamePads:

How long does your Wii U GamePad battery charge last Facebook poll Nintendo hours
Most people answering are within Nintendo's minimum range.

There is a solution, which is the Wii U GamePad High Capacity Battery. But I said it didn't make financial sense to buy a Wii U a few months ago... does it make financial sense to spend $40 on a replacement battery when I won't be using the Wii U in 3 months when the Nintendo Switch is released in March? (...I think I won't, anyway?)

I just want to also note the frustration that the GamePad HAS to be on and displaying while playing something like Super Smash Bros. For The Wii U. I play that exclusively with an actually-wired controller, the GameCube controller. The Wii U GamePad is on and displaying something whatever is on the TV during that time. You can go to the Wii U settings by going to the HOME menu and turning the Display Off... but you can't leave that screen to return to gameplay without using the GamePad. Touching it turns the GamePad back on. So it's a totally useless feature.

Most of my GamePad usage is to use Miiverse, and that's actually very extensive, since I've logged literally thousands of hours into Miiverse. (Nothing else on the Wii U even comes close.) Is that enough to completely wear out the GamePad? I thought Miiverse would actually be less-intensive than an actual game, but I could be wrong.

If you own a Wii U, what is the battery life of your GamePad? Are you satisfied with it? Are you nervous about how long the Nintendo Switch will last, and if its battery life will fade away quickly? Do you have any suggestions for Ludwig or the Internet at large about how to best preserve battery life while using the GamePad, and also the maximum capacity of the battery?

The Nintendo Switch's battery life figures have been announced. They're pretty bad, too.


  1. Well, if you're using another controller with a Home button, you can use that to exit the Home menu after you turn the GamePad screen off. That's what I usually do when I'm playing Super Smash Bros. with my friends, because it's kind of awkward to have one person with the GamePad off in their own little world while everyone else is on Wii Remotes/Nunchucks. Or just take the GamePad far enough away from the Wii U that it automatically disconnects, then turn the GamePad off.

    As for wearing the battery out... it wouldn't matter how intensive what the GamePad is displaying is. The GamePad doesn't render the game, the Wii U does; the GamePad just decompresses whatever the Wii U sends it. Right?

    My GamePad's battery life is still fine, about 3-4 hours (I don't use those really dim brightnesses). I've had my Wii U for nearly 3 years now, so yeah.

    1. I don't actually keep batteries in my Wiimotes. Or use them. I have two AA batteries sitting next to them in case I ever need to have a Wiimote for something. I found that keeping batteries inside the Wiimotes, even when not being used, drains those batteries faster, too.

      ...Uh... don't ask me about the technical stuff. I dunno. But that sounds right. I just would assume that, since lower brightness settings = more battery life, that having less activity or energy or action or whatever going on would do that too. But I'm probably wrong.

      I'm jealous. <_<

    2. It's probably mainly because I don't usually use my Wii U that frequently during the school year. >_> 3DS and web Miiverse for me. I don't really keep up with my Miiverse PMs, but thankfully, no one sends me them anyway (or so I think). Swapdoodle at least gives me a notification light!

    3. I actually turned the notification light off for Swapdoodle. I open my 3DS every day anyway. It's not that I don't want the light, it's that I didn't want to open my Notifications AND Swapdoodle to clear everything. The redundancy is bad.

  2. Well there is always the 3DS for Miiverse but I find I have such a hard time drawing on it. It is also much slower but then again I am still using my launch 3DS up until this day.

    1. No way, 'cause I use Miiverse PMs extensively.
      It's the only place on Miiverse I don't have to worry about being banned, after all! 3DS ain't got that.

      And, yeah, it's a pain to actually use on the little screen.

  3. I always leave mine plugged in while playing because of the abysmal performance. If the Switch's gamepad doesn't have a longer lasting battery, I just might have to stick to the pro controller which lasts forever.


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