According to a new EU regulation, handheld consoles will require easily switchable batteries by 2027

Future handheld gaming consoles appear to be about to undergo a design change. According to a recently adopted European Union regulation, portable batteries for appliances must be “readily removable and replaceable by the end-user” by 2027, which is something that current devices like the Switch do not support.

This was outlined as one of several procedures aimed at enhancing the sustainability regulations governing the creation, use, and disposal of batteries (thanks, Overkill). These requirements are described in detail in the 366-page document, which points out that a battery will only be deemed “readily removable” when it can be changed by the end user without the need for specialized tools:

Any natural or legal person that places on the market products incorporating portable batteries shall ensure that those batteries are readily removable and replaceable by the end-user at any time during the lifetime of the product. That obligation shall only apply to entire batteries and not to individual cells or other parts included in such batteries.

A portable battery shall be considered readily removable by the end-user where it can be removed from a product with the use of commercially available tools, without requiring the use of specialised tools, unless provided free of charge with the product, proprietary tools, thermal energy, or solvents to disassemble the product.

Any natural or legal person that places on the market products incorporating portable batteries shall ensure that those products are accompanied with instructions and safety information on the use, removal and replacement of the batteries. Those instructions and that safety information shall be made available permanently online, on a publicly available website, in an easily understandable way for end-users.

What does this entail for upcoming Nintendo consoles, then? The law is expected to only apply to new devices beginning in 2027, so it is reasonable to assume that it will not apply to any Switch successors (which we will undoubtedly have in our possession by that time, right?). The design of whatever handheld succeeds the Switch, whatever that may be, is likely to change because any console released in the EU after that date will be subject to these regulations.

Don’t get your hopes up that replacing a battery on the “Switch 3” will be as easy as sticking some AAs in the back of your Game Boy because there is certainly room for the regulation to be altered and distorted over the course of the next four years. That said, replacing an old battery should be much simpler than it is now — similar to using a Phillips-head screwdriver to replace the battery pack in a Wii U GamePad, for instance — hopefully reducing the need to send your beloved console to a Nintendo-recommended expert or purchase a replacement.

The discussion of easily replaceable batteries starts on page 127 of the Council of the EU’s full report, which you should read if you want to learn more about this regulation. But be aware that it’s a lengthy read.