Nintendo Switch: Everything you need to know
It’s just turned four years old, but the Nintendo Switch is more popular than ever. As the first truly hybrid gaming console, the Switch has quickly become one of the best-selling consoles of all time, with almost 80 million units sold at the time of writing.
Even now, as we pass the midpoint of the Switch’s lifecycle, games are still coming in thick and fast and consoles are still selling out around the world. So, is it still worth buying one? If so, should you get a Switch or a Switch Lite? And what will the rumoured New Nintendo Switch Pro look like?
We’ve got the answers to all your burning Switch questions right here.
At launch in March 2017, the Nintendo Switch retailed in Australia for $469.95. In the last four years, that price has barely shifted thanks to its enduring popularity. You may be able to nab it for about $100 less if you can find an amazing sale, but most stores are selling it for a minimum of $399.
Prefer the smaller, more budget-friendly Switch Lite? It retails for $329.95, but some retailers have it slightly cheaper.
*All prices quoted accurate as at 13 May 2021.
The Nintendo Switch is not the most powerful gaming console on the market, but then again, it’s not trying to be. Since it has to operate in both handheld and docked mode (that is, connected to a TV or external display), there are certain limitations in terms of graphics and processing power. That said, most users won’t have any complaints about either.
Here’s the full breakdown of all the major specs.
|Size||102mm x 239mm x 13.9mm (with Joy-Cons attached)|
|Weight||398g (with Joy-Cons attached)|
|Screen||6.2-inch 720p LCD capacitive touch screen|
|CPU/GPU||NVIDIA customised Tegra processor|
|Storage||32GB onboard storage, expandable through external microSD cards|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack|
|Video output||1920×1080 maximum resolution, 60 fps|
|Audio output||Supports linear PCM 5.1ch|
|Sensors||Accelerometer, gyroscope, brightness sensor|
|Charging time||3 hours approx.|
A note on battery life
While the Nintendo Switch does receive regular software updates, its hardware has remained unchanged – that is, except for one thing. When it first launched, the Switch was rated for between 2.5 and 6.5 hours (or about 3 hours of Breath of the Wild). If your console’s serial number starts with ‘XAW’, that’s the battery life you can expect.
However, in August 2019, Nintendo announced a new version with an upgraded battery said to last between 4.5 and 9 hours (about 5.5 hours of Breath of the Wild). The new version accounts for most Switches sold today, but if you want to check, ensure the serial number starts with ‘XKW’.
The biggest drawcard of Nintendo consoles has always been its stellar first-party titles, from Animal Crossing to Zelda, and the Switch is no different. Ever since it launched alongside one of the best games of all time (in our humble opinion), The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the Switch’s game catalogue has gone from strength to strength, with a healthy mix of both paid and free Switch games.
Some of the best Nintendo Switch games currently available (aside from Breath of the Wild, of course) include:
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses
- Super Mario Odyssey
- Yoshi’s Crafted World
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons
- Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
- Ring Fit Adventure
Software is not region-locked, either, so you can order games online from anywhere in the world (generally for cheaper) and know they’ll run on your Switch.
Nintendo Switch Online
Nintendo Switch Online is Nintendo’s subscription service. It’s a necessary purchase if you plan on playing games that include online connectivity (like visiting friends in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, versing randoms in Mario Kart 8 or saving game data to the cloud). It’s pretty cheap, with individual memberships ranging from $5.95 to $29.95, depending on the duration, and 12-month family memberships for $54.95. The family membership caters for up to eight users, so if you split it between mates, you could end up paying less than $7 each for a full year.
For your money, you’ll also get access to dozens of classic NES and SNES games, including the original Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Donkey Kong Country.
Nintendo Switch vs Nintendo Switch Lite
Around the same time they announced the Switch with upgraded battery life, Nintendo hit us with a brand new device – the Nintendo Switch Lite. Designed as a, well, lite version of the O.G. Switch, it retails for around $329.95. It can only be used in handheld mode as it does not come with detachable Joy-Cons, but it’s a good option for less experienced gamers and those who are constantly on the go.
Here’s how the two compare.
|Specs||Nintendo Switch||Nintendo Switch Lite|
|Size||102mm x 239mm x 13.9mm (with Joy-Cons attached)||91.1mm x 208mm x 13.9mm|
|Weight||398g (with Joy-Cons attached)||275g|
|Screen||6.2-inch 720p LCD capacitive touch screen||5.5-inch 720p LCD capacitive touch screen|
|CPU/GPU||NVIDIA customised Tegra processor||NVIDIA customised Tegra processor|
|Storage||32GB onboard storage, expandable through external microSD cards||32GB onboard storage, expandable through external microSD cards|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack|
|Video output||1920×1080 maximum resolution, 60 fps||N/A|
|Audio output||Supports linear PCM 5.1ch||N/A|
|Sensors||Accelerometer, gyroscope, brightness sensor, NFC||Accelerometer, gyroscope, NFC|
|Charging time||3 hours approx.||3 hours approx.|
Upcoming Nintendo Switch 4K
If you’ve been following the news, chances are you’ve read a rumour or two about the next-gen Nintendo Switch, possibly named the Nintendo Switch 4K or Pro. Though nothing has really been announced by Nintendo, most experts reckon there’s a few things we’ll see for sure in the new console, which is expected to drop in late 2021 at the earliest.
Bloomberg reports the new Switch will boast a 7-inch 720p Samsung OLED display, measuring 0.8 inches larger than the current Switch and 1.5 inches larger than the Switch Lite. According to another Bloomberg report, the next-gen Switch will incorporate an upgraded NVIDIA chip that supports DLSS. For the uninitiated, DLSS (or Deep Learning Super Sampling) allows for high-quality upscaling, meaning the new Switch should be capable of 4K output on compatible TVs and monitors.
While none of this has been confirmed by Nintendo just yet, we’ll keep you posted as soon as we know more.