Exploring the Nintendo Switch: A Comprehensive Overview

With nearly 130 million units sold and counting, the Nintendo Switch stands as one of the most popular consoles on the market. In fact, when focusing on portable consoles alone, it surpasses even the legendary Game Boy in sales figures. In this article, we provide a comprehensive look at the Nintendo Switch, covering its hardware features, specifications, and available models.

Basic features of the Nintendo Switch

Originally codenamed Nintendo NX, the Nintendo Switch was announced in October 2016 and officially released on March 3, 2017. The Switch is classified as a hybrid console, offering both portable and traditional gaming experiences. It features detachable “Joy-Con” controllers, which can be used wirelessly or attached to the console, transforming it into either a handheld device or a desktop console when connected to a TV. This innovative concept played a significant role in the console’s success.

Joy-con

Originally codenamed Nintendo NX, the Nintendo Switch was announced in October 2016 and officially released on March 3, 2017. The Switch is classified as a hybrid console, offering both portable and traditional gaming experiences. It features detachable “Joy-Con” controllers, which can be used wirelessly or attached to the console, transforming it into either a handheld device or a desktop console when connected to a TV. This innovative concept played a significant role in the console’s success.

In addition to the Joy-Con controllers, Nintendo introduced various accessories to enhance gameplay, such as controller supports and steering wheels. Each Joy-Con, despite its compact size, functions as an individual controller complete with vibration capabilities. The right Joy-Con also incorporates an infrared motion camera for detecting shapes and movements.

The console can be docked for TV play, featuring slots for inserting the console, a power adapter, a USB port, and an HDMI port. When used as a handheld, the Nintendo Switch comprises a 6.2-inch capacitive touch screen with integrated speakers and controls. It includes rails for attaching the Joy-Con controllers and a rear stand for hands-free gameplay. A micro SD card slot is available for expandable storage.

Nintendo later released the Switch OLED version, featuring a slightly larger OLED screen (7 inches) and increased internal storage (64 GB). The Switch Lite, on the other hand, is a more compact model with a smaller screen and integrated controls that cannot be detached.

 

Technical Specifications

Here’s a comparative overview of the technical specifications of the three primary Nintendo Switch models:

Specification Nintendo Switch Nintendo Switch OLED Nintendo Switch Lite
Size (mm) 102 x 239 x 13.9 (with controls attached) 102 x 242 x 13.9 (with controls attached) 91.1 x 208 x 13.9
Weight 398 grams (297 grams without Joy-Con) 420 grams (320 grams without Joy-Con) 275 grams
Screen 6.2-inch capacitive touch LCD 7-inch capacitive touch OLED 5.5-inch capacitive touch LCD
CPU/GPU NVIDIA Tegra SoC NVIDIA Tegra SoC NVIDIA Tegra SoC
RAM 4GB LPDDR4 4GB LPDDR4 4GB LPDDR4
Storage 32 GB (6.2 GB occupied by the operating system), expandable via micro SD card 64 GB (6.2 GB occupied by the operating system), expandable via micro SD card 32 GB (6.2 GB occupied by the operating system), expandable via micro SD card
Communications WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1 WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1 WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1
Video Output Console: 1280 x 720; Maximum resolution (TV over HDMI): 1920 x 1080 at 60 FPS Console: 1280 x 720; Maximum resolution (TV over HDMI): 1920 x 1080 at 60 FPS Console: 1280 x 720
Audio Output Stereo; Compatible with PCM 5.1 (TV mode); 3.5 mm minijack audio output Stereo; Compatible with PCM 5.1 (TV mode); 3.5 mm minijack audio output Stereo; 3.5 mm minijack audio output
USB USB-C for charging or connection to the dock USB-C for charging or connection to the dock USB-C for charging
Sensors Accelerometer, gyroscope, brightness sensor Accelerometer, gyroscope, brightness sensor Accelerometer, gyroscope
Battery Lithium-ion; Capacity: 4,310 mAh; Battery life: 4.5 to 9 hours; Charging time: 3.5 hours Lithium-ion; Capacity: 4,310 mAh; Battery life: 4.5 to 9 hours; Charging time: 3.5 hours Lithium-ion; Capacity: 3,570 mAh; Battery life: 4 to 7 hours; Charging time: 3 hours
Price (PVPR) €299.99 €359.99 €229.99

All three Nintendo Switch models use a customized NVIDIA Tegra SoC, specifically the Tegra X1. While detailed specifications about this SoC are not officially disclosed, it is known to feature a 20-nanometer GM20B GPU with a base speed of 384 MHz and a boost speed of 768 MHz. It includes 4 GB of dedicated memory running at 1,600 MHz on a 64-bit bus. The GPU integrates 256 Shader Processors, 16 TMUs, 16 ROPs, and 2 SMMs.

NVIDIA-Tegra-X1-Mariko

Connectivity and Battery Life

The Nintendo Switch offers WiFi connectivity, allowing up to eight consoles to join the same game using a single cartridge. It’s worth noting that Nintendo games are distributed on cartridges. While the console can connect to the internet, it lacks a web browser. Its internet connection primarily serves to access the Nintendo eShop for game downloads and multiplayer gaming.

Regarding battery life, the standard and OLED models are equipped with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery boasting a capacity of 4,310 mAh. In contrast, the Lite model houses a 3,570 mAh battery. The actual battery life depends on usage patterns, but the manufacturer estimates it to range from 4 to 8 hours, varying by console and game. As an example, playing “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” continuously on the original Switch is estimated to provide about 4 hours of gameplay.

micro SD card for Nintendo Switch

Storage Capacity

The original Nintendo Switch and the Lite model come with 32 GB of internal storage. However, it’s worth noting that part of this storage is occupied by the operating system. Fortunately, all models support expansion via microSD memory cards, including microSDHC and microSDXC formats. These cards can have a capacity of up to 2 TB, ensuring ample storage space for games and content.

Nintendo capitalized on this by introducing several official models of microSD cards with various capacities to complement the Switch’s storage capabilities.

Pricing

In terms of pricing, the standard Nintendo Switch is available at €299.99, while the OLED model comes at a slightly higher price point of €359.99. On the other hand, the Lite model, which offers a more simplified gaming experience, is competitively priced at €229.99.

These pricing options provide flexibility for gamers with varying preferences and budgets, allowing them to choose the Nintendo Switch model that best suits their needs.