Nintendo Switch Review

Jul 17, 2017

Finally got myself a Nintendo Switch and here are my thoughts about it.

The Switch The Switch.

The Switch’s premise is that it’s a home/hybrid console that’s equally playable on the couch in front of the TV and on the go as a handheld console.

Technology

Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way. The Switch is based on Nvidia’s Tegra X platform, it has two 4-core processors, the ARM Cortex-A57 for high-performance and the ARM Cortex-A53 for low-power, CPU’s are switched automatically depending on the scenario which means only 4 cores are available at one time. The GPU is Nvidia’s Maxwell architecture and it works at different frequencies depending on whether the Switch is docked or not. It has 4GB of RAM, 32GB of internal flash memory and 6.2-inch LCD screen with 1280x720 resolution at 237 ppi. 1

But all this doesn’t matter much.

First Look

The box comes with a bunch of stuff, the main unit (that has the screen), a dock, two Joy-Cons (left and right), a Joy-Con grip, two straps for the Joy-Cons, a Charger and an HDMI cable.

The main unit is nicely built, with good quality plastics and has a nice weight, to me it doesn’t feel too light or too heavy, I’d say it’s spot on. Quality-wise, it’s great, but the thing that bothered me the most is the kick-stand that is made of crappy hard plastic and doesn’t feel sturdy at all, it looks like it will break easily 2. Another annoyance, but a minor one, is that although the game card door is made of good plastic, it is a pain to deal with while inserting or removing a game card. Other than that, it’s well built and has good finish. It doesn’t look and feel like a toy like previous portable consoles from Nintendo and maybe because of that, it doesn’t look as sturdy.

The 720p screen with capacitive touch appears to be an IPS panel and that’s great, it has good viewing angles, it’s very bright and while it isn’t as good as the typical retina iPad or iPhone that has a pixel density of 264 ppi, it is not very far off with 237 ppi. Color rendition look really good too. The screen is made of plastic, so a screen protector might be a good idea. The Switch’s screen is easily the best screen in a portable console.

Docked Switch Docked Switch.

The dock’s purpose is to charge the Switch and connect it to the TV. It does feel a bit cheap, and although the texture in the front is nice, it’s too light and made of hard plastic, but you shouldn’t have to touch it much, so it’s fair. In my case it’ll be hidden behind the TV. I also can see why people are scared of scratching the Switch while placing and removing it from the dock.

Hands On

The first impression of the Joy-Cons is that they are really small. Weight seems adequate, and build quality is really good. The plastic feels great to the touch. Using the Joy-Cons on both the grip and in handheld mode feels good, but might take some practice at first if you’re used to the bigger and more ergonomical controller of Sony and Microsoft. I’d say that with the grip, it feels a bit better in the hands than in handheld, but both are not bad at all. I must say that I was expecting analog triggers on the Joy-cons, but they’re regular boring on/off buttons.

Switch in HandheldJoy-Cons in Grip The Switch in handheld mode, with the Joy-Cons attached to the main unit.

Personally, I find it harder to get used to Nintendo’s button pattern after years away of Nintendo consoles, in Sony and Microsoft consoles, the “confirm” button is located on the bottom, while the “cancel” is on the right. Nintendo’s pattern swaps these buttons, so I’m always making mistakes. Nothing that a bunch of hours playing can’t fix, but it would be great to be able to reassign buttons or choose alternative button patterns.

I didn’t try the Pro controller, but Joy-Cons with grip are good enough that I don’t think I’ll get one, also they are crazy expensive (and every other Switch accessory).

Joy-Cons in Grip Joy-Cons in the grip.

The Switch has a fan and I do hate fans in devices of any sort, because it usually means noise and heat, but in this case you can only hear the fan if you put the Switch’s vent right next to your ear. I can live with that.

The Switch is very silent while in handheld mode and doesn’t get too hot, but you can hear it when docked while playing if the room is silent. It gets hotter while docked too, but it might be worst case scenario, because it’s summer and hot here now. It is still a fraction of the heat/noise of generated by my second revision PS4 (that is way quieter/cooler than a typical PC).

The battery life appears to be between 2 and a half and 3 hours, depending on brightness. The Switch charges up pretty quickly on the dock (it has a 39W charger).

System Software

The system software is simple, clean and responsive, I love it. It does what’s needed (except save game backups), it is not stuffed with functionalities you’ll never use. The little UI animations and the feedback sounds that are typical Nintendo add to the joy of using the device.

Switch Interface The Switch’s home screen.

As pointed before, the main feature missing is the ability to backup save game files, I expect they’ll fix this with an update.

Final Thoughts

Even if it’s not as powerful as a PS4 or an XBox One, it still might be able to perform roughly like a PS3 or XBox 360, and you can take it where you want. There’s something great about playing a game on the TV and seamlessly take it as a handheld, if someone needs the TV.

The Switch looks like a great console, and a really good platform on which Nintendo could deliver great games, now let’s see if the games follow, but they’re are off to a good start with Breath of the Wild.


  1. Check out iFixit or Tech Insights teardowns for Switch’s insides. [return]
  2. On second thought, this might be a feature and not a bug. Because it might pop out easily, it might also be easy to pop it back in again, something that might happen frequently while in stand mode. Maybe… [return]