Nintendo Switch Hardware Review

Video Games

Nintendo Switch Hardware Review

22 Mar , 2017  

Written by Jon Scarr
After much anticipation the Nintendo Switch is finally here! As someone who has owned every Nintendo console since the NES, I was excited for Nintendo’s new hybrid console to finally be released. It’s no secret that the Wii U didn’t perform nearly as well as Nintendo hoped.
Though the Wii U has some amazing games, the general public didn’t take it. Thus, everyone has been wondering what Nintendo would do for its next console. Back in January, I got some hands on time with the Switch here in Toronto when the Nintendo Switch Preview Tour made its stop at the Toronto Convention Centre.
I left impressed and wanting more. Nintendo’s approach on the Switch is clear, to bridge the gap between home consoles and portables. So now that the Switch is out and I’ve had ample time with the system, lets take a look at how Nintendo’s new console just might revolutionize the way we play games.

Nintendo Switch hardware

The first time you hold the Nintendo Switch in your hands, you get that magic feeling of something special. The 6.2-inch screen of the Switch produces some of the most beautiful images I’ve ever seen. The Switch itself feels well constructed, and is very comfortable to hold in your hands.
The Nintendo Switch comes with 32GB internal storage, and has support for 2TB more via a micro SD slot. Unlike the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 you don’t have to install the games on the Switch. The cartridges that the Nintendo Switch uses, allow for super fast transfer rates.
Nintendo Switch Hardware Review
The battery on the Nintendo Switch can last anywhere from two to six hours depending on that game you are playing. I found that with the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I could get between two to three hours of battery life.
Other games like Super Bomberman R and Snipperclips yield better battery life as they are less intensive than Zelda.
You can purchase a USB Type-A to Type-C cable to charge the Switch while you are on the go. Using any one of the following to charge your Switch:

  • USB power outlet
  • Smartphone USB charger plugged into the wall
  • Laptop USB port
  • A portable USB charging brick

When playing undocked from the TV, the Joy-Con controllers slide on a rail and snap into place on each side of the Switch. It’s clear to see that Nintendo has taken some of their greatest innovations from the past and elegantly combined them into one system.

  • Like the Nintendo DS, the Switch has a touch screen
  • Joy-Con shoulder buttons are just like the Super Nintendo controller
  •  Analog controls just like the Nintendo 64
  •  Motion controls like the Wii
  •  NFC and amiibo support like the Wii U
    Nintendo Switch Hardware Review


Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers and Joy-Con Grip

Like many of you, after watching the Nintendo Switch press conference in early January I was left wondering if the Joy-Con controllers would be too small for my hands. Only having a few hours to play with them at the Switch Preview Tour wasn’t enough to get a good feel.
So, when I unboxed my Nintendo Switch at home, one of the first things I did was to really see how small and light the Joy-Con controllers really were. Each button is easily accessible, and the controllers can be used both horizontally and vertically, in addition to being able to hold them at different angles.
The Joy-Con controllers are extremely comfortable, and that fact that you can hold one in each hand in your arm’s natural position is great.
Nintendo Switch Hardware Review
It’s amazing at the technology that is contained in these controllers in such a small package. Here is what’s included:

  • The left Joy-Con has a Capture Button that at this point in time will take gameplay screen shots (in the future it will record gameplay)
  • The right Joy-Con has an IR Motion Camera, which is used to detect body movements while playing games such as 1-2-Switch
  • The right Joy-Con has a built in NFC reader/writer that lets you scan amiibo into supported games
  • Both Joy-Con controllers feature Nintendo’s HD rumble, my favourite feature of all

It’s really hard to convey just how awesome HD rumble really is. In a nutshell, HD rumble allows you to precisely feel what is happening on-screen. For example, 1-2-Switch has a minigame where you have to count how many marbles you have in your hand.
Nintendo Switch Hardware Review
The HD rumble is so realistic that it actually feels like marbles are rolling around in your hand when you move the controller. I can’t wait to see how HD rumble is used in future games.
Alternatively, if you want to use the Joy-Con controllers in a more traditional setup you can. Included with every Nintendo Switch is a Joy-Con Grip. Essentially, the Joy-Con grip allows you to slot in the Left and Right Joy-Con controllers so that they resemble a more traditional style setup.
Honestly with either setup you really can’t go wrong!
Nintendo Switch Hardware Review

User interface

The Nintendo Switch’s interface is a refreshing change from the slow and sluggish interface that was on the Wii U. The Switch interface now more closely resembles that of the PlayStation 4. It’s fast and very responsive! Switching from game to the home screen and back can be down in seconds, and bring up the news, eShop, or phots is done quickly.
You can link both your Twitter and Facebook accounts so that you can share screenshots of games that you have taken. The Switch allows you to add stickers and text to your screen shots to jazz them up. All of which is done quite easily.
Nintendo Switch Hardware Review
The eShop is similar to the home screen and presents games available for download in a tiled format. Again, everything loads fast and is easy to navigate around. If you download something from the eShop, the icon appears on your home screen with a progress bar.
Overall, I am thoroughly impressed with the speed and ease of use of the Switch’s user interface. It’s a vast improvement over the Wii U’s and shows promise. Take a look at the video below and you’ll see just how easy it is to navigate the eShop.



Play anywhere

Quite possibly the best feature of the Nintendo Switch is its ability “play anywhere”. With multiple configurations you can play just about any way you want, when you want, where you want. For example, you can curl up on the couch and play on your HD TV using the included docking station that you set the Nintendo Switch in.
If you want to take the Switch with you on the go, you can. In this “portable mode”, you simply slide the Joy-Con controllers on to either side of the Switch and lift the Switch out of the dock. The best thing is that the transition between the two modes its virtually instantaneous. I’m talking one or maybe two seconds at most.
Nintendo Switch Hardware Review
The first time I took my Switch with me on the go, I took me a minute to process that I was now playing the exact same game that I was playing on the TV while commuting on the train to work.
The Nintendo Switch also has a “tabletop mode”. You simply extend the console’s kickstand and you can detach the Joy-Con controllers to play. This means that not only can you take the Switch with you anywhere you go, but you can also play with friends. Multiplayer games like Super Bomberman R can be played on the Switch screen with friends.
Nintendo Switch Hardware Review


Nintendo’s consoles have never really been known for their online components. Whether it be online multiplayer, chatting with friends or the overall general experience. It’s early on in the Switch’s life and it looks as if Nintendo is putting forth an effort to improve in this area.
I’ve had the chance to play two multiplayer online games, Super Bomberman R and FAST RMX. I’ll admit that the first few days after launch, I had quite a bit of issues with latency in Super Bomberman R. However, Konami has released a patch for the game and it looks to have resolved most of the issues.
Nintendo Switch Hardware Review
On the other hand, I’ve had no issues with FAST RMX’s eight player online component. At present, the Nintendo Switch doesn’t have a way to communicate with your friends. You can add them via friend code or search for people with whom you have played with online.
Nintendo has some plans for voice chat later on this year via a mobile app, and a paid service similar to Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus. How that will end up is still unknown, but it is a step in the right direction for Nintendo.

Final thoughts

The Nintendo Switch is off to a good start. If marketed right and there is third party support, Nintendo has a potential winner on their hands. The Switch’s versatility and accessibility make it a joy to play.
The ability to play anywhere is one of, if not the top selling points of the Switch. The outlook of games this year looks bright, Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Sonic Mania, NBA 2K18, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, ARMS, and Super Mario Odyssey. Not to mention the colossal amount of indie games just recently announced such as Yooka-Laylee.
Overall Rating:  9/10 (90%)
+ Game anywhere you want
+ Easy to use interface
+ Switch screen offers bright and beautiful colours
-Accessories are a bit pricy
-Only 32GB of internal storage space


About the Author: Jon Scarr

Based in Toronto, Jon is a proud Canadian who loves all things gaming. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry who has been in love with technology and gaming for over 20 years. Come say hi and join the conversation with Jon on Twitter.

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