When the original Switch console released in early 2017, many gamers were unsure about whether or not the hybrid would be a worthwhile purchase. After all, Nintendo's last console, the Wii U, hadn't done well at all. But the Switch delivered by providing quality games and a console that you could take with you anywhere. Now two years later, Nintendo has released a newer model of the Switch, which boasts longer battery life. We've got our hands on a new version to see how it compares to the original.
At the time of this article, I have spent hundreds if not thousands of hours with my original Switch and over 30 hours testing and examining the new Switch model. I take my Switch with me whenever I leave the house. It provides way better games than what you'd find on your smartphone and it's small size makes it super easy to tote around. The extra battery life on the new model really increases my enjoyment when on-the-go and definitely makes it worth buying. However, like the original, the new Switch isn't perfect.
Heads up: It's a lot easier to buy a new Switch model in person rather than online. At this moment, if you order online there's no guarantee that you'll be purchasing the newer model.
The bottom line: This newer version of the Switch allows you to play your favorite Switch games for longer stretches. It has a battery life of 4.5 to 9 hours and can be used to play on TV or in your hands like a handheld gaming system. This is definitely an improved model from the original and makes for a great gaming system.
- Long battery life
- Doesn't cost more than the original
- Joy-Cons improved over original
- Can play handheld or on TV
- Extremely portable
- Plenty of local co-op games
- It's expensive
- Joy-Cons likely have drift issues still
A great console for just about everyone
Nintendo Switch: A true hybrid
The hardware on this little device is really quite groundbreaking. Never before in the history of gaming have we had something that could Switch from being a complete TV console to providing those same games in handheld mode. The Switch is compact and stows away nicely in a bag, so you really can play it anywhere.
Everyone uses their Switch differently. Some prefer to play on the TV while others insist it's best for playing in your hands. The beauty of the device is that since it's equally capable of doing both, you can use it the way you like best.
The Switch's Joy-Cons are very unique. They can slide on and off of the main console allowing for easy multiplayer or tabletop gaming. Nintendo supplies a grip with every Switch for anyone who wants their controllers to feel more like a traditional controller. Additionally, more serious gamers can purchase the Pro Controller, which is a traditional controller and works better for action RPGs like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and multiplayers like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Everything about this console's hardware is unique and avant-garde, but that's what makes it one of the best consoles ever.
A great console for just about everyone
Nintendo Switch: What I like
There are so many positive things I could say about the new 2019 Switch. Since I'm sure none of you want to read a novel on the subject, I'll simply highlight what I think are the most important elements of the Switch experience.
Extended battery life: Play your favorites longer
The new 2019 model lasts up to nine hours before needing a recharge. I was even able to get it to play for five and a half hours while playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, one of the Switch's most power-draining games. That's two and a half hours longer than I could play on the original Switch. I know, I timed it. Basically, this longer battery life gives you a lot of playtime when away from the Dock.
Nintendo states that this new Switch will last anywhere from four and a half hours to nine hours total. That's true. The game you play and the settings on your Switch all affect how long your battery will last. I've found that I can get a decent amount of game time from my Switch no matter what I'm playing, but battery life will differ from game to game.
The games: Thousands of options
Any gamer can find a game they like on Nintendo Switch. While the Kyoto-based gaming company has been known for being kid-friendly, it also provides a wide variety of games ranging from Mario family games to more intense action games. Additionally, with this console, Nintendo has finally allowed third-party publishers to release their games on the Nintendo eShop. New games are released just about every day so it's easy to find something inexpensive and new. Perhaps most compelling, Nintendo itself has released a number of exclusive hits on the Switch that you won't be able to play anywhere else. I mean seriously, if you haven't played Breath of the Wild, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, or Mario Maker 2 you're seriously missing out.
Local co-op games: Play together on one screen
Many multiplayer games have done away with the ability to play together on a split-screen, which I find to be one of the most annoying things ever. When I was a kid my friends and I would gather around my parents' dinky TV and play GoldenEye, StarFox 64, or several other multiplayers with each person only getting a quarter of the screen. TVs have gotten vastly bigger since then and yet, split-screen gaming has almost gone away. The good news is that the Nintendo Switch provides many split-screen or same-screen multiplayer games so you, your friends, and your family members to play together on one system. You'll still find some multiplayer games, like Fortnite, that require each person to have their own Switch, but the fact is that there are plenty of local co-op games on the Switch.
Parental controls: Monitor and control
The Nintendo Switch has more advanced parental controls than other game consoles on the market, which isn't surprising given that this is the most kid-friendly system. Parents can download an app that allows them to monitor gameplay, set playtime limits, or control the types of games kids can access. Don't worry, you'll also set up a password so your children can't go onto the eShop to buy new games on their own.
Customization: Decide how your console looks
Nintendo has done well in offering various color options for many of its consoles and handheld systems (think Game Boy Color or any of the different N64 color options). That ability to customize the look of your console continues with the Switch. Users can choose between several different Joy-Con colors to find the look they like best. If you don't like the look of Nintendo's official designs, you can always switch your Joy-Con or console colors out with unique shells.
Joy-Con drift hasn't been fixed
Nintendo Switch: What I don't like
As much as I love the original Switch and the updates to the new Switch, there are still a few things that could have been done better.
Joy-Con changes: Better, but likely won't prevent drift
When we opened up the new Joy-Cons and looked around, we saw that the antennas had been relocated to prevent the left Joy-Con from disconnecting from the main console like it does with the original. Yay! However, the joysticks themselves didn't seem to be much different. Boo! We'd hoped that Nintendo would have redesigned the joysticks to prevent drift, but it's likely that many gamers will still encounter the problem. I personally haven't experienced anything yet, but this is something that slowly develops over time. After being made aware of prevalent joystick issues, Nintendo has begun to repair Joy-Cons for free, but it's still a hassle.
On a side note, this does make us worry about the Nintendo Lite, which is set to release on September 20th. If the Joy-Con drift problems haven't been fixed for the new system, you'll have to send in your entire gaming system for a drift repair instead of simply sending in a Joy-Con.
Resolution: Behind other consoles
Both Sony's and Microsoft's next consoles are going to be able to support 8K, but the Switch can only do 1080p when on a TV and 1280 x 720p on the little display. Now obviously, a good chunk of the Switch's cartoony-looking games don't need better resolution to be playable. But many people I've talked to have complained about the look of more realistic looking games like The Witcher III. One day, maybe we'll get the fabled Switch Pro that many hope will come with better resolution, but for now, we have to make do with what we have.
The screens didn't look terribly different when I compared an original Switch to the new model. Both get plenty bright and provide a decent range of color while you play.
Online multiplayer chat: Inconsistent and difficult
With the exception of a few games, the Nintendo Switch has made it very difficult and honestly annoying to try and chat with fellow gamers online. Some games, like Fortnite, now have their own chat system specifically for the Switch. With other games, you'll need to use a phone app to talk to fellow Nintendo players. This isn't necessarily a bad thing for concerned parents who don't want their kids talking to online strangers, but it is an issue for adult gamers who want to be able to talk to their teammates. Although, people have found different ways of getting around this hurdle.
Price: Not bad, but still hard on the wallet
I feel a little weird complaining about the price of the 2019 Switch. I mean, it does cost about the same as the Xbox One and PS4, which both provide much higher resolution, but it will be significantly cheaper than the PS5 or Xbox Scarlett. Heck, it costs the same as the original Switch even though it has vastly improved battery life and a slight upgrade to the Joy-Cons.
Additionally, the unique design of the Switch, which allows it to function as a handheld system, tabletop system, and TV console all make the price warranted. However, $300 can still be really hard on your budget, which is why the Switch Lite has been so appealing for many people. But really, if you can afford it, $300 isn't an insane amount to ask for what you get.
It's absolutely worth buying
Nintendo Switch: Bottom line
The 2019 Nintendo Switch is the console gamers have been looking for. It offers between four and a half to nine hours of battery life and can be played in handheld mode, tabletop mode, or TV mode. It's the perfect device for on-the-go play and road trips since it's compact design makes it easy to pack and the battery lasts for long stretches. If that wasn't enough, many of the best games from the past two years can only be played on this system. It's really a phenomenal hybrid that will give you hours of entertainment.
Play handheld or on TV
The bottom line: With this console you can play wherever you go. There are thousands of Switch games currently available and the ability to "switch" between playing in handheld mode or on your TV makes it so you can play whichever way is more convenient at the moment. The improved battery life makes it extra appealing for use on the go.
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