Nintendo continues to change the gaming landscape. Consoles have either been small handheld devices for basic gaming or large, computer-sized consoles that connect to your TV for more powerful and intense gaming. But, with the release of the Nintendo Switch in March 2017, Nintendo proved that you can get high-quality gaming experiences in a device that works as both a handheld and a TV-based console.
Nearly three years after the release, the Switch still seems to sell well — enough to launch a spin-off in the Switch Lite — new games are released for the console every month. Is it worth buying now though, or should you wait for the next generation of gaming consoles? Well, I’ve been using the Switch for a while now and here are our thoughts.
When the Switch originally launched, the design was considered unique. Unlike traditional handheld devices that were made to be held vertical like cell phones, the Switch is to be held horizontally. The overall look is like a thick-ish, plastic tablet with colorful Joy-Con controllers that you snap onto either end of the Switch. I have the blue and red version of the controllers, and there’s an all-gray version too. When they’re attached to the body of the Switch, the whole device sits at 4 inches tall and around 9.4 inches wide with a 0.55 inch thickness. You’d be able to fit this into your everyday bag or purse, but not your pant pockets — unless you’ve got cargo pants.
The screen is a 6.2-inch LCD display with a 1,280-by-720 pixel resolution. I expect that the next generation of the Nintendo Switch will have a 1,080-pixel display, but the device isn’t too limited in the resolution department. There’s a power button, volume rocker, headphone jack, and a slot for game cards on the top, and a USB-C port for charging on the bottom of the body of the Switch. I don’t love the fact that the USB-C port is on the bottom because you can’t easily charge the device and use it with the kickstand, which is a huge problem for me.
The kickstand on the back of the device helps hold it upright on a table, but it’s actually the worst aspect of the Nintendo Switch’s design. It’s flimsy, weak, and doesn’t satisfyingly snap into place like I’d expected. Technically, it does get the job done, so I guess it’s fine, but still.
There’s also the charging dock that connects the Switch to your TV so it’s not lying somewhere random as you’re playing games, and two controllers, though you can buy more if you plan on having game nights with a large group of friends. The dock connects to your TV’s HDMI port, and a small USB-C connector is for power, and it’s relatively easy to slot in the Switch. Some people have noted that their devices get scratched when docking, but I never had an issue with that; if you’re careful enough, the Switch should be perfectly fine.
Like the rest of the console, the Joy-Con controllers are made from plastic but seem solidly built. Both controllers have a joystick, four buttons on the face, and two buttons on the back. They’re pretty easy to hold when you’re using the full device in handheld mode and when using just the controllers for games like Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu. Unlike traditional controllers though, these are more like the size of lipstick chargers so it might take some time to adjust to the buttons and joystick being a lot closer together. You can get grips for one or both controllers to extend the sizes as well.
In general, the Nintendo Switch looks fun and seems well-built. I think it should be able to withstand most use, though you’ll still want to be careful with it because it’s not the cheapest console around.
- 4 inches high, 9.4 inches long, and 0.55 inches thick (with Joy-Cons attached; D x W x H))
- 14.08 ounces (with regular Joy-Cons attached)
- Custom Nvidia Tegra processor
- 32GB of storage (expanded with MicroSD card slot)
- 720p, HD touchscreen
- 1080p output in TV mode
- 3.5 millimeters headphone jack
- 2.5 to 6.5 hours of battery life
Setting up the Nintendo Switch is pretty easy. Plug the dock into your TV’s HDMI port and a power outlet, then turn on the Switch, and set up the software by logging into or creating a Nintendo account and going through the prompts. The one thing you will need to get used to is the small latch at the back of the controllers that attaches and detaches them from the body of the Switch, but it’s pretty intuitive.
What makes it stand out
The Nintendo Switch has a lot going for it in day-to-day use and it can truly be used anywhere. It’s just as easy to play in bed at the end of a long day as it is to play on the TV. The overall user interface of the Switch is also pretty simple. Your games are laid out in a grid so it’s easy to access as soon as you turn on the Switch and the setup menus are intuitive too.
The collection of compatible games are really extensive so you can try out new games like Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee, which revisit the first generation of Pokémon and are a blast to play. There’s also Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which is perfect for having competitive game nights with your friends as well as fitness games like Fitness Boxing. The list of games is only growing.
The Nintendo Switch is perhaps the coolest gaming console from the past few years, but like everything else, it’s not perfect. As mentioned, the kickstand on the back of the Switch is leaves a lot to be desired and I hope that Nintendo changes it for future generation devices.
love that you can use the controllers two different ways, but even using the grips still feel a little strange and cramped. If you want a more traditional controller experience, it’s worth buying the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, which I’ve been using for a while and love.
The bottom line
The Nintendo Switch isn’t completely flawless, but it’s an excellent console for those that want something they can use wherever they go. It’s an absolute home run for Nintendo and represents the best console from the brand since the original Wii; I’d even go as far to say it’s the best Nintendo console ever. The best thing about the Switch is how versatile it is, plus there are a number of compatible games, like the beloved Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. If you want a console you can use anywhere, then it’s absolutely worth buying the Nintendo Switch.
But should you buy it now or wait for the next generation? Well, it’s hard to predict the future, but I definitely recommend buying a Switch now. Even if a new generation is released within the next year, it’s highly likely that new games will be compatible the current Switch. In fact, with the large number of compatible games on the market now, I would argue that there’s never been a better time to buy a Switch.
Pros: Extremely versatile, easy to use, very well-designed, colorful and fun, great games
Cons: Kickstand is flimsy, games can be expensive