Nintendo claims that the only difference between its new, revised Switch and the older model is improved battery life. Not content to take Nintendo’s word for it, some popular YouTubers put their brand new, currently hard-to-find units to the test, cracking them open to search for any new undisclosed features or hardware tweaks along the way.
The consensus? Nintendo isn’t fibbing about that battery life. But unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be anything else inside to get too excited about.
Depending on the game that’s being played, the new Switch is supposed to last between 4.5 and 9 hours compared to the original’s range of 2.5 to 6.5 hours of battery life. That’s a huge improvement, and one that’s especially impressive considering its battery is no bigger than the one inside the original Switch. Videos from Austin Evans and Kevin Kenson put these numbers to the test in the real-world, and the results after draining both the new and old Switch systems side-by-side with games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild and Super Mario Odyssey suggest that Nintendo’s claims are accurate.
If you’re looking for more reasons to upgrade to the new Switch than just for its improved battery life, you should be skeptical of what some teardowns conclude. Like, some claim that the screen in the revised Switch is definitively brighter, with better white balance than the older model. Others say the joysticks built into the included Joy-Con are different from the old ones, and claim that means they’ve been improved, perhaps to fix the Joy-Con drift issue that Nintendo itself recently acknowledged.
But as Erica Griffin’s teardown points out (above), subtle hardware variances make it hard to pinpoint exactly what’s changed, for better or worse, in the new Switch’s screen, or its Joy-Con arrangement, compared to the older Switch. Griffin has several Switch models (a few older models, two new ones) and different Joy-Cons on-hand (also a mix of new and old), and her testing shows that there’s a lot of variance in the screen’s color temperature, its brightness, as well as how some of the Joy-Con’s internal components appear in a teardown.
As we discovered in documents posted to the FCC, the new Switch revision does run on a slightly different Nvidia Tegra X1 chip. But we didn’t get to see it until Spawn Wave, a YouTube channel, did the work of cracking open their unit, wiping away the thermal compound, and taking a few high-resolution shots of the chip. They claim that the die has been shrunk from 20nm in the older Switch to 16nm in the new version, but again, it seems that increased battery life is the only perk of this upgrade.
I don’t want to call off the search just yet for other new, interesting features that may still lie in hiding inside the revised Switch, but it seems like we’ll have to wait until the rumored Switch Pro until we really have something exciting to look forward to. Still, if you don’t own a Switch yet, or merely want to upgrade, you should keep a look-out for the improved model. My colleague Chris Welch put together a list of tips to make sure you’re buying the right Switch, so maybe check that out so you don’t go home with the wrong one.
And if you mistakenly bought the old Switch within the last month, you may be able to upgrade for free.