Comparing the New and Old Nintendo Switch

Compare Nintendo Switch Models, Front

Nintendo told us to expect better battery life with the new Nintendo Switch. But they didn’t tell us everything. Here we take a look at what we know about the new Nintendo Switch. And how it compares to the old Nintendo Switch.

Compare Nintendo Switch Models, Front

Top: Original Nintendo Switch. Bottom: New (2019) Nintendo Switch.

Box

The new Nintendo Switch comes in a new box, red on all sides. Easy to identify in stores. Inside the box everything is the same. The box isn’t sealed (useful for charging and updating the Switch before you gift it). And all the accessories are packaged in the same way. And in the same spots.

 

You can also identify a new model Switch by its serial number. The new models start with XKW. But the red box will be the biggest giveaway.

Hardware

Nintendo updated the new Nintendo Switch with several new hardware components.

ComponentOriginal Nintendo SwitchNew Nintendo Switch
SoCNVIDIA ODNX02-A2NVIDIA ODNX10-A1
StorageSamsung KLMBG2JENB-B041 (32GB eMMC)

Toshiba THGBMHG8C2LBAIL (32GB eMMC)
SK Hynix H26M62002JPR (32GB eMMC)
MemorySamsung K4F6E304HB-MGCH 2 GB LPDDR4 DRAM x2 (4GB)Samsung K4U6E3S4AM-MGCJ 2 GB LPDDR4x DRAM x2 (4GB)
PMICMaxim Integrated MAX77620AEWJ+TMaxim Integrated MAX77812
Wi-Fi/BluetoothBroadcom BCM4356XKUBG
DisplayInnoLux P062CCA-AZ1InnoLux P062CCA-AZ2
AudioRealtek ALC5639Realtek ALC5639

The SoC (system-on-chip, CPU and GPU combo) is definitely a NVIDA Tegra. Produced with a smaller die, likely going from 20mm to 16mm. This reduces cost and increases efficiency. It is thought to be the new Tegra X1 Mariko (the original Switch uses the Tegra X1 Logan). But we’re still waiting on final confirmation,. The updated Mariko would provide much of the power efficiencies seen in the new Switch. Eurogamer has a great piece detailing the Tegra X1 upgrade.

The storage and memory have also both changed. The amounts are the same (32GB storage, 4GB RAM). But the new hardware is also more power efficient. Adding more potential play time on top of the SoC upgrade.

PMIC = power management integrated circuit. It controls the flow and direction of electrical power. Common tech on battery using devices. The change in chips could explain the different power draw results I found.

The motherboard was also upgraded. To accommodate the new hardware. If may or may not also add to the power efficiency total. Other chips have different model numbers, but nothing significant.

It is expected that many of these same components will be found on the Nintendo Switch Lite. It would explain its own increased power efficiency compared to the original Switch. And it would be more cost effective for Nintendo to standardize across the product line.

Display

The new Nintendo Switch has a different display than the original model. The new display is slightly brighter. And warmer (more red, less blue). The change in colors seems to be to make it more color accurate. Though some gamers may prefer the blues of the original model. Several early reviewers noticed it with side-by-side comparisons. Kevin Kenson confirmed it with the help of a color expert.

There is no hard evidence that the new Switch is using a Sharp IGZO display. The Wall Street Journal reported Sharp was supplying Nintendo with new, IGZO displays. For an unknown version of the Switch. Spawn Wave’s tear down identified the screen as being a different model from the same provider, Innolux. He also declared it wasn’t the new IGZO. But there’s something else worth considering.

Sharp and Innolux’s IGZO and OLED display business were integrated together in 2016. Foxconn owns majority shares of both companies. And brought the two groups together. So a “Sharp IGZO” display could carry the Innolux branding.

It is also worth considering what IGZO displays offers. The display can be quickly switched on and off. While showing a still image. Done right it reduces power consumption by 80-90%. The same function means slightly faster response times. IGZO displays also provide better color accuracy, increased brightness, and more pixel density.

Less power consumption… brighter… more color accurate… sounding familiar?

I’m not saying the new model Switch has an IGZO display. I don’t know, and I haven’t found any confirmation with a good source. We know the display’s model (Innolux P062CCA-AZ2). But a basic search doesn’t turn up any technical details. The changes to the new Switch’s display may be from the same technology it was using before, just a newer version. But if it is IGZO it would fit in with the changes that have been observed.

Audio

There’s been no change to the audio hardware used in the new Nintendo Switch. Likewise there’s no change to how you can and can’t connect headphones to the Switch.

Any headphones with a 3.5mm headphone jack or USB-C can connect to the Switch. But you cannot pair Bluetooth headphones to the Switch. For that you still have to use a Bluetooth transmitter. You can get one that connects via the headphone jack. It can be connected while docked or charging the Switch. But will dangle unless you secure it (I used velcro strips).

Or get a Bluetooth transmitter that connects via USB-C. They connect to the USB-C port on the bottom. And are easier to deal with in handheld mode. But you can’t dock with them. Nor can you charge the Switch and listen at the same time.

Size and Weight

The two consoles are the exact same size.

My new console weighed 0.5 ounce (14 grams) less than my old console. I weighed them with and without Joy-Cons attached and got the same result.

So if upgrading the new console may feel a bit lighter in your hands. Because it is, but not by much.

Battery and Play Time

The new Nintendo Switch uses the same size and type of battery as the original model. But Nintendo states the new model can play for 4 to 9 hours. And plays Zelda: Breath of the Wild up to 5.5 hours with reduced settings. I and other have found that to be accurate.

Comparing New and Old Nintendo Switch Play Times

 New Nintendo Switch, Stress TestOriginal Nintendo Switch, Stress TestNew Nintendo Switch, Travel TestOriginal Nintendo Switch, Travel Test
Conditions:Korok Forest
Screen Brightness: 100%
Auto Brightness: Off
Wi-Fi & Bluetooth: On
Screen Brightness: 100%
Auto Brightness: Off
Wi-Fi & Bluetooth: On
Cliff at start of game
Screen Brightness: 75%
Auto Brightness: On
Wi-Fi & Bluetooth: Off
Screen Brightness: 66%
Auto Brightness: On
Wi-Fi & Bluetooth: Off
Play Time:3:432:365:143:06

My own testing of the new Switch shows the improved battery life. Thanks to increased power efficiency from the new hardware found inside. The new model is 29-33% more efficiency. Resulting in a 39-80% increase in play time. It will also extend how much play time a power bank will give you, as it consumes less power from any source.

Charging

Charge time of the new console appears to have improved, a bit.

Comparing New and Old Nintendo Switch Charge Times

 New Nintendo SwitchOriginal Nintendo Switch
Sleeping Charge Time:3:143:30
Gaming Charge Time:2:583:15

The increased power efficiency is likely the cause. Less power used while asleep and gaming means more power can sent to the battery.

While the new charging times are lackluster the improved power draw is a much bigger deal. And something Nintendo never mentioned. With the old Switch some USB-C PD chargers would charge the Switch slower than others. That is no longer the case with the Switch. With any USB-C PD charger there is now no more than a 1.5W gap in performance. Where before it was up to a 6W gap.

USB-A chargers offering 5V/2A or better also charge the new Switch faster than the old. Coupled with the increased power efficiency and an old USB-A power bank can charge while you play. Under most conditions, anyway.

Gaming Performance

No gaming performance gains have been found with the new Nintendo Switch. And plenty of people have been testing for it. GameXplain shows that game load times between the two model Switches is exactly the same. Both for starting up and in game loads. But he did find that the new Switch downloads digital games faster. So you’ll get a small improvement exactly once with any new digital game.

Joy-Cons

The new Nintendo Switch comes with a newer revision of Joy-Cons. But it isn’t anything not already on store shelves if you just want a new pair of Joy-Cons.

The only discovered difference is the placement of the Bluetooth antenna. It moved from the top to the bottom. Like to deal with connectivity issues some earlier Joy-Cons had.

The analog sticks themselves are the same. Spawn Wave did a complete tear down trying to find a difference and couldn’t. There are some model number differences. But the hardware looks to be the same. Whether these new Joy-Cons will be susceptible to the drifting issue, only time and lots of use will tell. It does make sense that there wasn’t a big change to the Joy-Cons. Nintendo didn’t start their free repair policy until after the new Switch was designed.

You can check Joy-Con versions by looking at the Japan model number. The newer version ends in C3.

Joy-Con model identification

Identifying different model Joy-Cons

You should note that the gray Joy-Cons and neon Joy-Cons feel different. As they use different materials for their enclosure. Reports of the Joy-Cons feeling different are from people who had one color. And then bought the other color.

Accessories

Aside from the updated Joy-Cons the included accessories are the same. The dock and AC adapter have the same model numbers. And the same specs. They are also compatible with an older model Switch. And vice versa.

The HDMI cable appears to be more black. Where the original Switch had a dark gray cable.

The same Joy-Con grip (non-charging version) and Joy-Con safety straps are also included.

New (2019) Nintendo Switch and accessories

New (2019) Nintendo Switch and accessories

Hacking the New Nintendo Switch Compared to the Old Nintendo Switch

Some Nintendo Switch owners enjoy hacking their Switch to enable custom software options. It to the point where you could load Android on an original model Switch. A big question about the new model Switch is can it be hacked? Or should those who enjoy homebrew stick with the model they already have.

The hacking community takes time to figure out exploits to do what they do. So only time will tell with the new model Switch. But according to the community it isn’t looking to be easy. Over the last two years Nintendo has been implementing new security features. To close the exploits used. Firmware updates close some of the exploits. Often the Switch gets hacked via a new method afterwards. Hardware updates close some other exploits. These came up as minor revisions in the original model Switches. A launch day Switch was easier to exploit than the newest unit in stores.

With the new Nintendo Switch every unit has the latest security updates. So every unit has known exploits closed. But no technology is 100% secure. If there is a remaining or brand new exploit it’ll likely be found. And the cat and mouse game between Nintendo and the homebrew community begins anew.

Trade In Value

GameStop is offering $200 store credit for an original Nintendo Switch. And through September 15, 2019 they are giving an extra $25 trade credit for Switch consoles. With that deal you can get a new Nintendo Switch for $75 plus tax.

GameStop console extra trade credit

The cash value of an original Switch is $120-160 with various trade in offers. And is selling for ~$230 on eBay (~$200 after fees). If your goal is to get a new Switch the GameStop trade in offer is your best bet.

Is the New Nintendo Switch Worth Upgrading?

TV vs Handheld Mode

If you mostly play with the Switch docked, then no. All the benefits center around better battery life. Which doesn’t matter when your Switch lives in its dock. It can run cooler with less fan noise. But there are no performance improvements.

If you mostly play handheld, then maybe. It comes down to how much increased play time is worth to you. Because at the end of the day you’ll still be playing the same games.

For Travelers

With the original model many owners carry a power bank when traveling. Unless you only play less power hungry games the Switch’s battery wouldn’t carry you from coast to coast. Not to mention time at the airport and potential delays.

With the new model you can play Zelda through a coast to coast flight. And still have ~90 minutes for delays or if you can’t get to a power output outside your gate. But you do need to reduce screen brightness to ~50% and turn on airplane mode.

You can buy a power bank for less than trading in your Switch. The original Switch and a 10,000mAh power bank will get you at least 7 hours of play time. But consider that the same power bank gives the new Switch even more added play time. At least 10 hours, to be exact. And that’s with max screen brightness.

Being able to do without a power bank lightens your bag. And gives you one less thing to keep up with and charge. And if you do need to extend your play time it takes less power bank to get more time.

For Myself

Would I have personally bought it if I wasn’t doing testing? No. I mostly play at home or at the homes of friends and family. So there’s usually a wall outlet available. When I travel the original battery life plus a compact power bank is more than enough for me. Should I go on a longer flight then it would be more cost effective to use a larger power bank than get a new console.

But my needs are not universal. Consider your own priorities. And if you have a GameStop nearby is the better battery life worth $75 to you?

Is the New Nintendo Switch Worth Buying if You’re Considering a Switch?

Now is a great time to buy a Nintendo Switch if you’ve been considering it. We just had a model refresh, so it is like buying the original Switch on launch day. Nintendo has promised no new hardware announcements for the rest of 2019. The new Pokémon game comes out this year. And all your other Nintendo favorites have titles on the Switch.

If you expect to only play in handheld mode then you may want to wait for the Nintendo Switch Lite to be released. And then see how it compares. We know it’ll be power efficient. Likely using a lot of the same components found in the new Switch. But it has a smaller battery to save weight and cost, so less total play time. But it will also be $100 cheaper.

There is speculation of a “Switch Pro” coming in the future. But there are no details or facts to back that up. Obviously Nintendo will do something new with the Switch at some point in the future. They released this revised version two years after the original release. But waiting for a theoretical version of the Switch for an unknown amount of time doesn’t help you play Smash Bros in the here and now.

Where Can I Find the New Nintendo Switch?

The new Nintendo Switch is available on Amazon.

Best Buy is also offering it with free shipping or in store pick up.

Many GameStop stores have it in inventory. But it isn’t available on their website yet.

Target, Walmart, and other retailers are putting out the new model as the older model sells. Look for the telltale red box in their display cases. Or ask the employees if they have any in the back they can pull for you.