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Nintendo Switch Unboxing

By Brett Phipps



Our Score:


Nintendo Switch – What’s in the box?

The Switch is a convertible console designed to let you play games on its built-in touchscreen on the move and on your TV when home. As a result, it comes with quite a bit of gear.

Aside from the Switch and Joy-Con L and R, you get the Switch Dock to play on a TV. There’s also a Joy-Con Grip, which slots between the left and right Joy-Con parts when the Switch is docked. This turns the Joy-Con into a more traditional controller.

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Nintendo Switch

Then there are two Joy-Con straps for games that use motion controls, which will inevitably be a blessing for “enthusiastic” gamers – we don’t want another Wii fiasco with players smashing their tellies. Finally you get an HDMI cable and power lead.

Nintendo Switch – Design

It’s surprising quite how small Nintendo’s new flagship machine is. Strip away the dock and Joy-Con controllers and what you have is a black box that looks no bigger than a mini Android tablet, which is why I remain consistently impressed by what it can do, even if others aren’t overwhelmed by its hardware specs.

The Switch has a thick bezel around its 6.2-inch capacitive touchscreen. The display size is fine when holding the console in my hands, much like a slightly larger PlayStation Vita screen, or perhaps a decent phablet. When it’s in its tabletop mode, it’s comfortable, but I can see myself having issues playing games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in two-player local multiplayer on such a small screen.

The touchscreen’s responsiveness is fine, and streets ahead of the Wii U GamePad’s cheap and soft resistive screen, which often had delayed inputs and was a pain to use. This feels like I’m actually using a tablet screen, which is a relief.

In the hands the console feels incredibly well made, and is again a far cry from the GamePad’s Tonka Toy plastic. The metal finish of the Switch coupled with the comfortable (if a little weightless) Joy-Con make this the best console Nintendo has made from an aesthetic perspective, perhaps by any gaming hardware manufacturer.

But despite the Switch’s sleek and expensive-feeling build, the one anomaly is its kickstand. While the console is made from metal, the kickstand is plastic and incredibly thin. When I first opened it to use the Switch in tabletop mode, I was worried it’d collapse under its own weight, especially with the Joy-Con attached. However, it handles the weight fine.

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Nintendo Switch

Nintendo’s reasoning behind this supposedly flimsy item design is that it’s taken into account our at-times absent-mindedness. If you attempt to dock the console without closing the kickstand, it’ll snap off, but can easily be reattached to the back of the console – although Nintendo warns against constant wear-and-tear. I haven’t detached the kickstand myself, but having tried removing it from the back, I learned it’d take a decent amount of force for it to clip off to begin with. But this does show another smart design choice.

However, as always, for each smart decision Nintendo makes, there are always one or two glaring omissions. The Nintendo Switch supports Bluetooth 4.1, but, from what I can tell, there’s no support for wireless headphones. Considering the recent big push towards Bluetooth headphones, it’s bizarre that there isn’t the ability to use them with the Switch.

Docking and removing the Joy-Con controllers is easy enough. Simply pressing the button on the back of the controllers sees them simply lift off the machine, and they slide easily onto the console’s rails, making the satisfying “click” noise you’ll have heard on the Switch’s many trailers to let you know they’re attached to the unit. However, there’s a pretty significant caveat: while the console plays this noise to let you know the Joy-Con is docked, that isn’t actually the noise you need to hear to let you know the controller is safely attached. There’s a separate, mechanical click that should be heard to know the controller is locked in place. I only notice this when playing around with the console and slid Joy-Con L off the Switch without having unlocked it.

As the Joy-Con slide onto the Switch from the top down, this is a pretty important thing for users to be aware of to avoid the Switch dropping from the Joy-Con – and dodging plenty of tears as your shiny new console gets shattered on the floor.

Looking at the Joy-Con themselves, they’re very comfortable to hold, but again are a little small. What’s interesting is that, while they’re mostly identical, their subtle differences are intriguing. Joy-Con R’s Home button protrudes from the controller, whereas the Share button on L sits almost flush.

Related: Nintendo Switch vs Wii U

Nintendo Switch

The alternately aligned analogue sticks on L and R reflect those seen on the likes of the Xbox 360 pad, but the right analogue stick feels just a little bit too low, meaning I have to adjust my grip. Again, without having a game to test how this affects dexterity, there’s no way to fully understand its ramifications.

The Joy-Con Straps – which slide onto the rail of the controller and include a cotton band to attach to your wrist – serve a dual-purpose. As well as stopping over-exuberant players causing serious damage, they also increase the size of the diminutive Joy-Con.

Along the inseam of the Joy-Con are additional “SL” and “SR’ buttons, which replace the shoulder buttons when the controller is held on its side like a retro gamepad. Without the straps the controller’s a little too small in this configuration.

With them, though, it’s lovely to use as a standard pad. The handles’ rounded grips and smooth plastic finish makes the Joy-Con incredibly comfortable to hold. Plus the analogue sticks are in a more comfortable position when using the Grip, too, making the whole thing the go-to choice when gaming at home.

The dock for using the Switch with a TV, meanwhile, is quite chunky, and includes a flap at the rear to hide the HDMI, AC adapter and USB ports.

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Nintendo Switch

Early Impressions

Overall, I think the Switch is off to a very impressive start. It’s a nifty machine with great build quality, but being unable to comment on the screen’s resolution with reference to games and UI without the day-one update and significant online access leaves my hands a little tied.

I’ve tried letting you know as much as I can based on the current amount of equipment I have, but don’t worry, there’ll be plenty more to discuss in the coming days as we receive more and the Switch launches.

There are a few minor hiccups right now, like the lack of Bluetooth pairing for audio, the at-times insecure Joy-Con docking, and the dinky controllers, but overall most of these issues are easily overcome, or at least should be remedied with patches. Let’s hope Nintendo is more reactive to these niggles than it has been in the past, because this console could very easily become 2017’s must-have piece of tech.

Overall Score



January 16, 2017, 9:48 am

as some one who spends a couple of hours a day commuting I absolutely love the idea of this console. Game at home, then continue playing on the train. The lack of games is a concern at present though.
Also more details about functionality are needed. Such as given it's tablets format and portability, can you download films and tv shows onto it for times when you want something other than games?
Netflix app, or amazon tv app for use at home?
lets hope Nintendo is just wetting the appetite and has more details up its sleeve.


January 16, 2017, 12:02 pm

I agree with @jimmy . but two additional things concern me:

1) Can I connect a pair of bluetooth headphones to this? For a device promoting its portability - and also the current trend moving away from headphone jacks and more people buying wireless headphones, it's a shame if it doesn't support that. I can't imagine going back to having wired headphones when commuting on the London Underground and the risk of a wire tangling up with someones coat button

2) Does the console have to be constantly connected to the internet somehow to play games? Normally, this would be a stupid question - but with Nintendo forcing users on iOS to always be connected, it's a possibility they could throw this at us and then i'll never be able to play this on my underground commute

Alex Walsh

January 16, 2017, 12:28 pm

Given the built in storage is so low (32GB), I doubt much facility is there for downloadable content who know though.

The build quality was a lot better than I expected and it's more comfortable to hold than the PS Vita, so there are a lot of positives from a hardware side.


January 16, 2017, 1:17 pm

You can add a memory card is is housed under the kick stand.

Alex Walsh

January 16, 2017, 1:19 pm

Oh I know that. I doubt it will work as well as it could though, my Shield and Shield TV both regularly corrupt microSD cards. An issue when the SoC is effectively the same as the Shield TV.


January 16, 2017, 3:35 pm

id hope for Bluetooth too in this day and age.
imagine it can play offline, like the DS etc for single player games. given the trailers for playing out and about it would make sense.
the SD card expansion would be useful for films. Nintendo will be cutting off quite a market if they exclude that type of feature, as I'm not going to carry a tablet, phone AND switch! I'd want the switch to replace my tablet like I used to with my old PSP (games and films) before the days of big phone screens or modern tablets!

david charles

January 17, 2017, 9:24 am

love the idea but the release games?..really?...is that the best they can do on release?..i am not a huge zelda fan so for me there is no reason to really get 1 yet...which is a shame.


January 19, 2017, 12:08 pm

I agree with the reviewer that the lack of local multiplayer games on the release schedule is odd. Bomberman is an ancient game and 1, 2 switch is just throw away party games. Its odd not to have a huge selection of cheap small local multiplayer games at launch to sell the system.


January 23, 2017, 5:14 pm

better than the PS Vita's proprietary card though.


January 23, 2017, 5:16 pm

I'm still on the wait and see group. Had a Wii and Wii U, both are great consoles. Let's see once the library is good, and planning to buy Zelda:BOTW on Wii U.

That Mario Kart 8 deluxe though, maybe I'll double dip in the future, but would wait for Xenoblade 2 and other great games before I buy a Switch. Maybe a price drop or bundled with a game would be great.

The Gremlin

January 24, 2017, 2:03 pm

Flash memory cards have a weakness with writes (limited number of writes), and when they do become corrupt, it's usually due to a combination of a write, and the reliability of the filesystem to handle errors (fat32 is not great).
However Nintendo have confirmed that the microSD card will be used to store games only, and the internal memory will be used for the more volatile save and user data. This on it's own massively reduces the number of writes (download only), so I doubt SD card corruption will be an issue.
Add to that, Nintendo will almost certainly be using their own proprietary filesystem (they won't want anyone copying game files to PC, encrypted or otherwise), which will likely be designed around the intended use.

Zeke Pliskin

January 26, 2017, 8:28 am

I have to say, of all the press I've read on the fledgling Nintendo Switch, this one comes closest to expressing my own personal positive and negative assessment. Mainly positive but the lack of killer launch titles is madness. Mario Kart 8 is nearly three years old and other than a bit of tarting up and some new battle courses it's the same game as the Wii U version! Why was it not ready for launch? Where's the big Mario title, a Kirby title, a Metroid title, maybe another run of a Star Fox, Super Smash Bros? If they'd had all the big first party titles ready to go this thing would have landed with a bang and given third party developers the incentive to get as many titles out for it as they could. Rather than staggering the launch of all of those to push one out every six months to a year. Because doing that really helped the Wii U didn't it, Nintendo?

It sounds like I'm being overly negative but I'm really not. I've wanted a console that can do by design what the Switch does for literally years. I thought the PS4 would have been able to do that, but other than a belated and frankly quite crap attempt with Remote Play on the Vita (laggy and unreliable) it was a waste of time. It's amazing hardware that focuses on putting a memorable gaming experience at your fingertips at home and on the go rather than fragmenting the same over two consoles. Not just upping graphical fidelity and making you spend as much as possible on DLC and other rubbish you shouldn't need to enjoy the experience which should be there in the first place. Cowtowing to the trend of chargeable online is a bit disappointing but I suppose they had to join $ony and Micro$oft eventually. I'll wait for MK8D and buy one I think, for me it's worth it for that.


January 27, 2017, 8:54 am

Nintendo Switch really impresses me. the only flaw is it's battery life.


February 9, 2017, 8:34 pm

Third party content, third party content, THIRD PARTY F*CKING CONTENT NINTENDO!!! WHY can't they figure this out. They shoot themselves in the foot EVERY YEAR. As a gamer who started (like many) with the classic NES system, every time they announce a console I get hyped. I say to myself "is THIS the time Nintendo figures stuff out?" but nope, they never do.

Enter the Switch, which I must say is designed remarkably well. However, that didn't help the Dreamcast, and Sega was at least able to boast graphics were a touch above the competition. Nintendo can't even do that! If you are going to forego FPS and graphics in favor of gameplay, I'm good with that. WHERE is the gameplay???

Is it in Skyrim? The 5 year old title that has already been re-released with polished lighting and texture plus mod support for every other console? Maybe its a brand new Nintendo IP...no...that would never happen. Wait so its once again just the newest Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong? No Metroid or Star Fox launch content? No huge library of classics available free to play to create additional value? That's okay though, because that Fire Emblem HD remaster is gonna be sweeeeeeeet.

It just baffles me. Moving to work with Unity seemed incredibly smart, then they went and made a mobile ready console with no mobile appeal. Really, no appeal whatsoever outside of aesthetics, which are great (as previously stated), but a slick looking console means nothing without support.

Instead, 3 years back Nintendo denied all Japanese developers who wanted to create for the Wii U, and didn't bother to give them the OS for Switch so they could prepare launch content. Instead we are met with vague promises of "a console Pokemon game" and some other nonsense. So the ONE game that worked miracles for your mobile market is no longer a mobile exclusive? Genius...

THEN to top everything off, they botch pre-sales yet again, only offering up to 50 consoles per store (most got 20) in light of pre-orders which are easily tallying much higher then that. You can actually buy one on eBay now for $400, which is a meager cry from the $300 they already offered. When PS4 and Xbox One came out, they commanded nearly double the floor cost online, sometimes more. That's because they actually had content and value established before launch, not just a pretty console, and they supplied wholesalers accordingly.

Face it Nintendo, you suck at console wars. Fold back into the mobile market where you belong and stop trying to please everybody at once.


February 9, 2017, 8:38 pm

"Once the library is good" soooooo 6 months before they plan to stop production on the console?


February 10, 2017, 12:22 am

nope, year 2 at most. unless I'm tempted this christmas maybe. :)


February 17, 2017, 2:41 pm

This is just a better designed Wii u with no games. I'm not even sure if it's even more graphically capable than the Wii u at all. If it is, it's not by much. What a disappointment. The only way this had a chance is if it was at least as powerful as an Xbox one, had killer launch games as well as 3rd party support, and a huge library of classics available for download.

Kyle Jackson

February 23, 2017, 6:32 pm

I just want to buy a decent hand-held, for when at I'm at 'work'. But is this it...

Noel Grundy

February 23, 2017, 11:03 pm

Get used to those menus, Think your going to be spending a lot of time in there for some months to come. So disappointed by the release games. Legend of Zelda and a couple of bits of crap basically ported over, and again not powerful enough to get decent 3rd part support. It at minimum had to be as powerful as the Xbox one. Jesus that came out three and a half years ago.


February 25, 2017, 1:12 pm

What a faff. If I owned one of these, I'd just buy 2 sets of controllers, and leave one permanently attached, with the other in that holder thing that turns it into a full-size controller.

Also, why not design the kickstand such that the dock automatically closes it on insertion? Or just have a cut-out in the back of the dock, so it's not an issue.


March 1, 2017, 7:39 pm

Still excited to get my pre-order. The left joy con is a concern but for everything else I'm going in with eyes open. There was a comment made during the video that nailed it for me - Switch isn't perfect but it's like a lifestyle choice for gamers who don't get a chance to game as often as they used to. I think it will resonate highly with the 25+ crowd especially if Nintendo can nail the virtual console when it arrives later in the year.


March 2, 2017, 4:09 am

My concern is that they will start talking about the next xbox and next playstation next year. this thing will look eve more dated.


March 2, 2017, 11:39 am

"It’s why I feel like Nintendo has missed a trick by not pitching this machine as the most powerful handheld console ever. It’s really underselling the handheld side of the machine."
Depends on your definition of a handheld console - the GPD Win is packing a z8700 or z8750 for the newer rev and is current capable of running skyrim on its 720p at 30 fps and is available now. It will be interesting to see how well the switch does with skyrim once it is released

Hans Olo

March 3, 2017, 3:25 pm

Nintendo should have marketed it as a "handheld console only successor to the 3ds.
And Com out with a straight forward console
Come out with 2 versions of switch.....
1. Handheld/home console (as is $299)
2. Mini home console only/non portable no screen charge $99 and unbundled it like Kinnect......but even then its underpowered and will not attract too many 3rd party developers when Scorpio is making a splash this year and Ps4 pro is.


March 4, 2017, 8:00 am

For half the price and many more games, what's wrong with a 3DS?

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