The Nintendo Switch Buyers Guide For Beginners

Nintendo currently has 3 different models of the Nintendo switch. The Original Switch, an Updated Switch with a bigger battery and the Nintendo Switch Lite. Which model is best for you? What are the differences between the switch and the Switch Lite and what accessories and services do you need to go along with your Switch? In this article we will answer those questions offering a comprehensive buyers guide.

What is the Nintendo Switch?

The Nintendo Switch is a video game console developed by Nintendo and released on March 2017. The name Switch refers to the fact that it is a hybrid system that can be docked to a TV and work as a home console with an external controller or it can be used in handheld mode as a portable gaming system with its built in screen and connected JoyCon controllers.

Nintendo Switch Console with Red JoyCons
Nintendo Switch Console with Red JoyCons

The Nintendo switch features first party exclusive games such as those in the popular Mario franchise as well as offering support from third party developers. The hardware specs of this console are lower than other home consoles from the likes of Sony Playstation and Microsoft Xbox. Nintendo consoles have had lower raw power for several generations now and instead Nintendo has chosen to focus on creating a unique experience. In the case of the Switch they focused on its hybrid ability to become a handheld console as well as the community aspect of playing with others.

The Nintendo Switch console comes with the Console, a pair of JoyCon controllers, a TV dock and a power brick. The Switch Retails for $299.

Games for the Switch come in either Physical Game Card format or Digital download. All first party games and the large studios will release both a physical and digital download of their games. Indie and small developers a lot of the time only release a digital download of their games.

The Original Switch vs the Updated Switch

An updated version of the Nintendo Switch was released in August of 2019. This was a minor revision with the only upgrade being a larger battery. This new Switch has a battery life of 4.5 to 9 hours compared to the original that had a battery life of 2.5 to 6.5 hours. If you are looking to purchase the new model look for a serial number starting with XKW. The original switch serial number starts with XAW.

The Switch Lite

In September 2019 Nintendo release a new version of the Switch called the Switch Lite. This version is a handheld only console. It is a slightly smaller switch with a screen size of 5.5″ inches compared to the original 6.2″ inch screen. It does not come with a dock nor does it support docking. The Lite is a whole unit with built in controls that are not detachable like the JoyCons on the original. Also most likely to save money Nintendo removed the HD rumble feature from the Lite as well as the IR motion camera. The Switch Lite has a battery life of 3 to 7 hours and it retails for $199.

Supported Games

  • Nintendo Switch
    • The Nintendo Switch supports all games released on the Switch platform.
  • Nintendo Switch Lite
    • The Switch Lite only plays games that have a handheld mode. Look on the back of the game box or the download page for information on which game modes are supported.

Game Cartridges and Game downloads are supported on both the Switch and the Switch Lite.

Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo Switch Online is Nintendo’s cloud service. This optional service is a monthly subscription that offers additional benefits. The cost of Switch online is either $3.99 a month, $7.99 a quarter, or $19.99 a year.

Nintendo Switch Online offers the following benefits.

  • Online Play
    • Allows you to play your games online such as playing Mario Kart against your friends or strangers online.
  • NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) Games
    • Switch Online comes with a NES emulator and a large library of old NES games that you can play as party of this subscription. There is even a bluetooth NES controller you can purchase separately to play these games.
  • Cloud Saves
    • Supported games allow you to save your progress in the cloud protecting you in the event your switch dies. In this case you will be able to recover your progress in the game on a new Switch.
  • Smartphone App
    • Nintendo offers an app that is designed for you to be able to have voice conversations with other players in select games.

Nintendo Switch Controllers

The Nintendo Switch comes with one pair of JoyCon controllers and one JoyCon grip so that you can combine the JoyCons together to make 1 controller or they can be used separately to make 2 small controllers.

Nintendo Also sells what they call the Pro Controller which is a traditional controller similar to an Xbox or Playstation controller. With the release of the Switch Online service they also released a set of NES controllers for using to play the retro NES games that come bundled with the online service.

Best Third Party Controller

There are many third party controller developers.
One of the biggest third party developers that is officially licensed by Nintendo is PowerA. They make both wired and Bluetooth controllers for the Switch. These are usually lower cost than the Nintendo controllers but make compromises in features. The most common missing features of these third party controllers are rumble and Amiibo support.

8BitDo is a company to check out if you are interested in Retro controllers for your Switch. They make high quality replicas of old systems for example they sell controller replicas of the old NES controller, SNES controller and Sega Genesis controller. They even sell an arcade style controller with a joystick and large arcade buttons. If you want to be able to play modern games with the 8BitDo controllers they have an upgraded version of the SNES controller with analog sticks added on so you can play any game.

8BitDo Controllers

Nintendo Switch Accessories

The Switch has been an extremely successful console for Nintendo and thus has spawned a huge market for Nintendo Switch accessories. There have been a ton of successful kickstarter projects from Bluetooth audio adapters to grips that make holding the Switch on handheld more more ergonomic. For starters we would recommend getting a good carrying case and a screen protector.

The Switch supports a Micro SD card for storage of downloaded games and game save data. If you plan to download a lot of your games instead of purchasing physical copies an SD card is a good investment. Look for either a 32GB MicroSDHC card or a 64GB microSDXC. There are Nintendo branded SD cards but they are typically way more expensive for the exact same card with a Nintendo logo on it.

Nintendo Switch Docks

The Switch ships with one dock and one power brick. Unfortunately neither of these are very portable when it comes to taking the Switch on the road. However be very weary of buying third party Nintendo Switch docks. Nintendo uses a non-standard system for connecting the Switch to the Dock. The pin configuration and power requirements have very tight tolerances, and many of the third party docks on the market have been reported to fry the Nintendo Switch. When shopping for a third party dock be sure to check independent reviews and make sure the device has been tested to work properly. If you want to play it safe make sure to only buy the official Nintendo Switch dock and power adapter for use with your Switch.

Nintendo Switch History

The Nintendo switch has been a huge success for Nintendo. Coming off the success of the Wii in 2012 Nintendo release the Wii U. The Wii U was a home console with a tablet that needed to be paired at all times to the console under the TV. This was the start of a new direction that would eventually become the Switch. The Wii U was a failure for multiple reasons. First the name of the console made it confusing many people didn’t even realize it was a new console since it still had Wii in the name. also the console plus tablet system wasn’t easy to understand and sold poorly which caused developers to ignore the system and not create games for it.

Following the failure of the Wii U Nintendo released the Switch in 2017. The Switch was an all in one Hybrid system. This console is a first to put console level graphics into a portable form factor and support both easy docking with a TV and handheld modes. The idea was a huge hit from day 1. The implementation and marketing made it easy to understand how it worked and led to huge initial success. The success caused third party developers to flock to the system and quickly a large game library developed. Nintendo even started to port most of their Wii U games to the Switch.


Hi I am Jeremy. The goal of this blog is  to make using technology easier in your daily life. We provide reviews, guides and how to articles.