Nintendo detailed the hardware of the Nintendo Switch today, confirming long-held rumors such as the system’s touchscreen display during a press event in Tokyo.
The Switch’s main unit contains a 6.2-inch capacitive multitouch display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. That’s the same size as the Wii U GamePad’s screen, although the GamePad’s display had a resolution of 854 x 480.
When the system is being used in handheld or tabletop mode — i.e., outside of its dock — games will run at up to 720p, the lowest resolution that qualifies as high definition. When the unit is in its dock, the Switch ramps up its power and can render games at up to 1080p. The dock outputs that image to an external screen, such as a television, over HDMI. On the audio side, the Switch will output 5.1 surround sound over HDMI via the dock, and the unit features a speakers for stereo sound on the go as well as a headphone jack.
It requires less processing power to generate a 720p image than a 1080p image, so the compromise makes sense in the portable use case, where it’s vital to eke as much battery life out of the Switch as possible. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will run at 720p in tablet mode and 900p when docked, for example. The front of the Switch unit features an ambient light sensor, so the device will adjust screen brightness like a smartphone or tablet does.
Nintendo said the Switch’s battery life will vary on a game-by-game basis, ranging from two and a half hours to six and a half hours. The system’s 4,310 mAh battery will last for approximately three hours while playing Breath of the Wild, according to Nintendo; in sleep mode, it will take three hours to charge. The company will sell a Joy-Con Charging Grip, separate from the Grip included in the package, that will charge Joy-Con units via USB-C. The Joy-Con controllers will last for about 20 hours on a single charge.
Like the Deluxe model of the Wii U, the Switch contains 32 GB of internal storage. It will be possible to expand the storage with microSDHC and microSDXC — there’s a slot behind the kickstand on the back of the Switch unit. The device charges via a USB-C port on the bottom; it is currently unclear if that port can be used for other purposes.
The Switch dock features three USB ports — two USB ports on the left side, which can be used to charge accessories like the Joy-Con controllers, and one USB port inside the back cover (where the HDMI-out and power ports also live). Some accessories will function over USB, like Ethernet adapters for wired internet, although that would plug into the dock and not the Switch itself. Wireless internet will work over the 802.11ac standard, and the Switch will support up to eight systems over a local Wi-Fi connection.
Update: We’ve edited the post to add some additional hardware details and images.
Update 2 (Jan. 18): Detailed technical specifications for the Switch are available on Nintendo’s Japanese website; we’ve collected them below, with conversions to U.S. units.
The Switch measures 9.41 inches wide by 4.02 inches tall by 0.55 inches thick. By itself, the Switch unit weighs 10.48 ounces. The right Joy-Con controller is a bit heavier than the left one — 1.84 ounces versus 1.73 ounces — perhaps because it includes an IR camera. If they’re both attached to the Switch, the total weight is 14.04 ounces, which is still 1.37 ounces lighter than the iPad Air 2 or 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
Both Joy-Con controllers are the same size: 4.02 inches tall by 1.41 inches wide by 1.12 inches deep. They communicate with the Switch via Bluetooth 3.0; the right Joy-Con also supports near-field communication (NFC), for use with amiibo. Each one contains a nonremovable 525 mAh lithium-ion battery. They also support an attachment called a Joy-Con Strap. Unlike the simple wrist straps of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, the Joy-Con Strap includes a plastic hunk that slides onto a Joy-Con controller (see image above). It extends the unit by 0.57 inches, making it more comfortable to hold, and adds 0.66 ounces to the Joy-Con’s weight.
Surround sound support in the Switch will exist only with 5.1-channel linear PCM over HDMI, since there is no optical audio port on the system or its dock. As for the dock, it measures 6.81 inches wide by 4.09 inches high by 2.13 inches deep, and weighs 11.53 ounces. It turns out that the USB port inside the dock’s back cover is not actually a USB 3.0 port at the moment — Nintendo says that it “[plans] to support USB 3.0 in future updates.”