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Checking in on our Nintendo Switches one year after launch

Polygon weighs in, and we’d love to hear from you

Nintendo Switch hardware Nintendo

It’s the one-year anniversary of the Nintendo Switch, and the system’s launch felt like it was plagued with issues and oddities. Do you remember the controllers that wouldn’t sync, and docks that scratched screens? The games also tasted very unpleasant, and still do.

I’m not sure why we were putting games in our mouths; we were so much younger back then.

The Switch is a unique system in that it can be played as either a portable or a traditional console, which means the hardware itself may be exposed to more wear and tear than most gaming consoles. There’s really no precedent for how people might use their Switch, so we wanted to catch up with Polygon staffers who have had their systems for a while to see how the hardware itself is holding up, and how they were using it.

Chris Grant, editor-in-chief

So far, with nearly 200 hours invested into Zelda and Mario, as well as a few other games, my Switch looks brand new. And despite my concerns, the kickstand somehow hasn’t broken off yet. It spends most of its time docked, but when it comes out it’s usually going into a bag for a trip.

After reading about docks scratching up screens, I also bought a glass screen protector from Amazon for $10. It came with two, but the first one seems like it’s going to last forever, so I donated the second one to the office Switch. I don’t take my Switch out of the dock often, but if I do and if I’m traveling with it, I put it in a case.

My son uses it, via the Pro Controller while docked. He’s occasionally played it undocked, using the detached Joy-Cons for some Mario Kart with friends and family.

The only issue I’ve had is with a well-reviewed micro SD card I bought from Amazon, and I worry that it’s failing. I’ve been unable to start games on three occasions, getting a “software was closed because an error occurred” message. I’ve had to check for corrupt data, and ultimately re-download the game. The save games are intact on the console, and the games re-download quickly enough ... but it’s a little worrisome.

Clayton Ashley, video editor

I use my Switch nearly every day on my commute (it makes the hour and 30 minutes I spend on the subway fly by). I play it at home on occasion, usually to play a multiplayer game. I also picked up a compact travel dock so I can easily hook it up to hotel TVs when I travel.

I haven’t noticed a great deal of wear and tear on my Switch, which I bought last summer. One of the Joy-Cons feels a little looser, but not in any significant way, while the battery and screen have held up well so far.

Russ Frushtick, founding editor

I use my Switch daily, 90 percent of the time in handheld mode. Generally it’s me on the couch, zoning out to Netflix and plugging away at Zelda or whatever.

There are no visible hardware scratches after a year, though I do use a screen protector and I’m pretty careful when I slide it into the dock. The only thing I have noticed is that one of the Joy-Cons that came with it has some accuracy issues on the analog stick. Specifically, it seems to be drifting a bit on its own, even after calibrating multiple times.

Ben Kuchera, senior editor, opinions

With five kids and two cats I’ve probably abused the Switch more than most. Both Joy-Cons are cracked, the screen has a few scratches and the kickstand is barely hanging on. The plastic pieces that fit across the vent on the top are also missing, and I have no clue what happened there. It still works, however, and I’ve never been happier that you can remove and replace the Joy-Cons.

Nintendo Switch - ‘Karen’ playing switch on rooftop
You were right, Karen. Now we all use our Switches this way. I’m sorry we didn’t listen to you.

The system is mostly used as a portable, although it’s fun to hook it up to the television every so often to enjoy the bigger screen and more comfortable Pro controller. But the value for the Switch, for our family, is that it can easily be passed from kid to kid to take turns, even when someone else is using the TV. Our Switch’s use primarily as a portable probably has a lot to do with how much it has been beaten up.

Jeff Ramos, engagement editor

The kickstand on my Switch no longer latches shut, since I had to open and close it so much while working on the guides for Breath of Wild in order to constantly remove the SD card.

I almost always use it in handheld mode and play it while watching TV or lying in bed. I’ve since removed the kickstand completely.

Cassandra Marshall, site lead, Heroes Never Die

My husband and I both use the Switch pretty regularly. We don’t travel outside the home with it, but we carry it into the bedroom, where we leave it out and sometimes our two cats sniff it and walk on it.

I’m not seeing any signs of wear — the thing is holding up pretty admirably. It’s not GameCube-level sturdy, and I’m very careful with the screen especially, but the surrounding hardware has been nothing but solid.

The biggest problem with long-term use has been that my hands cramp pretty badly after extended play periods.

Ross Miller, director of programming

My cartridges no longer have a taste to them. So, take that as you will.

Samit Sarkar, front page editor

I didn’t buy a Switch until October, for Super Mario Odyssey, and I’ve used it almost exclusively in docked mode. This is largely because I vastly prefer enjoying video games on a proper television, a big screen — I very rarely use my smartphone for games, and my dislike of small-screen gaming is also why I’ve never owned a dedicated handheld like a 3DS. Hell, I still haven’t bothered to apply the screen protector that I bought, since I take the Switch out of the dock so infrequently.

I did buy a case for the system, and my fiancée and I have occasionally traveled with it — for instance, we brought it along when we went to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving — but I’ve never taken the thing on the subway, and I don’t know if I ever will. (Partly because I’m paranoid that, like, I’d nod off while playing it and it’d slip out of my hands and crash to the floor — or worse, that someone would steal it. Hey Nintendo, how about you figure out cloud saves already? It’s been a whole year.)

What did we learn?

It’s going to be fun to read the comments to this piece, but overall very few of the initial issues ended up being long-term concerns. Controllers are staying synced, the screens aren’t being scratched to pieces by our docks and the systems are holding up about how you’d expect. Nintendo is building these things pretty well.

We’re also using our Switches in very different ways. Some of us travel with them often; others keep them at home. Some are daily players, while others only pick up the systems for Nintendo exclusives. The Switch is unlike an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 in that people can use it very differently, depending on what’s comfortable for them.

So how are your Switches holding up, and how are you using them after a year? We’d love to hear from you.

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