What you need to know about scratches, battery life, wonky controllers and foul tasting cartridges
Maybe you're still waiting for FedEx to deliver your Switch pre-order (where the hell are they? Don't they know how late it is already?), maybe you're a huge Nintendo fan and waited in line at your local Best Buy at midnight, or maybe you feel that perhaps Nintendo shipped a console that's not quite finished – regardless of where you stand on it, you no doubt have plenty of very specific questions. We've pulled together the most common we've come across and tried to answer them all in one place.
Is my Switch going to get scratched?
Ours is showing some scratches after just a week of use. We've been super careful with it and have been keeping it in one of Miguel's giant woolen socks whenever we transport it, but it's already scratched in the bottom left hand corner. The culprit? Sliding it in and out of the hard plastic dock. If you gently slide it in and "miss" the USB-C prong, juggling the device into the slot scrapes it against the hard insides of the dock. It's bizarre that Nintendo hasn't lined the inside of the thing with something soft and felty to prevent this. So...in case you were wondering: yes – you're probably going to want to buy a screen protector.
How long does the battery last?
We got just shy of three hours out of it before it crapped out on us while playing Zelda.
How long does it take to fully charge the Switch?
A full charge takes 3 hours. It's about the same to fully charge the Joy-Cons too.
Do the Joy-Con batteries last as long as the console?
They last much longer. Nearly 20 hours.
Do the Joy-Cons hold their charge for the same amount of time, even though they're slightly different?
In our experience they seem to last roughly the same amount of time.
What's this problem with the left Joy-Con I've heard people complaining about?
There was a recurring issue reported by reviewers ahead of the system's launch that the wireless connection with the left Joy-Con (specifically) would occasionally de-sync, momentarily preventing them from properly controlling their games for a few seconds. This is specifically when the controllers aren't attached to the device itself, so when in tabletop or docked mode. It seemed that it happened the most at distances of more than 6 feet from the console, and particularly if there were any obstructions between the left Joy-Con and the device. It was thought that the Switch's day one system update might apply a firmware fix to the controller that would address the problem, but this doesn't seem to be the case.
Am I going to notice this?
Probably not – unless you're in the habit of playing your games in a gigantic room with lots of obstructions that might affect the wireless signal strength, you'll be fine. Playing the system as we normally would, both at our homes and at the office, we have yet to experience the problem.
Can I recharge the Switch with a battery brick?
Yes, but it's going to vary from brick to brick depending on its voltage output. The port on the bottom of the Switch is a standard USB-C hole, so you can hook it up to a battery and it'll charge just fine, but you should prepare for the possibility that it might be very slow. It should work with the USB port in your car if you have one, and it will also charge when you plug it into your computer (we tried it with both a Macbook Pro and a PC.)
Can I charge the Switch in tabletop mode?
No, because the USB hole is on the bottom, and unlike a tablet the Switch doesn't reorient when you turn it upside down. Also, the kickstand only works one way.
Can I charge a Joy-Con individually?
No...they only charge when either attached to the Switch itself, or if they're in a Joy-Con Charging Grip – which is a $29.99 accessory that's not included with the Switch. When the Joy-Cons are in the standard Grip, they're operating under their own juice.
Why are people talking about the fact that the Switch game cartridges taste revolting? Are they just crazy?
No, this is not just a weird random "what happens if I put this in my mouth?" thing to get attention on social media. Nintendo has intentionally made the game cards taste disgusting to stop children from accidentally swallowing them. The cards are coated with denatonium benzoate, which is a non-toxic "bittering agent" that's typically used in stuff like nail-biting polish to discourage you from putting stuff in your mouth.
How many users can my Switch host?
Up to eight different Nintendo Accounts can be active on the same console.
Where do the screenshots go when I snap them? How do I share them?
When you take a screenshot the Switch saves them to the microSD card if there's one present, or it'll save to the system memory. You access them from the "Album" icon on the homepage, but it's worth noting that screenshots aren't associated with particular user accounts. If you're sharing your Switch with others in your family, everyone's screens are in the same pool. If you want to share them out to Facebook or Twitter, when you tap "Post" the Switch will ask you which user wants to share them, and it'll suck up whatever social accounts are associated with that user so they end up going to the right place. If you don't want to share to a social network, you have to take the microSD card out of its slot and use an adaptor to plug it into your computer and grab the images.
I can write on the screens, right? Are there filters too?
Yes, you can write messages on the screenshots, but no there aren't any Snapchat or Instagram style filters. There was a brief moment of excitement when we saw a menu option that said "Filter" but it was for sorting the list of images, not applying any effects to them.
Can I transfer saves between devices?
No. Switch save data is stored in the console's system memory and it currently can't be copied to anything. Under the Data Management section of the Switch’s system settings, there’s a "manage save data/screenshots" option, but when you select it, all you can do is delete the files – there’s no option to move them to the memory card or backup in any way. There's also no cloud save option. Your save games are currently tied to your device and that's that. Right now, if you lose your Switch or it dies you're pretty much screwed and there's no way to recover the save.
Can you install a game on a microSD card and play it on a different Switch?
Purchases from the eShop download to the microSD card by default if there's one present. If you don't have a card in the slot, it'll install to the internal storage if you have enough room. That said, you don't have any control over where things install aside from choosing to have a microSD inserted or not. As with save games, there's no way to move files from one location to the other. Your purchases from the eShop are tied to your Nintendo account though – so if you're signed into a device, you have access to the games you own and can download them. You can't take a microSD out of one device and put it in another. If you try, it throws up and error message saying that the card is tied to a different Switch.
"The microSD card is being used by another Nintendo Switch console or was used on this console before it was initialized," it says. "Delete the Nintendo Switch data on the microSD card to use it on this console. Save data, screenshots, and other data not related to Nintendo Switch won’t be deleted. You can remove the microSD card if you don’t want to use it on this console."
To be able to play on a different Switch you'll first need to go into the eShop settings and deselect your current Switch from being your "active" console, then on the new device set this as "active" instead. If your Switch gets stolen, or you lose it or break it, you actually don't have any way of deactivating the device remotely. Absurdly, the only solution is to contact Nintendo.
Does it support Bluetooth headsets?
No. The only sound settings you can tinker with are for TV or standard wired headphone sound. If you want to sync your wireless Skullcandy Crushers or your expensive Bowers & Wilkins P7s with the Switch, you're shit outta luck unless you want to plug in a Bluetooth transmitter dongle thing. It's worth noting that the headphone jack is on the top right edge of the device itself – so practically speaking it's only comfortable using headphones when you're playing in portable mode. It'll work in tabletop mode or when the device is docked too, but realistically you'd need a really long cord for it to be practical.
Does the Switch allow for enhanced effects when docked?
Games on the screen are at 720p resolution, but when the device is docked it can spit out graphics at up 1080p to your TV. That said, not all games do this, and some are optimized for different resolutions, like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild which runs at 900p on your television.
How much will Nintendo's online service cost, and what will we get?
Right now it's free, and when you log into your Nintendo Account it tells you that you'll get online play, monthly classic game downloads, and special offers. You'll also get chat through a smart device app that's not available yet. The service will remain free until fall, at which point there'll be a monthly fee. Nintendo of America hasn't confirmed a price yet, but early last month Nintendo boss Tatsumi Kimishima revealed that it would be the equivalent of $30 a year when it launches in Japan.
How do those monthly free games work?
Nintendo will essentially loan you a classic game for a month. So far we know these are free downloads that you'll be able to access, and that you'll then have the option to buy them afterward. Right now though, we've seen no evidence of this part of the service.
Are there any kinds of achievements or trophies on Switch?
Wait, but I get achievements from Super Mario Run, and that's part of the Nintendo Account
We know. Still nope.
So...it has Friend Codes, right? Even though Nintendo said it wouldn't?
Yes, but it's a slightly friendlier version of it. To add friends you can search for local users, search for people you've previously played with, input a friend code, or it'll generated a list of suggested friends for you that – when your Nintendo Account is connected – draws from your friends that you may have made in other connected games like Super Mario Run or Fire Emblem Heroes on your phone, for example.
Can you connect to public Wi-Fi spots even through the device doesn't have a browser?
Yes. Although the device doesn't have a full-on browser app, it does have a little WebKit-enabled browser for letting you log into services like Facebook, Twitter or to a public Wi-Fi spot. When you authenticate for the first time, the email you get telling you that a new device is using your account (for, say, Twitter) identifies your Switch as being Safari.
Is the Switch backwards compatible with older Nintendo games?
No. You can't plug, say, a 3DS cartridge into it. To play older games, the only option is Nintendo's Virtual Console.
So...how will Virtual Console work on Switch?
Here's the problem: there's nothing to see yet. It'll come as part of a future software update.
No one knows. Nintendo hasn't said yet.
What TV apps can we expect?
None. No Netflix, no Crunchyroll, no streaming movie service – right now it's just games.