Millions have been enjoying their Nintendo Switch for over a year at this point. Now that some time has passed, we’ve gotten to observe how the system has matured from its early phase to being an established platform. For the most part, things have gone well. But, a few issues have cropped up which Nintendo definitely should address soon in a system revision.
It’s really not that uncommon for Nintendo, as well as other console makers, to update their systems throughout the generation. Sometimes we get big overhauls, like in the form of the 3DS XL or Xbox One S, but there are also times when more subtle tweaks and changes are made. For instance, it appears that new, unofficially named ‘model 2’ Switch units are now out in the wild as of recently. What’s the difference?
All Switch systems are powered by a Nvidia Tegra X1 chip. The issue is that Nintendo and Nvidia for some reason decided to use the stock version of the chip, thus leading to hackers finding vulnerabilities very quickly. Due to this, the revised ‘model 2’ version of the system includes some hardware tweaks, completely blocking out the hacking methods used with the model 1 version of the system. This change has gone unannounced by Nintendo, having only been found out after hackers themselves did some digging. Again, this is a common occurrence in the console industry. The PS3, in particular, had many hardware revisions, for instance.
It’s good to see Nintendo already taking action to cover the faults of the young system. But, as mentioned in the beginning of this article, there are still some existing problems that need to be attended to.
Recently, what’s become a fairly big topic of discussion in the Switch community is that of some units forming cracks around the shell. These cracks can range from small little hairline fractures to massive rifts which make the shell look like a broken egg. An official statement has not yet been provided by Nintendo acknowledging this problem nor has there been an official explanation as to why it’s happening. But, the most accepted theory is that this is the result of the Switch’s shell reacting to rapid temperature changes.
Some Switch units have developed serious cracks due to rapid temperature changes. Nintendo should make adjustments to the system’s casing to alleviate this issue.
Like any electronic device, the Switch warms up when it’s in use and cools down after being put to sleep or powered down. This constant temperature flux is perfectly normal, so the issue comes in with how the plastic that the shell is made out of is reacting to the phenomenon. It’s causing the plastic to constantly expand and contract, which then causes cracks to form over time. From all the reports, it seems like cracks are appearing in the same general areas: mostly along the back case of the system, and the top, primarily next to the heat exhaust vent.
Considering that there are many other mobile devices out there made out of plastic, it may seem a little odd that this issue has cropped up with the Switch. But, keep in mind the type of workload the Switch has to deal with. It may have a tablet-like design, but it’s tasked with powering current-gen console-quality games. That’s no easy to feat to pull off for a machine of such a small size, and it frankly still amazes me that Nintendo and Nvidia’s engineers were able to make it work at all.
What helps the Switch do this is that it actually has both a heat pipe and a fan to help keep all of its components as cool as possible. Still, it looks like that’s not enough for some units. The temperature flux mainly occurs with the internal components, but keep in mind that ambient temperatures surrounding the Switch also play a role in this situation. Folks who live in warm climates, and/or who move their Switch constantly between different temperature zones (such as shuffling from a space with A/C to a hotter area) are definitely more susceptible to running into this cracking problem than others.
The Dock could probably use a redesign too. Namely, being made to have a far less chance of causing screen scratches.
Some have tried to send their cracked units to Nintendo, and while the company is willing to make repairs, it appears to be an expensive process. A Switch owner who experienced this reached out to Nintendo Life to share their experience and reported that the UK branch of the company is willing to charge as much as £180 ($238 USD) to fix the system. That’s nearly the price of a whole new console! Those with less serious cracks running along the back panel can make their own repairs for about $22 USD by simply purchasing a replacement back panel and the right screwdrivers from Amazon, but clearly, this option doesn’t apply to everyone. Nintendo should definitely step in and address this problem on a manufacturing level. If that requires using a more durable/flexible plastic for the Switch shell, even if it’s more expensive, it’s something that should be done to avoid giving customers any unnecessary grief like what’s happening now. This is in addition to other issues that have popped up like some Switch units being bent (which appears to be a factory issue and one that affects my own unit), the Docks easily scratching the system’s screen, and the super infamous case of the left Joy-Con having sync issues for the first few weeks after launch. And of course, let’s not forget the situation with third-party docks bricking the system, but that’s it’s own case.
It would be nice to see some of the more pressing issues like the cracking problem promptly fixed in another small hardware revision similar to what’s happened with the aforementioned security exploit fixes. But, perhaps this could occur if and when a more premium Switch model is released down the line. For instance, it could be made out of glass and metal rather than mostly plastic like the current Switch is. Some mobile companies do this when they release a variety of phones, so it’s not an uncommon practice. But, in any case, the point is that one way or another these issues need to be taken care of. It would be terrible to see the Switch’s massive popularity fall hard due to quality control issues.
Let’s hope the Big N has some real solutions in store.
Nintendo has a habit of redesigning a lot of its systems, so a new Switch model is likely to come around eventually.
Having been introduced to video games at the age of 3 via a Nintendo 64, A.K has grown up in the culture. A fan of simulators and racers, with a soft spot for Nintendo! But, he has a great respect for the entire video game world and enjoys watching it all expand as a whole.