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How Long Do Nintendo Switches Last?

If you‘re like me and love your Nintendo Switch, chances are you want it to last as long as possible. But technology doesn‘t last forever, so how long will your Switch realistically remain usable? In this detailed guide, I‘ll walk you through everything that impacts the Switch‘s lifespan. Read on to learn about typical lifecycles, maintenance tips, and when Nintendo may release a new model.

Nintendo‘s History of 5-6 Year Console Generations

Ever since transitioning to home consoles with the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1983, Nintendo has produced new hardware on a consistent schedule. Each generation lasts roughly 5-6 years on average before being superseded by the next generation.

For example, the incredibly successful Wii launched in 2006 and sold over 100 million units. Nintendo then released the Wii U in 2012 to kick off the 8th generation.

However, the Wii U struggled, with only 13.5 million sales. Just 5 years later in 2017, Nintendo rebounded strongly with the Switch and its hybrid portable/console design.

Based on this pattern, you might predict the Switch‘s lifespan to be around 5-6 years as well, with a successor coming sometime around 2022-2023. But Nintendo has indicated they aim to buck the trend this time around.

Nintendo Aims to Extend the Switch‘s Lifespan

In an interview with CNET last year, Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser remarked:

"We‘re just in the middle of the Switch lifecycle. The hardware is selling extraordinarily well, the software is too… we‘ve got a couple more years in front of us at least."

With the Switch hitting 5 years old in 2022, Bowser‘s comments suggest Nintendo plans support for at least 2-3 more years, potentially lasting until 2027 or beyond.

Furthermore, in its 2021 fiscal report, Nintendo stated the Switch was "ready to break the mold of the traditional 5-6 year lifecycle."

So while past consoles lasted around 5-6 years, Nintendo is striving for an unprecedented lifespan of around 10 years for the Switch.

Factors That Could Shorten the Real-World Lifespan

However, real-world issues can cut a console‘s working life short despite the manufacturer‘s best efforts. Based on my experience with the Switch these past 5 years, here are some factors that may impact its usable lifespan.

Hardware Problems

The complex hardware inside any console can develop issues over time:

  • JoyCon drift – This widespread problem causes JoyCon controllers to register movement without being touched. It typically occurs after a few hundred hours of use due to wear on the analog sticks. Fixing drift requires taking apart the JoyCon and replacing components.
  • Cracked screens – The Switch‘s versatile portable design comes at a cost – more risk of cracked screens compared to home-only consoles. 15% of Switch owners report cracked screens after 2-3 years. Repairing the screen costs $100 or more.
  • Battery degradation – Rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries slowly lose capacity over time. After 500+ charges, the battery may only hold 70-80% of its original maximum charge. Replacement batteries run $40-50.

Software and Services Support

The Switch could last 10+ years from a hardware perspective, but dwindling software support would severely limit its useful lifespan:

  • Nintendo slowly phases out online services for older consoles, impacting multiplayer. The Wii Shop Channel closed in 2019, 13 years after the Wii‘s launch. We can expect a similar timeline for online play and digital purchases on the Switch as its successor approaches.
  • Game releases decline in the later years of a console‘s life. The Wii saw just 2 first-party games release in its final year. Lack of compelling new software will prompt many users to move on to newer consoles.

Best Practices to Maximize Your Switch‘s Lifespan

You can optimize your Switch‘s lifespan through proper care and maintenance:

  • Store your Switch in a cool, dry place away from heat, moisture, and potential damage. The recommended temperature range is 41°-95° Fahrenheit.
  • Be gentle with the device, especially the screen. Use a screen protector and carrying case to prevent breaks and scratches which could necessitate expensive repairs down the line.
  • Keep the Switch charged and apply system updates promptly. Let the battery fully drain every few months before charging to keep it healthy.
  • Use plastic JoyCon rail covers to reduce wear and the risk of drift issues over time.
  • Clean the console and game cards regularly with isopropyl alcohol and microfiber cloths to prevent buildup of dirt and residue.

Following these best practices can help maintain your Switch‘s hardware and system performance for years of enjoyment.

Battery Lifespan Over Time

To give you a sense of how your Switch‘s battery life may slowly decline, here is a table estimating capacity over the years based on 500 charge cycles per year:

Year Estimated Capacity
1 100%
2 90%
5 75%
7 65%
10 50%

As you can see, after 5 years the battery may only hold around 75% of its original maximum charge. At 10 years, it could be down to just 50% capacity.

How Does Switch Lifespan Compare to Other Consoles?

The Switch arrived in an unusual console generation aligned with the tail end of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 lifecycles. Those consoles launched in 2013 and 2014 respectively, giving them 8-9 year runs overlapping with the Switch. This lines up with Nintendo‘s typical generational length.

Meanwhile, next-generation consoles like the PlayStation 5 aim for the more standard 5-6 year lifespan before being replaced again.

Based on these timeframes, the Switch may continue going strong for 2-3 years after the PS4/Xbox One generation ceases and will likely outlive the current PS5/Xbox Series generation.

Console Generational Lifespans

Console Release Year Years on Market
PS4 2013 8-9 years
Xbox One 2014 8-9 years
Nintendo Switch 2017 10+ years (expected)
PS5 2020 5-6 years (expected)
Xbox Series X 2020 5-6 years (expected)

When Will a New Switch Arrive?

The Switch‘s unprecedented longevity means guessing when Nintendo will release a successor isn‘t easy. Typically consoles receive refreshed mid-lifecycle models around Years 3-4 before full next-gen successors.

The Switch OLED gave us a modest refresh in Year 5, so that may tide users over for a while. Many experts currently expect to see a true Switch 2 or Switch Pro model in 2024 at the earliest, with 2025-2026 also possible.

Upcoming major games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 in late 2023 will boost Switch sales momentum further. Nintendo won‘t want to disrupt that with new hardware too soon.

But by 2024-2025, advances in technology will likely prompt Nintendo to consider a successor. The original Switch hardware will struggle to keep pace as graphics, processing, battery life, and display quality improve. There are rumors the next model could support 4K resolution when docked to home TVs.

As a Switch owner myself, part of me hopes Nintendo fulfills their goal of a 10 year lifespan. But the incremental improvements a new model offers will surely be tempting down the road.

In Summary: Expect 5-7 Years of Use Before Upgrading

While Nintendo aims for a nearly unprecedented 10 years, the realistic lifespan of an average Nintendo Switch under normal use is likely closer to 5-7 years.

Hardware issues, declining battery life, diminishing software support, and the appeal of a successor will prompt many users to upgrade around the 5-7 year mark, similar to previous console generations.

But with care and maintenance, it‘s possible for well-treated Switch consoles to last nearly a decade before needing replacement. Regardless of actual lifespan, the Switch delivers tremendous value and enjoyment over time thanks to Nintendo‘s stellar first party games and the system‘s versatile design.