Nintendo Switch’s secret upgrade: how to spot if YOU have the new console

Ever since Nintendo Switch back in July, we’ve been keen to see both it and the new Nintendo Switch Lite in gamers’ hands.

And while the Lite is easy to spot, thanks to its completely new design, the refreshed Nintendo Switch with better battery life (an increase from 2.5-6.5 hours of use, to 4.5-9 hours), as well as improved CPU and memory, on first glance looks identical to the original Nintendo Switch.

This, naturally, creates a problem for anyone looking to buy a Nintendo Switch as the last thing a gamer wants to do is go out and ring up a new console only to get it home and discover that they have the weaker, original system, when for the same price they could’ve bought the better console.

Worse still, despite rumours to the contrary, the Big N does not have a trade-in program in place where gamers who recently bought a Switch can swap it for the new, better version. As such, your shopping decision is crucial.

Luckily, there are a couple of easy ways to find out whether the console you are thinking of buying is the new one. Firstly, there is the design of the box.

Unfortunately, not every online retailer with bother to update their listing with the updated box artwork for the console, so you can’t rely entirely on that method unless you’re in a store with the box in your hands.

Another way to tell if you’re buying the new Nintendo Switch or the original is to consult the serial and model number. This will be especially important for gamers who intend of buying the console second hand, as in that circumstance they may not be able to rely on a box being present.

It will also be important if Nintendo announces any special edition consoles with new packaging going forward. And in that case you’ll want to find out if the special edition console is based on the old Switch or the new one.

The model and serial number on each Switch can be found on the back of the casing. The old Ninty console has the model number “HAC-001”, while the new improved version has “HAC-001(-01)” instead

In terms of serial numbers, the original Switch console has a 14-digit code that begins with the letters XAW, while the new Switch has serial number that begins with XKW.

Interestingly, despite the new Nintendo Switch offering better battery life and performance, the console is almost exactly the same as the original Switch, including the battery, which you would of thought would be different due to the increased battery life.

In fact, as pointed out by iFixit, that improved battery life actually comes from the console’s updated CPU and memory. The CPU is thought to be a custom version of the T210B01 Tegra X1 chip, while the memory is updated LPDDR4X, and it is from these components’ enhanced efficiency that the longer battery life is achieved.