When you’re designing a portable console, you need a huge battery, you need to keep it cool, and you need to be ready for the inevitable tumble. If you carry something around, you’re gonna drop it. The Nintendo Switch seems to hit all these points and more. The lion’s share of space is given to the batteries and the heat dissipation system. The fan is vibration-dampened to let it quietly run as much as needed. The design mixes structural and functional. The controller swapping and charging mechanism is beautiful. And the Switch’s modularity would make even Samsung miss its old repairable phones.
Now. That doesn’t mean Nintendo wants you to repair your Switch after that rooftop game night, but. You probably can, parts willing. And that counts for a lot.
Although there were some reports of flimsy construction, our teardown team disassembled the console and Joy-Cons without them crumbling to pieces. The rail mechanism on the edge of the Switch Console is metal and seems like it should hold up pretty well. Its mate on the Joy-Con side is plastic, which is probably exactly what you want—any failure will most likely be in the detachable controller, which should be cheaper to repair or replace if necessary.
The large metal plate under the casing is more than structural support—it’s also a heat sink that channels heat from the heat pipe to the rear case. This should diffuse the heat, preventing hot spots that could melt plastic or burn your fingers.
The digitizer is not fused to the display, but adhered by a double-sided adhesive strip that runs around the perimeter. With a bit of heating and prying, we managed to pry the digitizer off. The Switch’s USB-C port, on the other hand, is fused to the motherboard—if you bust that off, you’ll have break out the soldering iron to replace it.
The Switch impressed with its modular construction, nabbing an 8 out of 10 on our repairability scale.