How To Know Your Nintendo Switch Version

You’re probably aware that there are 3 different versions of the Nintendo Switch. 

The original Nintendo Switch, the upgrade of the original, and the Nintendo Switch Lite.

You can easily differentiate between the original Nintendo Switch and the Switch Lite because they have so many differences.

For example, the original Switch has Joy-Cons while the Switch Lite has in-built controllers.

The designs of the two consoles are also very different so you can immediately tell them apart by looking at them.

It is, however, not easy to tell apart the original Switch from its upgrade, often referred to as the Switch 2.0, because of their similar appearance and features.

I actually experimented to see how easy it is to distinguish between the two models.

I placed the original Switch and the Switch 2.0 side by side on a table and asked a friend of mine to pick up the original.

He wasn’t able to, and though I had placed two similar game consoles on the table.

So begs the question

How do you know your Nintendo Switch version? You can identify Nintendo Switch consoles by looking at the packaging, serial, and model number, production description, and price. Without looking at these five things you may not be able to choose between the original Switch and Switch 2.0.

Read on to find out how to use each of the above differentiators to know which Nintendo Switch version you have or are looking to buy.

Original Switch VS Switch 2.0

Switch Version 2.0 has a most Red box with no hand reaching for the Switch dock.

As I have mentioned above, the original Switch and the second version of the Switch look virtually identical and the performance is almost similar.

They do, however, have a few differences.

The main difference between the old switch and the new one is the battery life.

The Switch 2.0 lets you enjoy your favorite Nintendo game for up to nine hours, which is a big improvement from the original Switch 6.5 hours of play.

The extended battery life on the new Switch is attributed to a processor upgrade.

Other differences between the old and new Switch are hardly noticeable. Here are a few of them:

Screen brightness and polarisation

The original Switch box has less red on the front and somebody is reaching for the Switch in the dock.

I have played games on both the original Switch and Switch 2.0. 

The resolution on the devices is similar, but I noticed the Switch 2.0 has a slightly brighter screen display than the original’s screen. This is something that isn’t easily detectable though.

Another difference that you wouldn’t know unless you play your new Switch outside while wearing sunglasses is that its screen is polarised differently from the original Switch.

Compared to the original the new Nintendo Switch polarised screen is unpleasant to look at when wearing shades. 

This makes it difficult to play the console outside when wearing sunglasses.

To me, the appearance feels like watching a 3D movie without the 3D glasses on.

Without sunglasses, you can’t tell the difference between the two Nintendo Switch screens.

They are both clearly visible and seem to block equal amounts of sunlight.

Joy-Cons Antenna 

Joy-Cons on the old Nintendo Switch have connectivity issues. 

Depending on how you hold them, the Joy-Cons could disconnect at the worst possible time as you play your game.

Where the Joy-Cons antenna is located on the old Switch model controller is blamed for the connectivity issues.

The Joy-Cons antenna for the Switch 2.0 has been moved to prevent disconnection issues experienced with the Joy-Cons in the old Switch.

Joy-Cons have their antenna placed inside them. 

So you would have to open up your controller to see the different locations of the antenna in the new and old Switch models.

How to tell apart the original Nintendo Switch from Switch 2.0

From the above section, you can see distinguishing between the original Switch and Switch 2.0 can be tough.

But, here are quick ways to spot the new model from the old model when shopping for your Nintendo Switch.


The original Nintendo Switch has a box with a grey background. On the box, there is an image of a hand placing the Switch in a dock.

The box of the Switch 2.0 is almost entirely red and doesn’t have an image of a hand placing the Switch in a dock. It instead has an image of the Switch dock next to Joy-Cons.

Serial Number

As you can see, my Switch is an old Switch.

If you’re buying your Nintendo Switch from a physical store you can check the serial number to know if it is an old or new model.

The serial number can be found at the bottom of the console’s packaging.

The serial number for the original Switch starts with XA while that of the Switch 2.0 should start with XK.

If you’re buying a pre-owned Nintendo Switch it may not have its box. 

You can, however, check the console’s serial number at the back of the console at the bottom.

If you’re buying your Nintendo Switch online check to see if the product listing includes the console’s serial number. Some listings on Amazon include it.

Model Number

The model number is clearly visible o the back of the Switch. This model number indicates that my Switch is the older model.

If the Nintendo Switch online listing you’re looking at doesn’t include a serial number look for the model number.

Original Nintendo Switch devices have model numbers that start with HAC while those for the new Switch start with HAD.

For example, the new switch with blue and red Joy-Cons has HADSKABAA as the model number and HADSKAAAA for the version with grey Joy-Cons.

If you’re at a physical store check the back of the Nintendo Switch to see the model number.

The original Nintendo Switch has HAC-001 as its model number while the new Switch has HAC-001 (-01).

Product Description

If serial and model numbers are confusing read the product description to find out the battery life for the Switch you’re considering buying.

Remember the original Switch has an approximate battery life of 2.5 to 6.5 hours while the Switch 2.0 has 4.5 to 9 hours of playtime.


If you see an amazing deal for a Nintendo Switch it is most likely the older version. 

Nintendo is slowly phasing out the original Switch and some sellers might lower their prices to finish their remaining stock.

So, if you see a good deal use the points above to ascertain if you’re buying the new version of the Nintendo Switch or the old one.

Does it matter what Switch model I have? 

You can also get rough estimate of which Switch model you have by looking at the year it was made o nth back one the console.

It depends on how you prefer to play your Nintendo games.

If I was to advise you on which Switch to get I would tell you to buy the Nintendo Switch and not the Switch Lite.

The Nintendo Switch Lite costs less than the original Switch retailing at $200, but it is mostly a handheld console.

With the Nintendo Switch, you can play in handheld, tabletop, and TV mode.

The Switch Lite is also not compatible with all Nintendo Switch games

If you’re trying to decide whether to buy the original or Nintendo Switch 2.0, in my opinion only one thing should inform your decision.

Both Switch versions can be played in 3 modes, play all Nintendo Switch games, and retail at the same price, $300.

So, the only thing that should matter to you is battery life.

If you don’t plan to play your Switch for long hours on end, the original’s 2-5- 6.5 battery life is not a deal-breaker. 

However, if you love gaming and can spend hours on your console you should get the new Nintendo Switch.

The extra 2.5 hours of playtime the game console gives you makes it worth buying.


The original Nintendo Switch and Switch 2.0 have the same physical features.

That makes it difficult to distinguish between the new extended battery Switch and the older model unless you know what you’re looking for.

Here is a recap on what to look at to tell these consoles apart.

  • Look at the box. This is the easiest way to know an old Switch model from a new one. The old model has packaging with a grey background. The box of the Switch 2.0 is almost entirely red. The box of the old Switch also has an image of a hand placing the Switch in its dock. The new Switch doesn’t have this image.
  • Check the serial number on the packaging or at the back of the console. The serial number of the new switch starts with XKW while that of the old Switch has XAW.
  • Original Nintendo Switch devices have model numbers that start with HAC while those for the new Switch start with HAD.
  • Read the product description to determine the battery life. The old Nintendo Switch has 2.5-4.5 hours of battery life while the Switch 2.0 has 4.5-9 hours of playtime.
  • Nintendo plans to phase out the original Switch so most retailers occasionally offer discounted prices to clear their stock. So if you see a Nintendo Switch selling at a bargain price it is like the original version.

What Next?

My Joy-cons seem to always be running out of battery power. How do I charge them more effectively? I had exactly the same problem when I bought my Switch. My Joy-con’s seemed to have less battery power than a 1980s mobile phone! Fortunately, I discovered a load of ways to charge my controllers and I discuss them in this article, here.

My Joy-con controller’s buttons seem to be constantly sticky and stuck in position. How do I fix this? Cleaning the button on your joy-con is an easy, but involved process. because of this, I’ve written an article on the subject to help you out. Check it out here.

Nick Sinclair

Having played games since the golden age of the Commodore 64, Nick finally took the plunge and studied Creative Game Design in university. After 3 years of "Study", Nick co-founded a games company where he soon discovered his true calling: writing about games. 11 years later Nick writes about a tower of topics, but gaming is always stacked neatly at the top.

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