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Nintendo Switch vs. Xbox One

The Nintendo is considered to be a hybrid console, creating a happy medium between the Playstation and the Xbox. Although the Switch is more portable than the PS4 and Xbox, there are a few other ways the two consoles differ.

Each system has its perks and downsides, but before you write off the Xbox One, here’s how these consoles compare to one another.

Specs, design, and features


Nintendo Switch

Xbox One

Xbox One X

 Dimensions  4 x 9.4 x 0.55 inches (with Joy-Cons attached) 13.1 x 10.8 x 3.1 inches (Xbox One) 11.6 x 9.0 x 2.5 inches (Xbox One S) 11.8 x 9.4 x 2.4 inches
 Weight  0.65 pounds (0.88 pounds with Joy-Cons attached)  7.8 pounds (Xbox One) 6.4 pounds (Xbox One S) 8.4 pounds
 CPU  Nvidia customized Tegra processor 1.75GHz 8-core AMD Jaguar 2.3GHz 8-core AMD Custom CPU
 GPU Nvidia customized Tegra processor  853MHz AMD Radeon GCN (Xbox One) 914MHz AMD Radeon GCN (Xbox One S) 1.172GHz AMD Custom GPU
 Resolution   1,280 x 720 (portable) 1,920 x 1,080 (console)  1,920 x 1,080 (Xbox One), upscaled to 4K (Xbox One S) Native 4K
 Storage  32GB flash storage (expandable via microSDHC or microSDXC) 500GB-2TB HDD 1TB HDD
 Bluetooth  Yes, 4.1 No No
Ports USB Type-C, headphone USB 3.0 x3 USB 3.0 x3
  Connectivity 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Ethernet 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Ethernet
Sensors Accelerometer, gyroscope, brightness, IR Sensor No (Xbox One), IR Blaster (Xbox One S) IR Blaster
Screen  6.3-inch capacitive touchscreen N/A N/A
Battery Lithium-ion 4310mAh N/A N/A
Battery life 2.5 to 6 hours, up to 9 on  newer model N/A N/A
NFC Support Yes No No
  Speakers Stereo None None
DT Review 4 out of 5 stars 3.5 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

Design and features

In terms of hardware design, the Xbox One and Switch are completely different machines. The Xbox One looks and operates like a traditional gaming console. It weighs more and takes up significantly more space than the Switch — even when compared to the lighter, more compact Xbox One S. In home console play, the Switch’s 6.3-inch display slides into the included dock, taking up a sliver of space on your entertainment center.

The Nintendo Switch comes in a few color schemes (aside from special editions), all of which are primarily black. The only difference from model to model is the color of the Joy-Con controllers that come with the device. The two standard Switch models come with either a pair of gray Joy-Cons or with mismatched neon red and neon blue Joy-Cons. The Xbox One, One S, and One X are sold in white and black models, respectively, with a mix of glossy and matte finishes depending on the model. There have also been limited-edition Xbox One and Switch models, which include alternative designs based on specific games.

Nintendo Switch review
Nate Barrett/Digital Trends
In terms of media, the Xbox One uses Blu-ray discs and is capable of playing both Blu-ray films and DVDs. By contrast, the Switch cannot be used as a media player. The console does not have a disc drive, so it cannot play DVDs or Blu-rays. Similarly, the Xbox One has access to a full suite of streaming apps, including Netflix, Amazon, HBO Go, and more. The Switch has only one streaming app, Hulu, so your media viewing options are limited.

For network connectivity, the consoles both have a wide range of Wi-Fi support including 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, but the Xbox One also supports onboard Ethernet. The Nintendo Switch requires an additional accessory to plug in an Ethernet cable.

You might be wondering what to expect and what you’ll need while online with these consoles. For the Xbox One, you’ll need an Xbox Live membership to play multiplayer games. It costs $60 annually but also grants you access to two free games a month with the Xbox Games with Gold program, which can be played indefinitely with an active subscription.

For Nintendo Switch, you’ll need to subscribe to the Nintendo Switch Online service. It costs $20 for a full year, $8 for three months, and $4 for a single month, and a family membership plan can also be purchased for $35 a year so that multiple accounts can take advantage of the online subscription on the same Switch system.

It’s important to note that for online gaming, Xbox Live has voice chat, party systems, and social elements to connect with friends. The Switch features a far less robust version of these services, and all in-game chat requires a dedicated mobile app.

Since the Switch doubles as a portable console, battery life is of the utmost concern. The Switch lasts anywhere between 2.5 and six hours on a full charge, with demanding games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild capable of running for roughly three hours. This has been improved slightly with the newer model, which has been given a more efficient Tegra X1 chip, resulting in up to nine hours of battery life. The difference also results in a  very slightly cooler system, but the change is hardly noticeable.

The unit charges via USB Type-C. The Joy-Con controllers can last for 20 hours on a single charge. For comparison, Xbox One controllers can last up to 40 hours with a pair of AA batteries, or 30 hours with Microsoft’s rechargeable battery.

While the Switch comes with more gadgets — the portable unit, Joy-Con controllers, Joy-Con grip and straps, and a dock — and has plenty of interesting design flourishes, it lacks many features that players have come to expect as standard in recent generations. Nearly three years after launch, the system still lacks video apps such as Netflix, despite its portability and built-in stand making it an ideal platform for watching them.

Controllers, performance, and resolution


Most Xbox One games use the Xbox One gamepad, a fairly traditional controller. Microsoft has made incremental changes to its gamepad since the original Xbox, and most players would tell you that the Xbox One controller works well and is comfortable to hold. A few titles — mostly backward-compatible Xbox 360 games — use the Kinect, Microsoft’s camera-based motion control device. This device and its adapter have been discontinued, however, making them much more difficult to find, and even more difficult to purchase for a reasonable price.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Switch, on the other hand, allows players to change things up, and control games in many different ways. With the Joy-Cons attached to the included Joy-Con grip and the console docked, users can play Switch games in a traditional console format. Joy-Cons can also be used for refined motion gaming while in console mode, thanks to built-in gyroscopes, accelerometers, and an HD Rumble feature. The right Joy-Con also includes an IR sensor, which allows motion to be picked up without needing to be directed at your television screen. When the Joy-Cons are attached to the main unit, the Switch can be played on the go. Its capacitive touchscreen registers multiple finger presses at one time. Additionally, the unit can be propped up via a kickstand on the back for tabletop mode, with the Joy-Cons turned on their sides so they somewhat resemble tiny NES controllers. The Switch Pro controller, which costs an additional $70, offers a similar feel as the Xbox One controller.

With the use of a $20 controller adapter, the Switch can even make use of GameCube controllers. These are ideal for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and other GameCube-style controllers built for the Switch are also. A Nintendo Labo VR Kit will turn the system into a sort of virtual reality headset, as well, with players holding the Switch and a pair of goggles to their face to play specially-designed games. The coolest accessory might be the Ring-Con packaged with the fitness game Ring Fit Adventure, which turns the Switch into an exercise device.

While the plethora of available modes of play on the Switch seems appealing on paper, we did not find any of those control schemes as comfortable to hold as the Xbox One gamepad in our time with the Switch. The single Joy-Con, as shown above, is particularly small, and seems uncomfortable to hold for long stretches. Even the Pro controller, which offers a similar experience, does not quite feel as good in the hand.

Still, the novelty of the Switch’s many controller options is exciting, and while the Xbox One gamepad may be the best single controller, every person may be able to find an option on the Switch that works just as well.


Fun, engaging gameplay is a must, but great power can enhance the experience quite a bit.

The Xbox One features 1.31 TFLOPS of power, which is marginally increased to 1.4 TFLOPS in the Xbox One S. Both models use identical eight-core AMD Jaguar CPUs, and have 8GB of DDR3 RAM, allowing the console to switch from application to application with minimal delay. The Xbox One X, as the most powerful home console currently available, increases power to a whopping 6TFLOPS of performance and a 2.3GHz eight-core AMD custom Jaguar GPU, as well as 12GB of DDR5 RAM. That extra horsepower is noticeable both in games that are designed to take advantage of it, but also in legacy Xbox One titles and even a selection of Xbox 360 games.

Nintendo Switch play
Nate Barrett/Digital Trends Nate Barrett/Digital Trends
The Switch is fitted with a custom Nvidia Tegra chipset, and although we don’t know the exact processing power, we know it is at least 1TFLOP. The Switch is also rumored to have 4GB of RAM, but the exact figure and type are unknown. If the console maintains this level of power from console to handheld play, the Switch will easily provide Nintendo’s most powerful and versatile handheld experience to date.

Both the Xbox One and Switch perform well and perhaps almost identically, although there is still much to learn about the Switch’s true power. The addition of the Xbox One X to Microsoft’s lineup, however, secures the Xbox One as the higher-performing machine.


The Xbox One displays at 1080p resolution, and the Xbox One S can upscale 1080p content to 4K and supports HDR. It’s important to note that, while the majority of Xbox One games run in 1080p, it isn’t always native 1080p, and some titles display in 900p. Many titles also hold steady at 60 frames a second, but some run at 30fps. The Xbox One X upscales 1080p content as well, but also supports native 4K HDR in games and streaming media that allow it.

Nintendo Switch review
Nate Barrett/Digital Trends
The Switch, as a console-handheld hybrid, has two different display resolutions. In console mode, games max out at 1080p. The portable display is capped at 720p.

The Xbox One S and X clearly output games at a higher resolution than the Switch, but the Switch’s games are optimized for the platform and often look just as good at first glance. Plus, the Switch often looks just as good on your morning commute as it does on a TV. Overall, it’s too close to call.

Content, storage, pricing, and availability


It’s difficult to compare the Switch with the Xbox One in terms of content. Microsoft’s console has been on the market for more than six years, and the Switch is still in its relative infancy. Still, a console purchase should be as much, if not more, about the games than the hardware itself.

With a smattering of great exclusives already available — Forza Horizon 3, Halo 5: Guardians, Sunset Overdrive, Ori and the Blind Forest, Cuphead — the Xbox One has plenty of great titles to choose from. More recent releases like State of Decay 2 offer experiences you can’t get on Nintendo Switch, and the long-awaited Crackdown 3 arrived in early 2019. Unfortunately, it didn’t exactly impress critics or fans.

Halo: Infinite will be coming to the Xbox One in late 2020, despite the game also releasing on Microsoft’s newer Xbox Series X as well as PC. This release model will remain in place for at least one year and possibly longer, so Xbox One owners won’t be left in the dust just because a newer machine is on the market. There should be some degree of cross-play enabled, as well, allowing players on both systems to continue gaming together, and the Xbox Series X will be backward compatible with Xbox One games and all previous Xbox games currently backward compatible on Xbox One.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Switch is definitely playing from behind, but quite a few fantastic titles have filled out its library in its first year. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey lived up to their hype and then some, earning glowing reviews across the board. Add that to exclusives like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, and Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and you have a decent number of desirable games.

Key to this particular comparison, the Switch is also starting to accrue ports of recent AAA titles. Everything from Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus to Diablo III has been ported to Switch, and often with far fewer concessions than you’d expect from a console this size. First-party support continues to be strong going into the beginning of 2019. We loved Pokémon: Let’s Go and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and other titles like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Bayonetta 3 are also on the way. There are also games like Metroid Prime 4 and a Breath of the Wild sequel in development, though it will likely be a few more years before we’re able to play them, if they release on the current Switch at all.

The Switch’s lineup looks more well-rounded than it did at launch, so at this point, it’s mostly a matter of taste. We still have to give the edge to Xbox One, however, simply because it still gets nearly all of the AAA releases that also go to PS4 and PC, but still skip the Switch, in addition to Microsoft’s great support for indies with the ID@Xbox program and the growing cross-play functionality between Xbox and Windows PCs, which often includes a free PC copy when you buy an Xbox One game digitally.


It’s no secret that this generation of games generally consumes a fair amount of storage space. Unfortunately, no matter which console you buy, you may end up needing additional space.

Both the Xbox One and Xbox One S have 500GB and 1TB hard drive models, respectively, and the Xbox One S even comes in a 2TB configuration. The Xbox One X is only available with 1TB. While these may sound like endless amounts of storage, every Xbox One game, physical or digital, needs to be installed. Games vary in size, but many of the big releases each year require more than 30GB to 50GB of space. You may run out of space sooner than you’d think. Thankfully, the Xbox One can be expanded with external hard drives of at least 256GB. External drives have steadily decreased in price over the past few years, too, so an additional terabyte only costs around $50, and you can even get 5TB for roughly $125. On top of that, Xbox One users can install not one, but two external drives per console.

Nintendo Switch: Hands On
Jeffrey Van Camp/Digital Trends
Since the Switch uses game cartridges instead of discs, most game data is stored directly on the card, mitigating the need for an abundance of storage — at least for physical games. But the 32GB onboard flash storage is still a bit worrisome, especially for those who favor digital games. Storage, however, can be expanded with microSD cards. The Switch supports microSDHC out of the box, and an online update will provide microSDXC support. Unfortunately, high-capacity microSD cards are pricey. A 512GB microSDXC card, the highest capacity currently available, runs close to $300. Theoretically, you could buy multiple smaller microSD cards and swap them out as needed. And 64GB cards typically go for around $20 a pop.

It will take some time to see how the Switch’s storage situation will pan out, but right now, thanks to high internal storage and relatively cheap external options, the Xbox One takes the cake.

Price and availability

We believe the Nintendo Switch offers incredible value at only $300 for a home console and hand-held gaming experience. You can find game bundles with Nintendo titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Pokken Tournament DX, or Mario Kart 8 Deluxe at major retailers such as GameStop. Keep in mind that you’ll pay more if you want to buy each game on its own.

Nintendo Switch
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Xbox One S comes as part of a package with your choice of one game from the vast collection that exists for the console and costs about $250 in the U.S. Microsoft offers an annual release of numerous special-edition consoles that come with a brand new game. Some of the most recent consoles consist of Gears 5, Battlefield 1, and Halo Wars 2. We won’t lie; the Xbox One X is costly, coming in at $500. Nonetheless, the console is usually cheaper than this and can be around $400 or a little lower in some cases. We predict that prices will decrease even more once the Xbox Series X launches. In the meantime, we recommend building up an Xbox game library (without paying for a brand new overpriced console). 

When it was released back in 2017, Nintendo’s supply of Switch consoles couldn’t keep up with the demand for them. However, they have now fully caught up to speed, and there are currently Switch consoles sold at most retailers. Despite this fact, we’re still naming the Xbox One the winner due to its vast array of options and wider price range. With the Xbox One, users can find a bargain that fits their budget.

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Steven Petite
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Steven is a writer from Northeast Ohio currently based in Louisiana. He writes about video games and books, and consumes…
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