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I wonder what's the real difference between the old and new Switches.

I read that the new Switch has up to 100% better battery life:

New switch has 4.5-9 hours battery life, old Switch has 2.5-6.5 hours battery life

I also read that the batteries are the same:

Interestingly, the size of the Nintendo Switch's battery hasn't changed between the revisions. The new model still has the original 4,310mAh battery capacity.

So what's the real difference between the old Switch and new Switch?

Is it just some firmware update that forces the screen to dim, thereby increasing the battery life?

Are there any other differences with the new Switch? I also see that the weight of the two Switches is exactly the same, both are 400g.

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Is it just some firmware update that forces the screen to dim, thereby increasing the battery life?

No, this would barely be noticable.

The major difference is that the Tegra X1 (T210 "Logan") has been "die-shrinked", which means it is built on a smaller, more efficient process (in this case 16nm instead of 20nm) which improves efficiency leading to less power consumption and thus a longer battery life.

It's now called Tegra X1+ (or T214 "Mariko").

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    less power also means less heat and less heat means less fan usage, and fans eat battery. – Yorik Jan 3 at 20:24
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    +1 for mentioning the die shrink. That’s the #1 source of power savings. This is always the case with newer versions of old consoles (e.g. the “slim” PS4, XBox One S, etc.) — just different revisions of the same hardware allowing them to be smaller, cooler, and use less power. This can be seen all the way back to the NES-101 – Wes Sayeed Jan 3 at 23:24
  • And what's the Tegra X1 do? – zibadawa timmy Jan 5 at 2:30
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    @zibadawatimmy: that's the CPU+GPU System on Chip (SoC), I assume. – Peter Cordes Jan 5 at 2:31
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This guide has a pretty substantial comparison review between the older and newer models of the Switch.

Hardware

The newer Switch model does have a few upgrades to its hardware. Below is a chart comparing the models' internal components.

Switch hardware differences

Improvements

  • Display

    The new Nintendo Switch has a different display than the original model. The new display is slightly brighter and warmer (more red, less blue). The change in colors seems to be to make it more color accurate, though some gamers may prefer the blues of the original model. Several early reviewers noticed it with side-by-side comparisons. Kevin Kenson confirmed it with the help of a color expert.

  • Battery

As you already noted, the newer model of the Switch is stated to have a better battery life. The guide ran some stress tests using different scenarios between the two models in the game Breath of the Wild.

Battery stress test

After the stress test was finished, the newer Switch's battery was able to power the console longer than the older model. So while the battery model is still the same, the power consumption of the newer model is better.

It was also noted that the newer model takes less time to fully charge the Switch; this is likely related to the improvements to efficiency of the power consumption.

Other

While the newer model does have some upgrades to the hardware, the game load times, system audio, base internal storage, and size/weight of the Switch were not changed and compare equally to the older model of the Switch.

The guide did state they noticed download speeds were slightly faster, but this may also vary based on your internet speeds.

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    New switch also generates less waste heat, and we all know hot is bad :). I had chance to play Sword/Shield side by side on new and old Switch. Old got hot, new was just warm. In the end playtime difference was similar as with linked test, ~40% longer for new. – PTwr Jan 3 at 10:07
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    That chart makes it appear that the new switch does not have Wi-Fi / bluetooth. I'm not sure why they made the chart that way but I can confirm the new switch does have Wi-Fi. – Pace Jan 3 at 16:20
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    @Pace my guess is that that's an easy way of showing it didn't change between versions (imagine the text spreads across both columns). – scohe001 Jan 3 at 16:39
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    Nevermind. Didn't realize this question was about the new switch and not the lite. You are correct. The old and new switches have identical WiFi chips. – Pace Jan 3 at 22:03
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    @scohe001: Possible theory, but they did repeat themselves for the audio chip, showing both using a RealTek ALC5639 – Peter Cordes Jan 5 at 2:34

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