At long last, Nintendo has taken the wraps off its new NX games console. We now know the Nintendo NX will be called the Switch, and this article contains everything you need to know about the console ahead of its launch - both official details and rumours. Here's the Nintendo Switch price, UK release date, games and specs. Read next: Nintendo Switch review

Latest update: We've played the first five hours of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Switch, and you can find out what we thought of the massive game in our hands-on preview.

Also see: Nintendo Classic Mini NES release date, specs, games and features.

Nintendo Switch release date: When is Switch coming out?

Nintendo Switch UK release date: 3 March 2017

Thanks to the Nintendo Switch Presentation on 13 January 2017, we now know exactly when the Switch will launch worldwide: 3 March 2017.

We'd known the console was coming in March for some time, but the 3rd is earlier than many had expected. Pre-orders have now opened from several retailers (see below), although the Switch is already selling out so you'll need to get in quick if you want one on launch day.

Nintendo Switch price and pre-orders

When it launches on 3 March, the Nintendo Switch will retail for £279.99 - a little more than many UK fans were hoping for, after rumours it could cost as little as £200. By contrast, the Switch will cost $299.99 in the US.

That price will get you the main Switch console, along with a dock, a pair of Joy-Con controllers (one left and one right), a Joy-Con grip (to connect the controllers together), wrist straps, and an HDMI cable and AC adapter.

If you want to pre-order in the UK, you have a few options, though not much in the way of differing prices. And you should note that stock is rapidly selling out, so you must act now if you want a Nintendo Switch on launch day.

After initially selling out, Amazon is now once again offering the console in grey or red and blue for £279.99, while Game is still offering it in either grey or red and blue at the same price but advises it doesn't know yet how many units Nintendo will allocate it so if you pre-order now there is no guarantee you'll get it on launch day. ShopTo advises a similar warning, and we'd imagine it is the same story for Tesco and Zavvi. Gamestop has already sold out of the Switch.

It's a similar situation in the US, where Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart have all closed pre-orders. Nevertheless, Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aime claims availability shouldn't be a major problem with 2 million units shipped worldwide for the launch.

Nintendo Switch console dock

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There aren't any official bundles at launch, but there are two versions of the console to choose from, though the only difference is the colour of the Joy-Con controllers. One set comes with two grey controllers, while the other comes with one in red and the other in blue.

Accessory prices have also been revealed, and they seem quite steep. A new pair of Joy-Con controllers will set you back £74.99, while the individual controllers (again, one left and one right) are £43 each. They're available in grey, blue, or red.

The Pro Controller, which looks much more like a traditional gamepad, is £64.99. You can also buy new wrist straps for the Joy-Cons, and they're a more budget-friendly £4.99 each. 

See also: New Nintendo 3DS & 3DS XL review - The New 3DS is everything the original should have been.

Podcast discussion: Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch specs and features

One of the first things to tackle is that the Switch both a home console and a handheld device at the same time. It's a hybrid of sorts which is an evolution of the Wii U's Gamepad. See also: Nintendo Switch vs Wii U review.

It might be helpful to think of the Nintendo Switch like the Nvidia Shield tablet. It's a tablet device which appears to contain all the hardware which has a docking station which then plugs into your TV – this is how it switches from being a traditional home console to handheld.

"In addition to providing single-player and multiplayer thrills at home, the Nintendo Switch system also enables gamers to play the same title wherever, whenever and with whomever they choose. The mobility of a handheld is now added to the power of a home gaming system to enable unprecedented new video game play styles," said Nintendo.

Here's an overview of the Nintendo Switch specs, we'll go into detail below. Also check out Nintendo's hardware overview video.

• Custom Nvidia Tegra CPU
• Nvidia GPU
• 6.2in LCD touchscreen, 1280x720
• Video output up to 1080p 60fps via dock
• 32GB storage
• Micro-SDXC card slot
• USB-C for charging and dock connection
• 11ac Wi-Fi
• Bluetooth 4.1
• Stereo speakers
• Headphone jack
• Game card slot (Switch games only)
• Accelerometer, gyroscope, brightness sensor
• 4310mAh non-removable battery
• Up to 3 hours gaming, more than 6 for other usage
• 3 hour charging time
• 102mm x 239mm x 13.9mm (with Joy-Cons attached)
• 297g (398g with Joy-Cons)

As some patents showed, the Switch has two removable 'Joy-Con' controller sections which attach at either end of the Switch tablet. In this form it really does look like a new and improved Gamepad. Once in the dock, you move them to the 'Joy-Con grip' to form a controller in order to play games as per usual.

The Joy-Cons are packed with tech and features, and can be used independently or together. Each includes an accelerometer and gyroscope motion sensor, along with what Nintendo is calling 'HD rumble', which supposedly offers more subtle and realistic vibrations. The example Nintendo gave was being able to feel the sensation of individual ice cubes rattling around a glass.

The left and right Joy-Cons aren't identical though. Not only do they have inverted button and analogue stick layouts, they include some different features. The left Joy-Con has a Capture Button, used to share screenshots and video online, while the right includes an NFC sensor for use with Nintendo's Amiibo figures, as well as an IR motion camera that can "detect the distance, shape and motion of nearby objects in specially designed games" - such as how far away a player's hand is, or what rock, paper, scissors shape it's making.

Nintendo says the Joy-Con controllers will offer a 20 hour battery life and will take 3.5 hours to charge (via the Charging Grip or Dock when attached to the tablet). They weigh around 50g and the battery capacity is 525mAh.

It's also possible that in the future the Switch will be backwards-compatible with some Wii and Wii U controllers. Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima told Time that "Support for certain controllers may be considered for a future update."

The Switch has a 6.2-inch 720p capacitive multitouch display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels - that's the same size as the screen on the Wii U Gamepad, but a step up from that screen's resolution of 854 x 480.

Note that the Nintendo Switch won't offer a second screen experience like the Wii U as the tablet needs to be plugged into the dock - "Nintendo Switch is dedicated to deliver a single-screen experience," said Nintendo.

Nintendo Switch Pro controller

The controller does look a little awkward but there will also be a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller which you can use with the Switch console in its different modes.

The Nintendo Switch does even more than this as shown in the preview trailer. For example, when you're on a plane you can remove the controller sections, prop the tablet on its kick-stand and game away without having to hold it. You can also share one each to play multi-player and even share them between lots of people for 'a variety of gameplay options'.

You can also connect up to eight Switch consoles together for wireless local multiplayer, and there will also be online multiplayer options in many games. Nintendo will be offering a paid online service, though it will be free until autumn 2017.

According to Nikkei, Nintendo will charge around 2,000- to 3,000 yen ($17.60 to $26.40) for the online service making it a lot cheaper than the PS4 and Xbox One equivalents. 

What we do know is that it will provide users with 'exclusive deals' and a free NES or SNES game every month. There was some confusion over the firm's wording on the game but it's been confirmed that you will only have access to it for a set period of time, not just download to keep.

You'll get parental controls whether you subscribe or not, allowing you to do things like set time limits a restrict online access - all from your phone. Watch the video below for an overview.

Also on the software side of things, we know that the Switch won't launch with streaming services like Netflix or a web browser. So initially it won't rival tablets like the iPad but should do at some point.

We've gotten a better look at the Switch OS thanks to an anonymous fan who claims his Switch was delivered early. They posted on NeoGAF to announced that their Switch had been delivered - though without any games - and uploaded a three-minute video of the console in action, showing off the main menu software and set-up process.

It reveals that the console will allow for up to eight user accounts, shows off the News and eShop sections, and a variety of system settings. Perhaps most importantly, it reveals that the OS itself takes up roughly 6GB of storage, leaving users with 25.9GB of usable storage for games and screenshots when the console ships.

Since the video leaked, Nintendo has confirmed that the Switch was not shipped early, but had in fact been stolen. It announced the news in a statement to IGN

"Earlier this week, individuals claimed to prematurely purchase a small number of Nintendo Switch systems from an unspecified retailer. Nintendo has determined these units were stolen in an isolated incident by employees of a U.S. distributor, with one system being illegally resold. The individuals involved have been identified, terminated from their place of employment and are under investigation by local law enforcement authorities on criminal charges.

Nintendo Switch will launch worldwide on March 3, 2017, and we look forward to everyone being able to discover the wonders of the new system for themselves at that time."

The Switch will also have sophisticated parental controls that can be managed from a separate smartphone app, as shown off in this promo video from Nintendo:

As for battery life, Nintendo says that the Switch offers between two-and-a-half and six-and-a-half hours of gameplay while undocked, depending on the game. As an example, the company said that players can expect to get three hours of portable gameplay from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, one of the console's more technically intensive games. 

The Switch can be charged by USB-C, and you can continue to play it as a portable while it's charging. You'll need a power bank though as the 4310mAh battery isn't removable. 

Read: Best games consoles 2016.

The Nintendo Switch also brings back the game cartridge. Like the 3DS, the Switch games will come on small memory cards which slot into the back of the tablet. In the preview trailer we also spotted a nifty car mount which the tablet slots onto making it a decent in-car entertainment system for the kids (or adults).

Nintendo Switch car mount

Nintendo has said it would announce 'configuration and related specifics' before the March launch, so we'll have to wait for specific Nintendo Switch specs. However, a blog post by Nvidia confirms the console runs on its technology – interesting since the Xbox, PlayStation and Wii U all use AMD.

"The high-efficiency scalable processor includes an Nvidia GPU based on the same architecture as the world’s top-performing GeForce gaming graphics cards," said the firm.

The post also says the console uses a fully custom software system including 'a revamped physics engine, new libraries, advanced game tools and libraries'.

"We've optimized the full suite of hardware and software for gaming and mobile use cases. This includes custom operating system integration with the GPU to increase both performance and efficiency," added Nvidia.

Nintendo Switch tablet Joy Con controller

Eurogamer has since claimed to have confirmed specs that were shared with developers at an exclusive preview event, giving more specific insight into the Switch's innards.

The report confirms earlier claims that the tablet is powered by a custom Nvidia Tegra X1 chip, making it more powerful than the Wii U, but some way behind the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. 

The new report also corroborates earlier claims that the Switch enjoys a performance boost while it's docked, but what might be surprising is just how significant the difference is - while it's on battery power the device's GPU will reportedly run at 307.2MHz, just 40% of its docked speed (768MHz).

That difference is so that the Switch can display at 1080p on a TV while connected, and the dock will activate an additional fan to help keep the system cool while running at the higher speed.

The dock is apparently designed to be cheap to produce, with the intention that some time after launch Nintendo will sell additional docks for people to connect to multiple TVs, making it easier to use the Switch in any room of the house that has a TV.

We got another look at the Nintendo Switch in action when it made its US TV debut on the The Tonight Show, when host Jimmy Fallon got the chance to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild running off of Switch hardware. The video doesn't show much that's new, but it is technically our first look at Zelda running live on the Switch, and sees Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aime confirm that the tablet contains all of the Switch's hardware: "The machine is here, everything is here."

Fallon also plays iOS app Super Mario Run on the show, but the Switch appears around the five-minute mark: