Nintendo’s new version of the hit Switch console is just different enough to justify itself, but it’s not a must buy for the millions of people who bought the launch version. With a bigger, brighter, and better screen, it’s a good choice for someone who is buying now and intends to use it primarily as a handheld – but if you are planning on or already using your Switch primarily as a fixed console, there is hardly any reason to upgrade. Still, there will likely be a lot of units moving this holiday season.
Even at the best of times, it can be difficult to tell what Nintendo’s hardware strategy is or if there is indeed a strategy. The OLED Switch is a perfect example: at a time when rivals Sony and Microsoft are striving to show that their next-gen console is the most powerful, Nintendo is releasing an almost identical version of an underpowered console to its released five years ago. Does it waver? Or is it just so confident?
The signs indicate neither – the rumor being that one New A new Switch, with improved internals and a new screen but an identical form factor, was slated for this year, but the pandemic and chip shortage made that impossible. Making the most of the situation – at least that’s what the story says – Nintendo has slapped the OLED screens on the original hardware and is selling it as a minor quality of life update, the same way he’s iterated over the 3DS for years.
It is difficult to know what to say about the result; on the one hand, it is clearly better than the original. On the other hand, it’s better than a small amount, and for some people, not at all.
The screen itself is obviously the biggest improvement. I had the pleasure of playing Metroid: Terror on it, and the game’s fast-paced, colorful, and contrasting environments looked fantastic on it. The darker shadows of the OLED screen made the bright areas and colors stand out more (although measurements showed that peak brightness is actually lower), and the extra screen space, though. it looks minimal in photos, in fact matters in person, making details, UI, and text much more understandable.
Oh, and the dust it attracts really stands out on this all-black facade.
Clarity appears to be enhanced in motion by the faster refresh rate of individual pixels in the OLED, leaving less of the impression of one blurry image in the next. The original Switch’s screen is fine, to be clear, but it’s clearly outperformed here.
The color has a different cast than the original LCD screen, but in games most people won’t notice – a green shift where the old one tends toward magenta in my eyes. Interestingly, there are “live” and “standard” options on the OLED model deep within the settings; “Vivid” was preselected and I certainly found it pleasant, giving the image a little more saturation but not to the point that it was annoying.
On top of that, the build quality feels better overall. The fragile kickstand has been made much more robust and adjustable, and the whole thing is better put together. While there aren’t any significant changes to the internals, a slightly improved thermal profile should mean it runs a bit cooler and uses the fans more sparingly. The speakers have supposedly been upgraded, but are still pretty much a last resort.
The OLED Switch comes with 64GB of internal space, which is a nice upgrade from the 32 on the original. Of course, everyone will put a micro SD card in it anyway, but the system volume is preferred and now there is much less need to archive old games.
If you’re someone who plays their Switch games primarily on the device itself, or plan to do so, the Switch OLED is simply a superior device. I wouldn’t say it’s worth paying full price for the upgrade again, but it’s definitely worth the extra $ 50 if you need to buy a new console after you’ve offered or sold the first one. (That’s $ 150 more than the portable-only Lite, but for me the compromise without TV mode has always been too hard to justify.)
Of course, if you – like me – tend to keep the Switch in its dock at all times, except when you’re traveling, next to nothing will change. There is technically a new dock, which is also a bit stronger, and has an Ethernet connection for those who like wires, but pretty much everything else will be the same for you.
There’s no question that the OLED Switch is the best way to play Switch games right now, but even so, no one should feel the need to upgrade. Who knows when the next generation of Nintendo consoles will arrive? I think even Nintendo isn’t quite sure. So, for now, hold onto your money unless your existing Switch is beaten or would no longer do good in someone else’s hands.