Nintendo’s New Switch OLED Is What The Original Should Have Been

Nintendo’s New Switch OLED Is What The Original Should Have Been
Photo: Sam Rutherford
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The Nintendo Switch has never been the most cutting-edge console on the market. But after seeing the impact of what a handful of calculated upgrades has done for the new Switch OLED, it feels like Nintendo has finally created the hybrid console I wanted from the start.

The new OLED Switch is priced at $539, and for that dough, you get the following features (ranked by what I think are the most important additions first):

  • Larger 7-inch OLED display (up from 6.2 inches)
  • Improved stereo speakers
  • Double the base storage (64GB, up from 32GB)
  • New dock with a built-in Ethernet port
  • Redesigned kickstand
  • Fresh black-and-white colour scheme
Photo: Sam Rutherford

Obviously, the biggest upgrade for the OLED Switch is its new 7-inch OLED screen, which finally adds the kind of richness and colour saturation that people are used to seeing on modern phones, tablets, and even some laptops. And despite my initial reservations about Nintendo keeping the resolution of the OLED Switch at 720p, after playing Metroid Dread for about an hour, I can say those fears were unfounded.

The larger screen make gaming in handheld mode that much more enjoyable, even with the slight decrease in overall pixel density. When you’re holding the OLED Switch about a foot and a half away from your face or more, you can’t really make out individual pixels, so things look just as sharp as before.

Because Nintendo was able to fit that new 7-inch OLED screen into the Switch by slimming down its bezels and not really increasing the overall size of the system, the OLED Switch’s proportions look and feel even better too, which definitely adds to overall immersion when gaming on the go. Frankly, even if Nintendo hadn’t upgraded anything else, the OLED Switch’s new screen is worth it all on its own.

When playing Metroid Dread, the responsiveness I got while controlling Samus almost made it feel like the OLED Switch’s screen offers slightly reduced input latency, though I admit that may have partially been the result of having a new 2D Metroid to play. No hate to all the Metroid Prime fans out there, but jumping, ducking, and shooting your way through an old-school grid-based map just feels good, and it’s nice to have a fresh spin on a legendary franchise in 2021.

The OLED Switch’s initial announcement made audio seem more like a bonus than a core upgrade. But for people who enjoy playing handheld, it’s a real boon. Sure, it’s doesn’t approach 3D spatial audio or anything like that, and the OLED Switch’s speakers aren’t going to shake a room, but the new speakers add a little extra clarity and detail that you really do appreciate.

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Click through for more up-close pictures of the OLED Switch.

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

The OLED Switch’s new base 64GB of storage is probably the most overdue improvement, because honestly, 32GB was barely cutting it back in 2017. If you’ve had a Switch for a long time or just run through games quickly, you’re still going to need a microSD card slot. But for more casual players or people who stick to the same title for long stretches, the added on-board storage is just enough that you might not need to buy a microSD card at all, and that’s some potential savings right there.

Then comes the new Ethernet port on the OLED’s Switch’s dock, which is practically essential for competitive Smash Bros. players, and comes with the bonus of helping keep the clutter behind your media console to a minimum. The OLED Switch’s kickstand features a much wider base instead of the popsicle stick Nintendo used before, so propping the OLED Switch on a table actually feels like a reasonable idea and not a test to see if breathing on the system is enough to make it fall down.

And finally, there’s that new colour scheme. Now I’m not here to tell you what colours you should like, but as someone who immediately bought a second set of matching red Joy-con for my launch Switch, I think the new white Joy-Con looks so fresh and so clean.

Photo: Sam Rutherford

I’ve only spent an hour with the new OLED Switch, but it already seems obvious to me that anyone who doesn’t already have a Switch should get the OLED model. It’s not even close. Between the new OLED screen, better speakers, and more on-board storage, the OLED Switch is basically the console I wish I could have bought back in 2017. It’s more than just an update — the OLED Switch is the new default Switch.

For those of us who already own a Switch, deciding whether to upgrade is a bit more difficult. If I could pay $50 or even $100 to upgrade, I would. But spending an extra $539 to replace something that has served me well these last four years is a much bigger ask, especially because my main frustration with my current Switch is due to Joy-Con drift, which the new OLED Switch doesn’t address (at least as far as I can tell).

Photo: Sam Rutherford

But at the same time, the upgraded image quality you get from that OLED screen is big, and I can’t fault any current Switch owners who want to move up. My wallet and my brain are telling me no, but the heart wants what it wants.

The new OLED Switch officially goes on sale Oct. 8, though if you haven’t pre-ordered one already, you might have to wait.

Comments

  • A pretty standard thing the Nintendo does, remember the first DS console, didn’t look great and they evenrually redisigned and re-released the better looking console several times. Still not worth buying the Switch OLED if you’d prefer Nintendo to finally putting out a console that would run better on a monitor/TV.

  • So what we’re saying here is the console Nintendo gave us in 2021 should have come out in 2017 and we should reward their behaviour by buying this? I am confused honestly.

    I’m sure the OLED screen is pretty. The OLED screen we got on the Vita 10 YEARS ago was lovely, but then I also played my mate’s cheaper LCD screen years later and meh.. it was fine.

    I just can’t justify giving Nintendo over $500 for a console that is already rapidly behind smartphones at this stage in sheer power, and not even thinking about comparing them to current gen consoles. Yes, portability blah blah blah, but this switch won’t play any games my current switch can’t play, so this is really only a viable purchase for purists, people with too much money or those who don’t have a switch yet.

      • Just to confirm, is it because OLED will give you less eyestrain? Cause I always thought OLED could give MORE eye strain..

        If it’s the size of the screen, I think if you are straining on 6.2 inches, then 7 inches isn’t going to be a massive relief on the eyes.

        Not trying to be difficult, I am honestly curious cause I haven’t heard this argument really come up before. The other thing is, people are allowed to buy whatever device they like and if they have the money and passion, power to them, I just think, if Nintendo are releasing a console for considerable more money than their current one and it gives no material benefit to the games it can play (or how it plays them) it’s a bit rich of them..

        • Higher contrast and brighter colours = easier to see. Running a really dim OLED can cause flickering and eyestrain, but I’m not sure why anyone would be doing that in the first place since most of us won’t be playing in the Batcave.

          The size increase helps as well, but if it’s such a small difference to you then I doubt you grasp how big the difference is for people who don’t have a full range of vision in the first place. Any increase is a huge difference if your vision is shit and anything that takes the edge of having to squint at the screen is a help since I’m extremely short sighted.

          I’d also love better hardware that wasn’t out of date crap to go with the screen, but I’m happy to have a screen that’s clearer to look at than the current one.

    • I’d be surprised if Nintendo sold the original Switches at a loss. Should have released the better console and made the money back easily with the expensive first party games – could even have released previous gens too.

  • “Frankly, even if Nintendo hadn’t upgraded anything else, the OLED Switch’s new screen is worth it all on its own.”

    I’m afraid that’s where we’ll have to disagree; considering component costs in a world where OLED screens are much more widespread, an OLED screen doesn’t justify an increased 70 AUD markup, nor should a plastic kickstand that actually is useable. Those new components are not worth 70 AUD in total, we know Nintendo always sells their consoles at a profit; Bloomberg’s own estimations placed the OLED Switch at just an extra 14 AUD expense per console manufactured.

    It would be a hard sell to anyone who isn’t a mega-fan or gamer who NEEDS to consume product and get excited for new product lest they undergo spontaneous combustion.

    I know this is vastly outside the scope of the review and hyper-specific, and doubt you’ll ever see this comment considering it’s a Kotaku US piece, but from your time with the console, did that console backplate seem like it was removeable? Did the back of the console resemble anything like the original switch model? Asking for a relative.

    There is definitely going to be a market for third-party kickstands in the vein of the OLED switch, considering custom backplates is currently a major personalisation many Switch owners spring for. Especially when it presents a significant improvement in QOL over the original lacklustre console.

  • i do hope nintendo has implemented some kind of burn in protection, otherwise you are gonna have a lot of people complaining about burn in months down the line.

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