Nintendo Switch - OLED ModelOctober 8th, 2021
When the Nintendo OLED Switch was first announced, it was met with widespread confusion from the gaming community. It didn’t sound like it would offer a great deal more than the original, four-year console. Moreover, rumours of a so-called 4K Switch Pro that circulated before the announcement took the wind out of Nintendo’s sails. But while it might not be exactly what fans had been hoping for, it’s still a great handheld device, even if it might not be worth the upgrade if you already own a Switch.
Aside from the screen, Nintendo has changed a few things up for the OLED Switch, and the first thing you’ll notice is the weight. The Nintendo Switch OLED is much heavier than the original, thanks mainly to the metal backplate behind the screen. While by no means uncomfortably heavy, it might make younger arms tired if they’re holding it unsupported. But with the smooth, cool metal and the extra weight comes the feeling that you are now playing with something that is more than a toy. Don’t get me wrong, I think all consoles, especially Nintendo consoles, are basically really fun toys, but this one feels a bit different in hand. It feels more grown-up. The new white Joy-Cons (if you get them) also add a certain maturity to the design.
Because of this added weight, the Nintendo Switch OLED also has an improved stand. Now you’ll no longer worry that the weight of the console, or a single nudge, might snap the thing in half and comfortably set up your Switch in tabletop mode with ease. It’s a small touch, but I expect it will be instantly welcome among players who want the option without the inherent fear.
The Nintendo Switch OLED also comes with 64GB memory, which is a nice starter and includes the option to add in SD cards to extend the capacity further. Alongside that are the improved speakers that can be used in handheld and tabletop mode. You’ll instantly recognise that they are much louder than originals, which is great if you’re playing with a loud environment, but they also offer a greater range of depth in tone as well (much like the screen, which I swear I am getting too). I played dozens of Switch games, old and new, when reviewing the OLED model and found myself as captivated by the soundtracks as I was by the visuals, which is something I wasn’t expecting in games I’ve played before.
The Nintendo Switch OLED includes a new (white) dock to connect to your TV, but there isn’t much added to that since this is clearly designed for handheld gamers in mind. That said, there is now a LAN port in the dock to make it easier to sync up multiple Switches, useful if you’re trying to have a party.
With all that out the way, we can finally get to the screen. It’s nice. Oh, you want more information? Okay, it’s really good in a way that I think 4K might have been overkill. The OLED screen offers greater contrast, more vivid colours, and more defined lines than the original screen. These are the things Nintendo wants to highlight. They are not a company that has ever focused on photorealism, so building a device with a greater scope of colour and contrast is a more sensible choice and works really well.
Even games that you might not expect have a virtual makeover on the OLED screens. Hyper Light Drifter is a fantastic, bright, and colourful game. I didn’t think it could look much better on the OLED screen, but I was mistaken. It’s like there are more colours and that these colours are more enveloping. Even on a small screen, I felt more engrossed in the game than ever before. Similarly, Gris is a game designed to look like a piece of art. And on the OLED screen, the slow introduction of colours is almost breathtaking.
In some cases, the better technology has a slight downside too. I was excited to see Hyrule in Breath of the Wild with the new screen, but while the colours are more fantastic than I remember, the screen’s crispness makes the flickering lines and draw distance a bit more noticeable. Breath of the Wild is a great game to test the device with though, as it blends natural colour palettes with more vibrant ones in different regions. And in this, the OLED screen showcases its contrast range far better than the previous Switch’s display.
It would have been nice to see a few upgrades under the hood with this new console. Something to reduce loading time would have gone a long way, for example. And while the screen is fantastic, it’s hard to say if it is worth an upgrade for people that already own a Switch. With the release of the Nintendo Switch OLED, Nintendo is making a statement that they are not moving on from the console anytime soon, and the new technology means that developers can add a little more sauce into their art design on Switch. What comes out next on Switch might pressure you to look into an OLED screen, especially with the recent adoption of cloud streaming bigger games like Dying Light 2 and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. But for all its sparkle and improvements, the games currently available don’t demand this new hardware to be played and loved.
Whether you upgrade to the Nintendo Switch OLED is up to you. The OLED model is the best version to experience the console’s games if you’ve been holding out getting a Switch until now. It’s a fantastic screen that improves everything Nintendo wants to do with art direction and style. Its new stand and metallic feel make it feel valuable. But if you already own a Switch, it’s up to you whether replaying the games you own on a better screen is worth it.
Review unit provided by the manufacturer.
The OLED model is without a doubt the best-looking Switch on the market. It offers a range of visual, audio, and quality of life upgrades to the half-decade old console. But while it is transfixingly pretty, it is not flawless.
- Feels expensive and weighty
- Looks incredible thanks to the OLED colors
- Sounds amazing with the improved speakers
- Nothing new under the hood
- The better screen might just highlight the age of some games