Nintendo Switch OLED Model Review: Vibrant New Display Makes It the Definitive Way to Play Nintendo Titles on the Go – James Ide
Nintendo’s upgrade to the hugely popular hybrid console offers a sharper, clearer gaming experience as well as a bold new look
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Nintendo Switch OLED model in the test
With the hugely popular Nintendo Switch reaching its fourth year since its release in 2017, it was inevitable that overhauls of the hybrid handheld / home console would begin.
With devices such as the Game Boy Advance SP, the Game Boy Color and several variants of the DS systems, Nintendo practically invented the hardware revisions of the middle generation.
The smaller, handheld-only Switch Lite was released back in 2019, but fans have been hoping for a more advanced model for years to bridge the gap between Microsoft and Sony’s 4K powerhouse consoles.
Nintendo has been known to ignore any graphic arms race in order to focus on a more creative approach, and the OLED model continues that trend somewhat.
At first glance, it looks like Nintendo is sticking to a design very similar to the original, with the exception of the new glorious display. However, there are a few other small changes and upgrades here and there.
However, with the new, eye-catching white Joy-Con and white dock, the Switch’s case retains its matte black. But for those who like it more reserved, the OLED model is also available with the standard red and blue Joy-Con and a black dock.
With a height of 4 inches, a length of 9.5 inches and a depth of 0.55 inches with the Joy-Con attached, it is only 2.54 mm longer than the standard model, which makes no difference visually or in gameplay – but housing and handles that you might want to use.
With the Joy-Con controllers connected, the OLED model weighs around 421 g and is thus 23 grams heavier than the standard model; which is not enough to make it uncomfortable, but is definitely noticeable.
The processing quality is significantly improved with the OLEDs and the weight feels much better distributed and more solid compared to the previous systems. In addition, the materials on the device body feel harder and a little more grippy.
Splints for connecting Joy-Con also feel more stable, which makes the entire system feel more secure in my hands. The volume and power buttons at the top feel a bit slimmer and smaller, making them less prone to accidental touches.
Fortunately, the thin and thin stand of the previous model has been replaced by a much more stable stand that covers the entire width of the body.
The stand’s hinge also has surprising flexibility that is great for tabletops.
The main event here is this new screen which is a significant improvement over the previous Switch. Colors are richer and pictures look sharper and brighter too.
The 6-inch plastic LCD screen has been replaced with a 7-inch glass OLED display that looks amazing, feels more rugged, and has smaller bezels that make it look neater and more modern.
Other Switch screens use a backlit panel that illuminates the screen with a single light source, resulting in lower contrast and duller whites and blacks on previous models.
With OLED (or Organic Light Emitting Diode), however, every single pixel is illuminated, which gives a much higher contrast and stops any bleeding of light, so the darker parts of the screen remain dark.
This makes a dramatic difference in high contrast or darker games, including The Witcher, Astral Chain, Bioshock, and Skyrim, to name a few.
Like the older models, this supports resolutions up to 1080p in docked mode and the same maximum of 720p in handheld mode. This is a shame when you consider that most modern phones can display higher up and 4K gaming is fast becoming the norm.
One of the main criticisms of this system is the addition of a clearer screen without improving graphical skills.
The screen is much sharper, which looks nice for some titles, but it also means that some of the ports of older games are really showing their age, but some of the better looking games really shine.
The new screen also benefits from improved viewing angles, which makes it much better for playing on the table. Even in direct sunlight outdoors, it does well, which is important for a device that should go outside.
The new model also features improved audio that sounded clearer and a little louder, but the changes aren’t as dramatic and the new screen.
It also features a standard 3.5mm audio jack like the 2017 model and also benefits from the recent Bluetooth compatibility update.
With much-needed, upgraded 64GB internal storage, from the paltry 32GB on previous models, it might not be a revolution, but it does help save the cost of SD cards, especially for gamblers with buckles as they aren’t direct need to buy a card one way.
Another important note is that games stored on internal storage load faster than their cartridge-based and SD counterparts.
Aside from the new paint job, the dock has also seen some minor tweaks by adding an ethernet port to enable faster and more stable internet.
The tradeoff is that it has one less USB port than the previous dock, but most gamers only used that port to add a USB to an ethernet converter anyway.
While the addition of an Ethernet port is appreciated, it will feel a bit dated when using the wired internet in 2021.
The interior of the dock is much smoother than previous models to avoid abrasion on this important display.
It also has a removable back panel that helps with cable management and ventilation that slightly increases airflow to the device when docking; My original switch could sometimes get a little warm when docked and set the fan to overdrive.
I have to admit that after enjoying the clarity of this new screen, I felt a slight disappointment that the docked performance didn’t change.
Not everything in this device is new and improved; Unfortunately, the OLED model uses almost the same hardware, including the custom Nvidia Tegra processor and the RAM that was in the 2019 Switch, which replaced the original boot device from 2017.
So you still have that superior battery life, but unfortunately no performance boost. I can’t help but think that the Switch OLED could have even provided a slight increase in performance when the new 3DS was added to the 3DS.
With the same hardware, the OLED offers almost the same performance, but was quieter and ran cooler than my original 2017 model, but just like my redesigned 2019 switch.
It also shares the same accelerometer, gyroscope, and brightness sensor so all compatible games work the same, and it obviously uses exactly the same Nintendo Switch game cartridges as before, so you don’t have to worry about your current library.
There are some experts right now ripping the dock down and identifying a new ARM processor that may receive potential firmware updates that could result in performance changes and possibly even upscaling, but this has not yet been confirmed.
The rechargeable 4310 mAh lithium-ion battery provides around 4.5 to 9 hours compared to the 2.5 to 6.5 hours of the Launch Switch, but this can vary depending on the game, as games like Breath are more graphically intense of the wild use a lot more electricity. It takes about 3 hours to charge, just like the previous version 2 Switch.
I tested the New Switch in the old dock and the old Switch in the new dock, as well as various Joy-Con and 3. tried outapprox Party controllers and as expected they worked fine.
Compatible with most of the accessories designed for the original switch, the only exception I have found is that some cases and handles may not fit the slightly wider case.
At a very reasonable price of £ 309, this is very affordable for an upgraded device considering the 2017 model was released for £ 299.99.
The Nintendo Switch OLED feels like a much higher quality device, with the upgraded screen, stand, and storage capacity that work together to create the ultimate Switch experience.
This screen really has to be seen to be believed and it is definitely exciting to see games that you have played many times before with improved clarity and sharpness is a fantastic experience. I just wish Nintendo had taken it a little further and increased the performance a little.
It offers superior portable gaming, but those who play docked might be a little disappointed that the TV performance doesn’t change that much.
Perfect for gamers on the go and a brilliant option for anyone new to the Switch, the OLED is also proving to be a tempting upgrade, especially for those with the Version 1 or Lite model.
The Nintendo Switch OLED model will be available from October 8th for £ 309.99 and can be ordered directly from the Nintendo Store