Review: Nintendo Switch OLED is a boon to handheld users but skippable as a home console update

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The new version of Nintendo’s hit Switch console is different enough to justify itself, but it’s hardly a buy for any of the millions who buy the launch version. With a bigger, brighter, and better screen, it’s now a good choice for anyone shopping who intends to keep it mostly on hand—but not if you’re planning on or already using your Switch as a mainstay. If you’re doing it as a static console, there’s no reason to. to upgrade. All the same, there will probably be a lot of units operating this holiday season.

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Even in the best of times it can be hard to tell what Nintendo’s hardware strategy is, or whether there really is a strategy. NS Switch OLED Provides a perfect example of this: At a time when rivals Sony and Microsoft are attempting to show that their next-gen console is the most powerful, Nintendo releases a nearly identical version of a console that came out five years ago. . is faltering? Or is it just so sure?

The signs indicate neither – rumor has it that a new The new Switch, with upgraded internals and a new screen but similar form factor, was planned for this year, but the pandemic and chip shortage made it impossible. Making the best case possible — or so the story goes — Nintendo slapped an OLED screen on the original hardware and is selling it as a modest quality-of-life update, the way it’s been on the 3DS for years.

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It’s hard to know what to say about the result; On the one hand, it is clearly better than the original. On the other hand, it is better than only a small amount, and for some people, no amount at all.

The screen itself is obviously the biggest improvement. i enjoy playing Metroid: Dreaded That, and the game’s fast-paced, colorful, high-contrast environment looked fantastic on it. The deep darkness of the OLED screen made light areas and colors pop more (though measurements have shown that peak brightness is actually lower), and the extra screen real estate, while it looks minimal in photos, really doesn’t look personal. What matters is creating details, UI, and text that are more understandable.

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Oh, and the dust it attracts really stands out on that all-black front.

image credit: Darrell Etherington

Clarity in motion is improved by the OLED’s faster individual pixel refresh rate, reducing the feeling of blurring one frame into the next. The original Switch’s screen is fine, to be clear, but it’s clearly unmatched here.

There’s a different cast to color than the original LCD, but in games most people won’t notice: a shift toward green where the old one tends toward magenta in my eyes. Interestingly, there are “Vivid” and “Standard” options on the darker OLED models in the settings; “Vivid” was pre-selected and I definitely found it pleasant, giving the image a bit more saturation, but not to the point where it was annoying.

Nintendo Switch OLED on a table.

image credit: Darrell Etherington

Other than that, the build quality in general feels better. The flimsy kickstand is designed to be more beefy and adjustable, and the whole thing feels better put together. While there haven’t been any significant changes to the interior, the slightly better thermal profile should mean that it runs slightly cooler and makes more use of the fan. The speakers are believed to have been improved, but still a last resort.

The Switch OLED comes with 64GB of internal space, which is a nice upgrade from the 32 on the original. Of course everyone is going to put a micro SD card out there, but system volume takes precedence and there’s so little need to store old games now.

If you’re the kind of person who plays, or plans to, primarily play your Switch games on the device itself, the Switch OLED is simply a better device. I wouldn’t say it’s worth paying full price again to upgrade, but it’s definitely worth the extra $50 you need to make your first gift or buy a new console once it’s sold out. (That’s only $150 more than the handheld light, but for me the tradeoff of no TV mode has always been too much to justify.)

Nintendo Switch OLED on a table.

image credit: Darrell Etherington

Of course, if you – like me – tend to keep the Switch on your dock at all times except when traveling, almost nothing will change. There’s technically a new dock, a bit more solid-feeling too, and featuring an Ethernet connection for those who love wires, but everything else will be the same for you.

It’s beyond question whether Switch OLED is the best way to play Switch games right now, but even then one shouldn’t feel the need to upgrade. Who knows when the next generation of Nintendo consoles will arrive? I guess Nintendo isn’t too sure on that. So hold on to your cash for now until your current switch goes bad or is in someone else’s hands for better.

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