Nintendo Switch OLED Review: A huge screen upgrade


Nintendo Switch OLED

The Nintendo Switch OLED is a fantastic upgrade for portable play, with the new screen looking significantly better than the standard model’s. But with no substantial upgrade for docked mode, it isn’t a worthwhile purchase for those who just want a home console for the TV.

Pros

  • OLED screen offers a huge upgrade
  • Bigger screen, but still very portable
  • Stand is a lot sturdier now
  • Increased storage capacity

Cons

  • No performance upgrade
  • No substantial upgrades for docked mode

Key Features


  • OLED screen:The OLED panel allows for improved brightness, contrast and colour accuracy

  • Larger 7-inch screen:Nintendo has increased the size of the display by squeezing down the chunky bezel


  • New stand:Larger and sturdier stand for table-top play, with numerous angles supported

Introduction

Nintendo has launched a new edition of its popular hybrid games console: the Nintendo Switch OLED.

This may not be the fabled Nintendo Switch Pro that people had been hoping for, lacking any sort of performance upgrade to challenge the upcoming Steam Deck, but the inclusion of the new OLED screen results in a far bigger upgrade than you may expect – at least for portable play.

However, since the Switch’s main appeal is its capability to be played as both a portable and a home console, it feels very odd that Nintendo has refrained from offering a significant reason to upgrade for the latter use case. If you use the Switch mainly as a home console, it’s probably best to skip out on the new OLED model altogether.

Screen

  • The OLED screen is a massive upgrade on LCD
  • Screen size increased to 7-inches
  • Screen resolution is capped to 720p

Let’s focus on the most exciting feature first: the titular OLED screen. I’m very familiar with OLED screen technology, seeing it implemented on various laptops and TVs, and yet I was still surprised by how big an impact it has had on the Nintendo Switch.

The OLED panel allows for better contrast and colour accuracy, resulting in a picture that’s far superior to the original portable – the difference is night and day, even on the homescreen. The Switch OLED panel looks brighter, with bolder and more vibrant colours popping out of the display.

Nintendo Switch OLED

The improved colour accuracy is also noticeable, displaying a pure white background compared to the reddish tint of its predecessor. Playing the opening sequence of Breath of the Wild hit a lot harder with the OLED model, presenting added detail in the sky and lush green forest, while showering a greater contrast between the sunbeams and shadows in a cave.

I also played through the entirety of Metroid Dread on the Switch OLED, and was stunned by how good the 3D cutscenes looked with the improved vibrancy that the new screen allows for – this feels like a significant upgrade, arguably more so than any resolution bump could offer.

Nintendo Switch OLED

Of course, there are notorious downsides with OLED screens – burn-in issues have seen images scorched into the display of old TVs following extended time displaying a static image. But I don’t see that being a problem here. The Switch OLED will automatically go to sleep if you haven’t used the device for five minutes or so, and OLED technology has come a long way in recent years to remedy this problem.

Nintendo has also increased the screen size for the OLED model, boosting from 6.2-inches to 7-inches. That doesn’t sound like much of an improvement, but the added width makes a huge difference. Personally, I was very happy with this aspect as I’m transitioning from the dinky Switch Lite.

Nintendo Switch OLED, stand Switch and Switch Lite

Nintendo has smartly shaved down the system’s bezel in order to accommodate the larger screen, so there’s hardly any size or weight difference at all between the original and OLED Switches. Even old Joy-Cons are supported here, so you won’t need to go out and buy controllers – although this does also mean the Joy-Con drift seemingly hasn’t been resolved.

The screen resolution remains the same at 720p, but I don’t feel like that’s a problem at this screen size. I didn’t ever notice the individual pixels when playing games in portable play, and I personally wouldn’t want a boost in pixels if it meant a larger design or shorter battery life.

Design

  • New stand is better at propping up the Switch
  • Remains as portable as the standard model
  • Dock has seen a redesign, with Ethernet port included

The new OLED screen is going to grab all the headlines, but Nintendo has made some tweaks to the design too, to make it feel more premium.

The most notable upgrade in this respect is the new stand – it now stretches across the entire rear of the portable for a far sturdier hold, and it supports multiple angles for added versatility. My OG Nintendo Switch would often topple over when propped up on a train table, but I’m confident this won’t be an issue with the OLED model.

Nintendo Switch OLED compared to standard Switch

The Switch OLED is still made of plastic in the main, but it feels far nicer than its predecessor, with a firmer build that’s better able to hide fingerprint smudge marks. While the OG Switch arguably felt like a toy, this comes across as a premium product intended for a more mature audience.

The speakers have also been enhanced, with louder and more detailed sound. I was so impressed with the portable’s audio quality, that I was happy to play without my headset at home. Bluetooth is also now supported across all Switch consoles for wireless headsets.

Dock rear

All of the same buttons and ports feature here, including a power button, volume switchers, headphone jack, USB-C charging and microSD storage expansion. There’s also a game cartridge slot – but, as someone with very short fingernails, I’ve found the game cartridge slot amore difficult to prise open.

Nintendo has also redesigned the dock. It feels a lot better now, with a sturdy plastic build. The rear can easily be snapped off to reveal all of the interior ports, including the new LAN port that allows for a wired internet connection without the need of an adapter. The new design also enables cable routing, which will no doubt please those who want a clean setup.

Dock interior

The functionality remains the same, with the Switch slotting nicely into the USB-C dock to output an image to the TV. Disappointingly, however, there isn’t a more powerful chip inside the dock – which means you’re still only getting a 1080p resolution for TV mode.

Performance and battery life

  • No performance upgrade on standard Switch
  • 1080p resolution looks rough on large TVs
  • Battery life is solid, lasts five hours with Metroid Dread

The biggest disappointment about the Switch OLED is the lack of a performance upgrade – it’s still using the same Nvidia Tegra processor as the original system that launched back in 2017.

For portable play, I don’t think it’s a big issue. First-party games still run smoothly, aside from the odd frame-rate hiccup, and I doubt a resolution boot would make that big of a difference for a screen of this size.

However, it’s a far bigger issue for those who like to play the Switch in docked mode. When connecting my Switch to my 55-inch OLED TV, I was disappointed to see how visible the pixels were for Metroid Dread, resulting in a fuzzy picture quality that isn’t present in portable mode. This will be even more obvious if you engage with 4K g

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