Nintendo Switch OLED review – New console packs a bigger punch than before
Nintendo is no stranger to hardware revisions, but after a tepid response to its reveal, is the latest one worth picking up? Read on for our full Nintendo Switch OLED review.
After four years (and a handheld-only Lite version), Nintendo finally revealed the Nintendo Switch’s first major hardware reveal earlier this year. While many expected a 4K console with improved controllers, though, Nintendo instead revealed the catchily titled Nintendo Switch OLED model.
Now that it’s here, we’ve spent some time with the console. While its innards may remain mostly the same, make no mistake – this is the best Nintendo Switch that money can buy, but it is still a Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo Switch OLED Model – Key details
- Price: $349.99
- Manufacturer: Nintendo
- Release date: October 8, 2021
Nintendo Switch OLED Model – Trailer
Nintendo Switch OLED unboxing
The first thing you’ll see when opening the Nintendo Switch OLED model’s box is its display. Perhaps fittingly, given that it’s the main focus of this hardware revision, it’s front and center, alongside the new white Joy-Con controllers. Incidentally, Joy-Con fit more securely than they have before, and while that may change in the coming months and years, it’s nice to see the mechanism refined – even if drift can still be an issue.
It seems a strange thing to notice, but it’s quite impressive just how black the screen is when it’s switched off. While the standard Switch (and the Lite) have a greyish tint, the new OLED panel is pitch black – something we’ll get onto shortly.
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Elsewhere in the box, you’ll find the new, more premium-feeling dock (with a little more wiggle room for your console to avoid scratching), and the Joy-Con grip. So far, so Switch, but the differences become apparent when you look at the back of the unit.
Here, the kickstand has finally been converted from a thin flap of plastic to a wider, premium tablet-style alternative. The microSD port still exists underneath, too, although the onboard memory has been bumped from 32GB to 64GB.
Nintendo Switch OLED’s display is brighter, bigger, better?
Onto that new, 7-inch display then and there’s one thing we should make clear off the bat – it’s not technically any brighter than the base model. It outputs the same brightness level, but it’s the OLED technology that does the heavy lifting.
Thanks to the deeper blacks afforded by the updated panel, the effect is comparable to newer smartphones where content feels like it “pops” off of the screen. The likes of Breath of the Wild see a new vibrancy that honestly makes the base model feel closer to a toy than a piece of tech.
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It’s hard to go back to the base model and gives the Switch OLED a more high-end feel. If you’re wondering which games to try on the new screen first, be sure to check out our recommendations.
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Thanks to the power efficiency of the OLED panel, you’ll get a similar amount of battery life as if you’re playing on the base Switch. While it varies from game to game, you’re looking at between four and nine hours. If you’re coming from the launch version, though, you’ll no longer be reaching for the dock after two hours of Breath of the Wild.
If you are playing docked, though, you won’t notice any difference aside from the fact that the dock has upgradeable firmware (according to the Switch OLED’s settings menu), and that the internal USB-A port has been switched to an ethernet port for more stable online connections. Don’t expect a visual upgrade when playing on your TV, though, despite rumblings of a 4K update in the works.
Oh, and the new speaker system is a nice touch. It’s not going to blow anyone away, but if you do like to play handheld there’s a little more depth to things – provided you’re not using the recently added Bluetooth support, that is.
The Nintendo Switch OLED model makes small tweaks to the hybrid system’s winning formula that soon adds up. Its display is brighter, its speakers are crisper, and the dismal kickstand has finally been improved.
Of course, we’d have loved an internal spec bump to smooth out the frame rates in titles like Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, but the Switch OLED marks an obvious upgrade for anyone still on a launch model, and a tempting prospect to anyone with the revised battery model or Switch Lite.
There may be no 4K output, but by offering a bigger window into an impressive software library, there’s never been a better Switch console – or a better time to buy one.