Nintendo finally launched the long-awaited Switch OLED, delivering the latest iteration of its hybrid console. Now after putting it to the test, we’re diving in to see if a more immersive screen and other improvements are actually worth the cash. Head below for all of our thoughts.
Hands-on with the Nintendo Switch OLED
Nintendo first launched the original Switch in 2017. Now, all this time later, we’re seeing the first major update to the console. Sure, there have been minor refreshes that improved upon battery life, but now even the form-factor is being adjusted.
What’s actually new
Living up to its quite fitting name, the star of the show this time around on the Switch OLED is Nintendo’s inclusion of an OLED screen. Swapping out the now-dated 6.2-inch LCD panel that first made its debut over four years ago, you’ll find a pretty notable upgrade of the 7-inch OLED panel. So not only is the screen actually larger, but it also produces much more vibrant images. On top of doubling the storage, you’re also looking at improved speakers that sound far better than what shipped with its predecessor nearly half a decade ago.
Nintendo is also taking the new Switch OLED as an opportunity to fix one of the biggest issues from the original model. No, not Joy-Con drift. The kickstand on the back of the 2017 version was not only questionable in its actual functionality, but also became less usable over time. So now, for the refreshed version of the console, Nintendo has implemented a much more sturdy solution to propping up the device for tabletop play.
Another one of the big visual tweaks is the new Joy-Con colors, which arrive with a slick white colorway. Of course all of the same tech is still packed into the shells, so your experience will vary with any kind of joystick drift in the future. I personally love the look of the new colorways, though I am a sucker for all of the fun styles that Nintendo has released over the past four years. So I’m quite thrilled to have picked up the white versions that go alongside Switch OLED.
To round out the notable tweaks for the latest update to Nintendo’s hybrid console, there’s a new dock included in the box. There’s still all the same functionality of being able put all of the Switch action up on the big screen, though just with an improvement. The only real update here is the inclsion of an Ethernet port, sidestepping the need to buy an extra dongle.
Does it add up to a compelling experience?
After facing some shipping delays, I finally have the new Switch OLED in-hand! I’ve been spending the past few days diving into Metroid Dread for the first time alongside revisiting other favorites, and have to say that I’m really enjoying the refreshed experience. Don’t get me wrong, the changes are certainly still minimal in the grand scheme of things. But the long and short of it is that all of the tweaks add up to a package that feels like an actual successor to the original Switch.
The biggest of these is the screen. And for good reason, too. It’s what gives the Switch OLED its new name. Relying on the improved screen delivers much more crisp visuals in handheld mode, and the larger size makes things much more immersive. Enjoying the new screen is easily the most apparent reason to buy the updated Switch, and I think will be enough of a sell in its own right for many more hardcore gamers.
On the other hand, the speakers aren’t quite as noticeable of an adjustment. They are certainly an improvement when going from the original Switch right to the OLED version, but the new drivers still face the limitations of the form-factor and price point. That is to say the upgrade is certainly appreciated for hearing the tranquil tracks of Breath of the Wild or bumping beats in Mario Odyssey, but this isn’t likely going to be the main selling point for anyone.
Something that is evident from the second you get your hands on the Switch OLED is the all-new kickstand. Finally! After all these years of having the original one loosely hanging off the back of the console, Nintendo has drastically improved the tabletop experience.
A more rigid and reliable design is only part of the story, as the enhancements carry over to other aspects of the experience, too. Being able to set multiple viewing angles is yet another improvement, and one that really makes the hybrid nature of the console excel.
The final piece of the Switch OLED experience that has received a notable change is the dock. It’s not something you’ll really notice as you game, but I suppose it has some necessary adjustments. I’m sure anyone who plans games like Smash Bros. Ultimate online will appreciate that an Ethernet adapter is now standard, but otherwise the refreshed design is almost entirely an aesthetic update.
New software makes all the difference
The hardware improvements paired with all of the recent software feature additions make the Switch OLED really feel like a next-gen console. The fact that it launches with Bluetooth headphone support really can’t be understated. And even if it shares those same features with the standard Switch, I see it more of the older console getting in on the action.
Going into my time with the Switch OLED, I honestly wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the improved screen and if it justified the experience. Now after getting to spend some time with Nintendo’s latest and log quite a few hours on Metroid Dread, the verdict is clear.
This may not be the true Switch predecessor or even the Pro Switch that many have waited for in feature set, but it certainly feels like one from the experience. Its screen really delivers more vibrant and immersive gameplay and the form-factor adjustments show that Nintendo is honing an already near-perfect design.
As happy as I am about making the switch to the Switch OLED, many are going to be perfectly fine keeping the original in their gaming setup. But for those who are looking to get in for the first time, I would easily recommend shelling out the extra cash over the standard version. The $50 uncharge is far from a tough sell when considering everything you get with the new iteration, and I’m sure many will be happy to pay for the added features.
At the end of the day, Nintendo doesn’t break the mold too much with the Switch OLED, but all of the changes seem like deliberate ways to improve the already great experience. The new screen is a massive selling point for someone like me who mainly plays in handheld mode, and all of the other adjustments stack up to what feels like a big step forward for the hybrid console.
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