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- Gamers who value a bigger, better screen in handheld mode will like the Nintendo Switch OLED.
- But games won’t play any smoother or look any better in TV mode because the CPU is the same.
- The Switch OLED isn’t the “Pro” model we’ve been waiting for, but it could appeal to certain buyers.
Nintendo announced a new version of the Switch, called the Switch OLED, on July 6. The Nintendo Switch OLED will launch on October 8 for $350.
Most of the upgrades on the new Switch OLED are design and screen updates, including slimmer bezels around a larger 7-inch screen compared to the 6.2-inch screen on the standard Switch. The new screen is also an OLED panel, which carries better contrast than the LCD panels used on previous Switch models.
Outside of the display, the new dock is sleeker and comes in a white color option, and it includes an Ethernet port – a feature that needed an adapter on the previous version. You can find a detailed comparison of the Switch OLED, Switch, and Switch Lite here.
But, while all of those improvements sound nice, the Switch OLED is basically the standard Switch with a larger, better display for handheld mode. It lacks any major hardware improvements for gamers who play the system on their TV, and it’s missing many key upgrades that were previously rumored, including 4K support.
Does this mean the Switch OLED isn’t worth a purchase? We’ll have to wait to get our hands on the device to offer a full verdict, but based on the information released so far, it looks like the Switch OLED’s value will heavily depend on how you plan to play the system.
Who should buy the new Nintendo Switch OLED?
The Switch OLED should be a good option for people who don’t already own a Switch and plan to use their console in handheld mode more often than docked in TV mode.
The extra screen size and OLED display will offer greater visibility, and games will undoubtedly look better, even if the Switch OLED’s screen outputs at the same 720p resolution as previous Switch versions. This is because OLED displays offer deeper contrast than LCD screens thanks to the true reproduction of the color black. This could lead to a noticeably richer and more defined image with better viewing angles.
What’s also great is that you’ll get that extra visibility, sweet OLED panel, and slim-bezel design in a console that’s pretty much the exact same size as the standard Switch. The Switch OLED is only 0.01 inch longer and 0.05 lbs heavier than the standard Switch, so there’s no significant compromise in portability.
Who shouldn’t buy the new Nintendo Switch OLED?
The Switch OLED doesn’t come with new or more powerful specs, and you shouldn’t expect any difference in how smoothly a game plays, or any improved graphics. Indeed, the TV mode resolution is still 1080p – the same as the standard Switch – not the sharper 4K resolution that was rumored on a “pro” Switch model.
The Switch OLED runs on the same performance specs as the standard Switch and Switch Lite, including the CPU (processor) and RAM memory, according to Nintendo via The Verge.
-Tom Warren (@tomwarren) July 6, 2021
If you wished your Switch had better battery life, the Switch OLED won’t improve things, either. The battery in the Switch OLED is the same size as the standard Switch, and Nintendo doesn’t make any claims regarding improved battery life, despite the potential battery-saving properties of OLED displays.
And, disappointingly, Nintendo didn’t upgrade the Switch OLED with Bluetooth headphone support. In an age where the mobile industry is phasing out wired headphones by literally stripping their phones of headphone jacks, the portable Switch OLED will still rely on wired headphones for discreet listening. If you bought Bluetooth headphones for your phone, I hope you kept your wired pair just for your Nintendo Switch.
It’s true that you can buy a third-party Bluetooth adapter to use your wireless headphones with a Switch, but still, come on.
The bottom line
We haven’t reviewed the Switch OLED yet, but we can make some educated assumptions based on our experience with the previous models.
If you plan on using a Nintendo Switch docked in TV mode for the majority of the time, you could save yourself $50 by buying a standard $300 Switch.
But, if you see yourself using a Switch in handheld mode most of the time, you could justify the Switch OLED’s higher $350 price if it’s within your budget, as you’ll get a bigger and better built-in screen. You just have to wait until October 8 when it launches, and hope that supply won’t be marred too much by the inevitable scalper scourge that the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are still facing months after release.
If affordability and portability are king, however, and you don’t mind losing TV support or the bigger OLED screen, the $200 Switch Lite offers a smaller, cheaper, and handheld-only experience.