The Nintendo Switch OLED model uses a beautiful black and white theme (or standard red and blue), exuding a sense of exquisite handheld. Thinner bezels, sturdy brackets and lightweight metal substrate rear panels bring a high-quality feel that is both beautiful and comfortable. But how does the upgraded model stack up compared to the original model? Let us find out.
It has been four and a half years since the original Nintendo Switch was launched. Back in March 2017, we reviewed the original console and praised its handheld comfort and portability, while pointing out its lack of 32GB of internal storage space and low battery life for heavy games. Now, using the same original system for comparison, we will experience the new OLED model firsthand. In our preview, we discussed in detail the new features of the console, how it looks and how it plays. However, here, we will review the console in three different aspects; its technical aspects and design, overall playability and “viewability”. Finally, we will summarize the advantages and disadvantages of the equipment according to the needs of different audiences, instead of giving the model an overall score.
Technical and design features
The new model uses a 7-inch multi-touch capacitive OLED screen, which is shockingly different from the original LCD screen in terms of image quality, color contrast and clarity. Although only 0.8 inches larger, the glass screen combined with the OLED backlight provides a better look and feel for the console without changing the resolution. Although glass is more likely to leave fingerprints than the original plastic coating, the OLED model weighs only 0.71 pounds — only 0.05 pounds heavier than the original — making the screen and its light metal backing equally portable and more scratch-resistant.
The OLED console has a length of 9.5 inches, a height of 4 inches, and a depth of 0.55 inches, and it can still be comfortably (although very close to the body) fit into Nintendo’s official carrying case accessories. Due to the slightly larger size, Nintendo stated that it may not work with the Toy-Con Labo kit, which means that certain peripherals (such as a comfortable handle) may have problems, in which the length of the console is important.
The new design features of the OLED model, such as thinner bezels and fully adjustable sturdy stand, provide extra comfort for desktop and viewing modes. The ultra-thin speakers on the front also enhance the audio, while the power and volume buttons have been changed to a rectangular and round-edged appearance. On the back of the console, you will find that the Nintendo logo has been repositioned to the stand and has a smaller design.
One issue to be aware of is the new location of the SD card, which is now horizontal but still on the left. Despite being in a more accessible position, this makes sliding in and out unnatural. For some people, 64GB of internal storage may be sufficient, but for others who like to have multiple games on hand, the SD card will be the best choice.
In the new white base itself, we discussed the hinged back cover in the preview for easier access to the new LAN port as well as the regular AC adapter and HDMI port. In addition, like the original docking station, two USB ports are located on the side. Of course, you can purchase the LAN white base separately at the My Nintendo store. For those who are curious, both the old and new docks can be used with any console, in our case, we don’t need to update them to do so.
Although the Joy-Con is the same in terms of design and construction, in the vertically-packed white OLED model box, you will now find that the Joy-Con slider and wristband have tiny gray spots on the fabric to distinguish them. Maybe it’s a tiny detail, but it adds to the quality feel of the console.
For testing purposes, we tried a series of software on the OLED model, including Metroid Fear, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Hyrule Warriors, Splatoon 2, Super Mario Party and Fire Emblem: Three House . As a near-exclusive docking station Switch player (like many of us), I rarely play games in handheld or desktop mode, just for work or travel purposes. However, it is possible for the OLED model to switch the docked fan to portable mode because of its beautiful color contrast.
For example, in Metroid Dread, you will encounter many dark areas characterized by gorgeous details. From the fire and ice-themed rooms to the densely populated areas of alien buildings, the OLED screen creates this vibrant and popular color, which is pleasing to the eye. This may be due to the new console screen settings, “Standard” or “Vivid”, the latter creates more unnatural color contrasts to help you play in natural light. Unfortunately, due to its dark color scheme, bright sunlight is still a problem for games like Metroid Dread. Other games, such as Hellaru Warriors, performed better, but it did not change the rules of the game. Players still need to find a beautiful shadow point to make the most of handheld games.
In desktop mode, we tested Hyrule Warriors in horizontal split screen and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in vertical view. The sturdy hinge bracket is an excellent-honestly-a necessary addition, allowing gameplay to be viewed from any angle. Especially for Hyrule Warriors, we noticed that compared to the original model, the texture on the OLED model looks clearer and the color depth on the eyes is easier. For Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, a larger screen is more comfortable for longer gaming time.
If you want to buy a white docking station for its LAN port, whether as part of an upgrade or just through the official Nintendo store, you will be happy to hear that it provides a consistent and stable online gaming experience. When connected to a LAN port, the intelligence in the switch means that the port can be recognized immediately, and the connection symbol is in an “N” shape next to the battery symbol, making the brand completely correct.
With the newly improved stand and OLED screen, the new model provides a range of options for potential streaming services. Currently, the Switch can be used with a few video streaming applications (such as YouTube, Hulu, and Pokémon TV, etc.), which are perfect for watching day and night on your comfortable bed. Support it on a pillow or on your knees. The stand is very flexible and can be used in any setting. In addition, the image quality can have a real impact, especially when viewing the same content side by side on two consoles.
Those who wish to upgrade will also be pleased that the battery life is also improved compared to the original 2017 Switch console. We ran a quick test on two devices that watched an episode of Pokémon. In about 20 minutes at full brightness, vivid colors, and sound settings, the battery power of the OLED model was reduced by 5%, while the battery power of the original model was reduced by 8%. According to Nintendo, depending on the application used, you can get about 5.5 to 9 hours of battery power from the OLED model before it needs to be charged. For example, in an alternative test of Metroid Dread, we managed approximately 6.5 hours of games.
Pros and cons
For specialized handheld players, the OLED model must be purchased immediately. The clarity of the colors is excellent-this cannot be fully described and must be experienced for yourself. Our only dissatisfaction is the lack of “movie” mode in the console screen settings, which is very good for games such as Metroid Fear, Deadly Frame, and Resident Evil.
For users who like tabletop games or use the Switch as a portable media entertainment device, the stand is perfect for viewing content from any angle. Moreover, for those who wish to upgrade from the original model in 2017, the extended battery life and additional storage space will be a good addition.
However, docked players will not see any obvious game advantage. Many upgrades to OLED models are related to the comfort, flexibility, and ease of use of handheld and portable gaming. If you really need a LAN port, we recommend purchasing the white docking station separately, as there are no known issues when switching between docking stations.
Although not its original version, the Switch OLED model is an excellent upgrade for handheld gaming. Yes, it is smarter, smoother, and better quality, but it caters to a specific audience. The OLED model feels like a real hybrid console-maybe it should be the original design. But after 18 months of indoor shielding and gaming, maybe it’s time for bolder and braver outdoor spaces and switch to handheld gaming.
Final conclusion: recommended to people who like to play games in handheld or desktop mode, and as an upgrade for Switch console owners on the release day.
Nintendo UK provided My Nintendo News with a copy of the Nintendo Switch OLED model and Metroid Dread reviews (for testing purposes).