Skip to main content

The Switch OLED’s superior screen has ruined my regular Switch for me

When Nintendo announced the Switch OLED model, fans weren’t too happy. Many had anticipated a Switch Pro was coming and had some big (though reasonable) expectations. Many hoped for resolution bumps in both docked and handheld mode. It didn’t help that publications like Bloomberg had been publishing credible reports that further raised those hopes.

Nintendo Switch (OLED model) - Announcement Trailer

Then came the crushing disappointment. The new Switch wouldn’t give Nintendo games a major graphical boost. Instead, it would simply feature an OLED screen that was bigger and brighter than the base Switch’s LCD display. Its other bells and whistles felt like they should have been there all along, like a wired internet port and an adjustable kickstand. We certainly weren’t getting a PS4 Pro-style upgrade here.

Now that the initial frustration has passed, it’s time to focus on what the Switch OLED actually does, rather than what it doesn’t. I went hands-on with Nintendo’s new console, testing it with a demo of Metroid Dread. While I don’t think that the Switch OLED will be a necessary upgrade for most gamers, it’s undoubtedly a better iteration of the console that has me tempted to upgrade.

Incrementally better

At a passing glance, the Switch OLED looks and feels about the same as a base model, save for its white Joy-Cons. But the big difference is in its screen, which explains why Nintendo opted to focus on that in its naming convention, rather than calling it a Pro model. The OLED display is notably bigger than that of a base Switch. The console itself isn’t noticeably larger, but it makes much better use of its real estate.

A Switch OLED in handheld mode playing Metroid Dread.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

On a standard Switch, there’s a black frame around the 6.2 inch screen. The OLED minimizes that space, letting the display expand out to seven inches. Every tenth-of-an-inch counts when talking about a mobile gaming device, and I certainly felt a noticeable difference when playing in handheld mode (especially as someone whose vision has started eroding after staring at screens all day during lockdown last year).

More notable, though, is that the screen makes the Switch feel less like a toy and more like a precious piece of tech. The old model’s massive bezel seems a little goofy by comparison when I look at it now. It’s a subtle visual difference, and not one that should convince anyone to upgrade, but I certainly found myself feeling like I wanted to handle the OLED with a bit more care than my original, hairline-scratched Switch.

What really matters is visual quality, and I was instantly impressed by what I saw on the console. No, it doesn’t run 4K graphics in handheld mode as some gamers were clamoring for. However, it does look undoubtedly better. In playing Metroid Dread, colors felt crisp and vibrant. The blue of Samus’ new suit really pops off the screen in a way that it doesn’t on my 2019 model Switch. Dread is a smart game to launch with the console; its heavy focus on atmospheric lighting effects means that you really get a sense of how bright the display can get. The images on my current Switch suddenly felt a little washed out when I sat down with it afterward.

A Switch OLED playing Metroid Dread.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

A hard sell

Aside from the new screen, there wasn’t much else to note from my time with the system — and that’s what makes it such a hard sell. The adjustable kickstand is certainly an upgrade, as it allows me to tilt the angle of the Switch to my liking when playing in tabletop mode. That’s a nice upgrade from the current Switch’s flimsy kickstand, which now feels as toy-like as its screen after using the OLED version. The audio is supposedly better in the new model as well, but it was hard to get a sense of that without a direct, back-and-forth comparison between the models. I didn’t get to check out the wired internet connection, either, but I have doubts that it’ll fully fix Nintendo’s deeper online issues anyways.

The decision to upgrade seems like it’ll simply comes down to whether or not you want a bigger, brighter screen when you play. Those who never touch an OLED model will be none the wiser; without a point of comparison, the regular Switch will feel entirely serviceable. But the moment you actually get to see the new panel in action, it’ll retroactively ruin your perception of your trusty console. The screen will look unusually small. The image will seem flatter. The bezel will feel sillier.

I walked into the Switch OLED hands-on feeling like there was a 0% chance I’d pick one up. Now I’m kicking myself for not pre-ordering a thing I very sincerely do not need.

The Nintendo Switch OLED launches on October 8 alongside Metroid Dread.

Editors' Recommendations

Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
One of my favorite puzzles games just turned 5, and it’s still outstanding
Baba Is You game on Android.

Baba is You, one of the most mind-bending indie puzzle games I’ve ever played turns five years old today.

Released for PC and Nintendo Switch on March 13, 2019, it’s a puzzle game where players manipulate the rules of a level in their favor to meet a win condition. That may seem simple, but Baba is You ramps up considerably in complexity as it goes on, enabling some genuinely head-scratching puzzles that will have you rethinking what’s possible within the game’s mechanics.

Read more
Mother 3 is finally on Nintendo Switch … but only in Japan
Clause standing b y a bench in Mother 3.

Mother 3, the highly requested cult-classic RPG for the Game Boy Advance, is set to appear today on the Nintendo Switch Online service. But there's a catch: It's only available in Japan.

North Americans were first introduced to the Mother series under the name Earthbound on the SNES in 1995. As was common at the time, the game was renamed for the West in an attempt to avoid confusion. In 2006, a third entry was released in Japan for the GBA simply called Mother 3, but it has never had an official translation for Western audiences. Both Mother 2, aka Earthbound, and the original Mother, renamed Earthbound Beginnings, have been added to Nintendo Switch Online, but there has never been any indication that the third game would receive the same treatment.

Read more
Every rumored Xbox exclusive coming to PS5 and Switch
Living room with Microsoft Xbox Series X (L) and Sony PlayStation 5 home video game consoles alongside a television and soundbar.

The video game console market is about to see its biggest shakeup since Sega stopped producing hardware. Xbox's Phil Spencer says that the company will share a "business update" with players next week outlining a new vision for the brand. That news comes after a month of rumors that claimed that some of Xbox's biggest exclusives would be coming to other platforms, including PS5 and Nintendo Switch. The unconfirmed reports sent Xbox loyalists into a panic as fans brace for a possible future where Xbox just produces software instead of physical consoles.

We don't know what's true yet, as credible reports have been lumped in with speculation. Some details seem plausible, while rumors that Xbox will stop making systems altogether are closer to educated guesses. We'll learn more in Xbox's business update, but until then, we've rounded up a list of every Xbox exclusive that's reportedly going multiplatform. Take it all with a grain of salt until Spencer and company unveil the full picture.

Read more