We Compared It to the Original



While I was playing Nintendo’s newly announced OLED Switch earlier this week, the grass quite literally looked greener. I got a chance to try Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Breath of the Wild on the new model while comparing them directly to my original Switch, and the vivid screen it’s named after is an undoubtedly impressive improvement. But while that display and a handful of other welcome tweaks (like a surprisingly excellent new kickstand) certainly made me envious, they also aren’t so drastic as to feel like a vital mid-cycle upgrade you can’t afford to miss.

Unfortunately Nintendo wouldn’t let us take any pictures or recordings of the OLED Switch, but the most obvious difference is, of course, the screen itself. While the Nintendo Switch (OLED Model), as it’s formally called, is essentially the same size as the original (stacked together, it looked maybe a few millimeters longer at most), its slightly larger 7-inch display takes up more of that real estate instead of the black bezel around it. It’s not a massive difference, but it is one that’s clear as day next to the base Switch’s now comparatively thick border.

The strength of the new display (unsurprisingly) becomes even more obvious when turned on, immediately shining bright and clear from pretty much any viewing angle I tried. Honestly, it’s not an exaggeration to liken its vibrance to when the Gameboy Advance SP got an updated model with a far brighter screen, making the original Switch look noticeably dimmer if compared directly. Its colors are richer too, and I’m not kidding when I say Breath of the Wild’s grassy fields looked almost cartoonishly green viewed side-by-side.

The next most exciting feature of the OLED Model (somewhat surprisingly) is actually its improved kickstand. It’s no secret that the base model’s offset kickstand is flimsy and unreliable, but I wasn’t expecting this version’s to provide such a resounding response to the issues of its predecessor. Not only does it stretch all the way across the back of the Switch, its hinges offer a satisfying amount of resistance so that you can easily lean it at nearly any angle and be confident it will stay that way. It’s incredibly sturdy, with the same tactile matte finish as the back of the Switch Lite. If it weren’t for the charging port still being blocked while standing up, I’d say the need for a third-party stand is now all but dead.

The new kickstand is excellent, easily leaning to nearly any angle and then staying that way.

The onboard speakers have also been improved somewhat, providing better sound quality when playing without headphones. I’m no audiophile but the difference was certainly noticeable, if not exactly jaw-dropping – Mario Kart’s music didn’t sound as flat, and Zelda’s echoing voice in Breath of the Wild had a bit more depth. Frankly, I rarely use my Switch without headphones, which the OLED Model doesn’t affect at all, but it’s still a nice improvement for those more likely to take advantage of it than me.

The Switch dock has also been tweaked slightly, with many of the sharp edges that gave it a bad wrap for scratching screens near launch now safely rounded over. The USB port on its back compartment (which now sports a fully removable cover) has also been swapped for a LAN port to enable a wired internet connection without the need of a third-party adapter, which I unfortunately didn’t get to test out myself. These largely feel like Nintendo smoothing out rough spots with the original dock’s design rather than system-selling changes, but they are welcome all the same.

Getting all of these improvements (including the expanded 64GB storage) for only $50 more than the base model is a great value, one that seems like a no brainer to me for folks looking to get their first Switch. But for those of us who are already happily playing on a base Switch with no need for another, this relatively small list of additions isn’t quite as convincing – especially when seemingly basic stuff like built-in bluetooth headphone support still hasn’t been added. And if you are someone who primarily plays on a TV, you’d basically just be paying for a marginally better dock and some more storage space as the OLED and kickstand obviously offer no benefits to the HDMI-fed 1080p dock output.

That’s not to short sell how nice the new display is, it’s just to say that the difference between entering the Switch ecosystem and upgrading within it is a tangible one here. The screen may look better than what I have now, but it’s not such a world shattering improvement that my original Switch suddenly looks subpar as a result – and it’s not the long-rumored “Switch Pro”, so games themselves aren’t going to run any better on one model or the other anyway. If there were a way to pay $50 and magically add these new features to my existing Switch I would do it in a heartbeat. But paying a few hundred to reach the slightly greener grass on the other side is less enticing to me personally, as impressive as that grass may be.



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