The Nintendo Switch finally had its ‘Pro’ version officially announced, and it’s probably not quite what you were expecting. Or anyone, thinking about it, as it’s not really a ‘Pro’ at all. The good news is that you don’t have to wait long for your Switch OLED, it arrives October 8th! It’ll cost $350 or £310, so Nintendo haven’t shafted us UK folks with the exchange rate like other products often do.
Nintendo Switch OLED Features
So the big question. What is the Switch OLED offering you over the 2017 console, or the 2019 refresh?
In case you couldn’t guess by the name – ‘Nintendo Switch (OLED)’, it’s not very catchy and very annoying for SEO – the key feature of this newer version is the 7 inch OLED screen.
The original screen for the Nintendo Switch is my biggest problem with the console – aside from the low performance and joy-con drift of course – and this OLED panel will likely be a huge step up. The LCD screen technology of the original console was already being phased out by monitors and TVs when the Switch originally landed, moving onto superior LED, QLED, and OLED tech.
Why is OLED better? Standing for “Organic Light Emitting Diode”, it allows each pixel to be individually lit because of the way they’re designed and manufactured. This is different from LCD screens which require backlighting panels. Ever noticed ‘bleeding’ around bright sources on your Switch screen? This is because of the backlighting panels, you’ll never get perfect image quality, and bright image sources will produce a haloing effect around their profile.
Because of the ability to light individual pixels independent of those next to them, OLED panels look crisper and produce far better contrast than basically any other panel in existence. It’s also brighter by default because of the way OLEDs are constructed.
LCD screens also have noticeably poor viewing angles, which – as is the theme here – becomes a non-issue on OLED panels, meaning you will likely be able to retain image clarity when using the stand on the console.
Are there any downsides to OLED screens? Well, yes. The only real concern is, sadly, a fairly notable one – ‘burn-in’. It’s the primary fumbling point for OLED technology that the images – if left static on the screen for too long – can quite literally burn onto the screen. It’s less of a problem nowadays for TVs, there’s plenty of settings that you can enable to prevent it. But the accepted fact is that – on TVs – all OLED screens will eventually receive some form of burn-in.
Whether that issue applies to the Nintendo Switch OLED I don’t know. Nintendo have had enough of an issue dealing with joy-con drift, let alone returns for burn-in, so one can only hope they’ve considered this notable problem.
Any other downsides? Well no, not really. OLED panels are considered the best for high quality gaming experiences right now, generally offering low response times, excellent colour accuracy, and everything else I’ve mentioned. The panel on the Switch OLED is quite a few steps above the below-average LCD screen on the original console.
Yep, the Switch OLED has a larger screen than both the Switch and Switch Lite. It’s an even 7 inches, versus the 6.2 and 5.5 inch of the Switch and Lite respectively. What’s more, the actual console itself is pretty much the same size which means that you’ve got much less bezel than the original Switch has. The bezel was pretty unsightly on the original Switch which generally didn’t help the already ‘cheap’ feeling of the console.
Combined with the OLED screen I discussed above, this 7 inch screen should look lovely. There’s no real downside here to be honest, everyone wanted a bigger screen, and they’ve got a bigger screen! Happy days.
Well actually, as a result of the exact same internals as the original console – don’t worry, we’ll get onto that – the screen is still 720p. This isn’t that bad on a screen the size of the Switch’s, but I figured it was worth a mention.
Larger Adjustable Stand
I’m sure we’re all aware of the frankly awful kickstand on the original Switch? Well worry not, because Nintendo have addressed that on the Switch OLED with a much longer adjustable kickstand.
It actually spans nearly the entire length of the console itself, features a neat little cutout for a cable to run through, and is able to be set at different angles. It’s a fairly comprehensive improvement over the shoddy stand on the original console, but it obviously remains to be seen on the build quality – something the Nintendo Switch does not currently have a lot of.
64GB Internal Memory
Yep, Nintendo have doubled the internal storage and the Switch OLED now offers 64GB – instead of the 32GB of the original release. This is no doubt a good improvement, but it’s hard to offer credit when it’s what the original console probably should’ve launched with.
Anyone who struggled with memory before has almost certainly purchased an SD card by now, making this a rather irrelevant improvement for anyone other than first time buyers. Still, I can’t look a gift horse in the mouth – at this point I’ll take anything.
Annnnnd to continue in the “things that it probably should’ve had in the first place” theme – along with the ‘actually-useful-stand’ and ‘actually-good-memory’ – the Switch OLED actually has a wired ethernet port now.
Yes, you read that correctly. The original Switch didn’t have an ethernet port, and required the purchase of an adaptor cable – something that wasn’t included with the console. Nintendo man, absolute jokers the lot of them.
Anyway yeah, the Switch OLED now has an ethernet port included. Like every home console since the original Xbox that came out 20 years ago.
New Colour Scheme & Redesigned Dock
Alright I’ve been kinda sarcastic this entire article to be honest, but I mean it; I love the new colour scheme. The blue/ red combination for the Switch no doubt evoked their brand, but the console has never looked premium in any way. The new black and white theme amends that slightly, and frankly it looks lovely.
If you were to ask me, it’s the nicest the Switch has ever looked. The dock has had some very subtle design changes as well, adding in smooth radiuses to corners and a neat little cable tidy around the back that goes a long way. Like I said, the original console didn’t look or feel very premium, and I’m not getting that vibe at all from the Switch OLED. Nintendo have always struggled designing something functional AND pretty, so I’m into the aesthetic on show here. Looks lovely.
Why Am I Not Keen On It?
To be perfectly honest, it’s because this Switch OLED isn’t up to snuff. I was doubtful of a Switch Pro releasing in 2021, especially after the Bloomberg article claiming DLSS support and docked 4K. Nintendo have never exactly kept up with the par in terms of performance, so I didn’t expect anything before 2022 personally.
What’s bizarre is that the Bloomberg article in question was pretty damn accurate otherwise! The OLED screen, the 7 inch screen size, the release window, and a few other things, making it an incredibly accurate insider piece.
Quite what happened between that article and the announcement yesterday is beyond me. There’s been speculation that the chip shortage has forced Nintendo to scale back the console, which makes sense. It’s the same shortage that’s causing the stock issues with the Series X and PS5.
There’s been the “it’s Nintendo” reasoning, citing the 3756 different versions of their previous consoles. Again, this makes sense. The Nintendo Switch is selling bucket loads, fast approaching 100 million sales. Why invest in a huge hardware upgrade when you can just refresh it with incremental improvements? The argument against this is that modern releases on the Switch have been struggling since it launched. This isn’t like previous Nintendo consoles where they didn’t need the performance because of differing ports, or different games entirely. The Switch is getting severely hampered versions of brand new games, making the need for better hardware even more obvious.
The last explanation? That they’re reserving the Switch Pro – whatever that looks like now – for the release of Breath of The Wild 2 next year. Whether this holds up I don’t know, only time will tell, but from the trailer it seemed pretty obvious that Breath of The Wild 2 is graphically superior to the first game. This could be Nintendo just getting to grips with the hardware, but I’m not sure myself.
Irrespective of why, it’s safe to say the Switch OLED just… isn’t that impressive? An OLED screen is lovely, the original screen just wasn’t good. It’s that simple. But the battery life is still exactly the same, by which I mean pretty crap. Nintendo quotes the same 5-10 hour span in the Switch OLED, which as we know means 5 hours and not much more. In fact given the higher power draw of an OLED panel it’s pretty likely that the battery life could actually be worse.
Things like the kickstand that’s actually usable, the ethernet port, the 64GB memory, all of these are things that should’ve been included originally. Nintendo are essentially charging an extra £30 for features that were straight up missing, plus an OLED screen.
Make no mistake, the OLED screen should be a stunner. Barring any major shifts in screen technology it’s the best there is, bar none. There’s a reason the CX range of LG TVs are considered the best in the business for video games.
Is the screen enough to justify another £310? It’s hard to say. It’ll be the obvious pick for newcomers, but I imagine a hard thing to justify for those who already own either of the original Switch variants. I myself might buy one just because of how much I dislike the LCD screen, but even then…
Either way the Switch OLED exists and no, it’s not the Pro you were looking for. But hey, black and white looks cool right?
I’ve been playing video games in some form or another for nearly two decades. My favourite campaign of all time is Halo: Combat Evolved and my favourite multiplayer of all time is Overwatch, with a dash of Halo 3. Huge lover of everything gaming, no matter the platform or source, and I enjoy a story driven campaign like nothing else!