(Pocket-lint) - Nintendo put more that a year's worth of speculation to bed when it announced a new version of the Nintendo Switch back in July. But it wasn't the widely expected 'Pro' model, instead it's the Switch (OLED model) - hardly a snazzy name, but it does what it says on the tin - which adds a few new features, not least an eponymous OLED display.
It'll be more expensive than the existing version and as there are no plans to withdraw that one, alongside the Switch Lite, it means there will be three models available for those looking for a new Switch.
Ahead of its 8 October 2021 on-sale date, we've been playing with the new Switch OLED behind closed doors to see how it compares to the current model and whether it's worth buying.
What's the same?
- Both work in handheld, TV and desktop modes
- 720p60 (handheld/desktop), 1080p60 (TV)
- Same processor: custom Nvidia Tegra X1
The Nintendo Switch OLED has a number of new features - the OLED has a larger screen, for example, thanks to less bezel - but beneath the hood it's essentially the same as the existing Switch on the inside.
This includes the battery, which is the same capacity for both models. But, given that the two consoles are almost identical in size, this makes more sense than we at first thought - as there isn't any more physical space to cram in more battery capacity (shame as this is, we don't want a thicker Switch).
Both consoles come with the exact same processing unit - a custom version of the Nvidia Tegra X1 - plus 4GB of RAM. They also each share similar screen specs, with a 720p60 resolution in handheld mode, 1080p60 when docked and plugged into a TV.
This effectively means that all the same Nintendo Switch games work across both consoles. Accessories too - including the Joy-Con controllers - as the size of each the Switch and Switch OLED is more or less the same.
Both come with a dock, two Joy-Con controllers, and a Joy-Con grip to turn them into a more conventional gamepad.
There are a few key differences between the Nintendo Switch (OLED model) and original Switch.
Size and weight
- Nintendo Switch dimensions: 102 x 239 x 13.9mm (with Joy-Cons attached)
- Nintendo Switch (OLED model) dimensions: 102 x 242 x 13.9mm (with Joy-Cons attached)
- Nintendo Switch weight: 297g (398g with Joy-Cons)
- Nintendo Switch (OLED model) weight: 320g (420g with Joy-Cons)
In terms of size and weight, there is little between them, even though the Switch OLED has a larger display. That display eats into the bezel of the original model, though, which is why the devices are exactly the same height - which is how the Joy-Cons are still compatible.
The Switch OLED is also fractionally longer and slightly heavier but, having held both side by side, you really won't notice the difference.
- Nintendo Switch: 6.2-inch LCD display
- Nintendo Switch (OLED model): 7-inch OLED display
By far and away the biggest difference betweem the models, both figuratively and literally, is the display.
As the newer console's name suggests, it now sports an OLED panel, which provides better colour accuracy, higher contrast, and overall better picture performance. It also has a wider viewing angle in comparison to the LCD panel used in the standard Switch.
Having compared the two that's not just talk, it's true: the OLED panel has a cooler white output that gives it the impression of a modicum of extra brightness; it's just a 'cleaner' looking image.
Thanks to the lack of a backlight (OLED pixels are self-illuminating), the screen doesn't require as large a bezel. That means the Switch OLED comes with a 7-inch display without increasing the size of the console itself. The standard Switch screen is 6.2-inches.
However, for whatever reason, the Switch OLED has a glossy edging beyond its screen, which is reflective to light. The bezel of the older Switch is matte, which is far less distracting.
While the original Switch features a built-in kickstand, it's tiny - at about 10mm wide - and not great at supporting the console for desktop mode.
The Switch OLED totally redesigns this with a kickstand that's not only the majority the width of the rear, but adjustable through a wide range of angles. It makes for easy repositioning for desktop play.
The microSD card slot is tucked behind each console's kickstand, if you're looking for it.
There's one consistent between the Switch and Switch OLED: both come in the classic 'Neon' colour option (one Joy-Con is blue, the other is pink).
Since launch the Switch has arrived in a multitude of other colours - including limited edition specials - while the Switch OLED will feature a standout white option, which looks nice and clean (even the dock is white for this model; it's black for the Neon version).
We suspect more colours and specials will appear over time for the OLED model, but it's just the two options at launch.
- Nintendo Switch: 32GB on-board storage, microSD card slot for expansion
- Nintendo Switch (OLED model): 64GB on-board storage, microSD card slot for expansion
The Nintendo Switch (OLED model) comes with double the storage capacity, which means you will be able to install twice as many games. However, 64GB is still relatively meagre, so you will want to buy a microSD card separately anyway - so factor in that cost. We've always considered it a mandatory requirement for the standard Switch, certainly.
Both consoles come with a charging dock that also carries TV connectivity. They each sport two USB 2.1 ports to their side and a HDMI output.
The big difference between the standard and OLED docks is that the latter now comes with wired internet connectivity too - in the form of a LAN port. This in instead of the hidden USB socket on the rear of the old Switch. You can only connect the standard Switch via Wi-Fi.
The OLED model's dock also has a removable rear panel, so you can easily dig into the sockets and then clip the rear panel back into place.
When docked, both consoles output 1080p60 and up to 5.1 PCM audio.
Note: the dock for the Switch OLED will be available to be purchased separately and is compatible with the older Switch.
Although Nintendo isn't providing specifics, the Switch OLED has enhanced sound output too. Its speakers are ported slightly differently, to deliver a louder and more immersive sound.
While that's good, sadly - and weirdly - the Switch OLED continues the lack of Bluetooth connectivity for headphones. We think this would have been a bit of a game-changer for the device, especially when out and about.
As exciting as a new Switch console sounds, there are relatively few significant improvements. Therefore, unless you are really after a much-improved display for handheld gaming, or haven't even purchased a Switch before, then we don't think it's worth the upgrade for existing Switch owners.
If you don't already own a Switch though, the OLED model is undoubtedly the best you'll be able to get - that glossy bezel aside. You will have to stretch your budget though, as it's £30 more expensive than the standard version. Still, that larger OLED display does make it appear more of the era; it's certainly a better-looking console than the original.