Switching Things Up: The Nintendo Switch OLED Model Reviewed

Alexander Voses, Editor-in-Chief

Approximately four years after the launch of the original Nintendo Switch in March, 2017, Nintendo has released an upgrade to this aging system that truly imbues the console’s brand as a whole with a breath of fresh air: the Nintendo Switch OLED Model—named after the swanky new OLED screen it sports. The system runs just as smoothly as its predecessor, with slightly more storage space and battery life, but the main difference is the screen and the noticeable improvement in graphics. While this version is probably not  a “must-buy” for current Switch owners, its value for newcomers is certain: this is the definitive Switch model and is fully worth the extra $50 for new owners.

High visual fidelity and immersion are often strived for in the medium of video games and the newly added 7.0” OLED screen is sure to help developers achieve these goals. The new screen sounds only a bit bigger than the original 6.2” screen, but holding them side-by-side, one can easily see the difference. The clarity with which the images are presented in this larger format genuinely makes the original Switch seem small by comparison, despite the fact that they both fit within the same “shell” housing the screen. The wider screen also puts less of a strain on the eyes than the original switch does, especially for some of the busier games. OLED screens are known for aiding contrast, and that is abundantly clear in all of the games I have played on it so far. The OLED screen adds depth to all of the colors on screen and especially helps the darkest parts of the screen pop out. I have mainly tested the new system out with Metroid Dread (the game Nintendo has been marketing alongside it and released on the same day), and this game perfectly showcases all of the best features of the new screen. The OLED screen makes the latest Metroid adventure feel much less cramped when playing in handheld mode, and the visual fidelity provided by the screen is also noticeable. I truly felt myself becoming lost on the distant alien planet on which the game takes place because of how immersive the screen allowed the world to become.

Also included in this new system are some smaller additions to the Switch that amount to substantial change when taken as a whole. The increase in battery life is welcome, and the increased storage space is sure to come in handy. At first, the new speakers seemed passable at best, but once I used them with some games that had a lot of audial depth to them, they really showed why they were a necessary upgrade. The biggest “add-on” for this package is definitely the new dock (the piece of hardware that connects the Switch to your TV or monitor), which has the added feature of a LAN (or wired Wi-Fi) port at the back. This is an incredible addition that was a sore lacking point of the original Switch. Downloads move much more quickly than on the original Switch, and wired online play is much smoother. These tiny features all add up to an incredible package.

Most of my qualms with the console are just minor inconveniences. The fact that the back of the dock now comes completely off is really annoying as you have to be fairly careful when removing or replacing it. Despite the fact that the joy-con, the Switch’s dual controllers, that were shipped with the console are the most up to date, they occasionally make a bizarre squeaking noise, which is hard to ignore. Other than these minor issues, I haven’t experienced any others of note.

The Nintendo Switch quickly became my favorite console after its launch, and now its successor is winning my heart over as well. However, based on the minimal new features, lack of hardware improvements, and some annoyances, I do not feel I can wholeheartedly recommend this product to current owners of a Switch. With the hefty price tag, it really is up to the individual whether or not they feel they can justify the price of a new system that plays all of the same games as their current console. However, if you’re ready to dip your toes into the ocean of gaming for the first time, this is definitely the best place to start.