Nintendo try to Switch-it up with the new Switch OLED

The new Nintendo Switch OLED playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

It feels like years that it has been doing the rumour circuit.  The clamouring for the Switch Pro has almost existed as long as the Switch itself, with fresh rumours appearing every year.  Something changed this year though, with the Bloomberg report a little before E3.  This was a reliable news source spilling the beans and reputable gaming news sites followed.  Evidence of manufacturing kicking off and deals on new screens added some extra weight to the speculation.  

Now, finally, the prophets can claim themselves to be as right (and wrong) as Nostradamus.  Nintendo have announced a new version of their massively successful Switch console.  Just how accurate were those rumours though and will this be able to make Nintendo once again the console to have this holiday season when it is released in October?

The announcement trailer, showing off the clean looking white design

The first part is likely to depend on which rumours you were reading and believing.  If the rumourmonger was being realistic about expectations, then it is likely to have been closer to the truth.  If you were won over by talk of fancy upscaling tech to really show off those smooth curved surfaces in the Mushroom Kingdom than you are probably going to be disappointed.

With the now named Switch OLED, the biggest change is spelt out in the name.  That is the new, slightly larger, OLED screen.  We are getting a whole 7 inches, compared to the previous 6.2.  It isn’t going to be a night and day change from the perspective of screen size, although those annoyingly large bezels will be quite a bit less noticeable now.  We also aren’t seeing any change in resolution, with the same 1280×720 when handheld.  This might disappoint many that were getting excited by the 4k talk, but I can’t say it comes as a massive surprise that they aren’t reaching for those sorts of heights. 

The change in screen display tech is going to give a noticeably improved presentation though, capable of darker darks and brighter brights.  The current screen offers some underwhelming brightness, particularly in sunlight, so this is definitely a welcome change.  It is also a change that isn’t going to be easy to sell and one that isn’t going to be particularly noticeable for must outside of side-by-side comparisons.

Perhaps the other big change is the storage capacity that is doubling from 32GB up to 64GB.  As there were quite quickly games out for the Switch that could not fit on the internal storage or would take up almost all of it, this was a much-needed change.  Anyone serious about downloading games is still going to want to get an SD card, but this should make it less of a necessity and I would expect many of the target audience of the Switch to continue buying physical games for the most part, with a few indie digital games.  For them, 32GB was likely okay, with the need to delete the odd game from time to time.  With 64GB, they are likely to never need to delete again.

Nintendo Switch OLED in white dock and the white joy-cons in the charging grip
No word on whether the dreaded joy con drift has been resolved yet or if they are just getting a white paint job

The other changes are fairly minor and will likely only be of benefit to people with particular use cases.  First of these is an improved speaker.  The current speaker is quite poor, but the sound output on the Switch is weak even when using other speakers/headphones.  There isn’t any indication that there will be improvement on how it handles sound internally, so this is only really of benefit for those that are likely to be regularly using the Switch handheld without headphones. 

Similarly, the ethernet port is a nice addition that some will find useful.  The current Switch doesn’t have great wi-fi and we can assume the situation will be the same with the new model.  This should help a lot, but it is also something that only a few users are likely to actually take advantage of.  Lastly, there is the stand, which is much wider and more adjustable.  Again, a needed improvement that is good to see, but I’m not sure how many people actually use the stand anyway.

So, onto that second question at the top of the article, is it worth buying?  My gut reaction, as a Switch owner, is that the additions are pretty much all things that I have felt should be improved with the current model, but I don’t see them being good enough to entice me.  However, if I was someone who hadn’t gotten around to picking up a Switch, I would likely be holding off until this was available. The improved screen is enough of a selling point, whilst the other changes are certainly nice to haves and altogether it warrants the slightly increased price.

That price is currently stated as being $350, with other regional Western pricing not announced.  I would expect to see it not far off that price with the $ replaced with a £, perhaps about £325 mark.  That would make it around £45 more than the old model (£279).  For the slightly higher fee, the nicer screen will be worth putting down a little more for.  Only thing to consider is the effect on battery life.  Nintendo are stating it as having the same battery and longevity as the LCD model, but I would expect that is going to very much depend on how you are using it.  If you are going to take advantage of that brighter screen it could well be sucking more juice.

Assuming that is all fine though, then I don’t see much reason for a new Switch owner to not go for the slightly better model.

The Switch OLED will be hitting stores on the 8th October.  The original Switch and Switch Lite look like they will both still be still available.

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