Nintendo Switch OLED review: A bright future

The Nintendo Switch OLED launches this week and we got to check out all its pretty colors in action ahead of time.

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The Nintendo Switch is a great piece of technology. Since its launch it has straddled the line between home console and on-the-go handheld gaming. A few years back we saw the console get its first iteration with the launch of the Switch Lite, which offered consumers a more portable model at a lower cost with no docking capabilities. The tech pendulum seems to be swinging in the other direction with Nintendo's newest model though, the Nintendo Switch OLED. While it does raise the price point slightly it also offers up the best portable visual experience that I’ve ever seen.

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I can see clearly now

The big change for the Switch OLED is right there in the name itself. The newest model offers up a 7-inch OLED screen with a nice beveled edge. It’s very shiny and smooth aesthetically, but of course it’s all about how good it makes your games look while you’re playing them, and it does that exceptionally well. The color saturation of the OLED screen is nothing short of fantastic. Everything comes across extremely sharp and detailed.

I played a hefty number of various games to see what this puppy could do visually including Mario Kart 8, Super Mario Odyssey, Bayonetta 2, and PAC-MAN 99 to name a few. In each instance the graphics were clear, detailed, and man-oh-man do those colors pop! The neon vibrancy of PAC-MAN 99, and the multicolored menagerie that is Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road stuck out in particular to me. The deep, deep reds of Mario Odyssey and the Konami logo background when booting up the recently released Castlevania Advance Collection left me extremely impressed as well.

The screen is also quite viewable from various angles and from a distance. I playtested the Switch OLED in a number of scenarios. I put it on my desk and leaned back a foot or two in my chair and I could still see everything clearly. I tried it out in handheld mode with a lamp on in the background, laying on my bed with the sun shining down… basically any which way and any lighting scenario I could think of, I tried it and the Switch OLED still shined brightly. As one would expect, the OLED screen really is the star of the show.

Can I kick(stand) it?

My other favorite new feature on the Switch OLED model is the vastly improved kickstand. Instead of being a little leg that pops out that can only prop it up at one viewing angle, the new kickstand takes up most of the Switch’s back. It has a strong hinge that can prop up the screen at a variety of angles and it’s extremely easy to adjust as well. It may seem odd to celebrate such a feature, but it really is quite the quality of life improvement and shows that Nintendo is thinking about the little things when making incremental upgrades.

Pump up the volume and storage

The Switch OLED also sports a new kickin’ sound system that’s sharper and louder than the old model. As someone who tends to wear headphones or keep the volume down when I use my Switch I wasn’t really blown away by this particular upgrade, but you can tell the difference between the original Switch’s speakers and the OLED’s. If audio quality is a make or break feature for you though, you won’t be disappointed here.

Along with the banging new sound system, the Switch OLED comes with 64GB of internal storage. That’s double the amount of storage of the original Switch and Switch Lite and you’re still able to expand upon that with a MicroSD card if you choose to do so.

What’s up, dock?

Along with all the new features that the Switch OLED brings to handheld and tabletop modes comes a redesigned dock for when you feel like taking your adventures to the big screen. This new dock features a back cover that simply pops off rather than being on a loose hinge. It also replaces the extra USB-port in the back with a new Ethernet port. Since there’s already two USB-ports on the side of the dock, I think this is a fair exchange. Though, as I mentioned in my OLED preview, it won’t do anything to improve Smash’s netcode, it should help you download games quicker and give you a more solid internet connection and also save you $30 on Ethernet dongle.

The dock also adds divots on the internal part of the docking bay itself to keep your screen from getting scratched as you take your Switch in and out of it. It just shows that same attention to detail that I was talking about with the kickstand.

We’re halfway there

I think the Switch OLED is an overall improvement on the standard model and I’d be hard-pressed to say otherwise. But that’s also just it, this is still the same Switch you’ve been playing under the hood. All the operating software, computer chips, and what have you are all the same as the previous models (beyond the 64GB storage). It’s Malibu Stacy with a new hat and I’m Waylon Smithers. Not that the Switch stinks or anything like that, I’m just noting that this is only an incremental improvement, a mere stepping stone in what we can only speculate will be its next great evolution. And I don’t even think we’re anywhere near seeing the Nintendo Switch’s final form.

What I said in my hands-on preview still holds true here: If you don’t have a Switch yet and the cost isn’t a factor, you should throw down an extra $50 USD and get yourself a Switch OLED. If you’re happy with the Switch you have now, you’re probably okay. I think the Nintendo Switch is one of the greatest consoles ever made and the OLED is the best version on the market at this point. With chip shortages and all sorts of other craziness abound, I personally don’t think we’re going to be seeing a major leap from a technical standpoint anytime soon, so I’d encourage you to get one while you can.


This review is based on hardware provided by Nintendo. The Nintendo Switch OLED will be available on October 8 2021 with an MSRP of $349.99 USD.

Reviews Editor

Blake has been writing and making videos about pop-culture and games for over 10 years now. Although he'd probably prefer you thought of him as a musician and listened to his band, www.cartoonviolencemusic.com. If you see him on the street, buy him a taco or something. Follow him on twitter @ProfRobot

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Pros
  • OLED screen really makes colors pop
  • Doubles the built-in storage
  • A much better kickstand
  • Dock now has an built-in Ethernet port
  • Probably the best version of the Switch so far
Cons
  • Internally still just a standard Switch
From The Chatty
  • reply
    October 6, 2021 6:00 AM

    Blake Morse posted a new article, Nintendo Switch OLED review: A bright future

    • reply
      October 6, 2021 6:02 AM

      DF reviews the Oled Switch

      https://youtu.be/FVrr-ojAKWI

      • reply
        October 6, 2021 6:26 AM

        I have a co-worker wanting to get one but he doesn't think he will be able to get one here in PHX.

        • reply
          October 6, 2021 8:08 AM

          I'd like one. My kid has stolen my Switch.

      • reply
        October 6, 2021 8:10 AM

        good news: Target shipped mine.

        bad news: Scheduled for Monday delivery :/

    • reply
      October 6, 2021 8:34 AM

      Looking like Walmart will be shipping mine on the 8th, so still almost a week away for me but I'm hyped

    • reply
      October 6, 2021 8:35 AM

      I pre-ordered from Walmart using my old address, and apparently I can't update a pre-order; I have to cancel and re-order :(

      Wonder if I can use UPS or Fedex to re-route it.

      • reply
        October 6, 2021 9:09 AM

        I've been able to get Fed-Ex to reroute a package before. I don't know if I'd bank $370 on it though

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      October 6, 2021 9:54 AM

      350 nits? Damn that’s low. The iPhones 800+ now without HDR

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        October 6, 2021 10:00 AM

        Your phone gets more use in open daylight for short amounts of time, 350 nits is in the same ballpark as the other switch versions and even then most people use the auto setting or lower for battery time and playing comfort and prolonged sessions.

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