EW tested the new OLED Nintendo Switch for 3 months — here's what you can expect
When Nintendo launched its newest console last October, the Nintendo Switch OLED model, many quickly pointed out that it wasn't exactly the "Pro" version of the Switch about which rumors had been flying. Yet the bigger question remained as to whether the new OLED model — which came with a bigger screen, higher contrast, longer battery life, all in the same handheld size as its previous edition — was worth the money.
EW requested an OLED console from Nintendo and put it to the test over three months. While it's not exactly a rework or replacement to the previous Switch, the new OLED model is a retooled console that improves upon many issues players have long had. And despite not being a pure successor to the Switch, the OLED model quickly sold out across major retailers within hours of its launch and has been nearly impossible to find ever since.
Thankfully, stock of the OLED model is finally being replenished, with the console easier now to find at Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and Target. Read on about everything you want to know about the new Nintendo Switch OLED.
How much does it cost and where can I buy it?
The new OLED model comes in two colorways: one with the original neon red and blue Joy-Cons, and another with brand new white Joy-Cons. The system costs $50 more than the previous Switch, and you can shop it at most major retailers, including Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy. If they're out of stock, you can always return to the links below to check for refreshed availability.
Weight, setup, and travel convenience
Upon getting the new OLED model, the first thing you'll notice is how much more compact its packaging is. Compared to the long, rectangular box the previous Switch came in, the new Switch's box is much smaller. Unboxing and setup are incredibly simple — all you need to do is charge up the main unit, attach its Joy-Cons, sign in to your Nintendo account, and you're good to go. Like the old Switch, you can play it in three modes: handheld, tabletop, or hooked up to an external screen such as a TV or monitor with the included Switch dock.
Those worried about weight and size differences between the old and new Switch can rest easy. The new OLED model comes in the exact dimensions as its predecessor and weighs an unnoticeable 25 grams more. It's just as easy and comfortable to hold in your hands as the previous model, so the two models are nearly identical physically. It also means that the new OLED model is just as convenient to bring on the go as the non-OLED Switch, and since their sizes are the same, you can easily fit it in your previous carrying case.
Screen, display, storage, and audio
Of course, the most noteworthy selling point to the new OLED Switch is its larger display and screen size. The 7-inch-wide OLED screen is truly a treat. Games like the unbeatable The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which was recently named the greatest video game of all time, and the new Metroid Dread, which features spooky surprises at every turn, are gorgeous to play on the new screen. It also factors in significantly higher contrast than the previous Switch, so it took a little time to get used to the sharp vibrancy and crisper definition offered by the new screen. Yet once you do, there's simply no going back.
The OLED Switch also has a much bigger storage capacity than the previous version, offering 64 gigabytes of internal storage compared to the Switch's 32 gigabytes. More storage means that gamers can put off having to pick up an extra microSD card to expand storage capacity on their Switch. Audio-wise, the most significant difference lies in the new Switch's Bluetooth capabilities. At long last, you can connect headphones or earbuds to the Switch seamlessly via pre-installed Bluetooth built in — a feature also made available to old Switch models after a September 2021 upgrade. So playing it in noisy environments like airplanes won't mean sacrificing sound quality.
Main improvements and differences
At a quick glance, the major improvements introduced on the OLED Switch include brighter contrast, a wider screen, Bluetooth connectivity, and the new white Joy-Cons style. These upgrades come without sacrificing the lightweight convenience and versatility many people love about the previous Switch. The OLED model's Joy-Cons are just as easy to use as its predecessor, and you can buy extras to support multiplayer mode on games that can accommodate more than two players.
Yet only after having it for three months like I did will you notice one of its best improvements: A much longer battery life. One of the biggest gripes players had with the previous Switch was how easily it dies after playing for just a few hours, but I'm happy to report that the new OLED model can survive much longer. Having spent two days playing Breath of the Wild, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and the Internet-required Tetris 99 from morning to evening, I only needed to plug in my Switch overnight for it to fully recharge. I also noticed the new Switch overheating less than its predecessor.
Another underrated but vast improvement is the newly designed kickstand. I'm sure I'm not the only one who struggled with the older Switch's thin, flimsy kickstand, which frequently toppled over when using tabletop mode. Now that the OLED model's kickstand has been redesigned as a full-length panel at the back of the main unit, Nintendo has indeed fixed one of the most head-scratching features on the otherwise comfortable-to-use Switch. The full-paneled stand also allows for more flexibility in adjusting the tilt angle, so it's so much easier to play on different tabletop heights.
Players with unstable Wi-Fi internet can use the Ethernet LAN port built into the new OLED model's dock. Many fans of online-play games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and the Splatoon series will undoubtedly have dealt with poor connectivity issues that ruined a battle. With the new built-in wired LAN port, you can have less chance of your game being paused midway with a more stable internet connection.
Fortunately, all current Nintendo Switch games are compatible with both models, so the only thing you have to do is transfer player data from one console to the next to avoid having to restart your progress on certain games. Simply go to System Settings > Data Management > Transfer Your Save Data on your previous console to begin the process of sending data from your games on your older Switch to the new OLED model. No game becomes obsolete with the OLED Switch, and nothing requires an additional purchase. You can use your Nintendo Switch Online Membership on both consoles as long as you're signed in to your Nintendo account.
Bottom line: Is the Switch OLED model worth the price?
If you're new to the world of Nintendo Switch consoles, then yes, the $349 OLED model Switch is worth the price. All of the minor improvements — the stunning display with more vivid colors, versatility, and longer battery life — combine to make it an improvement over the older Switch model in both performance and design.
Current Switch owners will have to decide whether it's worth spending a chunk of their paycheck on the new console. If you don't mind the smaller screen or the inconvenience of having to play with the older Switch plugged in to avoid having the battery die mid-game, then paying another $349 to upgrade to a similar console might not be an immediate necessity. Frankly, while I like the brighter colors and stunning display on the new console, I still enjoy playing games on my old Switch.
The new OLED model is worth it for brand new Nintendo gamers, but not necessarily for current Switch owners, especially those on a smaller gaming budget. Regardless, anyone who decides to invest in this incredible console should hurry, as it is sure to sell out again. Shop it below.
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