By Isaac Espinosa
The Nintendo Switch, released on March 7th, 2017, took the West by storm because it introduced users to a cohesive gaming experience that combined handheld portable gaming with the home console experience. Since its launch, the Switch has sold over 93 million units worldwide, and it continues to be a popular holiday gift. The Switch has evolved over the years, and the newest member of the family, the Nintendo Switch OLED, is an interesting specimen.
The marketing for the Nintendo Switch OLED describes the console as a brand new Switch model that comes with one major improvement to the build: a brand new 7.0-inch organic light-emitting diode screen instead of the 6.2 inch LCD screen of the original console. OLED’s enhanced image quality means better contrast, higher brightness, a wider color range, and a much better full viewing angle, and the screen itself is more durable and consumes less power. Aside from the brand new screen, the Nintendo Switch OLED has increased storage capacity (64 gigabytes as opposed to 32) and is slightly heavier than previous models, although the weight difference is negligible and usually won’t affect gameplay. Other than these technological advances, not much has significantly changed from the original Switch.
The Switch OLED comes with plenty of quality of life changes, though, aside from the new OLED screen, that allow for a more convenient experience overall. The two that I feel are most important are the new kickstand for the console, and the brand new dock. The original Switch had a small, 58mm X 19mm kickstand, that in addition to holding up the console would be used to protect the insert for a microSD card. The Switch OLED, however, has upgraded the kickstand to be as wide as the console itself, allowing for more stability and comfort. It definitely helps if you tend to use the Switch undocked rather than docked. And the dock itself has a brand new coat of paint and a significant advancement: the USB port in the back of the console has been replaced by an ethernet port. Other consoles have had ethernet ports for quite some time; the original Xbox came with one – starting in 2001. But this addition is a revelation for Nintendo. Most of their products have required a secondary LAN adapter in order to connect a LAN cable to the console. Since a LAN cable is usually the preferred method of staying connected to the internet, the OLED dock would almost certainly be everyone’s top choice if it were sold separately.
So you’d think that with all of these enhancements, the Switch OLED is totally worth the price, right? Well, it depends. While there is no denying the clear improvements that the Switch OLED has over the original build, I would only recommend the new model if it would be your first ever Switch console, or if your current model is in dire need of an upgrade or repair. The original Nintendo Switch sold for $300, and the OLED costs $350. $50 dollars for the advancements detailed here sounds worth it, but perhaps not for anyone who has a working Switch and doesn’t need the boost in graphical power. This is not to say that I don’t find these changes impressive – far from it, actually. Games like Metroid Dread look amazing on the OLED screen, and Smash Bros, especially, looks marvelous. But these games already look pretty great on the Switch I already have. And the better graphics and quality of life changes aren’t enough to have me crashing down at my local Gamestop or Target, trying to find an OLED.
But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t buy it if you think it may be worth it. With the holidays here, the Nintendo Switch OLED is an amazing gift for someone who doesn’t have – but is dying to get – a Switch. Recently released games like Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, and Mario Party Superstars would make worthy new games to give as last minute gifts on a brand new Nintendo Switch OLED.
Bronx native Isaac Espinosa is a senior intern at the New York Videogame Critics Circle. Recently, Isaac was named the Circle’s first assistant mentor. He also published his first story in The Verge.