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Nintendo Switch (OLED Model) Hardware Review

Nintendo Switch (OLED Model) Hardware Review

When Nintendo initially announced the Nintendo Switch (OLED Model), I scoffed. Given months of rumours about a hardware upgrade akin to the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro, the idea that the Switch OLED was built around that screen and an ethernet cable seemed laughable, and felt like a quick, easy opportunity to cash in on the overwhelming success of the Switch, and the growing need amongst families to buy a new machine for another child. As it turns out though, the Nintendo Switch (OLED Model) is a sensational new unit, boasting some improvements that will tempt even the more hardcore audience, despite not boasting any processing changes.

Let’s begin by highlighting the many concerns fans have of the Nintendo Switch in its original form. Awkward access to the rear of the Switch dock, an aging display, Joycon drift, power port placement, battery life, and a flimsy kickstand amongst others have all been primary concerns of owners, but it seems Nintendo has been looking at that list, and has attempted to address as many as possible in this hardware update, so let’s reflect upon that list of concerns and the changes (or lack of) that have been made:

  • The hinged style panel of the original Switch was awkward for feeding cables through, but also meant the console took up unnecessary amounts of space in entertainment as a result. The dock bundled with the OLED features a completely detachable rear panel with makes access to power, HDMI and the newly added ethernet ports more convenient. 
  • The display is the highlight of the OLED. Though the unit is the same size, the amount of bezel in the Switch OLED, as opposed to the original, gives players 7” of display, opposed to the original Switch with 6.2”. A lack of bezel gives us more real-estate, while the OLED display itself makes the on-screen images pop like never before. The 720p portable resolution remains the same, but the technology of the display itself makes all the difference here. Older titles such as Mario Kart 8 burst from the screen even more than they did previously, not because of any improved chipset, but purely due to the display technology being utilised.
  • Joycon Drift – TBD, let’s see what the reporting is like in a few months. 
  • One of the most frustrating aspects of the original Switch was the fact that if you wanted to play portably but set the Switch on a desk you could, but as soon as the Switch required charging the way you played immediately had to change because the power port was in the bottom of the Switch. Unfortunately this one major personal peeve of mine remains a very noticeable issue in the OLED, though some rubber feet have been added allowing you to strategically place the Switch on the edge of a surface, making the port accessible and gametime possible. As much as it works, I think if I let my Switch sit precariously over the edge of my kitchen tiles in such a way though, I might have a heart attack. 
  • Despite a significantly improved delay that illuminates the area better than previous Switch variants, the battery life feels better than ever. Solid, uninterrupted sessions of Metroid Dread extended to 6-7 hours in length in my time pre-launch for both the game and the hardware, and the OLED handled that marathon admirably with at least another hour or two still to spare. 
  • The frankly pathetic kickstand of the launch model Switch is no longer, with a stand that that stretches the width of the Switch itself (not including the attached Joycon), while is also opposable, with an approximate 160 degrees of angle to work with allowing you to prop your Switch upright, or recline in back into whatever positions suit your situation best.
  • There’s an ethernet port now in the dock… but seriously don’t bother, half the time your Switch will be out of the dock requiring wifi connection as a result. Unless you’re a pro Smash Bros player, few will reap the benefits of this addition

If you’re a player who mostly wishes to play their Switch in docked mode, then the OLED Model probably doesn’t offer you too much. Games will still render in 1080p resolution, and of course the picture beyond that is dependent upon your television. The OLED Model is very much for the portable Switch player first and foremost. It’s nice to see new features like bluetooth support there from straight out the gate, but this was a recent addition to the 2017 launch model, so is no point of difference between the two. The 32gb of internal memory in the original Switch is doubled in the OLED, but the Nintendo superfan will most likely need to pick up a memory stick to give themselves that bit extra.

While nothing revolutionary, the Switch (OLED Model) is a great buy if you’re a fan of playing portably, and are looking for some smaller quality of life improvements in your playing experience. Not every concern has been addressed in this model, and it’s not going to stop the longing for a “Switch Pro”, or a “Super Switch”, but it’s a great option for new players or those enthusiasts looking for a bit more pizazz.

The Nintendo Switch (OLED Model) was provided to Player 2 for use by Nintendo Australia