28 Oct 2021 1:40 PM +00:00 UTC

Nintendo Switch OLED Review - Stylish but Superfluous

Sometimes it feels like Nintendo doesn’t want you to upgrade your console. While many players were hoping for a 4K-enabled Switch Pro, Nintendo unveiled the Switch OLED instead – and says it has “no plans for any [other] new model.” 

Despite an extra inch of screen on a console no larger than the original console, it's disappointing that the OLED goodness is still limited to 720p resolution. That is, until you load up some games and experience it for yourself.

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Read More: Metroid Dread Review: Nintendo's Sci-Fi Masterpiece

Screen for Days

Pokémon Snap is my favourite title to make best use of the gorgeous new screen in my opinion. While our reviewer Joel didn’t have a lot of fun with the photography simulator, I couldn’t wait to jump into its DLC with renewed vigour and a fresh OLED display. The new levels are mostly river and desert-themed: splashing water looks refreshing and steaming pools of poison look suitably uninviting. Put simply, it's the perfect game to showcase the best of the Switch's improved screen.

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Gengar creeps out of a portal in the shadows.
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All your Pokémon Snaps look even more stunning on the OLED screen

When yeeting an Illumina Orb into a dark cave or see Gengar’s glowing eyes appear out of the shadows makes you feel like a true Pokémon trainer again. The wonder and awe as you watch the magnificent Illumina Wishiwashi perform a haunting neon light show in the deepest depths of the ocean is made somehow more impressive by a 13% larger screen and the enhanced shadows and contrast that OLED provides. 

You’d think that Nintendo’s upgraded console would shine in the brightest scenarios, but with Metroid Dread, OLED’s effective launch title, those shadows shine too. Slimy aliens and bright bursts of laser fire break through the shadows, and you can almost feel the gentle glow of hot lava through the screen.

Premium Product, Premium Price

The Switch OLED has additional quality of life improvements too – better speakers, a sturdy kickstand the length of the console, and an ethernet port in the dock are all welcome additions over the base console. That’s before you mention the sleek white design that makes the OLED feel more mature and – put simply – it looks really, really cool.

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The white Nintendo Switch OLED stands on a wooden table.
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Don’t get me wrong, premium design comes with a premium price tag – the Switch OLED will set you back around £310, £60 more than the standard model. If you’ve already got the standard Switch (especially the newer version that has the same battery life as the OLED), then it’s a lot of money to splash on relatively unnecessary upgrades.

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Trading-in is an option of course, as the original Switch still retains a lot of value. But having two such similar consoles with a combined value of over £500 is undoubtedly a luxury. However, many original Switch consoles are barely fit for purpose any more. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, I could only play games on the move for about four hours before the battery was depleted and my Joy-Cons drift more than a Fast and Furious movie. While Nintendo hasn’t officially stated that drift has been eliminated on the OLED, the company hinted that improvements are constantly being made. 

So is it worth upgrading to a Switch OLED? It largely depends on your current system.

Time to Buy?

It’s worth noting that moving your save data to a new console is an absolute faff. You can mostly switch things across using the console’s system settings, but games like Pokémon Sword and Shield and Animal Crossing require more elaborate approaches. For all of the data you need both consoles to hand, so don’t trade your old Switch in before buying your new one or your data will be lost to the ether. 

The white Switch OLED in front of a red background.
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In a generation where Microsoft can store all of your personal and save data in the cloud enabling you to pick up seamlessly where you left off on another console, PC, or mobile simply by signing in, the Switch has a lot of ground to make up. This process is neither universal nor user-friendly, and if you want to continue using another Switch as a second device, you’ll have to be connected to the Internet at all times in order to play your digital games too. A cynic may suggest that Nintendo wants to crack down on game sharing, but its process for doing so has made upgrading an unenviable experience. 

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Nintendo Switch OLED - Is It Worth It?

This won’t matter if you’re new to the console family, in which case the OLED is by far the best option. It’s the way to experience Nintendo games, whether you’re into the retro offerings of the Online Pass, your jumping into a run of Dark Souls or Metroid Dread, or you just want to see your Animal Crossing island in its finest and most fashionable glory. 

The OLED screen is the pot of gold at the end of Rainbow Road – which looks even more resplendent now – but despite the Switch OLED’s stylish additions, the system ultimately feels superfluous. It’s a luxury I'll enjoy, though.

Click Here To Buy: Nintendo Switch OLED Model on Amazon