The New Switch OLED Has Just Enough to Love

Evolutionary, not revolutionary

Key Takeaways

  • The Switch OLED is a new version of Nintendo's already great hybrid gaming console with a much improved screen.
  • Otherwise, it's virtually the same as the old one; it plays the same games, outputs to a TV at the same resolution, and fits all current accessories.
  • Purchasing a new Switch OLED will come down to your tolerance for spending money on what is essentially an evolutionary upgrade rather than a revolutionary one.
The new Switch OLED console in tabletop mode with detached white joy-con controllers and MarioKart 8 on screen.

Lifewire/Rob LeFebvre

The new Nintendo Switch with OLED screen is, hands down, the definitive version of Nintendo’s hybrid gaming console. It’s the Switch as it should have been four years ago, with a better kickstand, an amazing screen, more internal storage, and a LAN port in the dock, so you can hook it up to your network with a cable for a faster connection. 

That said, is it a must-buy? It really depends.

Wow, That OLED Screen

The new Switch's OLED screen looks amazing. The OLED technology makes for darker darks and more vibrant colors when compared to a traditional LED display. The bezels (the borders around the functional part of the display) are smaller, which gives you a larger functional screen (7-inches diagonal, as compared to 6.2 on the older Switch model). The result is immediately obvious when compared to the original Switch: the new OLED version just looks better. 

Three Switch consoles, Switch Lite, original Switch, new OLED switch off and on a table.
Even when powered off, you can see the difference with the new OLED screen.

Lifewire/Rob LeFebvre

Drop the new Switch into the dock meant to get the games onto a big screen, though, and the advantage disappears. Both old and new Nintendo consoles output to your TV at 1080p in favor of easy compatibility with all current Switch game titles. The resolution is also far lower than on consoles like the Sony PS5 or Xbox Series X, which bring 4K to gaming. 

If you’re a Switch newcomer, you can revel in the beauty of the OLED screen when in handheld mode and never even worry about it when you’ve got it docked to your big TV. If you’re upgrading from a previous Switch model, the joy is palpable but subtle. It’s easy to get used to the larger, more dynamic screen, but also easy to go the other direction. Once you’re involved in a gaming session, the size of the bezels matters even less. 

Upgrades Aplenty

That’s not to say the new OLED Switch doesn’t improve upon its predecessor. The internal memory has been doubled from 32GB to 64GB, giving you plenty more storage for games and save data before you have to invest in an SD card, which—like on the older model—tops out at 2TB, a heck of a lot of space for your stuff. So, again, there’s no functional difference between models, but for the new purchaser, 64GB is a nice start. 

The rear panel of the new Switch OLED's dock, with power, HDMI and LAN cables connected.
Power, HDMI, LAN cable in the new dock.

Lifewire/Rob LeFebvre

The new TV dock is compatible with both the new OLED Switch and the older model, as is the older dock version. They both connect to your television with HDMI and can output up to 1080p. The new white one has a couple new things going for it, though, including a rear panel that removes completely for easier access to the input ports. The addition of a LAN port in favor of the older model’s USB port is fantastic for those who want lag-free multiplayer gaming or (in the case of upgraders) players who need to download large gaming libraries to the new console. 

The Switch OLED’s kickstand is a massive improvement over the original. The newer model runs the entire back of the console and will hold it at any angle on a flat surface. The wider stand can help when that flat surface isn’t a desk, table, or airplane tray, too, making watching Hulu or playing a game in a bed more feasible, if that’s your thing. If you play multiplayer games with friends on the go, the new kickstand makes the upgrade incredibly useful. Even if you don’t, having a wider range of viewing angles is most welcome. 

Beyond that, there are some upgraded power and volume buttons, along with a bit of a heat vent re-design, plus what looks like a recessed reset button. The game card slot and headphone jack seem the same (though you can now use Bluetooth headphones with any model Switch). 

The top edge with power and volume buttons on new and original Switch consoles, stacked on top of each other.
New OLED Switch on the bottom, original on top.

Lifewire/Rob LeFebvre

Design Matters

My children are way past the age where they share a family Nintendo Switch. When we bought our first one in 2017, we bought the model with the gray Joy-Con controllers. We quickly bought new ones (for four-player Mario Kart, of course) in purple and orange to complement the feel of the console, a fun, childlike joy reflected in the games Nintendo tends to favor. 

Now, though, my kids are gone to college with their own Switches. The new white color on the OLED Switch and dock is stunning and fits right in with our living room aesthetic (white walls, white TV shelf, etc.). It looks good sitting next to the other black gaming consoles, and I’m assuming it will complement the white PS5 I still hope to purchase at some point when they’re available again. 

Top down view of white Switch OLED console in white dock
It just looks classier.

Lifewire/Rob LeFebvre

Bottom line, the monochromatic design choice here (you can still buy a new OLED model with a black dock and red/white controller color scheme) is perfect for my more adult look. Does that really matter? No, but it feels like a classier experience, which has its own subtle pull on my preferences. 

Purchase Power

The new Switch OLED is a gorgeous upgrade on an already amazing hybrid gaming console that’s fantastic to play in the living room or on the go. But, again, should you buy a new Switch OLED? The new model is a relatively minor upgrade; if it were an iPhone, the legions of tech fans would be crying “evolutionary, not revolutionary!” And they wouldn’t be wrong. It is a better model, but is it enough better?

If you’re a newcomer to Nintendo’s hybrid gaming console, spend the extra $50 and get the new Switch OLED. You’ll immediately see the benefit of all the features, with the gorgeous screen, kickstand, and still lovely TV connection to inform your game time (not to mention all the amazing Switch games you can now play).

New Switch OLED console held in hand with Fire Emblem: Three Houses cutscene on screen.

Lifewire/Rob LeFebvre

Current Switch owners have a more difficult decision. Once you get past the additional benefits of the more current hardware, it’s a toss-up. If you’re a regular Switch gamer and play it in handheld mode most of the time, upgrading makes sense. You’ve probably already ordered or received yours, anyway. If you consider your Switch one of many gaming console options, or you mainly use it connected to your television, maybe wait until the rumored Pro comes out (Nintendo still says it has no plans for such a beast, but maybe it's just being cagey). 

The great part? Owning a Switch is a delightful gateway to all sorts of gaming experiences for all sorts of people. Whichever model you choose, you’re going to have a blast.

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