Why You Don't Need to Upgrade to Nintendo's OLED Switch

Save your money for the next Zelda game instead

Key Takeaways

  • The Nintendo Switch OLED Model goes on sale in October for $350. 
  • The screen and speakers are upgraded, but almost everything else stays the same. 
  • Finally, an adjustable kickstand that works.
The new Nintendo Switch OLED Version.

Nintendo

Nintendo Switch owners: Don’t panic. If you’re jealous of the newly announced OLED Switch, don’t be—it’s not for you, and you probably don’t need it. Probably.

The new Switch is pretty much the old Switch with a bigger, better OLED screen, upgraded speakers, a better kickstand (the old kickstand might be the worst kickstand ever included on a shipping product), and some extra storage. And if you mostly play with your Switch docked to a TV or monitor, then there are even fewer reasons to upgrade.

"I think for the majority of people, this Switch update is not necessary. Games will still run just fine, and most will look great. Only if you have money to burn and use your Switch often in undocked mode should you consider this," Christen Costa, CEO of Gadget Review, told Lifewire via email.

That Screen

The official name is the Nintendo Switch (OLED Model), and it will arrive in October. Internally, there is no change in performance, although storage doubles to 64GB over the current 32GB. Battery life also remains at the same 4.5-9 hours, and all existing games will work in the new model.

The differences are almost all external. The screen is now a nice, bright 7-inch OLED display, bigger than the old 6.3-inch LCD and way bigger than the Switch Lite’s tiny 5.5-inch screen. And, says Nintendo, you can now "enjoy enhanced audio from the system’s onboard speakers."

Nintendo Switch OLED model with stand

Nintendo

"I think the new screen is nice, but without a faster chip, I don't think it's really worth the upgrade," tech journalist and gamer Killian Bell told Lifewire via Slack. "Nice to have new speakers, too, but again, if you play it mostly docked, they don't matter, either," says Bell.

When I spoke to Bell, he told me that he will be buying the new model, but only because his old unit is so beaten up, he needs a new one anyway. The consensus, then, seems to be that this is a great update to keep the Switch fresh in 2021, but it is not worth buying if you already have one.

And if you use it docked, as a home games console hooked up to the TV? There is only one change that will affect you.

Docked Switch

The other part of the standard Switch package is its dock, the plastic cradle that connects to the Switch via USB-C, charges it, and augments its connectivity. The HDMI output remains the same, at the same video resolution. Other than its looks, the only change is the inclusion of an Ethernet port to connect the unit to your home network with a cable.

With the current version, you only get a USB A port inside the dock’s flappy door. For Ethernet, you need to add a dongle. But, seeing as that dongle is hidden and is a permanent addition to a plugged-in dock, there is zero practical difference once you’re set up.

Nintendo Switch OLED Model

Nintendo

It’s a shame that Nintendo didn’t take the chance to fix its JoyCon controllers, though. They remain the same, complete with the notorious "drift" problem caused by cheap components.

A Switch Pro?

Switch fans have long wished for a Switch Pro, a version with 4K video and an upgraded processor. This isn’t that. And perhaps there will never be a Switch Pro. Not as a simple upgrade to the Switch, at least. More likely is that the Switch Pro would be a new console entirely.

"It's highly unlikely Nintendo will release a Switch Pro in the next couple of years. This upgrade feels like a compromise made necessary because of pandemic work restrictions. The teams are likely still hard at work on the Switch Pro," says Costa.

That’s speculation, of course. But the real pull of Nintendo is the quality of its games. Would Zelda: Breath of the Wild be any more enjoyable in 4K? Probably not. And the 16-Bit Super Mario World, playable on the Switch as a download, still stands up today. So as long as Nintendo keeps coming up with these amazing games, we'll be happy.

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