If you’re into games, you know that Nintendo’s appeal has very little to do with brute force hardware power. But, here in a world populated by Xbox One X and PS5 consoles, the plucky Nintendo Switch is starting to feel a little dated. Now, the company has announced an upcoming hardware update in the form of the Nintendo Switch OLED. It’s not a revolutionary change, but there are some notable upgrades to justify the increased $350 price it will command when it hits store shelves on October 8th.
Meet the new creen
The new 7-inch Nintendo Switch OLED display represents the new Switch’s biggest upgrade over the original model. While it’s not bursting at the seams with more pixels (it maintains the 720p resolution), the new display has gotten some notable upgrades. The new model display measures 7-inches, up from 6.2-inches before. That’s also a considerable advantage over the Switch Lite, which has a 5.5-inch display with the same 720p resolution.
The switch to OLED (organic light-emitting diodes) should make a noticeable visual difference between the new screen and the old one. The Nintendo Switch OLED displays (like all OLED screens) rely on pixels that provide their own light, which means they can turn all the way off when they want to go really dark. That gives them the ability to create much darker blacks than screens that rely on side-lit or array-based backlights. So, while the whites are brighter, the blacks are also blacker, which improves the overall contrast. In short: Mario’s red overalls–and just about every other brightly colored object in the Nintendo universe–should really pop.
While a 720p resolution may seem outdated for just about any screen here in 2021, it seems likely Nintendo did everything in its power to manage a bigger, brighter screen with battery performance. More pixels draw more power, which means fewer bouts of Super Smash Bros. on that annoyingly long flight to Fresno.
Some rumors suggested the updated Switch would be able to output a 4K signal when playing on a TV in docked mode. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here. The Nintendo Switch OLED still tops out at 1080p when connected to a TV, which might be the most dated spec the Switch has to offer.
Other Nintendo Switch hardware upgrades
From the release, it seems like all of the computing hardware inside the Nintendo Switch OLED has stayed the same. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Those dreams of Metroid in all of its ray tracing glory will remain unfulfilled, at least for now. Nintendo has doubled the built-in storage up to 64 GB, though. The company also claims improved built-in speakers will make for a better multi-player experience when the screen is sitting on a tabletop.
The Nintendo Switch OLED will offer two colorways, including the familiar red and blue, as well as a slick white and black offering. All of your old accessories, such as controllers and Joy-Cons, will still work with the new OLED Switch right out of the box. The docking station also now offers a LAN port in case you want to hardwire your console into the internet. Every little bit of lag counts when you’re trying to dominate at Mario Kart. If you play a lot in tabletop mode, the upgraded kickstand should make the console less prone to tipping over and simpler to set up.
While this isn’t the Switch Pro that we’ve heard rumors about for literally years at this point, it is a notable upgrade. And even with a $350 price hike, it seems likely that these will be hard to get when they start hitting shelves on October 8th.