Nintendo surprised everyone earlier this week when it announced a brand new system – the main selling point being the new 7″ OLED screen. While it’s been confirmed there are no upgrades to the CPU or RAM, what it does include is a wider kickstand, enhanced audio, a stylish new dock and a wired LAN port.
A number of outlets have already had the chance to go “hands-on” with the system, so we’ve rounded up some of the highlights from each of these early impressions.
IGN loved the screen and likened the vibrancy to when the Game Boy Advance got updated, GameSpot said the new OLED screen won’t necessarily blow you away if you’ve already got a “solid” television and The Verge noted the handheld mode now feels like less of a compromise.
The strength of the new display (unsurprisingly) becomes even more obvious when turned on, immediately shining bright and clear from pretty much any viewing angle I tried. Honestly, it’s not an exaggeration to liken its vibrance to when the Game Boy Advance SP got an updated model with a far brighter screen, making the original Switch look noticeably dimmer if compared directly. Its colors are richer too, and I’m not kidding when I say Breath of the Wild’s grassy fields looked almost cartoonishly green viewed side-by-side.
The next most exciting feature of the OLED Model (somewhat surprisingly) is actually its improved kickstand. It’s no secret that the base model’s offset kickstand is flimsy and unreliable, but I wasn’t expecting this version’s to provide such a resounding response to the issues of its predecessor. Not only does it stretch all the way across the back of the Switch, its hinges offer a satisfying amount of resistance so that you can easily lean it at nearly any angle and be confident it will stay that way. It’s incredibly sturdy, with the same tactile matte finish as the back of the Switch Lite. If it weren’t for the charging port still being blocked while standing up, I’d say the need for a third-party stand is now all but dead.
While people who regularly play in docked modes with solid TV sets aren’t going to be blown away by the OLED model’s visuals, this still makes handheld mode look better than it ever has. It honestly made me interested in seeing how my other favorite games, like Bayonetta 2 or Smash Bros. Ultimate, would look on the new display.
…The key areas in which the Switch OLED sees improvements are focused on the handheld experience. While the handheld mode is convenient, it also offers less than perfect conditions for experiencing certain games compared to playing it docked. While I often prefer to play Switch games in the handheld mode, there are times where I do play games in the TV mode, which allows me to get a better sense of a game’s visuals and performance. Unfortunately, the significant improvement here being the OLED screen means the main benefit of the new model will be lost when playing in docked mode
So the Nintendo Switch OLED model justifies its existence, but does it justify an upgrade? For most people, the responsible answer is no. The improvements here are not going to unlock new game experiences or capabilities, they just make the current experiences a little nicer.
I don’t think I’m going to be responsible, though. I knew going in that it was “just” a Switch with a bigger, brighter screen. I know after playing it that handheld mode feels like much less of a compromise than it does today.
So there you go, some early impressions – of course, you can read them in full over on the respective websites. What are your own thoughts about the Switch OLED at this stage? Speaking to most, do you feel the need to upgrade? Do you think it might be a great place to start for a new Nintendo fan? As always, leave your thoughts down in the comments below.