Nintendo Switch vs. Nintendo Switch OLED: Is it worth the upgrade?

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The Nintendo Switch has sold over 630 million games. But how many games are available? Well, by the last count there were almost 3,950 titles to choose from. The most popular game is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which has sold almost 40 million copies.

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It’s a little bit more than just a display change

The Nintendo Switch, a handheld gaming console first launched in 2017 and quickly became one of the fastest-selling devices. As of June 2021, almost 90 million units had been sold. This includes the 16 million units of the revised Switch Lite.

In October 2021, a new version of the console will be released, in the form of the Switch OLED. It will still support all the previous games, but there is one big (or minor, depending on the consumer) difference between the two: a slightly larger screen.

The original Nintendo Switch

Launched to much praise from industry critics, the device was also well-received by gamers. In the first week of being available, it broke the record for Nintendo’s fastest-selling console ever. Not only that, but it sold at such a fast pace that it reached 50 million units sold quicker than both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. 

Nintendo Switch with Gray Joy‑Con

So, purely looking at the numbers, it is clear to see that the original Switch has firmly entrenched itself in the market. Initial game offerings were sparse, but as of June 2021 more than 630 million titles have been sold.

What the Nintendo Switch offers

The Switch offers gamers a way to play mobile games on the go. The titles are on game cartridges and slot into the device for access. Digital versions can also be downloaded from Nintendo’s online store.

For directing the on-screen action, the device ships with two controllers, which collectively are called a Joy-Con. On the left controller (or Joy-Con L), there is a thumbstick and a direction pad. On the right controller (or Joy-Con R), there is another thumbstick and action buttons. These A, B, X and Y buttons are similar to what you would find on an Xbox or PlayStation controller.

What makes the console unique, is that the Joy-Con can be detached while the device is placed in a dock. This allows you to see the action on a television screen instead of on the display. When the Joy-Con is slotted into the charging grip, it takes on the size and feel of a regular console controller.

In terms of specifications, the original Switch has a 6.2-inch LED touchscreen, a handheld resolution of 720p, or a docked resolution of 1080p. It comes with 32GB of expandable storage space and the battery lasts between five and nine hours.  

Where the Nintendo Switch falls flat

There aren’t too many things that you can fault the original Nintendo Switch for, but the most common complaint is that it doesn’t have any support for a LAN cable. The device makes use of Wi-Fi to connect to the Nintendo store, and the controllers use Bluetooth to communicate with the device. 

The only way that users can connect the console to a wired connection is by buying a third-party USB LAN adapter. This provides a wired connection only when the device is docked. The console is also only sold with 32GB in storage space. It can be expanded, but straight out of the box it doesn’t leave a lot of room for many games.

The new Nintendo Switch OLED

Nintendo Switch (OLED model) w/ White Joy-Con

The new Nintendo Switch OLED is scheduled to hit the shelves in October 2021. As the name implies, it uses an OLED display for gaming visuals, opposed to the LCD display of the original.

Besides the difference in the screen measurements, at first glance, there isn’t too much that sets the two consoles apart. The Joy-Con devices are identical, as are the internal custom Nvidia Tegra X1 chipset and the overall size of the console.

What the Nintendo Switch OLED offers

For all the similarities between the two, the 13% bigger screen is what will draw potential first-time owners to the handheld console. And the use of a 7-inch OLED instead of a 6.2-inch LCD will make the visuals crisper and more clear. Gamers should immediately be able to notice a difference in brightness, contrast,and viewing angles.

Another change that will be visible right away is the color of the Nintendo Switch’s dock. The original console has a black dock, but the OLED version comes in a sleek white. The adjustable stand at the back of the console has also been widened so that it covers more surface area when placed on a table.

In terms of specifications, it ships with 64GB of storage (which can be expanded), and uses the USB-C, 3.5mm audio and microSD connectivity as the original. The only difference here is that the OLED comes with a built-in wired LAN cable port.

Where the Nintendo Switch OLED falls flat

Just as with the original design, there aren’t too many complaints with this Switch. The initial issues have been corrected, but since the console hasn’t been released yet, it is unclear how it performs.

It is marginally heavier than the original Switch, but that shouldn’t matter too much to gamers. The increased display size adds to this discrepancy, which could also affect the console’s battery life. Generally, OLED displays are more energy-efficient but since the display is 0.8-inches bigger, it could drain a bit faster.

Should you get the original Nintendo Switch or the Nintendo Switch OLED?

If you have been looking for an excuse (not that there should be one) to get a Nintendo Switch, then the OLED version is where you should put your money. But don’t expect it to be the same price as the original version. 

The Nintendo Switch currently costs $299, and the OLED model will set you back around $349. It’s only a $50 increase, but for what you get, it is well worth it. There is also no need to wait for Nintendo Switch OLED games to be released, as all the previous Switch games are fully compatible.

Should you get the OLED version if you already have the original Switch? Well, that might be a bit of a hard sell. You would be paying $349 for essentially the same console which plays the same games, at the same resolution (whether docked or not), with the same battery life. 

If the visual quality and enhanced audio are the only factors that matter to you, then you should consider buying it. But as for the other features, it is hard to justify another purchase.

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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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