Nintendo Switch OLED vs Nintendo Switch: What’s different?

(Pocket-lint) - Nintendo put more that a year's worth of speculation to bed when it announced a new version of the Nintendo Switch[1] back in July. But it wasn't the widely expected 'Pro' model[2]. It's the Switch (OLED model)[3] instead, which adds a few new features including an OLED display - hence the name.

We've played with one behind closed doors, so here's how it stacks up with the existing Switch.

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What's the same?

  • Both work in handheld, TV and desktop modes
  • 720p60 (handheld/desktop), 1080p60 (TV)
  • Same processor: Custom Nvidia Tegra X1

The Nintendo Switch OLED has a number of new features - the OLED has a larger screen, for starters - but beneath the hood it's essentially the same as the existing Switch on the inside. This includes the battery, which is the same capacity for each model. Both consoles also come with the exact same processing unit - a custom version of the Nvidia Tegra X1 - plus 4GB of RAM.

They also each share similar screen specs, with a 720p60 resolution in handheld mode, 1080p60 when docked and plugged into a TV. This effectively means that all the same Nintendo Switch games work across both consoles. Accessories too - including the Joy-Con controllers - as the size of each console unit is more or less the same.

Both come with a dock, two Joy-Con controllers, and a Joy-Con grip to turn them into a more conventional gamepad.

What's different?

There are a few key differences between the Nintendo Switch (OLED model) and original Switch.

Size and weight

  • Nintendo Switch dimensions: 102 x 239 x 13.9mm (with Joy-Cons attached)
  • Nintendo Switch (OLED model) dimensions: 102 x 242 x 13.9mm (with Joy-Cons attached)
  • Nintendo Switch weight: 297g (398g with Joy-Cons)
  • Nintendo Switch (OLED model) weight: 320g (420g with Joy-Cons)

In terms of size and weight, there is little between them, even though the Switch OLED has a larger display. That display eats into the bezel of the original model, though, which is why the devices are exactly the same height. This is the reason the Joy-Cons are still compatible.

The Switch OLED is also fractionally longer and slightly heavier but, having held both side by side, you really won't notice the difference.

Display

  • Nintendo Switch: 6.2-inch LCD display
  • Nintendo Switch (OLED model): 7-inch OLED display

By far and away, the biggest difference betweem the models is the display. As the newer console's name suggests, it now sports an OLED panel, which provides better colour accuracy, higher contrast, and overall better picture performance. It also has a wider viewing angle in comparison to the LCD panel used in the standard Switch.

Having compared the two, that's not just talk. The OLED panel has a cooler white output that gives it the impression of a modicum of extra brightness - it's a "cleaner" looking image. Thanks to the lack of a backlight (OLED pixels are self-illuminating), the screen doesn't require as large a bezel.

That means the Switch OLED comes with a 7-inch display without increasing the size of the console itself. The standard Switch screen is 6.2-inches. However, for whatever reason, the Switch OLED has a glossy edging beyond its screen, which is reflective to light.

The bezel of the older Switch is matte, which is less distracting.

Built-in kickstand

While the original Switch features a built-in kickstand, it's tiny - at about 10mm wide - and not great at supporting the console for desktop mode.
The Switch OLED has a much beefier kickstand. Not only does it run the across the width of the rear, it's adjustable through a wide range of angles.

This makes for better repositioning for desktop play. The microSD card slot is tucked behind each console's kickstand.

Colour options

While both consoles come in the classic 'Neon' colour option (one Joy-Con is blue, the other is red), the Switch OLED will also be available in a standout white option, which looks nice and clean. Even the dock is white for this model - it's usually only in black plastic.

We suspect more colours and specials will appear over time for the OLED model, but it's just the two options at launch.

Storage

  • Nintendo Switch: 32GB on-board storage, microSD card slot for expansion
  • Nintendo Switch (OLED model): 64GB on-board storage, microSD card slot for expansion

The Nintendo Switch (OLED model) comes with double the storage capacity, which means you will be able to install twice as many games. However, 64GB is still relatively meagre, so you will want to buy a microSD card separately anyway - so factor in that cost. We've always considered it a mandatory requirement for the standard Switch.

Dock

Both consoles come with a charging dock that also carries TV connectivity.

They each sport two USB 2.1 ports to their side and a HDMI output. The big difference between the standard and OLED docks is that the latter now comes with wired internet connectivity too - in the form of a LAN port. This is instead of the hidden USB socket on the rear of the old Switch.

You can only connect the standard Switch via Wi-Fi. When docked, both consoles output 1080p60 and up to 5.1 PCM audio. Note: the dock for the Switch OLED will also be available to purchase separately and is compatible with the older Switch.

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Audio

Although Nintendo hasn't yet provided specifics, the Switch OLED has enhanced sound output.

Its speakers are ported slightly differently, to deliver louder and more immersive sound. While that's good, sadly - and weirdly - the Switch OLED continues the lack of Bluetooth connectivity for headphones.

Conclusion

As exciting as a new Switch console sounds, there are relatively few significant improvements. Therefore, unless you are really after a much-improved display for handheld gaming, or haven't purchased a Switch before, we don't think it's worth the upgrade for existing Switch owners.

If you don't already own a Switch though, the OLED model is undoubtedly the best you'll be able to get - that glossy bezel aside. You will have to stretch your budget though, as it's GBP50 more expensive than the standard version. Writing by Rik Henderson and Mike Lowe.

Originally published on 7 July 2021.

References

  1. ^ Nintendo Switch (www.pocket-lint.com)
  2. ^ widely expected 'Pro' model (www.pocket-lint.com)
  3. ^ Switch (OLED model) (www.pocket-lint.com)