Is the OLED Nintendo Switch Worth It? A Detailed Guide

The short answer is no – the new OLED model Nintendo Switch is not worse than the original. With its vibrant 7-inch OLED screen, the display is far better, allowing for punchier colors and inky blacks that make games look great during handheld play. The kickstand is improved too. However, the upgrade is incremental, not revolutionary. The OLED Switch lacks any performance boosts, battery life gains, or new exclusive features that drastically change the overall experience. It‘s an iterative update that refines some aspects of the Switch without delivering huge enhancements across the board.

OLED Display – Visibly Better but Not Transformative

The OLED screen is the primary upgrade and it‘s certainly an appealing one. With pixels that emit their own light, OLED displays can achieve near infinite contrast ratios and true blacks, allowing for incredibly vibrant images. The 7-inch 1280×720 resolution OLED screen makes games look fantastic in handheld mode with eye-popping colors.

But while noticeably better than the original LCD display, it’s not a night and day difference either. In fact, the lower 720p resolution limits how much the OLED panel can truly shine. Games are held back from reaching the stunning 4K HDR visuals possible with OLED displays. Still, benchmark tests demonstrate the OLED Switch display has:

  • 38% higher peak brightness (529 nits vs 382 nits)
  • 91% better contrast ratio (93,542:1 vs 48,985:1)
  • 22% wider color gamut

So in terms of display quality, there are absolutely tangible improvements – but constrained by the underpowered Switch hardware and 720p resolution. For gaming visuals, it‘s an enhancement but not a game changer.

Performanceunchanged – Don‘t Expect Faster Loading or Smoother Frame Rates

Aside from the display, the OLED Switch differs little from the original model released in 2017. It retains the same Nvidia Custom Tegra processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of onboard storage, and battery life. All models can be expanded with microSD cards. This means the OLED Switch offers zero performance upgrades in either handheld or docked mode.

Framerates, loading times, texture quality, draw distances – these are identical to the original Switch. Nintendo chose to focus solely on refining the display and exterior design rather than boosting performance. As the data shows below, users shouldn‘t expect any gameplay improvements:

Specification Original Switch OLED Switch
Processor Nvidia Custom Tegra Nvidia Custom Tegra
Storage 32 GB 64 GB
Battery Life 4.5 – 9 hrs 4.5 – 9 hrs
Framerate 30/60 fps 30/60 fps

For players hoping the OLED model would enable 60fps gaming or faster load times, they will be disappointed to find performance is unchanged from the base Switch.

Minor Improvements Beyond the Display

Aside from the OLED screen, most upgrades in the new model are modest quality-of-life improvements:

  • The kickstand is larger and more stable for tabletop gaming.
  • Onboard storage is increased from 32GB to 64GB.
  • The dock now includes an ethernet port for wired internet.
  • Enhanced audio with new speakers.
  • A new white color option.

These changes refine the hardware design and add some convenient features absent on the original. But they likely won‘t significantly influence gameplay or user experience for most people.

Targeting Handheld Gamers Primarily

Based on the upgrades focused on the handheld experience, the OLED Switch seems geared towards gamers who play primarily in portable mode. The major gain is the OLED display and improved kickstand for gaming on-the-go and away from the TV.

For players who use Switch docked to a television 80% or more of the time, the benefits are far less substantial. When docked, the upgrades to handheld mode are irrelevant. On a TV, games will look and play identically on both Switch models.

According to Nintendo‘s 2021 fiscal report, roughly 30% of Switch gameplay time was in handheld mode. So the OLED improvements cater heavily to that segment of Switch gamers preferring mobile play.

Should You Upgrade to the OLED Model?

For avid handheld players, the OLED Switch is a worthwhile upgrade. The enhancements to the display and kickstand make for more immersive gameplay in portable mode. If you play Switch mostly on the couch or in bed, you‘ll appreciate the OLED screen‘s vivid colors and crisp contrast.

However, for users who primarily play on a TV while docked, it‘s hard to justify upgrading. You‘d be paying $350 for minor improvements you may barely notice when connected to your television. The bumped up 64GB storage is nice but microSD card expansion is cheap. And you can still buy the original Switch for $100 less if cost is a concern.

Here‘s a simple breakdown of who should upgrade to the OLED model:

  • Handheld-focused players – Worth upgrading for the much better display.
  • Docked TV players – Hard to recommend upgrading, changes are minor.
  • New Switch buyers – OLED model makes the most sense if prices are similar.
  • Children – Improved durability gives more peace of mind.

For existing Switch owners, unless you play overwhelmingly in handheld mode, the upgrade is non-essential. Stick with your current model or wait to see if Nintendo releases a true "Switch Pro" with performance gains in the future.

OLED Switch Sales – Strong Debut But Less Momentum

Since launching in October 2021, the OLED Switch has sold well, quickly becoming the best selling Switch model. In its first week, the OLED model outsold the PS5 in Japan by a 2 to 1 ratio.

But sales have slowed in 2022 as early adopters jumped on the OLED Switch already. By February 2022, weekly sales were down nearly 80% from launch period. And component shortages have made the OLED Switch hard to find in stock at times.

Launch Week Sales 173,913 units
February 2022 Weekly Sales 38,105 units
Lifetime Sales (Feb 2022) 3.99 million units

This indicates while a hot holiday seller, demand cooled as buyers recognized the minor scope of upgrades versus the original Switch.

The Bottom Line

The OLED Switch is an iterative refresh that improves some aspects of the Switch experience, most notably the display and kickstand. For gamers focused on handheld play, it‘s a worthwhile upgrade for $349. But for existing owners who play primarily docked on a TV, the benefits seem too minor to justify double dipping at $50 more. While the vibrant OLED screen is captivating, marginal upgrades beyond this keep the OLED Switch from being a must-buy upgrade for every Switch owner.

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