The PS5 and Xbox Series X aren't the only new consoles on the gaming scene. They have now been joined by a new Nintendo Switch (opens in new tab) – an updated version of Nintendo's bestselling console.
It's officially called the Nintendo Switch (OLED model), eschewing the rumoured Nintendo Switch Pro moniker. And it's quite an upgrade, offering a 7-inch OLED screen and enhanced audio.
It launched in early October and is currently available at a host of retailers including Amazon UK (opens in new tab), though you can expect it to sell out. So, how much does it cost? Is it 4K? Where can you find one? And should you add one to your Christmas list? Find out below.
Nintendo Switch (OLED model): release date
The Nintendo Switch (OLED model) went on sale on 8th October 2021.
It won't serve as a replacement for the existing Switch and Switch Lite, though. "We plan to offer all three models and currently have no plans to discontinue any model," said a Nintendo spokesperson. "It’s about providing choice for the consumer."
The existing Switch has been a runaway success for Nintendo, nearing 100 million sales since launching in 2017. Chances are this model will continue that success. Stock is already selling fast, but it's a lot easier to find than PS5 stock.
Nintendo Switch (OLED model): latest stock news
In the UK, the Switch (OLED model) is on sale at Game (opens in new tab), Amazon (opens in new tab), Argos (opens in new tab), Currys (opens in new tab) and Smyths Toys. Nintendo hasn't warned of any stock issues yet, but there's every chance supplies could become scarce.
In the US, most stores are out of stock, as retailers scramble to fulfil a backlog of preorders. Target (opens in new tab) is said to be taking orders in-store while Best Buy (opens in new tab) is promising a Switch (OLED Model) restock "soon". It's also worth checking Amazon (opens in new tab), B&H Photo (opens in new tab) and GameStop (opens in new tab).
Nintendo Switch (OLED model): price
The Nintendo Switch OLED costs £310 / $350 / AU$540 and comes in two colours: white and 'Neon' (red/blue).
Nintendo recently lowered the price of the base model Switch in Europe, paving the way for the launch of the Switch OLED. The standard Switch can now be yours for only £260, while the Switch Lite will set you back £200.
It means the Switch OLED costs £50 / $50 / AU$70 more than the standard model. In our opinion, that's a fair price given how much of an upgrade OLED is compared to LCD.
It also positions the Switch OLED as slightly more expensive than the digital-only Xbox Series S (£249, $299, AU$499), but cheaper than the PS5 Digital Edition (£359, $399, AU$599).
Nintendo Switch (OLED model): screen
The new screen is the headline feature of the new Switch, and a real step up on the previous model.
The main upgrade is the technology used. OLED is a big advancement on the LCD panel used on the previous Switch – just compare an OLED TV with an LCD model to see the difference. OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode, and because each individual pixel can turned off instead of emitting an approximation of black as with LCD screens (which usually look closer to grey), it makes for true black levels. Add stunningly bright whites and that makes for superb contrast levels. No wonder it's used in some of the best TVs around.
OLED screens are also more energy efficient, though unfortunately this hasn't resulted in a longer battery life (the Nintendo Switch (OLED model) has the same 4.5-9 hour battery life as its predecessor). Shame, as that would have been a really big draw for a console that doubles as a portable.
Not only does the screen use better technology than its predecessor, it's bigger too. The Nintendo Switch (OLED model) has a 7in display, which is bigger than the previous Switch's 6.2-inch screen, and the Switch Lite's 5.5-inch display. Despite this, the console manages to be nigh-on the same size as the standard Switch, measuring 10 x 24 x 1.4cm. That's only marginally longer than the previous Switch, though it is a bit heavier (422g to 399g).
Nintendo Switch (OLED model): 4K and HDR
There is one bit of bad news, however. The Nintendo Switch (OLED model) can only output a maximum resolution of 1080p HD in TV mode, not 4K as rumoured (opens in new tab). That's because it doesn't have a new Nvidia chip which would have enabled 4K upscaling using technology called DLSS (opens in new tab) (Deep Learning Super Sampling). This is a cutting-edge way of upscaling graphics to look better than they are. This would let games look practically 4K on a TV screen without having ridiculously large file sizes (which would be overkill when viewed on the Switch's small OLED screen). But sadly it was not to be.
But putting 4K aside for a second, perhaps the greater potential lies in HDR. This stands for high dynamic range – it's a technology borrowed from photography, which increases the difference between the light and dark parts of the picture, with more gradual steps in between. It results in a punchier and more lifelike image with more depth and better colours.
The vast majority of OLED displays have HDR, so we hoped that the new Switch could count itself among them. That would have made games look more engaging and exciting.
Sadly it's not to be. It's now been confirmed that the Nintendo Switch (OLED model) has missed out on HDR support. Understandable, given that Switch games don't currently support HDR tone mapping.
Nintendo Switch (OLED model): other features
So what else is new? Not a whole lot, to be honest.
The Nintendo Switch (OLED model) comes with a dock, like the previous model, but this one is wider to accommodate the device's greater length. It also has a LAN port built in, for a more secure wired internet connection when gaming online. The LAN cable is sold separately.
It has double the onboard storage compared to its predecessor: 64GB compared to 32GB. Which is very welcome, as you'll be able to fit on more games, movies, photos and the like. And standard Joy-Con controllers work with it as with the previous model.
An unboxing video by Japanese YouTuber HikakinTV gave us our first look at the Switch's previously-hidden Micro SD card slot. That should come in very handy given that the 64GB internal storage won't last long once you start downloading updates, new levels and extra content.
Nintendo has also redesigned the onboard speakers to deliver what it calls 'enhanced audio'. Here's deputy general manager of technology Toru Yamashita to explain more:
"In order to adopt speakers that would be as big as possible within the limited space inside Nintendo Switch (OLED Model) while producing satisfactory audio quality and acoustic pressure, we needed to use the structure of the console and design a sealed space at the back ourselves."
Nintendo is yet to provide any specific details of what the audio standards are for its latest console but most gamers seem to agree that the new stereo set-up produces a more vibrant sound. There's been no mention of Dolby Digital 5.1 support, so you can pretty much forget that for now.
There was a rumour that the Switch (OLED model) would miss out on Bluetooth headphone support but, thankfully, it does support Bluetooth paring for audio devices out of the box. You might need to dig into the system settings, but once you've done so, it should be simple.
Lastly, Nintendo has officially confirmed that the Switch features "no major internal changes" compared to previous Switch models, so don't expect increased hardware power.
Nintendo Switch (OLED model) vs PS5 and Xbox Series X
Yes indeed. Its consoles have never been about pure power, more about fun and innovative ways to play. And the sales reflect this. To date, the Switch and Switch Lite have sold over 79 million units. That makes Switch the second-best-selling console in Nintendo history, beaten only by the original Wii. It also compares well with sales of the PS4 and Xbox One, which stand at 114 million and 48 million respectively. The Switch only launched in 2017, remember, whereas Sony and Microsoft's previous consoles landed four years earlier, in 2013.
The new Switch won't beat the new PlayStation or Xbox in terms of graphics or processing power, and it probably won't be a better one-stop shop for all your streaming and media needs. But the crucial thing is, it won't try to. As ever, Nintendo is playing its own game. And it seems to be doing pretty well so far.
The question is, can they keep up with demand for the Switch (OLED model)?
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