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 will launch this October, nearly a year after the PS5 and Xbox Series X went on sale. So what can it do? How much does it cost? And why should you add one to your Christmas list? Find out below.
Nintendo Switch (OLED model): release date
The Nintendo Switch (OLED model) will go on sale on 8th October. In the US and Australia, it will cost $350 / AU$540 – we're waiting to hear on prices for the UK.
That price is $50 / AU$70 more than the standard Nintendo Switch, and $150 / AU$210 more than the Switch Lite. In our opinion, that's a fair price given how much of an upgrade OLED is compared to LCD. It also positions the console as slightly more expensive than the digital-only Xbox Series S (£249, $299, AU$499) but cheaper than the PS5 Digital Edition (which costs £359, $399, AU$599).
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.
Nintendo Switch (OLED model): screen
The new screen is the headline feature of the new console, 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. That's because it doesn't have a new Nvidia chip which would have enabled 4K upscaling using technology called DLSS (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, and the new Switch's could well count itself among them. That would make games look more engaging and exciting.
And it might not just be new games that benefit from this. Older titles could get some kind of upconversion similar to the Xbox Series X's Auto HDR. This uses machine learning to add HDR to games that were designed with only standard dynamic range in mind. So the new Switch could breathe some new life into your current games library.
At the moment, there's no word on whether the Nintendo Switch (OLED model) has HDR tech, but we'll update this as soon as we hear either way.
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.
There's also mention of "enhanced audio", but Nintendo hasn't gone into specifics. It's likely the speakers are a little bigger and more powerful, but Nintendo could also have added Dolby Digital 5.1 support on top of the standard PCM format of the original Switch – this would increase compatibility with soundbars and the like. Let's hope we hear either way soon.
Nintendo Switch (OLED model) vs PS5 and Xbox Series X
With the launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series X at the end of last year, Nintendo has a fight on its hands. Both consoles are much more powerful than the Switch. So does Nintendo stand a chance?
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.
Next-gen face-off! PS5 vs Xbox Series X: which is better?
Sony consoles duke it out: PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: which should you buy?
Our pick of the best gaming headsets