New Nintendo Switch model official, kind of underwhelming
The rumors were true… but the real thing is decidedly less exciting, here’s why
Nintendo managed to surprise everyone today by announcing — with just a video on YouTube no less — a new Switch model. Rumors have been flying around for over 18 months now about a successor to the Japanese company’s hybrid entertainment system, most of them focusing on a “Switch Pro” model that would supposedly be more powerful than the current Switch/Switch Lite. What we get instead is a refined Switch model with a few notable upgrades but not a real “successor”. Nintendo will begin offering the new Nintendo Switch in two different color combinations on October 10th for $349.99.
The most important feature of the new Switch system is its OLED screen: it’s slightly bigger than the original model’s (a diagonal of 7 inches instead of 6.2) but of the same resolution, presumably so as to be 100% compatible with the existing Switch games library. Funnily enough, this makes the new model’s screen less sharp than the original’s, but the higher quality of the display itself (plus the reduced bezels) more than compensates for that. OLED screens typically offer perfect blacks and much better contrast than LCD ones, so games on the new model should look beautiful on the new Switch.
There are a few welcome upgrades elsewhere too. The built-in storage space of the OLED Switch is now 64GB (up from 32GB in the original model), the dock of the unit now includes an Ethernet port (the original model needed a USB dongle for that which was sold separately) and the kickstand behind the device itself is wider and adjustable to two different angles. Nintendo claims that the OLED Switch offers “enhanced sound”, which is a fancy way of saying that speakers will probably be a bit louder (but still two in stereo). The company’s tech spec sheet also mentions that the new Switch is compatible with vanilla microSD cards for storage expansion (while the original is using microSDHC or microSDXC cards only).
The OLED Switch is a bit heavier than the original while packing the same battery (for some reason — maybe the speakers?). Nintendo claims that battery life for this new model is expected to be exactly the same as the original model’s, too. The OLED Switch is compatible with all current accessories made for the original Switch model and, of course, with every game made for the two Switch models so far. We have no way of knowing as of yet whether Nintendo has fixed the well-documented issue of “drifting” that many gamers have reported over the years about the original Switch’s as well as Switch Lite’s Joy-con controllers… but we can only hope for the best.
What we cannot hope for, apparently, is a real “Switch Pro” model anytime soon: rumors describing a Switch model that could output 4K graphics to compatible TVs by utilizing a more powerful chipset and nVidia’s DLSS upscaling technology proved to be untrue… but they may very well point to a proper Switch 2 model, which is at least a couple of years away now that the OLED Switch is announced for Q4 2021. For the time being, gamers who do not already own a Nintendo Switch are looking at a new model that’s based on the exact same technology the original one was based on (released in March 2017 and not exactly cutting-edge even back then). For $349 this might not sit well with a lot of people.
While that might be true, what everyone expects is that the OLED Switch will prove to be quite successful for Nintendo in the long run. It may not be an attractive enough upgrade, but many people who were already thinking of buying a Switch will probably go for the OLED model now, which is perfectly understandable. There are also many people who were considering a second Switch system for the same household so, for those, the OLED model also makes sense. It’s not clear whether the Japanese giant plans to keep all three Switch models on the market for long but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the original model phased out over time (the OLED and the Lite are much easier to differentiate and promote). Let the discounts on the OG model begin!