On the new Nintendo Switch OLED Model

After many rumors and leaks, Nintendo finally unveiled a new Switch model. It is notably not the Switch Pro everyone has been clamoring for, but it is an upgraded model of the Switch.

The screen is bumped up to 7” and it’s now a much nicer OLED panel, but the resolution is staying put at 720p. The internal storage has increased to 64 GB, up from 32 GB on the base model.

There’s also an improved kickstand, no doubt inspired by Microsoft’s Surface tablets, that featured an adjustable height kickstand that spans the width of the device for better stability.

And Nintendo says the onboard speakers have been improved for a better audio experience when playing in handheld mode.

The new dock features a built-in LAN port to improve online performance, likely for multiplayer games and streaming games – that Nintendo may rely on more and more in order to get big multiplatform games on the platform.

But what stands out is what’s not here.

Bloomberg reported earlier this year that a Switch Pro was coming at some point that would bring an upgrade to the performance of games running on the Switch and a new dock with support for 4K graphics.

“The release of a more premium version of Nintendo’s Switch console with an OLED display and support for 4K graphics for the holiday 2021 selling season could drive the company’s sales above consensus for the fiscal year ending March 2022 and extend the life cycle of the Switch platform for many more years.”

Matthew Kanterman and Nathan Naidu, analysts

Those are the things people really wanted from a new Switch model, myself included. Without the power upgrades and the dock that supports 4K, this new Switch is purely an iterative, cosmetic update.

It’s not that games look terrible running on the Switch, but multiplatform games are noticeably scaled down and perform noticeably worse on the Switch. First party Nintendo exclusives still seem to look great and run well, but there are tough decisions to be made when considering anything that’s also available on another platform. Do you want to be able to play a game on-the-go, or do you want it to look and run much nicer?

But Nintendo does things its own way and on its own timetable.

Remember when the Wii came out and displayed games in standard definition at a time when high definition had already gained a foothold? 

I suspect the OLED model is more of an incremental upgrade meant to phase out the older model of the Switch and hold consumers over until a Pro or Switch 2 gets released in the next two to three years.

After all, it would also have been nice to get a Joycon 2.0 that put an end to the dreaded Joycon drift problem and perhaps brought some slightly more Dual Sense-like rumble and adaptive trigger features. 

I’m also not sure that this needed the $50 price increase (it costs $350 instead of the $300 the previous model costs), considering it’s such an incremental update.

Nevertheless, the new white colored Joycons and dock may look nice on a shelf next to a PS5. It remains to be seen if the Switch will run into similar supply issues.

I don’t think I’ll feel the need to replace my current Switch with the OLED model. The new one doesn’t have the spec bumps I’m looking for. I have a tendency to play my Switch docked with a pro controller most of the time.

But I suspect the screen will sell many new and existing Switch owners as soon as they see it running side by side a Switch Lite at Best Buy.

Nintendo learned back in the days of the Gameboy and DS that it can sell the same people multiples times over on the same console, simply by bumping up the screen size.

So what do I know?

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