Hands-on with the Nintendo Switch OLED: a minor upgrade that makes a big difference

Hands-on with the Nintendo Switch OLED: a minor upgrade that makes a big difference

I already knew all of the major details about the new Switch OLED model when I sat down in Nintendo’s offices in Redwood City, California, yesterday. It features a larger 7-inch OLED screen, a better kickstand, more internal storage, and minor aesthetic changes. Many were hoping for a “Switch Pro” and were disappointed. It’s simply a Switch with a larger, more attractive screen.

I knew all of that going in, but after a half-hour of Mario Kart and Breath of the Wild, I believe the term “just” in the above phrase is inaccurate. The Switch OLED model boasts a larger, nicer screen, which more than justifies its existence — and perhaps its $350 price tag.

To me, the screen appears to be brighter and more colorful than the first Switch. On Rainbow Road, the heightened contrast is particularly noticeable, as the neon lights jumped out of the screen more vividly than the darker background. For the past year or so, I’ve also been using a Switch Lite, and its screen is very dark and murky in comparison.

One concern I had was that expanding the screen size while maintaining the same 720p resolution might cause pixels to stand out and cause jagged edges. When I paused the operation and checked for pixels, they were more noticeable.

On the home screen, I noticed some poor antialiasing on the thin text and the grass blades around Link on the Great Plateau. However, as I started playing, all I noticed was that the screen was bigger and everything was brighter.

To get very nerdy, I don’t know whether the OLED panel has a Pentile or RGB arrangement at the sub-pixel level, but it appears to me to be RGB. Pentile would be evident even to folks who aren’t generally disturbed by it at 7 inches diagonal, in my opinion (like me). Because photographs were not permitted at the briefing, I am unable to show you a close-up of the screen.

However, obsessing over the new Switch OLED model is overthinking things. The purpose of this midlife update isn’t to completely overhaul or enhance the Switch. It’s to create a version that feels more premium and is more pleasurable to play in handheld mode.

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