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The new OLED Nintendo Switch: Everything it can (and can't) do

The upgraded Switch arrives on Oct. 8: What it adds, what it lacks and whether it's worth $350.

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The new Switch coming in October has a 7-inch OLED display. The rest of the updates are... pretty minor.

Nintendo

A new version of the Nintendo Switch was expected this year, but we didn't know exactly when, or what would be different about it. Now we know. A version with a larger OLED display is OLED display is coming Oct. 8, right alongside the company's biggest holiday game, Metroid Dread.

The suddenly announced new $350 Switch feels like an afterthought -- no fancy new name like Super Nintendo Switch -- and if you were expecting a brand-new Switch 2 with all your wishes fulfilled, this isn't that. What this does look like is an incrementally upgraded dockable Switch with a few extras that could very well be worth the extra $50, if you don't already own one. It'll be sold right alongside the Switch and Switch Lite.

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If you're close to buying a Switch or Switch Lite, is it even worth waiting at all? That all depends on what you're looking for. 

What's new

7-inch OLED display: This new Switch is all about the slightly larger OLED display. The 7-inch upgrade should at least make it easier to see small text compared to the 6-inch Switch that's available now. The switch (ahem) to OLED should mean a more vibrant display with better black levels, but we haven't seen the display in action yet to compare them. It's still a 720p resolution screen, though.

Better kickstand: The original Switch's kickstand is terrible and only supports one angle. The new kickstand shouldn't tip over as easily and adjusts to various angles. Good if you prop your Switch up a lot (which I don't). But also, the angles should make it a lot better for multiplayer tabletop gaming.

Better speakers: Nintendo promises improved audio on the Switch speakers, but again, we haven't tried them out to compare.

Bumped-up internal storage: There's 64GB of included storage now versus 32GB on the original Switch. This doesn't matter a ton, just buy a MicroSD card and add hundreds of gigs ($20 to $40 can get quite a lot lately). 

Dock has Ethernet support: The new Switch dock adds wired Ethernet, something the original Switch dock lacked. A nice plus, especially if you expect to stay docked.

It's slightly wider and heavier: A tiny change in physical dimensions means the OLED Switch won't fit into some of those old Labo cardboard constructions, according to Nintendo. Just FYI if you are a Labo fan. The same could be true of some cases and stands or other accessories, although it apparently will fit in the original Switch dock. The extra 0.1 inch in width (to 9.5 inches) isn't a big deal, but the weight increase (to 0.93 pound, from the Switch's 0.88 pound) could make it harder to hold for a while (the Switch Lite is only 0.61 pound).

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Size and screen comparison between models (from Nintendo's website).

Nintendo/Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

What's not new

No 4K gaming. Rumors pointed to a 4K-output Switch that could show better graphics on a TV when docked. That didn't happen. Expect the same 1080p gaming on the OLED Switch when docked, and 720p in handheld mode. Nintendo hasn't specified what type of chip is in the OLED Switch -- is it improved at all over the original version?

Same old Joy-Cons. The innovative Joy-Con controllers have aged badly, and many are prone to drift problems. They don't have analog triggers, and I find their Bluetooth gameplay a bit laggy at times. You're not getting any fancy Joy-Con upgrades in the OLED Switch (which also means it'll work with your older Joy-Cons, at least). The OLED Switch comes with white Joy-Cons in one of its two models.

No Bluetooth audio. There doesn't seem to be any added support for Bluetooth headphones, which is maddening. The Switch and Switch Lite require wired 3.5mm headphones, unless you plug in a USB-C wireless headphone adapter.

Battery life. It should be the same as the 2019 dockable Switch. Nintendo says the OLED Switch should have 4.5 to 9 hours of battery life, versus the Switch Lite's 3 to 7 hours. Dockable Switches made after late 2019 also get 4.5 to 9 hours of battery, but anyone with an original 2017 Switch might consider an upgrade.

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The new Switch will be sold alongside the other Switch models. It's a $50 upsell.

Nintendo

Do you wait for the OLED Switch?

I haven't tried the new Switch, and have no idea how good the display and speakers are. But this is a pretty minor upgrade, so owners of any other Switch probably don't need it.

If you don't own a Switch and want a TV-dockable one, I'd consider the extra $50 for this version, just for its display (and kickstand). 

If you want a non-TV-docking Switch, the Switch Lite is still the same -- and still perfectly fine.

And if you've bought a Switch recently: Take a deep breath. This new version doesn't look like it adds anything you'd desperately want, and your existing Switch is probably just fine. (That being said, my Switch's fan has started making weird rattling noises.)