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Nintendo Switch OLED hands-on: The best upgrade may not be the screen

I tried the new version of Nintendo's Switch, along with the upcoming Metroid Dread game.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
2 min read
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After getting my hands on the new OLED-screen version of the Nintendo Switch, one major upgrade stood out to me as a game-changer, and it wasn't the larger, richer OLED screen. 

At a small hands-on (and masks-on) preview event for both the OLED Switch and the upcoming game Metroid Dread, I had about an hour to play with the new hardware in handheld mode. It was immediately obvious that the new screen is a big deal. It's bigger, the bezels are slimmer, and of course, the OLED display looks great compared to the original, which can appear washed out, especially compared to super bright iPhone and iPad screens. 

Nintendo Switch vs. OLED Switch

Nintendo Switch v2Nintendo Switch OLED
Screen size 6.2-inch LED7.0-inch OLED
Output resolution 720 handheld (1080 docked)720 handheld (1080 docked)
CPU Nvidia Tegra X1 Nvidia Tegra X1
Internal storage 32GB64GB
Price $300, £260, AU$470$350, £310, AU$540

The Joy-Con controllers are the same, and the body is almost the same size, but the better screen-to-bezel ratio made it feel like a more modern device. 

Internally, it's the same Nvidia Tegra X1 processor and has the same 720-line resolution. Docked output is still 1080p. The base storage jumps from 32GB to 64GB. The increase in storage and display size takes the price up from $300 to $350. (In comparison, an Oculus Quest 2 with 128GB of storage is still $300.) There are improved speakers, too.

But even at this limited hands-on demo event, there was something else about the new Switch that jumped out to me. The kickstand on the back of the system, previously mocked for its wimpy construction, has been completely replaced. 


The new kickstand steals the show. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Instead of a wobbly strip less than one inch wide, the new kickstand runs almost the entire width of the system. Instead of snapping into one position, locked in at a specific angle, it's highly adjustable and stays put at any angle along the way. 

Read more: Metroid Dread is a great companion game for the Switch OLED

If that sounds familiar, it's because this is basically the Microsoft Surface kickstand, adapted for the Switch. That kickstand was one of the best design features of the Surface line (recently updated to the Surface Pro 8) and now it's one of the best features on the new OLED Switch. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

The Switch can be played docked to output to a TV or as a handheld. But this new model seems particularly suited to being a little multiplayer mini console: The larger screen and better kickstand make this OLED Switch far better for gathering around with friends.

Especially if you're planning on using the new Switch in handheld mode, and occasionally propping it up on a table or desk (or an in-flight tray table), it's great. I played about an hour of Metroid Dread this way, switching between holding the system in my hands and deploying the kickstand on the table. I didn't get a chance to examine the new dock in person, but the main difference there is that it swaps one USB port for an Ethernet jack. 

The Nintendo Switch OLED goes on sale Oct. 8, just in time for the start of the holiday shopping season. Stay tuned for a full review sometime in the coming weeks.