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Nintendo Switch OLED review: Handheld gaming levels up

The Nintendo Switch OLED is almost everything you'd want from a handheld gaming console.

Our rating 
4.2 out of 5 star rating 4.2
£309.99
Read our Nintendo Switch OLED review.

Our review

Everything the Nintendo Switch OLED does, it does well. But it's hard to shake the feeling that more processing power would've made this a huge leap forward.
Pros: OLED screen is stunning
Ethernet cable slot is very welcome
Hybrid gaming is perfect for the new normal
Cons: No GPU or CPU upgrades
The new dock is a bit fiddly to set up
Joy-Cons are unchanged

Today, you’ll start to see Nintendo Switch OLED reviews popping up around the web, as the review embargo lifts and outlets are allowed to share their opinions on Nintendo’s shiny new console.

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The Nintendo Switch OLED pre-order period is nearly up, and you may well be wondering whether or not to fork out on this upgraded version of the Switch.

You might be looking for Nintendo Switch OLED pay monthly options, or you might be prepared to pay full whack all at once. Or perhaps you’re pondering whether it’s worth conducting a Nintendo Switch trade-in to swap your existing console for the new OLED version.

Wherever you are in your journey towards owning a Nintendo Switch OLED, a few questions will be rattling around your head – is the OLED Switch any good, and is it worth the price tag that makes it the most expensive Switch variant yet?

Here at RadioTimes.com, we’ve been in possession of the new console for the last week or so, and we’ve tested it thoroughly to bring you this Nintendo Switch OLED review. Read on to discover all!

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Nintendo Switch OLED review: Summary

The Nintendo Switch OLED's screen is bigger and brighter than before.
The Nintendo Switch OLED’s screen is bigger and brighter than before.
Nintendo

The Nintendo Switch OLED is certainly better than the original version of the Nintendo Switch, but it’s hard to ignore the missing features that stop it from being the fabled Nintendo Switch Pro – that mythical next-gen machine that Nintendo denies having in development.

There are no 4K graphics or speedy SSD loading times here, but there is a bigger and better screen and a few other quality of life improvements. It’s worth a buy for hardcore Nintendo fanatics, but hard to justify the expense if you only use your Switch in a casual way.

What is the Nintendo Switch OLED?

The Nintendo Switch OLED is an upgraded version of the Nintendo Switch, which will retail for a slightly higher price than its predecessors.

The main new feature is the OLED screen, which is bigger and brighter than the previous Switch screens. Other new features include a redesigned dock (which now includes an ethernet port) and a bigger kickstand on the back.

The Joy-Con controllers are unchanged from previous models in terms of hardware, but they do come in white, which is a new colour option. It’s also worth noting that the Nintendo Switch OLED plays all the same games as the previous Switch variants.

How much is the Nintendo Switch OLED?

Here in the UK, the Nintendo Switch OLED price is £309.99 GBP. This means that the OLED is £50 more expensive than the regular Switch (£259.99) and £110 more expensive than the Switch Lite (£199.99).

Buying any of the Nintendo Switch consoles is still cheaper than buying a PS5 (prices start at £359) or an Xbox Series X (£449), but it is worth noting that Microsoft’s disc-free Xbox Series S console has a comparable cost to the Switch of £249.

Nintendo Switch OLED design

The Nintendo Switch OLED is nearly here.
The Nintendo Switch OLED is nearly here.
Nintendo

In terms of new stuff, the Nintendo Switch OLED does make some strong design choices. The 7-inch OLED screen looks great and fills the space between the Joy-Cons in a much more visually satisfying way than its LCD predecessors.

The white Joy-Cons also look the part, giving the OLED a slightly next-gen look. Perhaps this white and black colour scheme was a deliberate riff on Sony’s PlayStation 5 design and Microsoft’s Xbox Series S design. It would’ve been cool to get some new features in the controllers and give them a bit of a redesign, though.

The larger kickstand on the back, which now runs for the whole length of the console, looks better and feels more sturdy than the solitary leg that the original Switch had. And the new dock looks much cooler and less clunky than the original, even though it’s a little less easy to set up and take apart.

Plus, it’s worth mentioning that the Nintendo Switch OLED retains the fantastic core design concept of the original Switch – this is a console you can play handheld, docked to your TV, or in ‘tabletop’ mode which is still a terrific offering in terms of versatility.

Nintendo Switch OLED features

The Nintendo Switch OLED has the same features as its predecessors – you can play the console in a fun variety of different ways (handheld, docked or tabletop), and there is a highly impressive library of games to choose from.

The new features are welcome – the OLED screen is much brighter and more vibrant compared to the LCD screens on the previous Switch models, and the option to connect an ethernet cable to your dock does come in handy. Generally, this will make your online connection faster and more reliable, which will make your downloads quicker and your online gameplay smoother.

However, there are some features missing that we would’ve liked to see in an upgraded Switch model – the GPU and CPU haven’t been improved, which means the processing power is the same as before. Your games will run in exactly the same way that they did on your old Switch. The online will be better when docked, and the picture will be brighter in handheld mode, but the actual gameplay experience won’t change.

Also, this feels like a missed opportunity from a visual standpoint – although the screen is brighter and bigger, the Switch OLED is still limited to 720p resolution in handheld mode or 1080p docked. There’s no option for 4K.

Plus, Microsoft and Sony’s latest consoles have speedier-than-ever loading times thanks to their SSD storage. The Nintendo Switch OLED does not have that, so your loading times will be the same as they were on your old Switch.

Nintendo Switch OLED performance

We could nitpick the missing features all day, but here’s the most important thing about the Nintendo Switch OLED – it feels absolutely great to play, like a ‘level up’ moment for handheld gaming, with the OLED screen being noticeably more vibrant than the screens that came before.

The screen being slightly bigger – the OLED screen is 7 inches, compared to the 6.2 inches of the original Switch screen – also makes a noticeable difference. If you tend to play your Switch in handheld mode, the OLED is definitely the best way in which to do that.

Upgrading to an OLED Switch doesn’t feel like a console-generation jump, though, which shouldn’t come as a surprise if you were paying attention to the specs. This is more like the feeling you get when you upgrade your telly for a slightly better one. You’ll be in awe of the better colours, but you’ll still be experiencing all the same media that you were before.

We mainly played Metroid Dread during our week with the Nintendo Switch OLED, and we tried it in handheld, tabletop and docked modes – the game ran perfectly in every mode, and swapping between them was just as easy as ever. The Switch is still a great concept, and the OLED upgrades make it even better, even though it still can’t hit the same resolutions and framerates as the other gaming devices on the market.

Nintendo Switch OLED set-up

Nintendo Switch OLED
Nintendo Switch OLED in its dock.
Nintendo

Booting up the Switch OLED for the first time, in handheld mode, was really easy – we followed the instructions on screen, which made it easy to port over our Nintendo account from our original Switch within a couple of minutes. This transfer is done over Wi-Fi, and it’s really simple to do. 

Downloading games from the Nintendo eShop is also really easy (it will remember which titles you already own), and all of your saved-game files will come with you in the transfer too.

However, when we set up our new Nintendo Switch OLED dock, things were a little less easy. Popping the back open is not as easy as it used to be – the original Switch had a hinge on the dock for easy access to the cable inputs, but the OLED dock requires you to pop the entire back off. This is a minor change, but it was noticeably more fiddly to open and close the dock. 

Once you’re in there, though, connecting up your cables is pretty easy. It’s a shame that you don’t get an ethernet cable included, but luckily we had one lying around. The Switch immediately recognised the wired connection and linked up to it automatically. And it did make our downloads feel quicker.

Our verdict: Should you buy the Nintendo Switch OLED?

To OLED or not to OLED, that is the question. Whether or not to buy this console is a personal choice, and we’d recommend different things to different people depending on their preferred style of play.

If you’re an avid user of your Nintendo Switch in handheld mode, we’d wager that you won’t regret buying a Nintendo Switch OLED. There’s no denying that this is a luxury product, but you will notice the difference in the screen. You will probably find it hard to revert back to a normal Switch once you’ve seen an OLED in action!

If you tend to use your Switch docked and you’re not fussed about adding an ethernet port, it’s hard to see why you would want an OLED Switch. You’re not exactly getting much of an upgrade unless you’re using this thing on the go and making the most of that new screen.

Review scores:

  • Set-up: 3.5/5
  • Design: 4.5/5
  • Features: 4/5
  • Performance: 4.5/5
  • Value for money: 4/5

Overall star rating: 4.2/5

Where to buy the Nintendo Switch OLED 

The Nintendo Switch OLED release date is taking place on 8th October 2021, at which point you might start seeing it in real-life shops. Pre-order pages are already live at most of the major online retailers, though, and you can check out the options using our handy deals widget below.

Follow Radio Times Gaming on Twitter for all the latest insights, or visit our video game release schedule for all upcoming games on consoles.

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