When Nintendo first announced the launch of the Switch way back in March 2017(!), I was immediately excited to try it out. Having been a longtime fan of Nintendo consoles, this one looked like nothing I’d tried before. And spoiler alert: It was! Years after buying mine (and tricking it out with Glossier stickers), I’m still obsessed with it. As such, when rumors started swirling about a new-and-improved Switch with a better, larger OLED display (which stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode; the original Switch has an LCD screen), and improved kickstand (a common gripe with the original model — it’s tiny and a bit wobbly TBH), I was beyond stoked. I don’t consider myself an intense gamer, but I still geek out over crowd-pleaser titles like Super Smash Brothers, Overcooked, the LEGO franchise, Animal Crossing, and Borderlands. I’ve always loved the storytelling aspect of video games, and how the best ones can really immerse you in the universe in a way that movies and TV can’t. When Nintendo offered me the chance to test out the new OLED model, I was immediately game. Below, I compare it to the previous Switch and Switch Lite consoles and determine whether it’s worth the investment.
The Switch OLED takes many of the beloved elements of the original (a widescreen handheld play function with a plug-in option for vegging on the couch) and turns it up a notch. Right off the bat, the new OLED Switch (available in a brand-new white colorway) is a serious stunner. It looks sleek, bright, and TBH, better than the photos. There have also been improvements on the dock: For starters, they finally matched the color to the Joy-Con controllers and, as previously mentioned, they redesigned the kickstand (for tabletop play) to stretch along the entire length of the console.
The biggest draw, obviously, of the Nintendo Switch OLED is the upgraded display. I already can’t see without glasses or contacts, so any improvement on that front is definitely a big draw for me. As soon as I booted up the new console, I let out an audible gasp of delight; from across the room, my boyfriend let out a clearly impressed “Nice.”
The best way I can describe the difference between the two screens is like the difference between a 2010 iPhone and one with a Retina display. The contrast is noticeably crisper, colors are more vibrant (especially darker landscapes), and things like text are much more defined. (There’s no difference in the display when the OLED model is docked to your TV, however.)
Then there’s also the internal storage upgrade. This may not matter to you that much if you purchase a Micro SD card for extra storage (I highly recommend this), but if you’re not planning on downloading a ton of titles or are a pretty low-key gamer, it may not be necessary. The OG Switch came with 32GB of internal storage, but the OLED is a mega-upgrade in this arena with 64GB of internal storage.
Time to talk numbers: The OLED is priced at $349.99, while the standard Switch model retails for $299.99. The entry-level Switch Lite (a smaller, handheld-only version that debuted in September 2019), is priced at $199.99. Since the OLED model has sold out almost everywhere (and is already making the rounds on StockX), you may need to really wager whether you feel comfortable launching into a bidding war to secure one of these hot commodities. (Personally, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a pre-holiday restock.)
The Switch OLED is an incredible console. For me, it exceeded the hype in terms of aesthetics and performance. (I haven’t used it enough to see if the battery is significantly better, but so far so good.) As someone who uses the Switch about 60/40 leaning towards handheld play primarily, I think this is worth the upgrade for the improved display and audio from built-in speakers; if you tend to play with the Switch docked into the TV, then it probably isn’t worth upgrading to a new console unless you were already considering doing so or are a real Nintendo hypebeast.
Now, if you don’t currently have a Switch and have been debating getting one, the release of the OLED might make matters more complicated. While there was initially a shortage of Switches and Switch Lites, these days there are plenty in stock online. If you are an OG buyer who wants something for travel, I’d spring for the Lite. If you care more about playing on a TV (or are a more serious gamer), waiting for the restock will be well worth it.
Video games nowadays offer something for everyone (from Metroid Dread to Mario Golf to Granny if you’re down to have the living daylights scared out of you), and the Switch makes it easy to travel with your console. I recently got this customizable case from Casetify with my initials, so people know it’s mine, all mine!
All in all, I’m sure this will be a top-tier gift this year due to its position as the status video game console du moment. I remember the Christmas I got my Nintendo Wii — and it was pretty epic. My advice: Suss out who’s been really good this year, and act fast when the restock hits.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?