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Nintendo Switch OLED vs. Original vs. Lite

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Since its release in 2017, the Nintendo Switch has transformed gaming for home and handheld consoles. It’s been a huge success for Nintendo – with over 89 million consoles sold worldwide, there’s something special about this top-selling console to be said.

Two years later, the portable-only Nintendo Switch Lite was released to meet the needs of those who prefer smaller, lightweight games on the go. Now, Nintendo’s all-new OLED model in its Switch range hopes to increase that revenue even further. With its beautiful bright new display, sleek white backlights, and rich, deep colors, the OLED is an immersive and impressive kit.

With such a wide variety of consoles, you might be wondering: “Hey, which one should I take?”. Another question you might have, if you already own a Switch console, may be: “Is it worth improving”?

The overwhelming opinion of many outlets has been to “skip the OLED if you already have a switch.” Which is understandable – that’s a huge price jump for a very similar console. But if you share the same love of portable gaming as I do, then listen to me. The Nintendo Switch OLED just might be what that beloved Nintendo console should have been at launch. I now own all Switch models and here are my thoughts.

SWITCH vs OLED vs LITE – DISPLAY

The first and most obvious upgrade is the magnificent OLED upgrade for the screen and display. The original Nintendo Switch featured a 6.2-inch LCD screen, which has always been a point of contention for critics in the past. The Lite has a 5.5 inch LCD screen which is great for portability but is, again, a bit smaller.

The OLED model has a 7-inch OLED panel, and that extra 0.8-inch makes all the difference. The colors of the original LCD display and Lite are literally pale compared to the rich vibrancy of the OLED display.

The new OLED Switch is brighter, larger and overall more impressive than any other handheld console on the market. If you play your Nintendo Switch in portable mode most of the time, the OLED is worth a try.

WINNER – OLED

Credit: Nintendo

SWITCH vs OLED vs LITE – AUDIO

Perhaps the most understated, but immediately impressive thing I noticed when handling the OLED Switch was the incredible sound quality. Tucked into the sleek chassis are upgraded speakers, which will be great news for those who play portable mode frequently. While none of the Switch models have surround sound yet, it’s still nice to play on a handheld console that immerses you at OLED level.

WINNER – OLED

SWITCH vs OLED vs LITE – THE DESIGN

The biggest upgrade you’ll notice for the Nintendo Switch OLED is the reduction in bezels surrounding the screen. I have found that once you get to grips with OLED it is very difficult to go back.

Other than that, Nintendo hasn’t made too many significant changes to the design of its iconic console. The small adjustments they made, however, add up to make a big difference in quality of life. The wider kickstand, which now extends the full length of the console, is a game-changer for tabletop mode. While I find it a bit harder to flip through than the original, the adjustable angles and more stable table mode more than make up for it. And, of course, the Lite doesn’t have a kickstand at all.

One area where the Original and Lite stand out is the tactile feedback from the smaller power button at the top. The OLED has a much bigger power button, which I find very uncomfortable to press.

However, the console design remains very similar to what gamers have come to know and love over the past 5 years.

WINNER – OLED

New Nintendo Switch OLED
Credit: Nintendo

SWITCH vs OLED vs LITE – INTERNAL

Something important to address is the rumor of a Switch Pro hitting the market. Before its announcement, many fans believed the OLED would be an upgraded 4k version of the original. However, this was not the case. Despite the improved display, all three Nintendo Switch models have the same NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor inside.

This means that performance is also the same in docked or portable mode across the range. However, I have never encountered significant issues with load times, and I haven’t had frequent performance issues with any Switch console, and the OLED is the same.

Unfortunately, that also means it’s a steep price to pay for a next-gen console compared to the Xbox and PS5. Both of these consoles have a 120Hz refresh rate and can output in 4k, which means smooth and immersive graphics. The Nintendo Switch OLED is still stuck at 60Hz – a shame considering the price.

WINNER – TIE

Credit: Nintendo

SWITCH vs OLED vs LITE – EXTERNAL

While the internals haven’t changed, some external factors are tipping it over. The OLED dock now comes with an Ethernet port, which is a godsend for online gaming. Your Wi-Fi will no longer let you down in an online match. Best of all, this docking station can be purchased separately and works with the original switch. Of course, the Lite is designed for portable gaming, so it is not compatible with a TV docking station.

Nintendo has also improved the storage capacity of the OLED, from 32 GB to 64 GB of internal memory. Now you can keep nearly double the number of games on your system without purchasing a microSD card.

WINNER – OLED

nintendo switch oled
Credit: Nintendo / HikakinTV

SWITCH vs OLED vs LITE – BATTERY LIFE

Despite the larger and brighter screen, Nintendo managed to keep the OLED consistent with the original second-gen Switch. This will give you between 5 and 8 hours of play.

Nintendo Switch Lite battery life is approximately 3-7 hours. I’ve had a first gen Switch since 2017, which has never excelled in battery life. It lasts between 2.5 and 6.5 hours depending on the game you are playing. Nintendo released an updated Switch in August 2019, which offers 4.5 to 9 hours of battery life. However, for the sake of fairness, I will continue to compare the OLED to the 2017 version.

WINNER – OLED

nintendo switch lite consoles image
Credit: Instagram / Nintendo

SWITCH vs OLED vs LITE – PORTABILITY

One of my favorite things about Nintendo Switch is how it adapts to your lifestyle. Whether you’re on the go or sitting on the couch snacking on a bag of potato chips to share for tea, the Switch is perfect for you. The OLED is quite bulky, which makes it difficult to carry with you on the go. If you’re looking for handheld games, the Lite, at around 3.6 inches high, 8.2 inches long, and 0.55 inches deep and weighing 277 grams, is still the best.

The OLED is slightly larger than the original console, with only a length difference of 0.1 (9.5 inches long). Hey, that makes the difference. I have small hands, so I find the OLED handles a lot more awkward. With Joy-Cons attached, the original is approximately 4 inches high, 9.4 inches long, and 0.55 inches deep.

The OLED weighs just over 420 grams, compared to 400 grams. It might not sound like much, but that slight extra weight is felt when you are holding both at the same time.

WINNER – LITE

SWITCH vs OLED vs LITE – PRICE

OLED is certainly an expensive kit. At the time of writing, the standard Switch will set you back around £ 275, the Lite at £ 215. Compared to OLED, which costs an average of £ 309, it’s a matter of personal preference whether or not you think it’s worth it. This is, of course, without any play.

WINNER – LITE

SWITCH vs OLED vs LITE – VERDICT

Credit: Nintendo

The OLED looks like what the fabulously flexible switch should have been all those years ago. With its vivid colors, enhanced sound, sleek exterior, and bright screen, it’s a real pleasure to play.

The question arises when you factor in the possibility that Nintendo will release a “Switch 2.0” in the future; one with updated performance of more RAM and faster refresh rate. Of course, Nintendo has said that it is currently not considering releasing an updated model. A recent Bloomberg report predicts that a 4K switch should be released “no earlier than the end of next year.” He claims anonymous developers are working on 4K Switch games for release “during or after the second half of next year.” But Nintendo has dismissed this report, claiming it is “bogus”.

Money irrelevant? I highly recommend the upgrade if you find yourself playing in handheld or tabletop mode. If you’re playing anchored, stick with the original. If you’re looking for a handheld on the go, the Lite is always my choice.

An OLED Nintendo Switch has been provided to GameByte by Nintendo for review.



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