Nintendo Switch OLED Model is a much bigger deal than you think

Nintendo Switch Oled Model Blue Background
Nintendo Switch Oled Model Blue Background (Image credit: iMore)

When the Nintendo Switch OLED model was announced, there was some very mixed reactions. People were upset because it was only a slight upgrade from the Nintendo Switch V2 and it wasn't the fabled "Switch Pro" they'd been hoping for.

Still, with all this whining, the first wave of Switch OLED model preorders sold out in only a few minutes and has continued to do so with every wave since. It might not be the most exciting product announcement ever, but if you currently own the original Nintendo Switch, it will make for an amazing upgrade.

Time to upgrade

Nintendo Switch Oled Model Back (Image credit: Nintendo)

Full disclosure, I already have an original Switch and a Switch V2 in my house. However, the Switch V2 is mine while the OG is my partner's. When we play for long hours, his battery runs out much faster than mine does, which is frustrating since we like to play multiplayer games together. You see, the original Nintendo Switch model released in 2017 with a battery that lasts roughly 2.5-6.5 hours. Nintendo improved this in August 2019 by quietly releasing an upgrade with an enhanced battery life of 4.5-9 hours.

The V2 looks identical to the original, aside from the model number, but wasn't actually given an official new name. To help differentiate them, the Nintendo community dubbed this enhanced battery version the Nintendo Switch V2.

Even though the OLED screen doesn't provide higher resolution, it will enhance the vibrance and crispness of game visuals.

To offset the battery life differences between our Switch consoles, we've been traveling with battery packs, but we've personally found those to be tedious to use on a regular basis. Sometimes we play with his Switch connected to an outlet, but that can be very limiting and uncomfortable after a while. We'd been considering upgrading his Switch for a while now, but never got around to it. When I saw that new Switch OLED model go on preorder, I jumped on it as soon as I could.

There are a smattering of semi-small upgrades from the previous models, with the most obvious difference being the new white dock and controllers. The battery life looks like it will be the same as the V2, but there's also double the internal storage at 64GB (still not a ton, but better than it was before), an adjustable stand that runs along the backside rather than a flimsy kickstand, a 7-inch OLED screen, a built-in LAN port, and "enhanced audio" — whatever that means.

Nintendo Switch Oled Model Lan Port (Image credit: Nintendo (screenshot))

I'm not a huge fan of the white casing, but I plan on swapping out the Joy-Cons for my favorite green ones anyway. Of course, I am looking forward to the titular OLED screen. Even though it doesn't provide higher resolution it will enhance the vibrance and crispness of game visuals.

However, the screen and battery alone weren't reason enough for me to get this upgrade. No, what sealed it for me was also getting the LAN port. It seems silly to be excited about something so simple considering Ethernet ports are common on most other consoles. However, they have been absent from Nintendo consoles up until now, so this is an historic gaming system.

This will be the first Nintendo console to have a LAN port, which makes it an historic system.

I don't know about you, but my home Wi-Fi internet connection isn't the most reliable. There have been plenty of times while playing Pokémon Unite or Super Smash Bros. Ultimate where my connection drops and ruins the experience for everyone on my team. It's gotten to the point where I've stopped playing online unless it's with really good friends. Adding LAN adapters just clutters up my media center, so I hate using one, so having a built-in LAN port on that OLED model is very appealing. It will allow me to have a much more reliable internet connection while playing in TV mode so I can confidently jump back into my favorite online games.

So for anyone who still only has the original Nintendo Switch console, the OLED model will be a pretty big upgrade. If you already have the Switch V2, it will be less of an upgrade, but still a much more convenient option. There's also one potentially big thing to consider.

Nintendo recently released the 13.0.0 update for Switch, which included an update for the OLED model dock. Until this happened, we didn't know that the dock could even receive updates. The previous iterations couldn't, so why is this important? Some people are conjecturing that if the OLED model has a 2.0 HDMI instead of the previously used 1.4 HDMI that it could eventually receive an upgrade that allows it to output into 4K. I'm dying to tear it apart to see for myself if that is the case. You know people are going to start jimmy rigging the console if this turns out to be true too.

Can't wait for October

Once the Switch OLED model arrives, I'll transfer my account onto it, give my partner my Switch V2, and then we'll sell the original. I can't wait for that updated dock with the built-in LAN port as it will make our TV mode online sessions much stronger than the Wi-Fi only iterations before it.

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Rebecca Spear
Gaming Editor

Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend. 

2 Comments
  • The original Switch works fine with a USB Ethernet adapter. It's faster than typical Wi-Fi for game downloads, and will almost certainly have lower latency both for LAN and internet gaming (typically both LAN and online tournaments on the Switch use both wired Ethernet and wired controllers for lower latency.) I believe a "gigabit Ethernet" adapter on the original Switch will actually be limited to 480 Mb/sec due to USB 2, but this should be fine for most people who don't have 1 Gb/sec internet service (as I do not, unfortunately) since the ISP will be the bottleneck for downloads. (Gameplay isn't data-intensive and depends more on latency than data rate.) Although it's nice to not have to plug in a clunky adapter (which you apparently hate, haha) or be limited to USB 2 speeds, most people will not see any performance improvement with built-in wired Ethernet in the new Switch vs. USB 2 Ethernet in the older models.
  • The speculation about it actually being 4K capable is tantalizing though probably wishful thinking! I wouldn't expect it, but perhaps some teardowns and experimentation will reveal the answer one way or another. If it's confirmed then the upgrade is a no-brainer.