Nintendo’s announcement of the Nintendo Switch (OLED model) dropped last night, but for many existing owners and prospective buyers, it came with a disappointing lack of word about improved performance and internal components. Nintendo has now confirmed definitively that the Switch OLED does not improve the internal components, meaning that games will run just as well on the Switch OLED as they do on the regular Switch and Switch Lite.
The Nintendo Switch OLED comes with a larger 7″ screen that used (funnily enough) OLED technology instead of LCD. This makes the screen potentially much brighter and better suited to gaming outdoors, but it comes with the same 720p resolution as other versions of the Switch. Its tablet body is practically identical in size to the original Switch, modified to have a full-width kick stand, but retaining compatibility with the unchanging Joy-Con design and featuring the same 4.5-9 hour battery life as the 2019 Switch refresh.
The was expected to be the long-rumoured “Switch Pro” with an upgraded internal chipset that would allow for improved frame rates, resolutions, and potentially enable upscaled 4K output when docked. However, Nintendo’s spokespeople have issued statements to various outlets to say that the “Nintendo Switch (OLED model) does not have a new CPU, or more RAM, from previous Nintendo Switch models.”
Nintendo of America’s Manager of Product Marketing tweeted in response to queries:
Nope. Not what’s for. Stick with the current one if you’re not digging the screen.
— JC Rodrigo (@JCRodrigo_) July 6, 2021
Nintendo has a long track record of revising and upgrading their handheld consoles. This goes back all the way to the Game Boy, with the Game Boy Color an upgraded follow up. The Game Boy Advance changed form factor several times, getting a backlit LCD with the GBA SP. The Nintendo DS had both form factor and internal upgrades with the DSi range. Most recently, the Nintendo 3DS was supplanted by the New Nintendo 3DS range that improved its internal components.
Hopes for a 4K capable Switch might continue through 2022 and beyond, and the reporting from Bloomberg and other outlets won’t go away. They reported that developers had been told to prepare for 4K Switch games, as well as that Nintendo was working with Nvidia on a new chip featuring DLSS upscaling. The Switch Pro rumour mill is unlikely to stop turning, and I’d put good money on the next report saying that Nintendo saw the manufacturing shortages of 2020 and 2021 and modified their plans to suit.