Shopping for an upgraded model of a gadget could be sophisticated. It’s not at all times instantly clear what’s modified or if these modifications are even helpful to you; this could occur with iterative telephone updates or, extra lately, the most recent technology of sport consoles from Sony and Microsoft. Within the case of the most recent Swap, although, Nintendo made issues simple: all that issues is how a lot you care concerning the display.

The brand new $350 OLED Swap is functionally an identical to the model that launched in 2017. It performs the entire identical video games, has the identical interface, and makes use of the identical controllers. These video games don’t have any form of efficiency increase; no higher body charges or greater decision. And apart from some small tweaks — an improved kickstand, a barely redesigned dock, extra storage — the {hardware} doesn’t appear all that totally different. Whenever you choose it up, it simply looks like a Swap.

However as quickly as you activate the display, you possibly can see the distinction. The brand new Swap swaps the unique’s LCD show for an even bigger, brighter OLED display. It doesn’t basically change what the Swap is or what it may possibly do. However for those who plan on spending lots of time in handheld mode, it makes a giant distinction to the way you expertise video games.

Okay, so, the fundamentals. The OLED Swap has a seven-inch OLED display, which is a bump up from the unique’s 6.2-inch show (and an enormous soar from the portable-only Swap Lite and its 5.5-inch touchscreen). This doesn’t really make the {hardware} all that a lot greater, although. The OLED Swap measures 102mm x 242mm x 13.9mm and weighs 420 grams with the controllers connected; the unique Swap clocks in at 102mm x 239mm x 13.9mm and weighs 398 grams. In my palms, I may barely inform the distinction when it comes to weight and measurement. Slightly than feeling greater, it’s extra like Nintendo trimmed again the large black bezel to make extra display actual property.

That display is the star of this new system. The dimensions is good, significantly for those who’re enjoying video games with a number of textual content or a sophisticated interface, like Fireplace Emblem: Three Homes. And although it options the identical 720p output as the bottom mannequin, issues didn’t seem noticeably much less sharp to me. However the extra apparent change is how a lot brighter and extra vibrant all the pieces seems to be. You possibly can see this in colourful video games like Tremendous Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Hyperlink’s Awakening, the place the colours actually pop. (Rewatching Hyperlink’s Awakening’s Ghibli-inspired opening animation actually made me want the Swap had some video streaming apps like Netflix.) That is true whether or not you’re enjoying one thing new or previous; I discovered that the superb sprites from Avenue Fighter III: Third Strike had been actually hanging on the brand new show, even when they’re 20 years previous.

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity working on the OLED Swap.

Lastly, a built-in stand that works.

The buttons have a barely refreshed look.

The advantages additionally go in the wrong way and make darkish digital worlds seem extra stark. The creepy side-scrolling sport Inside is a good instance of this; the inky blacks actually stand out, making its world really feel all of the extra bleak and oppressive (because it’s purported to). On some screens, Inside’s black-and-white visuals can blur collectively a bit, however right here issues stay distinct. Presumably the most effective showcase for the OLED show is Metroid Dread, which coincidentally launches alongside the brand new Swap. The moody journey has you navigating darkish caverns, historic forests, and underwater analysis amenities, and there’s a beautiful distinction between them. Throughout one sequence if you flip the lights on in an previous, deserted facility, the shift is genuinely jarring. I performed by the whole lot of the sport on the unique Swap for our assessment, after which spent a couple of hours replaying it on the OLED model and, effectively, I actually want I had waited for the brand new console.

It’s necessary to notice that these visible upgrades are purely because of the show. The brand new Swap isn’t extra highly effective, so that you gained’t see any form of efficiency modifications. (It’s most definitely not the much-rumored “Switch Pro.”) Fortnite seems to be extra vibrant and colourful on an OLED Swap, but it surely nonetheless has the identical flat textures and sluggish pop-in because it does on each different model of the {hardware}. This additionally implies that for those who play video games in your tv utilizing the dock, the expertise is strictly the identical as could be with a base mannequin.

A couple of different issues concerning the display. Whereas it’s far too early to say whether or not burn-in will probably be an issue, Nintendo does warn in opposition to displaying “the same image on the OLED screen for extended periods of time” with a view to decrease “risk of image retention or screen burn-in.” The corporate additionally says that the show options an “anti-scattering adhesive film,” which it says to not take away; although after a number of days with the system I admit I didn’t even discover there was a movie on the display.

Except for the display, the largest improve right here comes all the way down to design somewhat than know-how: the Swap lastly has a great built-in stand. I by no means actually take into consideration the kickstand on my base Swap, primarily as a result of it sucks. It’s so flimsy that I don’t belief it with holding an costly online game console upright. In 4 years, I’ve barely used it in any respect. However the OLED Swap now encompasses a Floor-style stand that extends the complete size of the system and is way more versatile when it comes to viewing angles. You know the way in each Swap business, there are folks enjoying video games within the park or on a rooftop in tabletop mode, having a number of enjoyable? Properly, I lastly really feel snug doing that, and it seems it’s nice. It’s change into my most popular technique of getting in some matches of Pokémon Unite, and it really works particularly effectively for pick-up-and-play video games like WarioWare: Get it Collectively or Clubhouse Video games.

The dock has a much less boxy look now.

The remainder of the modifications are way more minor. The buttons and vent on the highest of the Swap have been streamlined a bit, and Nintendo says the audio system now provide improved sound, however to me they only sounded a bit louder. (There’s nonetheless an ordinary headphone jack for if you actually wish to immerse your self, and Nintendo lately added Bluetooth audio help to all Swap {hardware} by way of a software program replace.) The dock has a barely extra refined look with rounded corners on the highest, and it is available in white now. There’s additionally the addition of a LAN port, and the dock’s rear panel is detachable, as a substitute of on a hinge, which makes it a bit simpler to swap cables. The brand new dock can be appropriate with the unique Swap, and vice versa. In the meantime, Nintendo has doubled the built-in storage to 64GB, although you possibly can develop that to as much as 2TB with a microSD card.

Key elements of the hand held haven’t modified in any respect. The Swap OLED makes use of the identical Pleasure-Con controllers, so that you’ll nonetheless need to stay in concern of the dreaded drift. And it has the identical battery life as the marginally improved model of the bottom Swap launched in 2019, which implies you’ll get between 5 to 9 hours of gameplay on a cost, relying on what you’re enjoying and your brightness settings. The larger, brighter display doesn’t seem to make a distinction in that regard. When enjoying docked, it additionally nonetheless tops out at 1080p.

All of this places the OLED Swap in an attention-grabbing place inside Nintendo’s slowly rising household of {hardware}. The Swap Lite is the apparent entry level, a less expensive mannequin and one designed explicitly for transportable play with its small measurement and durable development. The bottom Swap, in the meantime, is first rate on the go however greatest for many who will primarily use it as a house console, which makes the latest mannequin the most effective of each worlds. For $50 extra it really works like a typical Swap at dwelling, however its glorious OLED show and at last purposeful kickstand additionally make it the extra premium transportable expertise.

So, once more, all of it comes all the way down to that display. You already know what else to count on from a Swap. It hasn’t modified all that a lot in 4 years. However if you need that have to look higher, brighter, and extra vibrant if you’re away from the TV, the selection is straightforward.

The Nintendo Swap OLED launches on October eighth.

Correction October sixth, 11:40 ET: An earlier model incorrectly acknowledged the situation of the audio system on the unique Swap. We remorse the error.


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