Nintendo’s OLED Switch isn’t the Switch Pro, and that’s okay

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Engadget 07 July, 2021 - 11:18am 29 views

What is the Nintendo switch OLED?

The Nintendo Switch OLED edition is exactly that, a Nintendo Switch with a slightly bigger, brighter OLED screen as its main draw, combined with improved sound, larger base storage and a wired LAN port. ... The internals of this new Switch are identical to the current one, including the battery. ForbesWho Is The Nintendo Switch OLED Model For, Exactly?

Is the switch OLED the switch pro?

It's officially called the Nintendo Switch (OLED model), eschewing the rumoured Nintendo Switch Pro moniker. And it's quite an upgrade, offering a 7-inch OLED screen and enhanced audio. It will launch this October, nearly a year after the PS5 and Xbox Series X went on sale. What Hi-Fi?Nintendo Switch OLED: price, release date, specs and all the details

Can I preorder a Nintendo switch OLED?

Pre-order Nintendo Switch OLED Model in the US Product pages are now up on Best Buy and Gamestop, with the pre-orders due to become active soon. Nintendo LifeWhere To Pre-Order Nintendo Switch OLED Model

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The most surprising thing about the Switch's newly announced "OLED Model" might just be what it's missing. Namely, it's missing a new chipset that bumps up the processing power above what's available on existing Switch hardware.

That lack of improved internals is surprising mainly because of a number of reports that promised the next Switch would support a bump to "4K graphics when paired with TVs," as Bloomberg phrased it is as recently as March. Bloomberg's reporters tend to be reliable when it comes to this kind of insider Nintendo reporting, including an early 2019 report that predicted a "lower-priced" Nintendo Switch Lite months ahead of its announcement. Bloomberg also got the other details right about the OLED Model, including the 7" OLED screen that maintains the original Switch's 720p resolution and the general timing of when manufacturing would begin.

That theory would line up with the worldwide semiconductor shortage that has plagued the global supply chain in recent months. That's the same shortage that Sony and Microsoft have already admitted could limit supplies of their next-generation consoles through the end of the year, suggesting that Nintendo probably isn't immune to the same forces.

As the extent of those shortages became clear in recent months, Nintendo may have been faced with two options. The industry giant could delay its "Switch Pro" plans until the chips it needed for a more powerful system were available at an acceptable cost (likely meaning pushing back to a 2022 launch). Or it could scale back its plans, make use of readily available OLED screens, and launch a more limited redesign that kept the same basic internal hardware architecture in time for the 2021 holidays.

I don't have access to Nintendo's decision process here, so the actual considerations may have looked very different. But these kinds of changing circumstances would provide a plausible explanation for why expectations and early reporting on a "Switch Pro" didn't match reality in this case.

Even when the Switch launched in 2017, it was underpowered compared to its console competition. Now that the console is quickly approaching its fifth anniversary, its raw hardware power is absolutely dwarfed by fully 4K systems like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.

Here's the thing, though: there's no real evidence that's a problem for Nintendo.

Despite the lack of power, the Switch is still selling extremely well, pushing nearly 29 million systems worldwide in the last fiscal year. Bloomberg's Takashi Mochizuki points out that it is currently on track to sell 100 million units faster than any other home console (though portable systems like the Nintendo DS sold even faster)

Those kinds of sales numbers don't suggest an immediate need for a midgeneration power-boosting redesign. The system's mix of first-party exclusives, a wide range of indie and third-party titles, and a hybrid portable/TV form factor is obviously still a hit with gaming audiences, even without the raw hardware power of the competition.

Sure, Switch owners miss out on some high-end blockbusters that require the latest-and-greatest processors to power their worlds. But some publishers are working around those limitations with visually downgraded ports or even streaming options that run high-end games on powerful remote servers.

Maybe this kind of internal power upgrades (and maybe a resolution-bump for the Switch's screen?) are still a possibility for a real "Switch Pro" update in coming years. But there's nothing to suggest that any of these features are necessary to keep the Switch relevant in today's gaming market.

The value proposition of the OLED Model Switch is very different depending on how you use the system. When compared to the standard $300 Switch model, players who use the OLED Model away from the TV get an improved screen, improved speakers, and a heavily upgraded kickstand for "tabletop" play. OLED Model players who use the Switch while connected to the TV, on the other hand, get... a better-looking dock with a wired Ethernet port (both sets of players also get more internal storage).

That contrast helps cement a general impression that we've had ever since the release of the Switch Lite in 2019; Nintendo seems to be putting more emphasis on the Switch as a portable system than as a TV-based console these days. That's at least a little surprising considering that, as recently as 2018, Nintendo was saying that docked and undocked playtime for the Switch was "about even" across all players.

Maybe that split has changed in the intervening years. Or maybe Nintendo has simply decided to lean into the portable experience as the Switch's key differentiator from its more powerful console competition. Either way, Nintendo apparently sees the Switch as a portable system that can optionally be plugged into a TV, rather than the other way around (and despite what Nintendo told Polygon in 2016, when the 3DS still provided Nintendo's portable hardware focus).

Even for portable users, the OLED Model's small improvements over previous Switch hardware might make it hard for existing Switch owners to justify spending a full $350 on an upgrade. But if you're one of the millions of people who will be in the market for their first Switch this holiday season, a $50 relative price difference for those same improvements might not seem so ridiculous.

Keep in mind that households purchasing their first Switch still accounted for 80 percent of the console's worldwide sales in the fiscal year that just ended in March. That's roughly 23 million of the roughly 29 million consoles Nintendo sold in the 12-month period—numbers that help explain who Nintendo probably sees as the core audience for this slightly improved top-end Switch model.

In any case, the old $300 Switch and the $200 Switch Lite aren't going anywhere for the time being. And the new model plays the same games and uses the same controllers that already exist, meaning it won't split the Switch hardware or accessories market in any meaningful way. That makes the OLED Model a relatively risk-free way for Nintendo to introduce a "high-end" Switch (with a bit of a high-end price point) without being too disruptive to what's obviously working well so far.

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Another Nintendo Console Has Gotten An Upgrade, But It's From 18 Years Ago

Nintendo Life 07 July, 2021 - 08:20pm

GBA SP battery tech finally catches up with screen upgrades

You can keep your fancy-pants Switch OLED Models, chum – for retro fans, the news that the GBA SP is getting a battery upgrade is arguably more exciting ('arguably' being the operative word here).

While older Nintendo systems like the Game Boy and Game Boy Advance have been subject to some really cool unofficial mods over the years – usually focused on overcoming inherent limitations with the crude screens they shipped with – these updates have often had a negative impact on the power consumption of the machines.

Case in point; we have a modded GBA SP in the office which has a gorgeous IPS panel fitted that offers brightness that's beyond even what the legendary AGS-101 model is capable of, but the stock battery we had installed gave up the ghost after around an hour.

After around 15 years of use, the battery was probably ready for the scrapheap anyway, to be honest, but you get the picture – mods often result in reduced stamina. Even if you don't have a modded console, the promise of extra battery life is clearly tempting – and while there are larger batteries available online, they often don't match up with the advertised capacity.

Thank goodness then for UK company RetroSix, which not only supplies modded consoles but also sells a wide range of mods and accessories – including a new 900mAh battery for the GBA SP. We've been putting one of these through its paces recently and have come away very impressed; we managed to get over six hours of use out of a single charge on our IPS-modded GBA SP, which is far in excess of what we'd managed with previous aftermarket batteries purchased from the likes of eBay. If you're running it on a standard GBA SP without a fancy new screen, RetroSix says you can expect as much as ten hours of use:

This Rechargeable Battery Pack delivers up to ten hours of non-stop fun on your Game Boy Advance SP system. Heavy duty real 900mAh rating and easy to install in your handheld. This is not a typical Chinese replacement with fake mAh ratings, but our very own battery from a reputable battery factory we get our CleanJuice batteries from.

The RetroSix battery is roughly the same size as the original, although we did note that it's a tight squeeze getting it in and out of the GBA SP's battery compartment – but it's worth the effort, as it really does give your ageing handheld a new lease of life.

RetroSix is selling the 900mAh batteries for £10.30. If you're in North America, then you can get them from RetroSix's partner site, Handheld Legend, for $10.99.

About Damien McFerran

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Comments (20)

Where can I get it if my nation rebelled against the Crown almost 250 years ago?

@nukatha Nowhere, you should have stayed in the union

Kidding, of course. Handheld Legend have you covered: https://handheldlegend.com/collections/game-boy-advance-sp/products/900mah-li-ion-rechargeable-battery-replacement-for-game-boy-advance-sp?variant=39397504974982

Prefer an IPS screen on the original GBA so that I can use rechargeable AA batteries and not have to rely on availability of these non-standard forms.

Just buy a cheap or damaged DS fat , teke of the battery , get rid of some plastic parts , put it into GBA SP and you are good to go . Far more cheaper . And 100 % Nintendo

This is brilliant, I hope someone eventually does this for the Wii U gamepad.

@Damo You know the battery from DS fits perfectly ?

But the Battery mod by Mahko still exists and that's 950mAh...and cheaper...I guess it's still good to have more options.

@nukatha Legend has it that amidst the boxes of tea chucked off that boat, there’s a couple boxes of GBA batteries.

I was literally just going to look for replacement batteries for my gba sp. So that's cool.

My GBA is still going well, but with my 3DS it has started to get noticeable how it doesn't hold a charge as well as before, I usually get about an hour on power saving and no 3D.

Great to see an effort to maintaining this crucial part of the hardware available.

@gcunit I'm with you on that. Standard batteries that are widely available are a nice feature of the original GBA. I also love the form factor of that first model. Once, I was dealing with an extended power loss and the original GBA with a worm light helped pass the time due to it taking regular AA batteries. It was quite handy.

I have the 101 in a box with like 10 games. Not sure I need a battery for the box to use. What I need is a battery for the original 3ds . Mine started to bloat so I pulled it and chucked it..

I've used Retrosix before for some small parts (bracket for an IPS screen mod etc.) and they've been okay. So, I'm sure the battery pack is fine. It's definitely useful - one of my SPs could definitely do with a replacement.

But I really don't think I can ever support that particular company again.

And while it may be a coincidence (though unlikely in my eyes), their responses when asked about it are really unprofessional and childish.

And there's also reports of them stealing some of their mod designs. I can't say that's true for sure but I would encourage any potential customers to do their own research before engaging with them. It's definitely enough for me to keep away.

Are the writers at NintendoLife related to the guys at retrosix or something? It’s known they steal other peoples work and pass it off as their own.

I’ve mentioned it on the last post about them, someone mentioned it above. And I’m sure it’s been mentioned in other previous posts as well.

I've been planning to order a new battery for my SP so thanks for spotlighting this @Damo! You always know how to make me spend more money!

Now that is actually worth the upgrade.

The GBA SP is still one of Nintendo's best all round handheld designs imo.

Cool...I guess? I'll stick to just having all the games on my phone that's already with me.

This is great, but when I want to revamp an old GBA/etc with new parts, I honestly don't have the patience/time/skills to order the parts individually as a DIY project. I would rather purchase a revamped console already assembled and ready to go when it arrives.

@Splodge I looked at the art comparisons and they do not look the same. Perhaps one inspired the other, but this is not stealing. Also, this 'art' is merely copies of Nintendo's images in different arrangements. That said, most of the modding shells and parts are made cheaply in china. Just buy them from China on AliExpress. You can also UV print these designs, or a design of your own quite easily.

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