The long-awaited mid-life refresh of the Nintendo Switch is finally here and it’s… disappointing, but also kind of great? This isn’t the Switch Pro we were all expecting but it does come with several quality-of-life updates that are most welcome. It’s long been rumoured that Nintendo was cooking up something new for the Switch line of consoles and we all assumed that that meant a more powerful model was on its way. Sadly, the console we got is not more powerful than its predecessors, which will put many off straight away. We, however, are here to tell you exactly what it does have and why, if you’re new to the Switch party, this might be the perfect console for you.
Not Exactly Money for Old Rope
Mid-life refreshes of consoles are certainly nothing new. The PS4 got its own Pro model and the Xbox One had the Xbox One X, each about halfway through their lifespans. Each new console offered a more refined “premium” gaming experience for its userbase. Higher framerates, sharper images, higher resolutions, you name it. In a word these consoles offered power. Even Nintendo isn’t a stranger to this practice. Their updates however are a little, well, more involved. The New 3DS (possibly some of the worst branding I’ve ever seen) offered a more powerful base console which was great. It also had bigger screens and chunkier buttons. However, it also included a pressure-sensitive mini analogue stick and an extra pair of shoulder buttons in addition to all the normal buttons and controls. This, naturally, led to some games being designed with these new controls in mind, effectively making these games exclusive to this console, which was designed to be a slight update of their existing one. This meant that there were swathes of players who already owned a 3DS who couldn’t play these games without also buying a brand-new console. Not great on their part. Thankfully, nothing like that is happening here. For all intents and purposes, this is just a normal Switch. It’s just a normal Switch.
The Internet Rumour Mill
It came to light a few months ago that Nintendo was buying a series of new 7-inch OLED screens from Samsung, presumably for use in a new console of some kind. This was our first whiff of what was to come. The new Switch OLED, as the name suggests, now has an OLED display on its main body with a smaller bezel around the edge, keeping exactly the same form factor as its predecessor. This means that the screen is bigger (a whopping 0.8 inches I bigger) brighter and offers more vibrant colours than either the base Switch or the Switch Light. While the screen will definitely look better, you won’t actually get any more detail than the current 720p offering but I can live with that!
What’s the craic with the new features?
The new model also sports a full-size kickstand on the back similar to Microsoft’s Surface tablets have. This new stand is also fully adjustable so you can angle the console however you like in order to make the most of the fancy new screen. This is a significant upgrade from the current solution which is a strip about two inches long that is as liable to break off (admittedly, by design) as it is to actually support your console. A welcome addition if I ever saw one.
There’s also an ethernet port in the new dock now. With the stratospheric jump in popularity that online gaming has seen in the last 18 months that’s no surprise. The great news here is that the dock will be available separately from the console for any of us who just want to upgrade one part of the experience without shelling out for the whole shebang!
And that’s your lot really. There’s a new colour scheme for the dock and joycons I guess? And the speakers have been updated a little to give better audio performance. That’s really it, though. There’s no updated chipset, no boost in power provided by the new dock. There’s isn’t even Bluetooth audio (though there are rumours that that may be added via software update). If you’re coming here looking for an all-singing, all-dancing gaming machine to replace your current one this probably isn’t the stop for you to get off at. Those of us who want to play Breath of the Wild in 4K will almost certainly have to wait another few years for the Switch’s successor to hit the streets. So why update the Switch now? Who is this for?
The Best Place to Start
Well, to be honest, for anyone who hasn’t bought a Switch or is looking to upgrade from the Light to the real deal, this is the only model worth looking at. Seriously, for an extra €50 you get a much better screen, a better stand and an ethernet port on your Dock. The dock alone will sell for more than that. I couldn’t justify myself or recommend that someone else buys this when they already have an original Switch, but if you want to dip your toe I’d say go straight to the top of the lie model. As mentioned before the new dock will be available to anyone who wants one too. This is going to be great for those of us who want to play online or even get faster download speeds but aren’t in the market for a second Switch. Then you get to have two docks! Your Switch just became even more of a “game anywhere any time” machine!
While this may not be the Switch Pro we all expected or wanted, it certainly isn’t without its merits. While we current residents of the Switch ecosystem have little to no reason to upgrade, I would wholeheartedly recommend first-timers buy this one over the original or even the Light. The new vibrant screen is sure to make all your games look as good as possible in handheld and the new neon white colour is a nice futuristic touch. Time to begin waiting for the Switch 2 I suppose.