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Nintendo’s Switch OLED specs will be disappointing, but it won’t matter

Published Jul 7th, 2021 5:30PM EDT
Switch OLED Specs
Image: Nintendo

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Nintendo unveiled the new Switch OLED model just as rumors said it would. The company announced the new console on its own terms, several months ahead of the expected fall launch. The initial estimates said the device would arrive before E3 in June, but that didn’t happen. Instead, Nintendo launched the device quietly on Tuesday, knowing it would make waves. The new Switch did not receive the expected “Pro” moniker, with Nintendo focusing on a specific upgrade. The larger OLED screen is the kind of upgrade gamers will appreciate, and it’s in line with recent rumors. But it turns out that all of those reports were way off about the other expected upgrades. Nintendo has just confirmed the disappointing Switch OLED specs, fully knowing that it will probably not impact sales.

Nintendo’s Switch OLED announcement the other day only delivered a few key hardware details for the new console. The device features a 7-inch 720P OLED display, which is slightly larger than the current 6.3-inch LCD screen. The console gets 64GB of storage, a new stand for tabletop mode, and the new dock gets an Ethernet port. Recent reports offered the same specs details for the screen and the dock.

All of that will cost $350 when the Switch OLED launches in October. The new console will join the existing Switch and Switch Lite.

The same Switch specs

Nintendo’s surprise announcement might have confirmed some recent reports, but many of the recent Switch OLED specs rumors have not panned out. The company confirmed to The Verge that the new Switch would not get the new processor or RAM upgrade we expected.

“Nintendo Switch (OLED model) does not have a new CPU, or more RAM, from previous Nintendo Switch models,” the company said.

The OLED model will not even get Bluetooth headphone support. “We have nothing to announce on this topic, but like the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite consoles, Nintendo Switch (OLED model) supports Bluetooth tech for the Joy-Con controllers,” the company said.

Nintendo also confirmed that the old and new Switch docks are interchangeable. You can use the OLED model with the original Switch dock or the other way around.

All those Switch “Pro” repots said that Nintendo’s new console would deliver significantly improved specs. The purported CPU upgrade leaked recently, and the new dock was supposed to support 4K gaming.

Why Nintendo can get away with it

Nintendo is in such a unique position with the Switch that it can do what it wants in terms of specs and not care about sales. The Switch is in a place where it both competes against major rivals but also has no real contender.

The Switch battles the PS5 and Xbox Series X, which offer significantly improved hardware for just $150 more than the Switch OLED. But the Switch plays games in handheld mode, which is not something the PlayStation or Xbox can do.

More importantly, Nintendo sits on a massive empire of original games that players crave. As long as they can run on the original Switch’s hardware, that’s good enough for everyone involved.

It’s unclear whether the chip shortage had any impact on the Switch OLED specs decision. But it doesn’t really matter. Nintendo going forward with a device that offers a screen upgrade for $50 makes sense for a company that can’t meet Switch demand. And maybe a Switch Pro upgrade might still land at some point in the future.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.