The Nintendo Switch Explained: Here’s How It’s Different From the Original Switch

Nintendo Switch Joy-con controller on a white background

The recent release of the Nintendo Switch OLED means there are currently three Nintendo Switch iterations, with the latest version sporting the most advanced capabilities. But how big is the difference between the original Switch and the Switch OLED?

While the Switch OLED doesn't exactly offer the much-needed improved resolution capabilities and processing power that Nintendo buffs have been craving, the various small improvements added up sure make the Switch OLED  a beast compared to its predecessor.

This article looks at both the similarities and differences between the two gaming systems. Hopefully, it will help you make a more guided purchase decision.

New Nintendo Switch OLED vs. Original Nintendo Switch: Similarities

Nintendo's three console iterations have more similarities than differences. For one, you can play the same exact games in the original Switch, the Switch Lite, and the Switch OLED. Every Switch gaming system can play all known Switch games via a digital download or a physical cartridge.

The core technical features are also largely the same. Each is equipped with an NVIDIA Custom Tegra processor and a 4GB RAM card. The difference is in the storage; the Switch OLED comes with 64 GB of internal storage while the base Switch offers only 32 GB. That said, both consoles come with a micro SD card slot, so the storage differences aren't exactly decision-swaying.

Other similarities include Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth audio support, and the OS system. The Switch OLED and base Switch are also the same in size and weigh almost the same. They can also connect to a TV and offer the same battery life.

How Does the New Nintendo Switch OLED Differ From the Original Switch?

While the two consoles share a lot of features and capabilities, they aren't exactly interchangeable. Any avid gamer would tell there is a difference in experience upon using both gaming systems. Here is how the Nintendo Switch OLED compares with the base Nintendo Switch on various aspects:


There are no big gulfs between the two gaming systems when it comes to physical design. The base Switch is lighter by a few grams, but it has the same profile as its successor. Both sport a touchscreen tablet at the center and, on either side, detachable Joy-Con controllers.

The two most apparent design differences are highlighted in the speakers and kickstands. The Switch OLED has larger, more full-bodied speakers and a kickstand that runs almost the entire length of the device. The base switch, on the other hand, has smaller speakers and a thin kickstand that is more toward one side of the back of the console.


Given most of the action that goes on on the screen, it's hard to ignore even the slightest of differences. While the base Nintendo Switch comes with a diagonally six-inch screen, the Switch OLED boasts an extra inch. It also doesn't have the now-outmoded liquid crystal display (LCD) screen that the base Switch and the Switch lite have.

Instead, it comes with an OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screen, which is known to produce among the best picture qualities of any display technology.

As regards output, all three Nintendo consoles offer 720p and 60 FPS.

TV Compatibility

Both the original Nintendo Switch and the Switch OLED come with a dock, meaning you can connect them to a TV. The docks are, however, slightly different. The Switch OLED's dock comes with an Ethernet port, while the base Switch's doesn't. This means that using a LAN connection while in docked mode is only possible with a Switch OLED.

Battery Life

Theoretically, there are no differences in power-efficiency between the original Switch and the Switch OLED. However, when the two consoles were put to test, the Switch OLED came out on top with a battery-life advantage of 20 minutes. It lasted five minutes while the 2019 base Switch lasted 5 minutes and 40 seconds.

The launch model of the original switch took 3 minutes and 28 seconds to drain completely.

The differences, particularly between the Switch OLED and the improved 2019 version of the base Switch, can be attributed to the varying power efficiencies of the two screen types. The OLED might be bigger, but it's more efficient, and that gives it a slight edge over its predecessor.


The base Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo Switch OLED come with identical controller options: two detachable Joy-Cons running down either side of the tablet. You can detach them and use them both as a single controller or use them as they are on the controller. If you are playing in multiplayer mode with a friend, each of you can use one Joy-Con as a standalone controller.

Nintendo Switch OLED Release Date

A man playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Nintendo Switch.
A man playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Nintendo Switch.

The Switch OLED was made available to the public on October 8, 2021. Nintendo announced that the console won't be a replacement of the older Switch versions but an addition to its young portfolio.

Nintendo has sold little under 100 million units of the old Switch since its release in 2017, and chances are the Switch OLED will add to that success, given it's a clear upgrade on the existing options.


Contrary to expectations, the Nintendo Switch OLED won't set you back a fortune, at least compared to the original version. At $350 (£310), you will be paying only $50 more than you would for a standard Switch unit. In most gamers' opinions, that difference is justifiable.

Compared to other mainstream consoles, the Switch OLED also seems reasonably priced. It costs just $10 more than the Xbox Series S, which is a digital-only system, and cheaper than both the Xbox Series X and the PS5.

You can purchase your Nintendo Switch OLED unit from a number of major retailers including:

  1. Amazon
  2. Walmart
  3. Target
  4. Best Buy
  5. Newegg

In the UK, you can get it on AmazonCurrysArgos, and Very.


The Nintendo Switch OLED is still a new product on the market, which you may understandably have doubts about. The above information should help you understand it better and ensure you order your unit knowing exactly what you're paying for.