I desperately want a Nintendo Switch 2 OLED — here's why it won't happen

Nintendo Switch
(Image credit: Nintendo)

Before I start to rant like it’s a form of terrible, oxygen-denying Olympic event, let me say this: The Nintendo Switch OLED is a phenomenal gaming handheld. I think it’s one of the best mid-gen console refreshes ever made, and I’ve valued it dearly since it launched in late 2021. With that out of the way, I think it would be a questionable decision for the company to launch a Nintendo Switch 2 OLED at launch, purely from a sales perspective.

Not that someone like me should be dedicating financial policy to an iconic publisher that’s been in business in some form or fashion since 1889. Hell, you’re reading the words of someone who thought that buying an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 graphics card — well after the GPU mining fad had passed — was a canny investment. I can hold an opinion on the next generation of Nintendo, though… even if it said take slays my soul.

As someone who’s way too into OLED technology, I can’t believe I’m about to double down on this: Nintendo probably shouldn’t launch the Switch 2 with an OLED screen. Regardless of what the Switch successor is eventually called, collective pre-release wisdom has agreed that it will be another handheld hybrid. That’s clearly a sensible approach from Nintendo if proven true — after all, the Switch is already the third most successful video game console of all time. There’s also a lot of talk that Switch 2 has an 8-inch LCD screen

There's a lot of talk that Nintendo Switch 2 has an 8-inch LCD screen"

There are a couple of major factors that are influencing my take on Nintendo Switch 2’s potential screen tech. The main one being that I don’t regard OLED as a true needle mover in the gaming space. The technology has certainly made big strides in terms of market share with TVs in recent years — mainly because more manufacturers have gotten behind it and OLED televisions are far cheaper than they used to be — yet integration into gaming devices isn’t anywhere near that level.

While certain reports have cited the OLED model being the top seller in the Switch family in the recent past (thanks, Games Rant), the vast majority of users are still likely using the original LCD version. Inherently, most people who own a Switch are going to be fairly casual, which is all but inevitable with such a breakout device. Just as a random person in the street probably can’t tell you what frame rate most movies are filmed/projected at, I’d be surprised if an average “play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe every now and then” Switch gamer thought or cared about the limitations of the Switch’s screen all that much.

Yes, black levels and color reproduction aren’t great on older LCDs compared to OLED, and yes, most screens are going to look a bit dated after seven years. Ultimately though, the quality of games is all that really matters and despite the limitations of the original Switch’s LCD display, it’s not so bad that it actively impedes your enjoyment of modern classics like Metroid Dread and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

Switching lanes

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom running on a special edition Nintendo Switch OLED

If the rumored talk is true, Nintendo Switch 2 will have a considerably bigger screen than the current 7-inch OLED model.  (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As someone who only grasps only the most rudimentary fundamentals when it comes to manufacturing, I’m going to start lecturing you about production costs. My limited knowledge does reach far enough to make one conclusion, however: Making Switch 2 with an OLED screen will definitely cost Nintendo more money.

Not that I actually care about Nintendo’s bottom line. Individuals going to bat for giant corporations has always been the most baffling part of video game fandom to me. It’s bizarre. Still, if I was a Nintendo investor, I’d find it hard to get behind a strategy that is probably going to cost a good deal more to produce per unit without any firm guarantee of a higher adoption rate.

There is also Nintendo’s hardware history to consider. This is a company that freakin’ loves to try to get you to rebuy rejigged versions of its products. You’d be up to your knees if you stacked every recooked Nintendo console on top of one another. The Game Boy Color; Game Boy Advance; Game Boy Advance SP; the DS Lite; the DSi; the 2DS; the 3DS XL; Switch Lite. Phew!

Nintendo's next console is going to sell like hotcakes, regardless of what it’s called"

If the Kyoto firm releases it, there’s an excellent chance a clutch of hardcore players will always buy its latest device. And I aquarely put myself in that category… now let me start throwing around these colossal stones in my lovely glass house.

Nintendo Switch 2 is going to sell like hotcakes, regardless of what it’s called. Of that I have little doubt. I’m also of the mind that spending a lot more funds releasing it with a screen that is focused on hardcore users like me (who are very much in the minority with the OG Switch) doesn’t make a ton of sense from the get go.

I hope all of the above proves to be complete nonsense and ages about as well as an incredibly old carton of milk with a picture of The Backstreet Boys emblazoned on it. If/ when Nintendo launches Switch 2 OLED, it has a guaranteed customer here. I just don’t see the device becoming a reality until 18 months or so after an LCD model’s launch.

More from Tom's Guide

Dave Meikleham
UK Computing Editor

Dave is a computing editor at Tom’s Guide and covers everything from cutting edge laptops to ultrawide monitors. When he’s not worrying about dead pixels, Dave enjoys regularly rebuilding his PC for absolutely no reason at all. In a previous life, he worked as a video game journalist for 15 years, with bylines across GamesRadar+, PC Gamer and TechRadar. Despite owning a graphics card that costs roughly the same as your average used car, he still enjoys gaming on the go and is regularly glued to his Switch. Away from tech, most of Dave’s time is taken up by walking his husky, buying new TVs at an embarrassing rate and obsessing over his beloved Arsenal.