OPINION: While it is still part of the rumour mill, the recent news that the Nintendo Switch 2 is likely to have an 8-inch LCD screen at launch has caused quite a stir as, on the surface at least, it sounds like a major downgrade from the currently available Switch OLED.
I too was a little sceptical at first – I own a Switch OLED and the day I upgraded to the newer console, I swore that I’d never so much as even look at the original Switch with its 6.2-inch LCD ever again.
However, after mulling on the subject a bit more, I realised that I was unfairly aligning the Switch 2 with my memories of that original Nintendo Switch and the technical limitations faced by the console back when it first appeared on store shelves in 2017.
By modern standards, the original Switch’s LCD panel, with its thick bezels and dim backlighting, is outdated. However, that technology hasn’t stayed stagnant over the last seven years as there are plenty of examples out there of how LCD screens have improved over time.
The most obvious pick amongst the current crop of handhelds is the PlayStation Portal. While Sony’s remote play-focused device has plenty of issues, notably its lack of Bluetooth, one of its better facets is its crisp and incredibly bright eight-inch screen which is also LCD.
Even the original Steam Deck, which has since been bested by its OLED upgrade, had a seven-inch touchscreen that looked noticeably better than what Nintendo was able to achieve well over half a decade ago.
The downgrade would remain a disappointment
While I won’t deny that the lack of an OLED display is disappointing, I think that there are enough examples of LCD panels working well enough on modern handhelds that it won’t be a dealbreaker for the Switch 2, particularly if the rumour about it being an 8-inch display also ends up being true as it’ll offer far more real estate than the Switch OLED’s 7-inch alternative.
Plus, we don’t know for such what the resolution will be for the Switch 2’s onboard screen. If it finally gets the bump to 1080p or even 4K (unlikely due to battery life concerns), then you’ll see far more detail onscreen, which has long been one of the issues I have had with the 720p resolution Nintendo has stuck with so far.
As a final point of note – never underestimate what Nintendo can do within the barriers of hardware limitations. It managed to put out last year’s The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom on seriously dated specs, and yet that title boasts one of the most complex physics systems I’ve seen in any game to date, so until we have concrete information about the Switch 2, don’t count Nintendo out just yet.