Nintendo Switch OLED warning issued by screen specialist

A specialist in OLED panel tech has issued some warning advice to gamers looking to buy a Nintendo Switch OLED

Nintendo Switch OLED
(Image credit: Nintendo)

Despite the Nintendo Switch OLED getting a pretty underwhelming reception due to a series of missing features, Nintendo Switch OLED pre-orders are are being touted as something that are going to be in huge demand by gamers, who apparently are going to be won over by the console's larger OLED display.

However, those gamers who are thinking of pre-ordering the Nintendo Switch OLED might want to read this warning advice that has just been raised by an OLED screen specialist. Writing on Reddit under the topic "Word of advice for anyone buying the OLED Nintendo Switch", user u/i_can_hear_the_world states that:

"I am a home theater specialist at Best Buy, and a huge Nintendo nerd. OLED technology is something I’m quite well versed in, considering premium tv’s use the same (or very similar) technology. I wanted to give a word of advice to anyone who doesn’t know much about how OLED works.

"OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) is the fancier cousin to LED. This technology does not rely on backlighting like standard LED screens do. Instead, each pixel is individually lit (known simply as self-lighting pixels) which helps deliver near perfect dark levels and contrast.

"There is, however, one drawback to OLED that LED does not suffer; screen burn-in. Although screen burn-in takes many hours of static imagery to occur, it can still happen. I am confident that Nintendo has measures to ensure that screen burn-in will hardly occur, but to err on the side of caution, here is my advice to you:

"1. If playing undocked for copious amounts of hours, do not leave your OLED Switch turned on while left on a static screen (i.e a menu or title screen).

"2. Since the Switch will not have a ‘pixel refresh’ function like most OLED tv’s do, if you do start to notice image retention, lower your brightness and periodically power off your Switch to allow the screen to rest."

The poster then continues to explain the difference between image retention and burn-in (the former is a temporary effect while the second is a permanent one) before concluding that any gamer who picks up the new console should not "leave your undocked OLED Switch on a static screen for many hours" as "it could cause burn-in".

Burn in has been a reported issue for some OLED TV panels and smartphones over the past few years as the panel technology has developed and proliferated. Many tests have proven burn in to be a real thing, although the conclusion to many is that in most real-world usage cases it does not normally manifest itself.

The poster of this warning advice does admit this, mind, noting that "while burn-in is not common anymore, it is still possible, and I would hate for any new OLED Switch users to fall victim to it."

And, indeed, this attitude towards the potential for Nintendo Switch OLED burn in is shared by resident T3 display expert Matthew Bolton, who states that:

"I'm not worried at all about OLED burn-in being a big issue on the Switch, assuming Nintendo doesn't make some kind of technical mistake. OLED burn-in remains a potential issue for the technology overall, no question – even high-quality screens like those on iPhones can suffer from it – but it only tends to come up in specific situations. You need a static image to remain on the screen for long periods, over and over again. Game HUDs can be the kind of thing that causes it, but it seems unlikely that someone will use their Switch in this way – if you're playing one game for 8 hours at a time day after day, it'll probably be on your TV. With the short bursts of fun that the Switch is made for, I expect few problems."

As such, here at T3 our take on this is that, right now, without any detailed information about the OLED panel used on the Nintendo Switch OLED, it is unclear as to what sort of performance (and potential issues) its screen could have, but we don't think there will be any of note. We think it is highly unlikely that most gamers would ever leave their Switch OLED turned on with a static screen on display for hours on end, but we also guess it can't be ruled out entirely.

After all, the last thing anyone wants is to spend $349.99 on a new console and then experience screen issues after accidentally leaving it on – and especially not when the screen has been the primary reason for the purchase. So, while we think this isn't going to be an issue for many gamers, it is advice that could save others serious heartache. And for that u/i_can_hear_the_world should be given a big hat tip.

Hopefully we will get more information about the Switch OLED screen soon and then, closer to launch, some real-world tests to show just how the screen performs.

Missed the Nintendo Switch OLED launch video? Well you can watch it in its entirety below:

In other Nintendo Switch OLED news it has been estimated that it costs Nintendo only about $10 more to produce its upgrades despite the firm pricing the console at $50 more.

The news will likely make stomaching the price hike for the Switch OLED even harder for many gamers as, if the estimated costs are true then its lack of upgrades and perceived missing features will become even more evident.

In addition, with the brand new rival Steam Deck handheld gaming console being unveiled, the Switch OLED will have some serious competition in the market, with the system outpunching the Switch OLED in terms of gaming hardware by orders of magnitude.

The Steam Deck is due for release this winter holiday season, shortly after the Nintendo Switch OLED, and Steam Deck pre-orders are now open, too.

Robert Jones
Robert Jones

Deputy Editor for T3.com, Rob has been writing about computing, gaming, mobile, home entertainment technology and more for over 15 years. You can find Rob's work in magazines, bookazines and online, as well as on podcasts and videos, too. Outside of his work Rob is passionate about motorbikes, skiing/snowboarding and team sports, with football and cricket two favourites. Feel free to contact him with any related products, events, and announcements.