Nintendo Switch OLED has a fantastic hidden upgrade

The reliability of the Joy-Cons is improved, but Nintendo indicates controller drift may be inevitable.

Nintendo Switch OLED
(Image credit: Nintendo)

The Nintendo Switch OLED model has a number of clearly labelled improvements — double the storage, a better dock, an improved kickstand and that OLED panel — but it apparently has a hidden improvement that Nintendo hasn’t flagged… until now.

In an ‘Ask the Developer’ interview on the official Nintendo site, the company revealed that the scourge of Joy-Con drift — where the controllers register movement without any input — has been the subject of continued tinkering. And the latest improved pads have been included in the Switch OLED model, as well as recently shipped regular and Lite models.

“We’ve been continuing to make improvements that may not always be visible,” Deputy General Manager of the Technology Development Department, Toru Yamashita, explained. “Among others, the analogue-stick parts have continuously been improved since launch, and we are still working on improvements,” he continued, adding that the company has “investigated the Joy-Con controllers used by the customers” to improve the “wear resistance and durability.”

While the word “drift” doesn’t show up a single time in the interview — unsurprising given this is on the official Nintendo site, and the company likely isn’t overly keen on flagging the subject of several class-action lawsuits — “wear resistance” certainly sounds like a reference to Joy-Con drift to us.

But there’s a sting in the tail. When asked if “wear is unavoidable”, both Yamashita and Ko Shiota, General Manager of Technology, agreed. 

“Yes, for example car tires wear out as the car moves, as they are in constant friction with the ground to rotate,” replied Shiota. “So with that same premise, we asked ourselves how we can improve durability, and not only that, but how can both operability and durability coexist? It’s something we are continuously tackling.”

According to Yamashita, “the degree of wear depends on factors like the combination of the materials and forms,” adding that Nintendo would “continue to make improvements by researching which combinations are less likely to wear.” 

A note at the top of the interview states that it has been translated from Japanese, so there’s a chance that some nuance has been lost in translation. Still, while buying a Switch OLED sounds like the best way of guaranteeing the latest, most durable Joy-Cons, “less likely to wear” is far from a guarantee that the Switch OLED’s bundled controllers will outlive the lifespan of the console.