Why I’m Not Worried About Burn-In on Nintendo Switch OLED

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The new Switch has a bigger and better 7-inch OLED screen.

Scott Stein/CNET

As well as the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X, a Nintendo Switch OLED is a new game console that has been hard to get your hands on. If you’re still hunting change replenishment or you just unpacked your, you shouldn’t stress about burn-in. I’m not worried about that bright 7-inch OLED screen on the Nintendo Switch, and most buyers shouldn’t be either.

you see me TVs review for CNET it’s a lot of people ask me about burn-in on OLED TVs I’ve been recommending for years. Even though it’s much smaller than a TV, this screen on the Nintendo Switch can spark the same questions in your mind. But most OLED TV and Switch owners don’t have to stress about those annoying ghost images.

Let’s start with the basics. Today’s screens – on TVs, phones, laptops, tablets, smartwatches and, yes, handheld game consoles – use two main technologies: OLED (organic light emitting diode) and LCD (liquid crystal display). OLED screens have better image quality than LCD screens, mainly because they can produce a perfect shade of black, which creates better contrast and “pop” as well as more saturated and rich colors.

in his OLED Switch CNET Review, Scott Stein said the screen was “obviously better”, adding “I don’t want to go back to the older Switch right now. The screen looks small and clearly worse, and the OLED screen is already spoiling me”. I haven’t seen the screen of the new OLED Switch in person yet, but in my years of owning the original Switch and countless hours of gaming on its LCD screen, I found it mediocre at best in terms of contrast and color. I’m sure the new Switch will look like very Better.

See More information: Nintendo Switch OLED Joy-Cons may be less likely to drift

ghost in the machine

One potential downside of OLED technology is something known as burn-in. As we put it in our extensive guide to OLED screen burn-in: “Burn-in is when a part of an image – navigation buttons on a phone, for example, or a channel logo, news ticker, or scoreboard on a TV – persists as a ghostly background no matter what. more appears on the screen.”

TV and phone manufacturers that sell OLED screens, from LG to Apple to Google, recognize the possibility of burn-in – also known as “image persistence” or “image retention”. They all characterize it as something that can happen in “extreme” or “rare” circumstances, and I agree.

Here is Nintendo’s response to my request for comment on burn-in:

We designed the OLED screen to have as much longevity as possible, but OLED screens can experience image retention if subjected to static visuals for an extended period of time. However, users can take preventative measures to preserve the screen. [by] using features included in Nintendo Switch systems by default, such as the auto-brightness function to prevent the screen from getting too bright and the auto-sleep function to enter ‘auto-sleep’ mode after short periods of time.

In my experience reviewing (and watching) OLED TVs over the years, I’ve never caused a case of burn-in, although I’ve never directly tested it. A review site, rtings.com, ran a real-world TV burn-in test and came to this conclusion: “We don’t expect most people who watch varied content without static areas to experience burn-in issues with an OLED TV.”

As a screen that will mostly show games, the Nintendo Switch OLED screen will definitely have some static elements like persistent corner scores, health bars, ammo counts, and status icons. These can, if left on the screen for an extended period of time, conceivably cause burn-in.

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Static screen elements such as a lap counter can cause burn-in, but they probably won’t stay on the screen long enough to do so.

Nintendo

Me, concern?

Despite the persistence of static screen elements in games, there are numerous reasons why I’m not worried about burn-in on the OLED Switch. Here are some.

  • Static elements such as a score, health bar, or reticle would have to remain on the screen for many hours at a time.
  • If you play different games, they will have different static elements (or none at all), which reduces or eliminates the problem.
  • Aside from the games themselves, the Switch doesn’t have a static always-on menu element like the navigation bar on some phones.
  • As Nintendo mentioned, the Switch has an auto-brightness feature and an auto-sleep mode that turns the screen off completely after a set period of time, helping to reduce the problem.

Now, if I were the type of gamer who played the same game pretty much exclusively, one that kept the same bright, lingering static elements on the handheld screen constantly, I would avoid the OLED Switch. But I (like every other Switch user I know) get enough variation on the screen by playing enough different games that burn-in isn’t an issue.

See More information: Nintendo Switch OLED vs. all others: which one should you buy now?

Here’s where I mention that this is all just conjecture, based on my own experience as a TV reviewer, Switch gamer, and someone who has owned an OLED screen phone since the Samsung Vibrant (circa 2010). The new Switch just came out, and maybe something like the Google Pixel 2 XL recording issue, where the persistent bottom navigation bar caused burn-in, will appear for some OLED Switch users in the coming months. But for the reasons described above, I doubt it.

If that possibility worries you, however, don’t buy the new Switch. Or just buy a Switch with a traditional LCD screen.

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The Switch Lite (left) and the original Switch (middle) both have LCD screens, while the OLED Switch (right) has — yes — an OLED screen

Scott Stein/CNET

For my part, I think the risk of burn-in is totally worth the benefit of OLED. In fact, compared to a TV that can be left on for hours or days playing a channel with a persistent logo like CNN, I would expect reports of burn-in to be less common on Switch than TVs.

I have a lot of other questions about the new Switch, such as how the OLED screen affects battery life, how it works outdoors or in other bright light, and whether it squashes shadow detail or makes colors less realistic. Whether burn-in will be an issue is not one of them.

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