Valve likewise aims to enhance Steam Deck’s screen quality, but switching to an OLED display is no simple task

According to previous reports, Steam Deck designer Lawrence Yang stated that a more powerful Steam Deck would not arrive for several years, and only minor improvements would be made to the new device. This is not good news for those who are considering purchasing a Steam Deck but find its performance lacking, especially as several manufacturers have subsequently released handheld consoles featuring the Ryzen 7 6800U processor. So, make these “minor improvements” include switching to an OLED screen? In a recent interview with PC Gamer, Steam Deck engineer Pierre-Loup Griffais explained that changing to an OLED display is not a simple task.

Valve also wishes to enhance the Steam Deck’s screen quality, but most users may assume that switching to an OLED display is an easy feat. In reality, the display is one of the core components of the device, particularly for handheld consoles, as many other components are mounted on it. Replacing the screen is not an isolated task; it requires consideration of compatibility with other device components, making the workload larger than users might imagine.

When designing the Steam Deck, Valve intended for the LCD screen’s backlight to be lowered to a comfortable level for gaming in low-light conditions, and to feature a variable refresh rate to extend battery life as much as possible. Pierre-Loup Griffais noted that, although OLED screens can meet these requirements, specific configurations are needed.

Four years after the 2017 release of the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo launched an OLED version with upgraded 7-inch screen size, improved battery life, and enhanced speaker audio quality. As the Steam Deck has only been on the market for just over a year, releasing a new version with altered display dimensions and panel technology would likely require internal structural changes, necessitating additional time for design and optimization.