Microsoft and Sony are going to battle it out for console supremacy with the release of the Xbox Series X and PS5 this fall. But it looks like Nintendo is looking to release an upgraded Switch sometime in 2021, according to a recent round of rumors and leaks.
Yesterday, a report from Taiwan’s Economic Daily News claimed that Nintendo was in talks with component makers to provide parts for a new Switch with improved “interactivity.” Previously, Nintendo had stated that it has no plans to release new Switch hardware in 2020, which makes sense. That would allow Nintendo to side-step the upcoming battle between the Xbox Series X and PS5 this holiday season and give the company more time to work on something for 2021.
A new Bloomberg report seems to corroborate rumors of a new Switch, with multiple sources “familiar with the matter” claiming that while specs haven’t been finalized, the new Switch will offer better performance and possibly support for 4K gaming.
Now admittedly, additional details about this new Switch are incredibly sparse, but based on this limited info, it certainly appears like Nintendo could be preparing to create the “Switch Pro” that so many Nintendo fans have been hoping to see for quite some time.
But what does a Switch Pro or whatever Nintendo ends up calling it need to be a success? As I detailed shortly after the release of the Switch Lite, essential improvements for an upgraded Switch boil down to three main things: a bigger and higher-quality display (preferably OLED or micro-LED), better specs/performance, and support for Bluetooth audio.
Ideally, a Switch Pro would come with a screen that supports a full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution in handheld mode, along with the ability to output 4K video when docked. While it would be nice to offer 4K in handheld mode, too, considering the cost it would take to achieve that and the limited number of smartphones that actually support resolutions that high, I think getting 4K resolution in handheld mode is quite unlikely. And on a screen that would probably would measure 8 inches across at best, a resolution that high is frankly unnecessary.
Furthermore, by slimming down the Switch’s bezels, Nintendo could increase the size of the Switch Pro’s screen without actually increasing its overall physical dimensions. That said, a legitimately larger Switch wouldn’t be a bad thing, though it would potentially force Nintendo to redesign how its Joy-Cons attach to the system. It would also go a long way if Nintendo swapped in a generally higher-quality screen, because with the current Switch’s relatively low brightness and an inexpensive plastic front that’s prone to scratching, simply including a nicer display would probably be the Switch Pro’s most important upgrade.
As for specs and performance, Nintendo has a lot of options to choose from when it comes to ARM-based chips, though with Nintendo having already partnered with Nvidia for the Tegra X1 processor featured in the current Switch, it’s a good bet that relationship will continue with a Switch Pro. This would be especially true if a revamped Tegra chip included support for things like DLSS, which is a technique that can reduce the strain caused by anti-aliasing while also boosting overall GPU performance, hopefully allowing the Switch Pro to better handle high-res/4K gaming. Increasing system memory would also probably make it easier for a new Switch to support 4K graphics.
Meanwhile, even though the current Switch comes with a handy microSD card slot for extra storage, I think it would seriously behoove Nintendo to increase the system’s 32GB of base storage. Games have continued to get bigger, and while a lot of Switch games are much smaller than they are on competing consoles, 32GB of base storage just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Finally, with so many devices switching over to wireless audio, it’s long past time Nintendo included support for Bluetooth headphones and headsets. Currently, voice chat in Nintendo games is incredibly convoluted, often forcing you to connect headphones to your smartphone via the Switch app, which is clunky to say the least. But if users were able to pair Bluetooth headphones directly with their Switch, a lot of that needless complexity could be avoided.
Nintendo also needs to come up with a solution to Joy-Con drift, which is an issue that has plagued the Switch since its initial release in 2017. However, since Joy-Con drift is something that has affected all of the Switch models currently released, hopefully a solution wouldn’t be relegated strictly to the Switch Pro.
Regardless, with Nintendo having recently posted a 428% increase in profits for Q2 2020, following up its recent success from games like Animal Crossing and Paper Mario with new hardware would almost certainly help keep Nintendo’s wining streak going.