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Nintendo Switch 2: what we want to see from a Nintendo Switch Pro

Nintendo Switch Pro (Nintendo Switch 2)
(Image credit: TechRadar)

Will we see Nintendo Switch 2 or a Nintendo Switch Pro in the near future? It's looking likely. Speculation refuses to go away regarding a follow up to Nintendo's wildly successful hybrid console, but as of yet, the company hasn't revealed any details.

After Nintendo released the portable-focused and more affordable Nintendo Switch Lite in 2019, rumors of a premium Switch console – a Nintendo Switch Pro, if you will – continue to pop up, with various sources, leaks and comments pointing to the existence of a new console. 

The upgraded hardware promises to offer improved graphics and processing power, and there have been multiple reports that 2021 will be the year we see a Nintendo Switch Pro appear, even if comments from Nintendo itself have been less than promising. However, recent reports tip the console for a March 2022 release date, which seems more feasible.

Nintendo has already said it isn’t worried about the new PS5 and Xbox Series X, and the sales of the Switch suggest that it really doesn't have much to be concerned about at the moment. However, Microsoft’s foray into the handheld market with mobile cloud gaming on Game Pass has the potential to step on Nintendo’s toes, and the release of more affordable digital-only devices like the Xbox Series S and the disc-free PS5, could prompt Nintendo to reveal that it's got something new and future-focused in the works. 

Despite a lack of official confirmation, rumors persist. So, while we wait for more definitive answers from Nintendo, we’re going to run through the likely (and unlikely) possibilities for a Nintendo Switch 2 below.

Nintendo Switch 2 release date

Nintendo Switch Lite

Image credit: Nintendo

In 2019, Nintendo released two new Switch devices: the Switch Lite and the Nintendo Switch with improved battery life. However, we're still expecting the House of Mario to have yet another new Nintendo Switch up its sleeve, though what that will entail is still a mystery.

A Wall Street Journal report has suggested that, in addition to these new devices, there's also a premium Nintendo Switch console on the way: potentially a Nintendo Switch Pro or Nintendo Switch 2. While we're taking these rumors with the requisite pinch of salt, the report did correctly predict the release of the Switch Lite, adding more fuel to the rumor mill fires. But when could we see this new Nintendo Switch?

There have been several reports, the most notable coming from Bloomberg, that 2021 is actually the year a Nintendo Switch Pro will be announced. Analysts, too, have said they think that it could be on the cards. 

However, comments from Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser have made us feel less optimistic. According to Bowser, Nintendo is "always looking at what is coming to determine: how can it enhance and improve the gameplay experience? And whether that’s on a current platform, or whether that’s on a future platform, we’re always looking at that."

He also said that "the momentum on Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite in the fourth year is strong. And we believe we’re changing the trajectory of another typical console life cycle", adding that 2020 was the "midpoint of this life cycle". Those comments make it seem like a new Switch or upgraded version could actually still be a few years away yet, and might not happen at all. 

That means we're pretty much in the dark about when a Nintendo Switch 2 might arrive, but our the optimists among us are hoping for a release date sometime this year. 

Nintendo Switch 2 price

Nintendo Switch

Image credit: Nintendo

Obviously redesigns cost money, and redesigns with improved hardware doubly so. We're fully expecting the Nintendo Switch 2 (or Switch Pro), with its updated hardware, to cost more than the current Switch's £279 / $299 / AU$469 pricing. 

In addition, the Switch Lite isn't exactly cheap. The handheld Switch costs $199.99 /£199.99 / AU$329.95, which isn't too far off the original's price - and that's with fewer features than the original.

Dr Toto suggested a price tag of $399, which seems a good estimate. After all, the PS4 Pro was $100 more than the PS4. The price mark up takes into account the improved hardware without being prohibitive. However, this is Nintendo we're talking about, and we wouldn't be surprised to see a Nintendo Switch Pro or Nintendo Switch 2 cost a tad more than that.

  • Switch Pro: developers tell us what they want from the rumored Switch upgrade

Nintendo Switch 2 news and rumors

Nintendo Switch

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Nintendo may not have officially announced a Nintendo Switch Pro or Nintendo Switch 2, but we've gathered all the biggest news and rumors surrounding the new Nintendo Switch right here for your perusal.

Dataminer strikes gold?

A data miner known as SciresM has claimed (via Wccftech) that they have found reference to a new Nintendo Switch model within the Switch’s latest firmware update, codenamed 'Aula'. 

Reportedly, this hardware uses the same chip as the Nintendo Switch Lite and 2019 Switch model, the Mariko (Tegra X1+) SoC. However, SciresM also claims that there are references to support for a Realtek chip which is a “4K UHD multimedia SoC”. 

Rather than being within the Switch tablet, they think that it “might be inside a new dock and not inside the tablet, though, there’s no way to tell from the firmware code yet.” They also say that the tablet itself will have an improved OLED screen, though what resolution it’ll offer is still unclear. The claims of some kind of 4K support do line up with the many other reports from the past year which claim that an upgraded Switch capable of 4K is on the horizon. 

Of course, there’s been no confirmation from Nintendo itself that a new Switch is on the cards and, in fact, Doug Bowser has made comments very recently that suggest there might not be for some time. With that in mind, we're still taking this with a pinch of salt.

Analysts think it’s still on the cards

Despite Doug Bowser’s recent comments, industry analysts still seem to think that there could be an upgraded Nintendo Switch on the cards for 2021. Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz,  Dr Serkan Toto of Kantan Games and Piers Harding-Rolls of Ampere Analysis said they think the console is on the horizon. Toto was quite confident in his prediction, while Harding-Rolls was more reserved, saying he thought such a release in 2021 would make “commercial sense”. 

Doug Bowser comments suggest no Nintendo Switch Pro anytime soon

We should temper our expectations that there’s going to be a Nintendo Switch 2 or Nintendo Switch Pro any time soon if recent comments from Nintendo of America’s Doug Bowser are anything to go by. 

Speaking to Polygon, Bowser said that while improvements to the Switch technology are always being thought about, the company isn’t exactly feeling the pressure thanks the ongoing success of the original Switch and its Lite counterpart. 

“We’re always looking at technology,” says Bowser. “And as we know, technology is constantly evolving and changing. And we’re always looking at what is coming to determine: how can it enhance and improve the gameplay experience? And whether that’s on a current platform, or whether that’s on a future platform, we’re always looking at that.”

Adding that “the momentum on Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite in the fourth year is strong. And we believe we’re changing the trajectory of another typical console life cycle.”

Bowser calls 2020 the “midpoint of this life cycle”, which suggests that it could still be another three years or so before we see any new Nintendo Switch. That, of course, doesn’t mean there won’t be any improvements at all given the battery upgrade given to new consoles in 2019, but it does make those rumors of a new console in 2021 seem less likely than they did.

Nintendo Switch outsells PS5 and Xbox Series X

Perhaps Nintendo was right not to worry about the launch of the next-generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft. It has been revealed that in the launch month of the PS5 and Xbox Series X, Nintendo’s Switch family of consoles has stayed on top in the US in terms of console sales. 

According to analytics film NPD Group the Switch and Switch Lite garnered a total 1.35 million sales in the US alone throughout November. In fact, the report also says that Nintendo’s hardware is selling even more in 2020 than the previous year – around half a million units more, to a total of 6.92 million – despite now being three years into its lifecycle.  We don’t actually have firm numbers for sales of the PS5 and Xbox Series X yet, but the former console is estimated to have sold around 2 million units worldwide across its two November launch dates, with stock drying up soon after. 

The story isn’t the same across the world – it’s worth noting that the PS5 did outsell the Switch in the UK. Regardless, it shows that the Switch’s momentum does not seem to be slowing even in the face of new and more powerful 4K consoles. What this means for a prospective more powerful Nintendo Switch 2 remains to be seen. Nintendo clearly doesn't really need a new console right now with those sales but launched at the right time it could propel the Switch to even greater heights.

Standalone Joy-Con patent

A newly discovered patent (via VGC) suggests that some standalone Joy-Con controllers have been considered by Nintendo. 

A newly-discovered Nintendo patent suggests that the company may be planning to release a new form of Joy-Con style controller.

Originally filed in May 2018 and registered in April 2020, the patent shows a controller that’s highly similar in shape and layout to the existing Joy-Con found on the original Switch. However, it is slightly updated and rather than being designed to slide onto a screen like the current Joy-Con, this controller appears to be a standalone device, with no rails for sliding in sight. 

While there isn’t much need for standalone Joy-Con on the original Switch, they could be useful with the more recent Nintendo Switch Lite, which has its controls permanently attached, as it would allow for easier multiplayer gaming. Given the recent rumors around the Nintendo Switch 2, though, it’s also worth considering that the standalone Joy-Con has been designed with this new console in mind.  

Considering this is a patent, however, there’s no guarantee that Nintendo is still pursuing the idea of standalone Joy-Con controllers or that we will ever see anything like this come to market. 

Rumors of a mini-LED display

Something slightly different from the 4K rumors we've been used to when it comes to the Nintendo Switch Pro; we may see a mini-LED display replace the current LCD screen. According to a report from Taiwan’s Economic Daily News, the still-rumored Switch Pro model could sport mini-LED screens supplied by Innolux, a well-known manufacturer in the field.

The current Switch and Switch Lite consoles use an HD (720p) LCD screen. If a new Switch console did have 4K capability, we imagine it'd be in docked mode, with handheld mode offering a slightly-boosted Full HD (1080p) display. Upgrading to a mini-LED display would make all of those pixels look better than before as mini-LED displays use thousands of tiny individually-controlled backlights in the glass substrate of the panel to offer a wider contrast ratio, better brightness control, deeper blacks and richer colors. It could even mean thinner and lighter product designs. There are rumors that 2021 will bring an iPad Pro 12.9 which utilizes mini-LED technology, too, so it could be a technology that's on the rise. 

Devs reportedly being told to get 4K-ready

A recent report by Bloomberg has alleged that Nintendo is asking developers to make their Nintendo Switch games 4K-ready, adding weight to previous rumors that Nintendo has a resolution upgrade up its sleeve with a 4K-ready upgraded Switch console. 

Bloomberg's report most notably corresponds with a recent reports from the Economic Daily News, which cited various hardware manufacturers responsible for the Switch’s flash storage and Joy-Con controllers, and claimed that a more powerful Nintendo Switch console with upgraded interactivity and improved display quality could go into production in 2021.

Reports of a new console in 2021

If a reports from the Economic Daily News is to be believed, a more powerful Nintendo Switch console with upgraded interactivity and improved display quality could be coming next year.

The report cites various hardware manufacturers responsible for the Switch’s Flash storage and Joy-Con controllers, and says that the console could go into production by the end of 2021.

This has been backed up by a second report from  Bloomberg, which cites sources familiar with the upgraded Switch console. The report notes that the new Nintendo Switch's specs haven't been finalized yet, though it notes that Nintendo has apparently been investigating 4K visuals and more power for the new unit. 

Bloomberg's report also suggests that Nintendo is planning a bunch of new games alongside the console, which the report says is why this year has been relatively fallow for Switch releases. A new, more powerful console could certainly be good way to show off Breath of the Wild 2.

Utilizing Nintendo Switch features
In the 80th Annual General Meeting of Shareholders (via VideoGamer), Nintendo stated that future consoles will harness the the Switch's unique elements and experience.

"Our current generation game system, Nintendo Switch, has entered its fourth year since launch, but its momentum is increasing," Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa said. "We believe there are two factors behind this. First is the existence of two hardware configurations with different characteristics, in Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite. The second factor is that Nintendo’s development resources are concentrated on developing content for a single platform, Nintendo Switch. We want to extend the life cycle of Nintendo Switch while maximising such advantages.

"From the perspective of playing with the image displayed on a TV, we believe that because consumers can play Nintendo Switch on a TV or the game console screen itself, it has greatly increased the opportunities for gameplay in various scenes in their lives, compared to previous consoles," Furukawa continued. "Through Nintendo Switch, we’ve made many discoveries about where a dedicated video game platform can fit into a consumer’s daily life. We see scenes on social media of children and their families sitting around a game console to play, which gives us a renewed sense of the value of our dedicated video game platform. We will utilise these experiences in carefully considering the form our future game consoles will take."

Codenames
Dataminers have been coursing through Nintendo's firmware version 10.0.0 for information on new Switch consoles and have apparently identified codenames for the upcoming devices.

According to JershJopstin on Resetera, there are five identified codenames for Nintendo Switch models: Icosa, Copper, Hoag, Iowa, and Calcio. Here's a breakdown of what we know about their codenames so far (thanks TweakTown):

  • Icosa - Switch released at launch - nx-abca2 - 20nm Tegra X1 - 
  • Iowa - revised Switch -  nx-abca2 - 16nm Tegra X1 and 'Mariko' chip
  • Hoag - the Switch Lite - nx-abcc - 16nm Tegra X1 and Mariko chip
  • Copper - unconfirmed- nx-abcb
  • Calcio - unconfirmed - nx-abcb - 16nm Tegra X1 and Mariko chip

While Iow, Hoag and Icosa have already released, Copper and Calcio have not been confirmed to be in development. 

According to JershJopstin, Copper appears to be a non-mobile device due to its lack of battery and charging services, and the HDMI services it appears to have which would typically be handled by a Switch docking station.

Meanwhile, according to another rumor, Calcio will apparently be a docked-only, more traditional console.

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In addition, JershJopstin has suggested that this Calcio console could be digital-only due to its apparent lack of support for game cards and new naming form factor.

However these rumors should be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism until we get confirmation from Nintendo.

Possible dual-screen
A dataminer has dug into the new Nintendo Switch version 10.00 firmware and found hints that it adds preliminary support for a new Switch model, - nx-abcd -, one with a secondary display, possibly a dual-screen like the Nintendo DS. This is the same dataminer who previously uncovered that Nintendo was working on a revised model - which turned out to be longer battery-life Switch - from firmware version 9.0.0. However, this should still be treated with skepticism.

This is a different form factor from the Switch codenames we've seen before, with Resetera user suggesting we may see a different type of Switch device altogether - not handheld or docked.

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Nintendo isn't worried about the next console generation
2020 isn't the year of a new Nintendo Switch console, but it was the year that Sony and Microsoft launch the next generation of consoles: the PS5 and Xbox Series X. Nintendo, however, isn't worried about catching up. Talking to investors during a Japanese Q&A (via VGC), Nintendo's president Shuntaro Furukawa said that while the gaming landscape will change, the company doesn't think the release of these next-gen consoles will have a big impact on its own fortunes.

“We do not believe that the business trends of other companies will have a significant impact on our business,” Furukawa told investors, explaining that the reason Nintendo is so confident that the PS5 and Xbox Series X won't pose huge competition is because the Nintendo Switch targets a different audience.

While this doesn't tell us a whole lot about any specific new console plans Nintendo has, it does suggest that the company isn't feeling any great hurry or pressure from its supposed competitors to release, or even announce, a Nintendo Switch Pro in the immediate future. 

No 4K or performance upgrades? - Debunked
On Korean site Clién's community forums (via Wccftech), a poster named Cathedral Knight claimed that the Switch Pro will launch in Q4 2020 but will not boast 4K and upgraded performance as expected.

Instead of moving to an upgraded version of Tegrax1 +GPU, the post claims Nintendo will work with Nvidia to create a custom processor based on Volta. In other words, not much will actually improve with the Switch Pro, it may just be a little faster.

However, Nintendo has since shut down rumors that a new Switch will release in 2020 - meaning we can probably assume the claims about performance are also untrue.

Production rumored to start as soon as April - Debunked
A report by Taiwan newspaper DigiTimes claimed that mass production on a new Switch will start "at the end of first-quarter 2020"- with the console itself releasing in mid-2020. However, as we've pointed out, Nintendo has ruled out a 2020 release date.

No Switch Pro in 2019
At a press briefing for the announcement of the Switch Lite, Nintendo president Doug Bowser revealed that we wouldn't be seeing another new Switch model in 2019, according to CNET.

"[The Nintendo Switch Lite will] be the only new Nintendo Switch hardware this holiday, as Bowser says the larger Switch won't get an upgrade right now," CNET wrote.

However, Bowser's comments suggested an upgraded Switch model is on the way, perhaps a Switch Pro?

Nintendo Switch Lite

Image credit: Nintendo (Image credit: Nintendo)

Two new Nintendo Switch devices
A Wall Street Journal report suggests that Nintendo is working on two individual Switch variants that, rather than making the current Nintendo Switch obsolete, would put it in the middle of a range growing to suit all budgets.

According the publication's sources, the first of these new devices will be aimed at budget gamers, and will see the Switch presented in a more traditional handheld-first format. It'll replace removable Joy-Cons with fixed ones, and ditch their HD Rumble feature in order to bring costs down. This was confirmed with the announcement of the Nintendo Switch Lite.

The second new version of the Nintendo Switch, going by the rumor, is a little harder to pin down, but would be a premium version of the console with "enhanced features targeted at avid videogamers." That's not to suggest it would be aiming for 4K or HDR visuals, but would more likely have features and services baked in that would accommodate the modern obsession with streaming to platforms like Twitch. 

The confirmation of the Switch Lite adds some weight to this report and could mean we will see another new premium Switch console at a future date.

The 5.0 firmware dig
Though the Nintendo Switch’s 5.0 firmware update wasn’t up to much on the surface, hackers on Switchbrew dug into the upgrade in 2019 and found evidence which suggests a hardware refresh is in the works. 

Switchbrew discovered references to a new T214 chip (which would be a small improvement on the current T210) as well as an updated printed circuit board and 8GB of RAM instead of the current 4GB. This T214 is likely what was used in the Switch Lite and improved battery Switch, but we're expecting a Switch Pro to have even further hardware improvements that will push the devices overall performance.

Nintendo Switch Lite

Nintendo Switch Lite (Image credit: Nintendo) (Image credit: Nintendo)

AR and VR support
VR and AR support for the Switch never looked likely, with the MD of Nintendo France citing a lack of mainstream appeal for the technology back in 2018, but the Labo VR Kit shows Nintendo has changed its mind about the viability of VR.

The Switch doesn't have the high resolution of most VR gaming rigs, so we could see an advanced model with 2K or 4K resolution to improve those close-up VR experiences. However, given the VR Kit is still focused mainly on children, we'd be surprised to see a visual overhaul simply for this one peripheral.

What about 3D?
Another Nintendo patent came to light in early 2019: this time for a 3D sensor array that sits above your television, and creates a stereoscopic image in a similar way to the 3DS, meaning you wouldn't even need glasses.

3D visuals felt like a passing gimmick even with Nintendo's handheld consoles – and the defunct Microsoft Kinect camera will no doubt keep it wary of unnecessary TV peripherals. But getting convincing 3D imaging on standard 2D TVs may the step needed to bring 3D gaming mainstream.

Could it support 4K?
While Sony and Microsoft push at the 4K market, there isn’t really any big reason for Nintendo, the company that staunchly sets itself apart from other hardware producers, to follow suit. 

In the same interview where he dismissed VR, Nintendo France General Manager Philippe Lavoué also brushed off 4K saying that the technology has “not been adopted by the majority” and it would, therefore, be too early for Nintendo to jump in. 

Nintendo didn’t enter the HD console market until 2012 when it released the Wii U. This was around four years after Sony and Microsoft and at the point when more than 75% of US households actually had HD displays in their home. 

Miyamoto however has said he wished Nintendo had done the jump to HD sooner than this, saying that the display technology became popular around three years before Nintendo expected it to. It's expected that by 2020, 50% of US households will have adopted 4K technology and it might be at this point that Nintendo decides to join the 4K fray, rather than waiting until the 75% market saturation of before. 

Switch 2 could have a 7-inch OLED
The latest Nintendo Switch rumors points to the device having a 7-inch OLED screen from Samsung Display. Production is slated for July, according to Bloomberg, and the new device would support 4K resolution when docked instead of 1080p.

The screen size is a nice upgrade over the original Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite, which currently offer LCD displays in 6.2-inch and 5.5-inch sizes, respectively.