With news that two new Switch models are on the way, with a potential reveal at E3, one wonders what form the new Nintendo Switch model may end up taking.
Through several sources and evidence built up over the past year, here is what we now know about the Nintendo Switch Pro. In this article, we will attempt to differentiate between what we know as nearly certain, what is rumored at the moment, and what we can speculate with good confidence.
Switch Pro: What We Know
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the “Switch Pro” will launch as early as Summer 2019.
Under our list, find an explanation for each new feature and why we believe they are plausible additions:
- The Switch Pro will be revealed as early as E3 2019, and launch by this Fall (Wall Street Journal)
- The Switch Pro will be more powerful than the current Nintendo Switch (but not at the level of PS4 Pro or Xbox One X) (Wall Street Journal)
- The Switch Pro may use upgraded screens from Sharp. The screen will be brighter than the current model. (Wall Street Journal)
- The Switch Pro will have new features suited to core gamers (Wall Street Journal)
- The Switch Pro may have a thinner design and a new form factor (Wall Street Journal)
- The Switch Pro may offer upgraded WiFi and Bluetooth support (Nintendo job listing)
- The Switch Pro (and Switch Mini) may offer a new custom SoC, compared to the stock Tegra X1 chip in the current Switch (Nintendo job listing; Spawn Wave)
- The Switch Pro may replace the current Nintendo Switch entirely and remain around the same price point, as Nintendo seeks to move onto new SoC’s.
- The Switch Pro may have improved battery life (Wall Street Journal)
- The Nintendo Switch Pro may support USB Power Delivery for fast-charging (Nintendo job listing; viaSuperMetalDave64)
- The Switch Pro may support parallel and asynchronous video processing (Nintendo job listing)
- The Switch Pro may support spatial audio (Nintendo job listing; via SuperMetalDave64)
- The Switch Pro may have a new user interface (Nintendo job listing; via SuperMetalDave64)
- The Switch Pro will be marketed this time as a “portable first” vs. a “home console first” (Gamer Splash source)
- Nintendo’s internal teams pushed for more powerful hardware to utilize for upcoming games (Gamer Splash source)
Point 1: The WSJ report says Nintendo could launch the revised Switch as soon as Summer 2019, which would be roughly 2.5 years into the console’s lifecycle. With console lifespans averaging 5 to 6 years, that makes it perfect time for a mid-cycle refresh. Sony and Microsoft have both executed this strategy successfully without compromising compatibility of existing game libraries, so it’s a sensible move for Nintendo.
We also have heard from our source, as far back as 2016, back when the Switch was called the NX, that there would be more than two SKUs for the Switch, so this information has only become more credible with time.
Point 2: While the Switch has received several AAA third-party games like Fortnite, Doom, and Dark Souls, it still lacks the same amount of third-party support as “full consoles,” such as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
It’s been known ever since the Switch launched that the system has not had the power to keep up with many modern games. Take, for example, third-party titles like Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty, or Resident Evil 2 coming to multiple competing platforms, but not to Switch.
Having a system at least as powerful as the base 2013 Xbox One would net the system much more third-party AAA support, which would therefore increase system sales for Nintendo and keep it afloat even when first-party hits are few and far between (as we saw in Nintendo’s 2018).
Point 3: According to the Wall Street Journal, the upcoming Switch revision will include a “brighter” screen. Personally, we think the Switch screen is bright enough indoors, but outdoors, it could use more brightness. The screen resolution could be bumped to 1080p in handheld mode too, if power allows.
Point 4: According to The Wall Street Journal, the Switch Pro will offer new features for “avid gamers” that are not available on the current Switch. We don’t know exactly what features will be added, but we speculate that Nintendo may enhance the controllers with analog triggers, as well as a headphone jack with better voice chat support – something gamers have wanted for a long time. Analog triggers in particular would be a great addition to the Switch, allowing full support for GameCube games directly on Switch controllers, as well as modern shooters and racing games.
Point 5: The Switch can definitely use smaller screen bezels, so having those would make the design look nicer. But beyond that, what else can we expect from the design? The Wall Street Journal has stated that the upcming model of Switch will be “thinner,” so take that as you may. They also state that a new form factor is possible and it will not “be a simple upgrade like from PS4 and PS4 Pro.” Take that as you may, but to us, we can speculate that there could be a new design tied to new features of the upgraded Switch model.
Point 6: The Switch Pro may be getting improved WiFi and Bluetooth support, thanks to a recent job listing by Nintendo, calling for an engineer to work on new Bluetooth and WiFi protocols for upcoming hardware. WiFi 6 support is possible, which could improve the Switch’s WiFi connection speed and reliability, while also using less power. Improved Bluetooth support could add Bluetooth audio and controller support to Switch while also improving Joy-Con connectivity issues.
Point 7: Here’s a big one. We all know that the Nintendo Switch uses a near-stock Nvidia Tegra X1 SoC (the same one used in the Nvidia Shield TV). But rumor has it, the Switch Pro may be getting a new custom System on Chip (SoC). Nintendo’s job listings have suggested new SoC development for upcoming hardware, which indicates a new SoC is coming. Additionally, according to Spawn Wave, Nvidia and partners are tired of making Tegra X1 chips and are running out of the current allotment, so partners may be pushing Nintendo to come out with their custom Nvidia silicon sooner than later. This new Switch Pro and even the Switch Mini will likely use this new SoC, with the Switch Mini possibly receiving a downgraded version of it.
Point 8: Additionally, the current Nintendo Switch may be replaced with the Switch Pro at the current price point, as production on the current Tegra X1 chip ceases and Nintendo moves onto the new chips. The current Nintendo Switch hardware has been hacked endlessly due to the hardware-level flaw in the Tegra SoC that allows people to bypass the boot security and hack the system — so finally moving all Switch hardware onto a new SoC may solve Nintendo’s hacking problem with Switch.
Point 9: According to the Wall Street Journal, the Switch will see battery life improvements. Improvements to the WiFi chip and having a custom system on chip (SoC) can both increase battery life by operating with more efficiency, even while increasing the system’s performance. Moving to a smaller CPU die size in the new SoC will increase power efficiency, as well.
Point 10: According to a new job listing on Nintendo’s Japanese site, the Nintendo Switch Pro may support USB Power Delivery for fast-charging, similar to today’s modern USB-C Android devices. A new adapter is being developed with new technologies, and with fast-charging a possibility, charging your Switch up before leaving your home may be a much quicker and convenient process.
Point 11: According to a new job listing from Nintendo, the Swich may support parallel and asynchronous processing. This can enable GPU performance gains of 20% while not using much more power, and also increase performance of Switch ports. SuperMetalDave64 explains the concept in detail in his video.
Point 12: Improvements may also be in order for the Switch’s audio. While the Nintendo Switch currently supports 5.1 LPCM surround sound through AV receivers, a job listing from late 2018 suggests Nintendo is developing spatial audio for upcoming hardware. Spatial audio could support more VR titles for Nintendo in the future, as well as better 3D sound for headphones.
Point 13: Improvements may also be in order for the Switch’s UI. Switch’s UI has been barebones up until now, with features like themes and better friend online support lacking. Nintendo may be looking to change that, with a new job listing suggesting Nintendo may be adding a new design to the User Experience on Switch.
Point 14: In discussing with one of our sources, we have learned that the Switch Pro will be the most powerful console Nintendo has released, but Nintendo will market it as a portable console that can connect to your TV, rather than a home console that can be played on the go (current Switch marketing). The benefit of this approach is differentiating it from the current Switch while also capitalizing on the appeal of the mobile lifestyles of current consumers.
Point 15: Discussing with one of our sources has also revealed that Nintendo’s internal teams (especially Retro Studios) have been pushing for more power to utilize for their upcoming games. This would make sense for these studios to run their games with more cutting-edge visual effects and keep stable frame-rates, as well. For titles as demanding as Metroid Prime 4, this makes a lot of sense.
A New Switch is Coming.
Most of these rumors are based on real evidence and have good reasoning to support these things being plausible in an upcoming Switch revision. However, things always change fast, and while we hope all of these features make it into a Switch Pro, we will not know exactly what the Switch Pro will end up being until it is finally shown by Nintendo. One thing is for certain, though: a new, upgraded Switch and Switch “Mini” are both confirmed by multiple sources from around the world to be coming, and regardless of what comes out of it, we can’t be more excited.
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-Noah Sanchez, Gamer Splash