Nintendo Switch is in 'middle phase' of life — so what about Switch 2?

Nintendo switch oledn handheld display
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The arrival of the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 has made the Nintendo Switch and even newer Nintendo Switch OLED look underpowered, but anybody hoping that this means a successor is imminent is going to be sorely disappointed, according to Nintendo’s latest discussions with investors. 

While you’d hardly expect a financial results call to mark an official hardware unveiling, Nintendo did include one slide referencing a follow up to the Switch. But with a release date of “20XX”, a Nintendo Switch 2 could theoretically arrive any time up to 2099, which doesn’t exactly narrow the release window down.  

During a subsequent Q&A transcribed by analyst David Gibson, the company wouldn’t be drawn further on what this meant, stating only that the Switch is in the “middle phase of [its] cycle”. 

The Switch is set to celebrate its fifth birthday in March 2022, so if we take those words completely literally, that would suggest that whatever Nintendo is planning next might not be here before 2025. Obviously the word “middle” is quite flexible, so you can probably give or take a year either way.

Is that plausible? If past form is anything to go by, then probably not. For Nintendo’s recent home consoles, there was a gap of roughly five years between each release — or six between the Wii and Wii U. Handhelds — which given the Switch’s hybrid design is a relevant data point here — have been less consistent, with only three years between the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, but seven between the DS and 3DS.  

And just because hardware is in the middle of its life, it doesn’t mean that it can’t coexist with its successor. Nintendo formally discontinued the Wii in 2012 in an ill-fated attempt to push the doomed Wii U, but it continued to produce the Wii Mini for years afterwards.

There’s also the question of what’s happening with the Nintendo Switch Pro, which was long rumored to be a version with a faster chip for docked 4K support. In the end, Nintendo did produce a new premium version of the hardware, but the main selling point was an OLED screen rather than faster internals. 

Whether that was always the plan, or if 4K support was intended and then scrapped due to the chip shortage is something we may never know. But a number of developers were reportedly sent 4K development tools, and if that wasn’t for a Switch Pro, then there’s always the chance it was for the Switch 2, or whatever the successor is ultimately called. If that’s the case, then perhaps 2023 is a more realistic prospect. 

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.