Rumors of a 4K Nintendo Switch Pro have refused to die, even with Nintendo finally releasing its first major upgrade to the hybrid gaming system in the form of the Nintendo Switch OLED.
While some speculate that the Switch OLED may be a scaled back version of the original planned Switch Pro due to the ongoing chip shortages, another theory has emerged. Perhaps the 4K Switch dev kits reportedly distributed to developers (though denied by Nintendo) were real, but that they were actually for the console’s successor, the Nintendo Switch 2, rather than a souped up enhanced model.
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This is the theory posited by Nintendo insider NateDrake — previously correct about the imminent N64 games for Switch.
In his latest video (opens in new tab), the tipster states that the new generation will arrive Holiday 2022 to early 2023, and that it will indeed run games in 4K using Nvidia’s AI-powered DLSS technology. The video claims that exclusive titles are in the works, alongside some ports from PlayStation/Xbox platforms.
One possible issue: the new upgrade will require processing changes that could make backwards compatibility difficult, but NateDrake believes Nintendo will find a workaround. Perhaps that’s why this is billed as a successor rather than a hardware iteration though: if compatibility with all Switch software is proving a struggle, then by definition it can’t be a Switch.
According to the video, big developers received their dev kits late last year, while smaller ones started to receive them this year, which does tie in with the earlier report. And it’s worth going back to the wording of Nintendo’s denial at the time:
We also want to restate that, as we announced in July, we have no plans for any new model other than Nintendo Switch – OLED Model, which will launch on October 8, 2021. (2/2)September 30, 2021
When analyzing the wording previously, I emphasized that the tenses used were possibly suspicious — the company denies working on it now, but doesn’t claim it never has.
But looking again through the lens of NateDrake’s intel, it’s possibly revealing for another reason: it rules out “supplying tools to drive game development for a Nintendo Switch with 4K support” — but it doesn’t deny supplying tools to game developers for a possible successor.
If this proves to be correct, then it feels like the right call. The Switch is approaching five years old, and while the form factor was revolutionary it meant the internals had to be weak compared to the Xbox One and PS4 — let alone the PS5 and Xbox Series X. While a 4K Switch Pro would have papered over the cracks, a true successor could allow cross-platform titles to truly shine on Nintendo hardware, even in that game-changing handheld mode.
Does this mean you should hold fire getting a Nintendo Switch right now? Well nit exactly. The current Switch models, including the Nintendo Switch Lite, are excellent portable gaming machines with a whole suite of great games.
But if you have a Switch that's in good order, we'd suggest you might want to hold fire getting the OLED model, unless you'll really benefit from a bigger and better display, as potentially a year later a better Switch could be released.
Read next: A new Nvidia leak seemingly confirms the existence of the Tegra239 SoC — widely rumored to be powering the Switch Pro