Apple leak claims a Nintendo Switch-style games console is coming — but I don't believe it

Nintendo Switch Pro OLED release date
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Update: An Apple console is an unlikely idea, but an Apple controller? That could work, and Apple may be developing one right now

Is Apple going to join the console wars? That might happen according to a fresh rumor claiming Cupertino is working on a hybrid gaming device similar to the Nintendo Switch.

This is according to a tweet from @FrontTron anyway, but is it true? There’s no way to be sure without an official announcement. But I'm not convinced that this is actually happening. There’s just so little to be gained by Apple launching its own console.

Those are the only details we have right now, but presumably this “hybrid” console would look like an iPhone or iPad mini inside a controller.

Now it wouldn’t be a stretch for Apple to develop something like this; the company is hardly strapped for resources and tech wisdom. But why would it bother?

Apple already had so much gaming-friendly hardware

Apple already offers a huge range of hardware, with everything from mobile devices all the way to fixed desktops. More is coming too, with rumors suggesting we’ll see the company’s first mixed reality headset next year, and Apple Glasses set to follow a few years later.

All that seems to be working out pretty well for Apple, which pulled in a record $89.6 billion of revenue in the second quarter of its 2021 financial year. That’s 54% up year-over-year, and proves that even a looming pandemic can’t stop the company from raking in the money. Apple certainly doesn’t need a games console.

Particularly when Apple already has plenty of platforms that can handle gaming already. There are masses of games available in the iOS App Store, and many of them can also be played on the Apple TV 4K for a proper big-screen gaming experience. 

Plus Apple has been hyping iOS's gaming credentials over the past few years, even if Fortnite isn't available anymore. After all, how else do you explain the Apple Arcade subscription?

Then there’s the Mac. Historically Mac gaming has been pretty weak compared to PC gaming, and in many respects it still is. So there’s little to be gained from launching a new gaming system when the one you have is in dire need of some tender loving care.

This also isn’t the first time these rumors have come up. Last July there was an unverified rumor that Apple was working on an ARM-based games console powered by the A10X fusion chip. Those rumors obviously never came to fruition, and the ageing A10X chip was discontinued last month after four years of service.

What’s to be gained from an Apple handheld?

Whenever a company develops a new product, that product has to fill a specific niche. Even if that niche is quite small, and Apple is no exception. The problem with an Apple console is that there isn’t a niche to be filled. 

Given just how many games are available on iOS and macOS, it would make zero sense for Apple to develop a brand new operating system just for this one hypothetical device. And given its portable nature, it would likely run either iOS or some sort of variant on it. 

The added benefit of this would give it access to all the games already available on the App Store. Developers may well need to optimize those titles for the new system, and ensure they run smoothly on a larger screen with a controller. But that’s not the same level of work as a full port.

The thing is, all of that can be done right now. Games are available to play on the iPhone and iPad on the go, and both those products can be plugged into larger displays with the right (Apple-made and approved) adapters. iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS also support third party controllers, including the Xbox Series X controller and the PS5’s Dualsense.

Apple doesn’t need to make a brand new system to offer a Switch-style gaming system. It just needs a couple of accessories: a snap on controller, similar to the Razer Kishi, and a dock that lets you connect and disconnect iOS devices from a TV on the fly.

That’s it. There’s no need to develop a dedicated console when you can just sell some add-ons for the iPhone (or iPad) that people already own. A chip with enhanced GPU performance and ray tracing would be nice, but there’s no reason why that couldn’t be added to an existing device.

Though, let’s be honest, Apple would be better off adding that to a Mac before it even thinks about going mobile. Let those Mac-gamers experience some of the features that PC gamers with high-end Nvidia or AMD graphics already get to enjoy. Seeing as how hard it is to buy a new graphics card these days, it might even give the company a competitive edge.

Bottom line

Gaming may be all the rage, but it doesn’t seem likely that Apple has plans for a stand-alone games console in the works. Not only is the gaming market already very competitive, Apple already has multiple platforms that can support gaming. You may not be able to get PS5-tier performance, but they do exist.

So why go to all the trouble of producing a system that isn’t needed? We don’t know the inner workings at Apple, and we have no idea what projects get cancelled before the public is remotely aware of them. But this idea is just too illogical to be true. Even pumping billions into the Apple Car makes more sense than funnelling money into a standalone games console.

And for a company that produces computers and phones, jumping into car development doesn’t make a lick of sense. That should show you just how bizarre it would be for Apple to make its own games console — hybrid design or not.

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.