It's looking very likely that the Nintendo Switch Pro will release sometime this year. What have been years of rumors have turned into sourced reports. Now we're looking at a potential Nintendo Switch Pro capable of 4K graphics and a slick OLED display.
With the recent release of the PS5 and Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, the Nintendo Switch Pro will be more in-line with next-gen graphics. But, given the Covid-19 pandemic, there might be supply shortages as well.
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According to Bloomberg, the Nintendo Switch Pro will use Nvidia's Deep Learning Super Sampling AI technology to upscale gameplay to 4K. The system will also use Samsung OLED displays, giving the handheld greatly improved contrast and color depth. With Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser stating that the Nintendo Switch is only at the midpoint of its lifecycle, it makes sense that now is the best time for Nintendo to roll out a premium version of its flagship console as opposed to replacing it with a dedicated "Switch 2."
Nintendo has neither announced nor even confirmed that a Switch Pro console might be inbound, but with rumors continuing to pile up, it's at least worth considering. Here's everything we know about the Nintendo Switch Pro, including its specs, features and possible release date.
Latest Nintendo Switch Pro news (updated April 8)
- Code in the latest Nintendo Switch firmware seems to further confirm a 4K Switch Pro is in the works.
- A new Nintendo patent shows how the Switch Pro could have improved Joy-Con controllers.
- In an exclusive interview with Display Supply Chain Consultants, we heard more potential details around the Nintendo Switch Pro's OLED display.
Nintendo Switch Pro release date
Just a few months ago, the Nintendo Switch Pro was nothing more than a rumor. Today, we are seeing more and more industry experts backing the possibility of the updated Nintendo Switch finally coming to life this year. Recently, multiple analysts were interviewed by Gamesindustry.biz where they shared their visions for 2021. Most of the talk was concerning the Nintendo Switch Pro. Dr Serkan Toto of Kantan Games previously foresaw the famous Switch Lite, and this year he provided us with a prediction that is just as exciting:
“I predict a beefed-up 4K device is coming during Nintendo’s next financial year,” he said.
Piers Harding-Rolls of Ampere Analysis built on Dr. Toto’s thoughts by supporting the likelihood of a 2021 Switch Pro release: “Last year I was unconvinced there would be a new flagship model Switch in 2020, but it makes more commercial sense to release an updated version in 2021."
The original Nintendo Switch was released on March 3, 2017. With 2021 marking the Switch’s four-year anniversary, it’s entirely possible that we will see an upgraded console by the end of this year.
This 2021 release was given further credence by a report from Bloomberg that cited insider information that claims the Switch Pro will arrive later this year.
Nintendo Switch Pro price
For obvious reasons, there’s no official confirmation of how much the Nintendo Switch Pro might go for.
However, due to its upgraded hardware and improved performance, we can expect the premium version of the Switch to cost more than both the base model and the Lite.
According to analyst Matthew Kanterman of Bloomberg Intelligence, he believes the Switch Pro will be at least $100 more expensive than the current model.
"$349.99 will increase the value proposition of the device, but I still think Nintendo can drive strong demand even at $399.99."
It's not just Kanterman. In an interview with Gamesindustry.biz, gaming analyst Dr. Serkan Toto suggests that the Switch Pro will cost around $399.
Nintendo Switch Pro specs
Sources seem to offer different reports of what sort of specs we can expect to see in the Switch Pro. The majority of them appear to agree that we’re likely to see support for 4K resolutions in docked mode, as well as better battery life.
Currently, the Nintendo Switch features a custom Nvidia Tegra X1 processor, a 720p LCD display and 32GB of storage. The most recent refresh of the Nintendo Switch happened in August 2019, which bumped up the battery life, taking it from 6.5 hours to 9 hours of game time. When we tested the battery life upgrade using Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, we found that the amount of game time we were able to fit in before it needed to be recharged doubled.
According to a notable data miner, @SciresM, details found in a recent firmware update for the Nintendo Switch seems to indicate that the Pro model will feature the same processor as the 2019 Switch base model and the Lite - the Tegra X1+ chipset. The leak uncovered a project titled “Aula”, which indicates that the chipset will offer higher performances by being pushed to higher clocking speeds supported by an improved cooling system. SciresM also hinted that the console will receive a substantial visual upgrade, with an OLED display and 4K capabilities in docked mode, powered by a RealTek chip.
How legitimate the above information remains questionable, as are a lot of Nintendo Switch Pro rumors. But a report from Bloomberg, citing insider information, also has the Switch Pro tipped to offer a 4K output in some form of docked mode. Likely when docked the Switch Pro will have some form of co-processor to upmix a 1080p video feed into a 4K output.
Furthermore, a newer probe into Switch firmware has revealed the line “4kdp_preferred_over_usb30” that could indicate the potential for a 4K output over DisplayPort over USB 3.0.
While Economic Daily News in Taiwan claimed that instead of an OLED display, the Nintendo Switch Pro would feature Mini-LED technology as a more affordable alternative, our sources say otherwise. Right now all intelligence is pointing to Samsung providing rigid OLED panels to Nintendo.
In an exclusive interview with Ross Young, co-founder and CEO of Display Supply Chain Consultants, discussed with us the potential for the Switch Pro to have an OLED display and what advantages and shortcomings the tech could provide.
“LCDs use a maximum brightness, whether it's a white or black image. And OLEDs don't,” said Young. “Their power consumption varies with the content. So it's going to depend on the type of content that you're playing. If it's video, OLEDs have a big advantage. But if it's a bright video game with a lot of white, then OLEDs may consume more power.”
Some rumors seem to suggest that the Switch Pro might have some more controversial features, too. In a now-deleted 4Chan post (via Inverse), user Xhyll alleged that according to a "former employee of Nintendo," the Switch Pro will feature significant hardware improvements, including a custom Nvidia Tegra Xavier processor, 64GB SSD storage and 4K support.
The obvious downside here is that the post also suggested that the new console will be a TV-only system aimed primarily at users who are in the market for a more traditional console experience. Considering that some Switch gamers spend the majority of their time in handheld mode, this seems somewhat unlikely.
Nintendo Switch Pro features
Considering the success that the Nintendo Switch base model and Lite have both seen in the past year, the Switch Pro may want to capitalize on that momentum. So, we believe it’s safe to assume that the console will continue to be playable in both docked and undocked mode, as well as tabletop. However, we’ve seen suggestions that the Pro version will have some unexpected features that might sneak their way into the final design.
According to a recent patent filed by Nintendo, the company seems to be working on a health-tracking device that could potentially be included in the Switch Pro. A translation of the 61-page document shows that the patented device contains a health tracker similar to those you would find on smartphones, capable of monitoring your sleep, keeping track of your vitals and evaluating your mental health. What’s odd is that the device seems to also contain a “odor-generating device” (yes, really). As of now, signs point to the fact that the Nintendo Switch Pro may likely include fitness tracking, presumably designed to work with health-related games such as Ring Fit Adventure.
What we want from the Nintendo Switch Pro
Should the Nintendo Switch Pro finally make its way to stores this year, we have some high expectations. Here are the features we’d love to see make their way to the premium console:
- Improved 1080p handheld display: Considering the ongoing rumor mill, a display upgrade seems likely. At the moment, using the Switch in handheld mode restricts you to a 6.2-inch 720p display, so many users would welcome a better visual experience when gaming on the go (please, Nintendo).
- Sturdier build quality: One of the biggest reasons some Switch owners prefer the Lite to the base model is due to the sturdiness of the console in handheld mode. Since the Joy-Cons of the original Switch are detachable, playing on the go can feel somewhat flimsy, and this is something that we’d like to see improved in the Pro version. A more ergonomic Joy-Con design would go a long way too.
- 4K support in docked mode: The 4K console gaming community is growing by the day, and you can partially thank the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series for that. Unfortunately, comparisons with new-gen consoles don’t do the Switch any favors - Nintendo’s flagship console no longer provides the visuals gamers want. As we recently discussed, introducing 4K support and a more powerful dock with higher resolution capabilities would considerably improve Nintendo’s offering.
- Bluetooth support for third-party accessories: Although the Switch currently features Bluetooth 4.1, this is reserved exclusively for wirelessly connecting Joy-Cons and Pro controllers. This means that in order to connect accessories like headphones, you need an adapter, which is admittedly annoying.
Why we want the Nintendo Switch Pro
Where to start? The Nintendo Switch has been a revelation of a console, and it’s been backed up by some of the most exciting games we’ve seen in the past four years, from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the ridiculously addictive Animal Crossing: New Horizon. However, we think any fan of the console can agree that a hardware upgrade wouldn't go amiss for the Switch.
As it stands, the main reason to purchase a Switch is to, well, play Nintendo games. As reported by multiple Reddit users, several third-party games such as Pillars of Eternity, Wasteland 2 and WWE 2K18 have had less-than-stellar Switch ports. With crashes, bugs and frame drops, at the moment the Switch’s hardware simply isn’t built to provide a good experience for third-party franchises.
The Nintendo Switch isn’t meant to compete with the PS5 and Xbox Series X in terms of power to begin with. However, with a collection of new graphically demanding games coming to PC and next-gen consoles in 2021, we’d love to see whether a more powerful version of the Switch could pique third-party franchise fans' interest.
Should I wait for Nintendo Switch Pro?
Since the Nintendo Switch Pro’s release is still an unconfirmed rumor, we see no reason why you should wait for a console that could be months away from launch. At the moment, you have the option to become a proud owner of the Nintendo Switch or Nintendo Switch Lite consoles. We have previously reviewed both and have prepared a round-up of the best games to make your choice more informative. We will keep you updated regarding any upcoming announcements from Nintendo.